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Eight : Memories 2/2

Last year I wrote here that I was worried I was forgetting. This year I wanted to write a list of my most treasured memories.

When I managed to catch her before breakfast, still reading in bed and could sneak in next to her, and we’d talk for hours. When day we stayed there until dad came back for lunch – we felt so sheepish. I can’t remember of what we spoke, but the simple act of going so is enough.

Of watching her on stage – we only get snatches of seeing our loved ones in their natural or work environment – it always took my breath away.

That when she was in hospital over night, she’d wait at her window the next morning and wave to me as I went to work.

When she’d ask me to do her makeup before she’d go out to a party

Sitting under a tree, it was spring in the south of France, she was rehearsing for a job – recording a book on to tape. The Book was My Theodosia, I fell in love with that era of American History and Aaron Burr – it shaped a lot of my learning.

Tidying my room while listening to the many, many other books she’d read on to tape.

Singing the musical numbers of Guys and Dolls and an American in Paris while cooking in the kitchen together – the smell of tomato sauce and the steam.

When she was doing her Masters, I’d sometimes travel to London from Uni and we’d hang out.

After a very serious car crash, dabbing arnica on to her bruises (in the loo, at the theatre school where she taught and I was training) – catching her eye in the mirror and knowing we were both sending out all the gratitude that it wasn’t more serious.

Her letters. She wasn’t afraid to express how much she loved us, or anything else for that matter. 

How soft her skin always seemed and how good it smelt, especially when it was warmed by the sun

How, even when she was really sick, she came to my work (during a particularly horrendous tech week) to bring A and I soup. I still have the fancy card she’d written the cooking instructions on

Discussing theatre with her and often disagreeing.

There was a time when we went to a bridal shop (a pretty rubbish one – it was on a whim), she kept stopping everyone and saying – “you don’t understand she’s normally in jeans” whilst requesting I try on bigger and bigger dresses

A star necklace she bought me from accessorise ‘just because’

Being with her when her Mama died and knowing it was the awful privilege of women to be the strong ones, to bare witness to these life and death events. Being with her when she died.

Picking up the phone and telling her of a particularly difficult breakup and having her just say – ‘Come Home Now’ and that was all.

Her chicken broth.

How she stayed with me, that one time a got blind drunk and very sick, because she was worried I might choke – how she didn’t get cross about it at all.

How, during my early teenage years, when I was awkward and friendless – she and dad would hang out with me and never thought that was weird (or let me know if she did anyway)

How the only time I ever stayed out over night, whilst I was at theatre school and living at home, she didn’t ask me where I had been, she just handed me an almond croissant the next morning

How she didn’t understand predictive text, so I’d receive messages like “thigh is al I cab’ 

How reading her childhood diaries would have us all howling with laughter.

How she would try to make me a tidier person.

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Six Years

Dear Ma,

Well we’re here again, another year….. and I’ve got nothing to add to that.

Well I do, it isn’t very often when I’m totally speechless.

I think what I mean to say is, what can I add to that? It’s another year on, some days I miss you keenly, other days your memory is a thread that if pulled would mean I’d come undone. Don’t judge but sometimes, for sanity I choose not to pull.

What I am learning is that there is no rhyme or reason to these days. Often times I can steel myself for an event and be absolutely fine and then on a sunny day in June, I’ll be stifling tears in a supermarket because the spinach has jolted a memory.

Grief dances to the beat of it’s own samba band and what can you say in the face of that? Nothing much, you just have to dance along the best you can.

So anyway, there’s news, there’s always news. Even when I plan for a quiet year something comes up.

I’ve left theatre, well it’s actually only been a week, but I’m starting my own business so I’ve left theatre. I actually wrote a blog post about it, it went viral so that’s something to check off my bucket list. It’s weird writing that I’ve left theatre to you, in some ways I think I stayed so long because it connects me to you but so many other things do and it’s time to be a slightly different me.

I’m opening a massage studio; I’m basically taking all things I like the most in life and placing them in a beautiful setting and hoping other people enjoy it too. I’m excited. I’m excited to the extent that I can be excited, which is heaps while still waiting for the other shoe to drop (was I wary when you were still here? I often think your illness was when I became a slightly more pessimistic human, I think my own cancer finished me off, if you’ll excuse the rather unfortunate turn of phrase).

