6.45 a.m. Woke up this morning and, walking down the stairs, was greeted by the beautiful Christmas tree that Douglas and Dianne organized, brought over and set up for us the day Cliff got home from chemo. We are so grateful to them for doing this. I had planned it for this weekend but there was no way I was going to get it done and I didn’t even mention it to D & D. They just thought of it on their own and did it for us. Man, we are lucky. It brings so much joy into our home today. It’s such a festive tree. And I am so grateful the children don’t have to miss this Christmas tradition. Without D & D doing it, it would have fallen into the too-hard basket.
1.28 p.m. Sock drawer. Again my brain is full. It’s all coming at us; big and fast and unfamiliar. I have no more emotional room for anything. I just need to stop more stuff from happening to us and sort out what’s happening now so I can be ready to accept more. Because I know there is more coming, it keeps coming all the time. I’m just not ready for it. There’s no room. Where do I put everything in my head?
9.57 p.m. I was very tired from the party I had to take Tom to this afternoon. A three-and-a-half-hour kindergarten party at the kids’ traffic school for one of his best friends. It is the world’s greatest place for a kids’ party. But it just … about … killed me. I lasted two hours, then retreated to the car. I felt sorry for everyone else. Everyone is so nice. I kept trying to make light conversation, so I wouldn’t gloom out the whole party, but everyone wanted to know the details of the cancer. I’m O.K. talking about it. It actually helps me process it. But it just didn’t seem to match the mood of the ice-cream cake. So I slipped out for a while.
Tonight I just wanted to flop down on the big, blue chair and watch a movie with Cliff. I turn on the TV and there’s an Australian documentary (50 Years of 4 Corners, a 60 Minutes-type program) about all the people dying in Australia from asbestos in the asbestos mining towns!? WTF.
Cliff called out from the study, ‘Don’t watch it. Let’s just watch a movie.’ So I had my parents tape it. I doubt I’ll ever watch it, but I confess I let it be on our TV screen for almost ten minutes. I was morbidly wondering what this documentary might tell us. What do they know about this evil, ugly, deadly beast that entered our lives 12 days ago? I’d never heard of it before then and now there is a whole program about it in our living room. Would it help us to face the monster if we learned everything we could? What if they know something we need to know; something that may help us avoid some pain and suffering, or something that, without knowing it, would hurt us more? After a few minutes of widows detailing the horrors of the death asbestos causes, talking about the ‘cruel, cruel’ disease and how ‘no one deserves to die like that’, I decided there was nothing here that was going to help us. I switched it off.
Also, I was worried Cliff might be able to hear it in the other room. But he wasn’t listening. He only operates on Full Denial Mode. I’ve got a Denial Dial that moves up and down through different levels of denial. But I support Cliff 100 per cent in his Full Metal Denial, because that’s what he wants. He once told me he ‘has to be that way’. And so I do everything I can to let that be the way his world is. And this is how the situation looks to him: he will get better. This is a temporary condition that will soon be sorted out. It’s a horribly bad mistake, he doesn’t have mesothelioma, there is some other fluky explanation for the lumps in his chest and whatever fluked them into his body will fluke them away.
No. This program was not going to help his denial.
So we tried to watch a fun, romantic comedy, to distract ourselves but just got too tired and sad and, as much as we tried, we couldn’t get caught up in the story’s ridiculously light, farcical woes. We were too horrified and shocked by our own reality, which kept slapping us in the face when we compared it to what was happening on screen. We switched it off halfway through. Now we’re going upstairs to calm and settle down and go to sleep.
We started a new policy, just between ourselves, of no deep discussions or talking on the phone with friends/family after 8.00 p.m. It helps us stay calm when we’re tired and settles us both. If there is nothing ‘new’ after 8.00, we can use that time to wind down from all the big shit that keeps happening each day.
We found out the hard way that ‘new stuff’ in the evening can often stir up more big stuff and, when we’re weary from the day, we don’t handle new stuff so well. It becomes almost impossible to fall to sleep. So, like toddlers, we have quiet time after 8.00.
These appeared on our porch this morning. Leo tells me one of his friends’ mother said, ‘If there is anything I can do for you, just let me know.’ Leo replied, ‘I’d really like some chocolate cup-cakes with candy bananas on top.’