The foot photo was on the way back from taking Paco to school. I saw Lemon’s feet rubbing each other, like mine. The little feet which I like to eat.
We were home. Lemon was not sleeping and I was trying to clean up. I was tired, but I had a plan. Then the phone rang. It was Chris, my breast cancer buddy, calling from Sutter Hospital here in Davis. She had a seizure due to swelling in her head from a metastatic tumor. She has been fighting these tumors for a while now. The tumors have not grown, but she had to take high doses of steroids, which make us crazy and we load weight. Ugh. I would say “poor thing” but she has mastered picking herself up. Lemon was a good boy, hanging out in his stroller for hours. Chris and I cracked up, and expressed anger one minute and hilarity the next. Her friend Jenny arrived and Chris felt we allowed her to be whoever she needed to be. We all hit a point in the frustration of cancer: one step forward, two steps back. One has to scream, cry, yell, beg, take me now, where is the damn dark chocolate? Where is the vodka? One needs to make these noises in front of someone who understands. Today I said, do you want positive or negative? In her manner, seizure girl wanted positive.
I left to take a walk to Starbucks and give Lemon a fresh view of the world. At Sutter, they have a wonderful meditation garden, with several benches tucked away, privacy and peace. With one woman who was leaving I started up conversation. I have been working on this letter to my mother-in-law in my head all day.
Today, I got a call from my breast cancer buddy about 9:40 this morning. She had suffered her first major seizure. I went to help, and Lemon was awesome as always. Chris is always supportive of my efforts in Spanish and her RN is from Guanajuato. Her name is Martha. So I had to tell her about you and your mom, and why I learned what I learned. I left there inspired by Spanish. Walking through the “Meditation Garden,” I started talking to a woman who was carrying a book on Spanish verbs. I mistakenly started a conversation.
She (about 60) was whining about how she had just learned a few phrases and her friend told her to learn more before she goes to Mexico for vacation. She is apparently, a 5th generation Californian. She is named Barbara. I said, “hey that is my mom, she has really studied Spanish and her grammar is very good.” This Barbara went into a 10-minute defense of “why I don’t speak Spanish” monologue. I explained that the same thing happened to you and you always regretted not making the kids speak Spanish. I said about how at your age you own your Porteño background, and my mother has taken classes in Italian, French and Spanish in the last 15 years. And you were grateful for what Steve and I had done; you gave us credit for bringing Argentine Spanish back into your world. The Hospital Barbara claimed her nickname is “Barbarita”. I withheld my words. I was thinking shouldn’t it be Barbaracita? I was also wondering, when she said her parents were from Colorado, “doesn’t that mean she is not a 5th generation Californian?” I cackled in my head.
I would love to drag my mom to Bariloche, and you and I could force her to speak Spanish, and she could eat the best fish I have ever had in my life. Thank you for keeping the door to Argentina open.
Ok, back on track. I love Spanish; it has given me a hobby in life. Spanish was the child born when Lemon would not be conceived. My friends had baby number 2 and 3, and I was unsuccessful for a long time. Spanish gave me something to be distracted by, something to grow within me, when I could not get a Lemon to take root. I always wanted 4 kids. I got 2, I have Spanish, and I have friends who are going through similar efforts with cancer. And we have the gift to give each other – support. Tonight, I was chatting online with Chris and Bea at the same time. I asked Bea advice about the seizures and the fall out. Then I immediately relayed it to Chris. That is awesome. They have never met, they don’t have the same type of cancer, and they live 100 miles apart.
So on the bright side, since 2004, my life has widened. In my heart, my life has not shortened.