Actually you started me on this road too, enrolling me on a weekend workshop the summer after you were diagnosed. I think mostly, so I wasn’t just hanging about the house, making sure you weren’t going anywhere. Or maybe because in a weird Mama bear psychic link thing, you predicted this, I’m not sure I can whole heartedly get behind that theory but I know better than to mess with the Mama Bear Juju.

So here I am, at the start of a New Year, figuring out a new path in life. Another one. Without you. I’ve done a few of these now and it still blows me away, the influence you have on me, do parents know this at the time? Is that what makes childrearing so scary? That years after you are gone, your echo remains? Is that why people have kids (other than the continuation of a species, which I’m not going to lie, I sometimes have my doubts about) so that something of you remains and continues. I suppose it is comforting, along side being totally scary.

And here I am again at the end of our annual commune via the ethernet. Your echo remains. This dance for me continues and the year rolls out in a blanket of unknown future choices.

I love you Ma, of that there is no doubt and if in the star dust you now are the Mama Bear Juju is still strong, can you sprinkle some on the new business? I thank you.

Miss P

xoxo

ps O is Love

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A love letter, now that I’m leaving.

I fell into Stage Management, I was 22 years old with no plan, I had a degree that prepared you for nothing (back when you just needed a degree and didn’t have to worry about the debt). I was working little bit jobs, and not thinking about the future when a man I respected very much asked me to be an ASM and I remember thinking I have NO CLUE what that is but he thought I could do it and I trusted him. I thought at the very least it would kill 6 months; I ended up with a career.

I was right I didn’t have a clue, I learnt from many, many mistakes and from many, many patient people. I still don’t have a clue but I’ve got better at hiding it, plus I find smiling really helps.

Now 15 years later I’m falling out of it again. I’m down to my last week of shows, 9 performances, and I know that if I don’t write this now, I may not ever because I figure before the week is out I’ll be ugly crying and trying to take it all back because theatre is the most wonderful safety blanket, filled with the most wonderful people, many of whom, I count as my friends. I will be bereft but new adventures loom and it’s my time to go.

Being a stage manager is an odd thing to do, to want to do. In a nutshell we are the people who enable the people who work at inhabiting other people, in other worlds; we manage the story tellers, the dreamers and that is a hard line to tread.

You are introduced to a group of people on the first day of rehearsals and for the next month, 3 months, 6 months or year, they are your people, your family – sure you might not like them all but you’ll fight like hell to protect them.

As a breed we are are often perceived as officious or jobsworths, spoilers of the fun but I’d say 98% of us aren’t that way inclined. Stage Managers live and breath theatre, they care just as deeply about making a production work, they battle a hundred little wars to get to Press Night just the same as anyone else on the production. It’s just we work in the shadows, our job is not to be seen and so we’re a little strange.

But if you choose to work in this industry, at this time, I think you have to be a little strange. We are all misfit toys trying to make sense of this nonsensical world by story telling. That’s not something everyone chooses to do. You have to be tough to stick at it in a world that values money and power. In a world of cuts, where healthcare or schools or social housing or helping people across the globe has become the impossible either or situation; it takes brave, tough and pretty strange folk to stand up and say Art matters too, these stories matter and the way we tell them matter.

I feel I’m leaving my comrades at the worst possible time, there is less money but so much more need for theatre; whether as a distraction from the world or as a mirror to hold up to it. We theatre folk help to heal the rifts, shine a light on the the ugly, make things that are painful, beautiful or at least bearable and some times we just make you laugh until you think you might be sick. I am so sad to be leaving but I hope I’ll support those who remain in different ways.

I’ve had the best of times and the worst of times in theatres watching performances and working on them. I wrote my mother’s eulogy during a Dress Rehearsal, I had an Opening Night the day of her funeral, I worked up until my operation when I got cancer and I came back as quick as I could. Nobody made me do these things, I chose to because theatre has a funny way of saving your life. It’s never just been a job for me, it has been a heart and soul commitment; and it has been such an amazing ride but as such, it has meant other things have had to be sacrificed.

I had a lot of time to think about it a while back and for me, Stage Management is a younger persons game. I’m sure others wouldn’t get jaded or could make the work/life balance work but I am an all or nothing kinda gal and for now, for this moment at least, I need to step out of the shadows and peer at the world from a different angle.

But in this crazy, unpredictable world, in a year where it feels anything could happen (and only 45% percent of it good) my money is on the story tellers and the enablers of the story tellers because they are my people, my loves, my family and they do wonderful things.

Thank you to those who have made the last 15 years so very, very interesting; who have held my hand in the toughest of times and shared the happiest moments. I have so many amazing memories.

With Love Polly, stage manager no more.

Loop Massage, coming soon.

 

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Tell me why? I don’t like January (though not in a shoot anyone way)

I don’t like January.

I’ve tried really hard to like it. I like the idea of fresh starts, exciting challenges and “a new bikini ready body in just 30 days”, plus all the fireworks and champagne.

I admire the people who can sharpen their pencils, turn over to a new page and charge head first into the new with an optimism and determination that I cannot muster long term.

I like September for those kinds of goals, the start of the school year will forever be ingrained in me as the real fresh start. Mostly because I thought that one day I’d return to school prettier, popular and smarter than I left it in July, which never happened (I was just too oddly awkward for that) but a girl can dream. Plus autumn colours, leaves changing, the smell in the air and the still warm days of late summer.

Now I know I’m not alone, that many people openly admit to not liking January; it’s cold and it’s dark – nothing fun happens. Which is just the sort of underdog month I feel I should be able to get behind but I simply can’t throw my support that way.

I can feel myself tensing up as the month progresses, I get tetchy, unable to settle, everything feels a lot harder and I lose the ability to express myself. It’s like I’m living at a completely new altitude that I’ve not gotten used to yet. Or I want to behave completely recklessly, to be a selfish person, purely out for my own pleasure.

I start to fantasise about hibernating, burrowing away and pretending the world doesn’t exist. I shut myself down. I’m pretty sure the human equivalent is box-sets, a warm fire, thick curtains and endless mulled wine.

As you can imagine, I’m a complete joy to be around.

January can’t be about new starts for me because it will always finish with the spectre of the hardest ending – inevitably it will be about loss to me.

It’s tough this year because there’s a huge new project afoot, lots to do, to think about, to plan for. I’ve been so excited, and crazy scared and chomping at the bit – I’m finally changing up my life. I should be the perfect January New Start but all I feel is empty.

Yup, January, in this household, is to be endured.

Oh gosh, this is a sorry excuse for a blogpost. Apologies. I guess the reason behind it is to reach out to those of you who maybe feel the same, who can’t quite put their finger on it but don’t go crashing out the gates on Jan 1st, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Who look down out their to-do lists and sign not with satisfaction but with the enormity of it all.

What do we do because we can’t hibernate (that’s actually a question) can we hibernate? Well, what we do if we can’t put ourselves into stasis is;  put one foot in front of the other until February and then March arrive, which if we’re lucky, they will always do.

We take pleasure in small joys like baths and books and hot, slightly stodgy food. We stretch our bodies out and remove some clutter from our houses and our minds. We eat the chocolate, if that’s what it takes. We watch movies and light candles, cook for friends. We make ourselves a warm drink, wrap a soft scarf about us and we march towards March. We are the endurers of January and we will be kind to ourselves because sure as sure can be, one day, we won’t feel like this, we will see the beauty in the world again and we will get our groove back. I almost said we will get our fight back but we are fighting, we are powering on through, despite January and the best news is, we will get to win.

Surprise

Dear A – a funny sort of love letter

You know that clock that shows the Earth’s age and then blows your mind by reminding you that humans have only been around for like a second? Well, if that clock was for marriages, A and I would be a millisecond.

Which probably goes some way to explaining why I’m not that great at marriage (yet). I’m really not, there are days when I think “man, I did not win at marriage today” or “wow, that was some bad marriage-ing just there”. It normally involves tissues in the washing machine, inadvertent messiness, hangry meltdowns or eating all the Maya Gold chocolate in the house.

I wish this was an exaggeration but it’s really, truly not – willingly splitting the last 4 squares of chocolate (instead of eating it all, which is my gut instinct) is one of my best marriage moves.

I can’t even use the word husband that often, I bottle it and end up saying “my A.” instead.

You are probably going to laugh at me when I tell you that this is a love letter. My thought was, as paper signifies Year One of marriage, I’d be throughly modern and print out a blog post for A. I think I’m proving, right here, just how brilliant I am at this marriage business.

That’s right people, I’ve been grappling with marriage for almost a year now, actually I guess that’s more of a ‘we’ thing (the ‘we’ thing, that’s marriage 101). We’ve been grappling with marriage for almost a year – 28th of May, if anyone’s wondering.

And like I said, I’m not brilliant at it, I’m even slightly embarrassed to celebrate our anniversary. I mean 10, 20, 30 years, that I get, that’s weighty. You’ve got to respect that kind of sticking power. I’ll throw us a ticker-tape parade when we reach a decade. But a year? What business have we to celebrate that? That’s blink and you’ll miss it territory.

Plus, it’s not actually a year, we’ve been together (mostly, anyway) for nearly 7 years! Do those 6 previous years get wiped from our slate? I’m not cool with that, those 6 years were hard won. We learnt some painful lessons in those years, we grew up in those years, we survived those years. I’m damn proud of those years. They were a lot tougher than our first newly wed year, that’s for sure and certain.

Also, I guess I’m new to this, but should I need a special day to celebrate a wedding? I prefer living a marriage. I rejoice daily, or at the very least weekly, when I realise that waking up to A is a rest of my life deal. If he’s away for work, it makes my heart glad, that he is legally contracted to come home to me, eventually. When flying back from a blissful holiday together, though sad, it’s fine really because we fly home together.

I’m hoping I can learn marriage or more importantly partnership by example. We’re surrounded by couples who show us what that truly looks like. We know fellow elopees, the newly engaged, some who have a scant year on us and the seven year itchers. We have role models for whom marriage isn’t their jam; who survive just fine without the paperwork. There are others who have been married for decades.

It is endlessly fascinating to me, watching how these people do it. How they compromise, work through their junk, How they LOVE.

They love in a way that is sure and true and deep. They love despite some things and because of others. They love through the uncertainty, this minefield of a life. They love through morning breath and explosive diarrhoea. They love in a way that makes sharing the chocolate come easily.

And it’s all so bloomin’ different it seems to me; someone’s total deal breaker, is another person’s Tuesday afternoon.

We talk about the uniqueness of snowflakes but it’s this weaving, complex dance, this joining with a some one else, that’s unique – and hopefully less icy.

So do we celebrate the art of love or surviving relatively intact? Can we celebrate halcyon days or not quitting this year? Do we celebrate the memory of the day we decided to be brave? Does what we celebrate change from year to year?

Some people shun it, some people have fought tirelessly for the right to do it. Marriage clearly isn’t for everyone. I’m not even sure it would have been right for me with anybody else. It wouldn’t have stuck. It’s the being married to A that fits. It fits like it doesn’t need celebrating. We are just where we should be.

So for that reason, I want to get good at marriage because all I really know is, for me, being married to A feels better than not being married to him. I want to continue to have the privilege and it is a privilege, of loving him and being loved by him.

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Out of Office / Out of My Mind

I am away. Out of Office. Yet compelled to write.

I read a lot when I go away. I’m in an Agatha Christie zone at the moment, so much so that I’m living a kind of weird half life as an 85 year old sleuther I’m not sure that A. my 32 year old companion appreciates being on holiday with this weird hybrid, especially as I am not that cool as my 36 year old self. In all honesty I think Miss Marple has me pipped to the post in most departments but as Cava is 3 Euros a bottle; I’m not sure any of us are actually worrying.

To give myself and A. a break I decided to give Lena Dunham “Not that kind of Girl” a go. It has been downloaded and forgotten on my iPad for 2 years now. It’s eye opening, especially to the 85 year old in me. I am intimidated. I’m about half way through it. So far I’m wondering if everyone who is raised in NYC, grows up at light speed, if that’s a good thing and pondering whether I should (while simultaneously being relieved that I don’t) have more/any weird sex stories.

Plus there’s her huge talent for writing, directing and acting. Plus there’s her age. I am intimidated.

It’s dangerous reading, which is probably why it’s taken me 2 years to get to. It’s dangerous because as anyone who’s be eyeballing up their existences knows, when faced with the achievements of those younger than yourself, you can easily feel you’ve made all the wrong choices about all the wrong things. That time is marching on and you are none the wiser about who you are and whether you are remotely on the right path.

You can feel at ease one day, that this is the way everyone feels and the next you feel oh so foolish that you didn’t have the balls to write about it when you were 25. That it’s taken you a full decade longer to be even a little bit comfortable with expressing yourself or thinking that the way you form sentences isn’t just the way that everyone else does, so why bother doing it?

I like articles that tell me that 40 is the new 30, mainly because I feel like I turned 30 and then hit pause, every birthday since I’ve blown out my candles and wished, really WISHED that some semblance of a normal year would follow. Every New Year’s I’d baptise myself in fizzing bubbles meaning to wipe the slate clean and start again shine and new (sidenote: waking up with a hangover doesn’t really work with this symbolic gesture, you feel rusty before you begin).

Then someone would die, have a breakdown, break my heart or get cancer (mostly me) and normal would seem like a unicorn in a tutu. Then life would be about ‘getting through’ or ‘surviving’ and whining about it on this here little blog and I’d put off for another year the actual things that make you a grown up, which nobody can explain but I feel that I’ve yet to achieve.

Then last November I blew out my candles and wished for a quiet year but this time I got it and I’ve spent many hours since trying to create the drama that seems more normal to me. Like a sailor who still sleeps in a hammock while she/he’s on shore leave. High stakes and heightened emotions feel like my norm, cold turkey seems so much greyer than I predicted.

It’s not just big dramas either, take this holiday. I refused to pack until about an hour before we departed. It’s weird.

So now I sit here in our little piece of heaven for a week in a sort of lovely duel solitary confinement – we have a pool, sun loungers and a BBQ, we really don’t need to see anyone else and it’s like the sun is actually drying me out, mellowing me out.

Until I pick up Ms Dunham’s book and come face to face with everything I am not. My drama addicted brain starts pushing my buttons and I’m twitchy and spoiling for something I can’t quite put my finger on. Then I turn the page and learn that she is frightened of dying and of cancer. And suddenly I can’t relate but in a totally different way. So I go back to Agatha Christie and watch my scars, both inside and out, turn golden (under a heavy layer of factor 50) in the sun.

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Going Rogue is in Vogue

We are messing with my Meds. Which means we are messing with my hormones. Which means trouble. While I say ‘we are messing with my meds’ in a chavilar fashion, I’d like to make it clear it is with the full permission of my Specialist and Nurse, I have not gone rogue.

My cancer was oestrogen sensitive which means, in short, that my type of cancer feeds off of a hormone being produced by my body, which is a bummer. I am very fortunate that there is a pill that can suppress oestrogen production. I am very grateful for it and I’m very, very lucky that I have this option. However, what this means is that my body and these pills have been waging an internal war for about 18 months now. There is always collateral damage in war and the side effects (for me, not everyone) have felt pretty brutal.

Until about a month ago I’d not had a decent night sleep in 2 years ( I know new parents, neither have you, but my Pills don’t redeem themselves by giving me kisses or giggling at my funny faces), coupled with leg cramps, a clouded mind and crippling hot flushes 4 times hourly, I was getting a little down – depression is another side effect.

So I got parole, 3 months off the meds and it’s eye opening. I have a brain again, can concentrate on reading and writing, can swim for longer, I laugh more and for the first time in ages can go out late, dancing, no less. I feel like I’m finding myself again (well not again), finding the new person on the other side of all of this and it’s exciting and a little weird. I feel like a human, an actual human, not an automaton.

Not that flooding my body with hormones again hasn’t had it’s own issues. Remember when you look back at the cringe inducing teenage diaries you wrote, or observe a pack of teens all awkward in a park? You know how you sign and think to yourself, “you could not pay me enough to be that age again” ? Well, I have a feeling that this rush of hormones is plunging me distinctly into the teenage zone. Only now, at my age, it feels AMAZING though somewhat confusing and yes, socially awkward at times.

I’m enjoying freedom, I’m enjoying freedom so much I’m not quite sure how I’m going to go back to jail again. The Specialists like to quote statistics, it’s all about projected years of life VS cancer VS my age, at least I think that’s what they talk about. I cannot keep the information in my head. Not in my usual ditzy way, I simply can’t try and live a normal-ish life with that information in my head. They’ve told me these stats at least 10 times now and each time, Poof! gone by the following week.

You want to know the craziest thing? The pills give me a 1 to 2 percent extra bit of protection, just 1 to 2 percent!

So I’m trying to figure out if I live life to the fullest, happiest, joy fuelled-ness and live without the extra 1 to 2 percent chances or do I go back to a greyer, safer, tougher way of living? I guess writing it like that you can see the way I’m swaying. Yet, what do I do with the guilt? if it comes back, for the people who don’t have the opportunity of the wonder pill? But what if I take the pill and it comes back anyway but my days haven’t been quite as sunny?

Answers on a postcard please!

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Burtaversary!

This is an email I sent to A. just before my diagnosis, he was away on an international tour, I used to find this email sad but now I just think how far we’ve come.

Benign Tumour! Almost! I’ve named him Burt.

Hello my dearest flying man,

So I met a very kind Dr today.

I also got to look at the ultra sound of my breast.
Burt is about 17mm wide, and if it is a Fibroadenoma- a benign  tumour caused by stress. Thank you 2013! 
It’s 90% likely that it is but he took a core biopsy – results on Tuesday.
That was not a pleasant one but more   thorough than the needle biopsy. Had a local anaesthetic and then they cut the skin poke a big needle in and punch a core of the tumour out. He should me the sample after, it looks like a little worm.It’s pretty sore now but ok at the time. I got to watch it all on the ultra sound which was pretty cool.
Might have to have it removed in future. 
I was very brave. Just a thought when your thinking of presents….;-) I jest I jest!
Love,
Me 
O

Skipping forward some stages it has now been two years of colossal highs and lows. I wanted to mark my 2 year Burtavsary with a short ‘state of the union’ about what I’ve learnt and what I’m still struggling to learn.

It takes a bloomin’ long time to grow your hair back.  My hair is apparently about 3 months away from a short 20′s style bob, presently I don’t feel I have a hairstyle, more like a mop on the top of my hear that wilfully refuses to do my bidding (which I have been informed is perfectly normal for a two year old).

It takes even longer to grow your eyebrows back, which is odd. I’ve also learnt that eyebrow serums can give you werewolf cheeks – if applied before bed and smeared over your face – it stimulates all hair growth apparently.

Chemo weight is very, very hard to lose, especially when you love cake…..

Sometimes it’s very, very hard not to just wander around repeating “what the hell was that, what the hell happened.” This was not meant to be my life but then A. dances past in a striped pair of pants, old skool RnB on spotify and you wonder if it wasn’t what happened maybe life wouldn’t be as sweet.

I still think about cancer daily, I still have to talk about it a lot. I beat myself up about this but then I think; if I’d seen a talking chicken or a flying monkey I’d probably still be talking about that. Cancer is as shocking as a flying monkey.

If cancer is a weeping, bloody wound, recovery is like an itchy scab. When you have an open wound people comment; when you’re covering up a scab no one talks about it. Except if it’s a shark bite then you can be all like  “hey, I got bit by a shark” and you’re cool. Recovery is sometimes as lonely as swimming around and waiting for Jaws.

Sometimes these days, when nothing much is happening, feel like loopy bubbles of pure joy. Other days I feel a bit like I’d imagine Odysseus felt a few months after he was finally back from Troy – a bit like he should still be outsmarting Sirens and dodging Cyclopes’, I guess when you’ve finished something epic everyday sometimes feels a little everyday.

Hot flushes are the devils work.

I wish I could say that I learnt the secrets of the universe while puking my guts up or the strength of Samson returned with my hair but it didn’t. I’m just a person that something rubbish happened to like a lot of other people are. I think I laugh a little more easily, I’m happier to speak my mind more openly, on a good day I remember to count my considerable blessings and on a bad day a remember there have been worse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five years more

Dearest Ma,

It has been five years again, last year I was convinced it had been five years – four didn’t seem hardly long enough for how long I’d been missing you. Four years seemed like no time at all and so much has happened in the years since you died. As always lots has changed since last year but that is what happens when someone is gone, they miss stuff and they are missed.

I hate January, I mean I really hate it. It only really occurred to me in the past few weeks but nothing good ever happens in January. This year Alan Rickman and David Bowie died and that’s not even scratching the surface, they’re just the ones the media has told me to care about. So no nothing good happens in January. Apart from Marla, Marla is a great thing to happen in January but apart from that January can jog on, as can February. March is where it’s at.

Well, you’re probably wondering why I’m spending our yearly communication prattling about the little things and not filling you in on the ‘news’. Well Ma, that’s what I miss, I miss discussing the little things. The daft things, the funny things, the mad, bad, sad things that we’d chat about on the phone or bitch about in the kitchen. That’s what makes me feel your loss.

Did I miss you when I got married? yeah, I did that – I got married and it is awesome. I missed you, but truth be told as we had but a single (though very lovely) guest it made things easier. All the faces were missing so yours didn’t standout as it usually does in its absence.

What I miss is asking you about this actual marriage business not the wedding.

It’s the little things that make up a day not the giant things that make up a lifetime.

Like the recipes I try and recreate that don’t taste like yours.

Like grumbling that it has been almost 18 months and my eyebrows have yet to properly grow back (to which I’m sure I’d have been given sympathy and then a sound talking to).

Like the fact that you will never, ever know what happened at the end of Downton Abbey.

There are amazing plays and performances you have missed.

Political Scandals, though I guess I’m glad you have been spared Donald Trump but still.

I’d like your opinion, I’d like your laughter, I’d like your god damn tears and I don’t like having to miss you instead.

I guess I’m lucky, you had a strong voice and an opinion on everything. In my minds eye or my brains ear if I’m quiet and still or just not thinking directly about it your opinion comes to me. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes not but it comes just the same.

I guess that’s what a parental legacy is being here, in me, even when you’ve been gone five whole years.

I love you Ma, I always will.

Me xxx

red toes

Do These Genes Look Good on Me?

Sometimes Facebook tells me when it’s been a while since I blogged. It actually says “it’s been a while since your audience has heard from you”. It’s been saying that a lot lately, I’m slightly tickled about having an audience.

Well, little blog it has been a while. I wanted so much not to just bleat on about cancer, to move forward. I thought I wouldn’t write until I had something else to say again but cancer still skulks about in my shadows (the spectre not the physical form, thankfully). It’s hanging about a little closer at the moment.

So, I feel fairly certain I should write, it helps and I’ve learnt you shouldn’t spurn help just because it will hurt your pride. Yoga and meditation have been helping, I am a rubbish but diligent mediator, a bad case of jumping monkey mind. It’s just time for the big guns….

In many ways I’m a creature of habit, the Eskimos may have over 300 words for snow, I’ve about the same when it comes to describing the exact hue of a red nail polish. I’ve almost enough to ombre my nails (9). A. doesn’t think a 10th is really a necessary purchase, he’s wrong. And if there really are 50 shades of Grey, I’ve at least a third of them hanging in sweatshirt-form in my closet.

Does this bother me? I hadn’t really considered it not until recently. A. is the same, Oxford Blue Shirts (each slightly different) and I’d forgotten how much we teased my Papa about his 4 different pairs of the same shoe, each worn slightly differently. Forgotten, until I was visiting his house recently, laundry day as it happened, and there they were; Navy is my Papa’s colour, tonally different but sweatshirts just the same.

It amused me and gladdened my heart his habits are my habits, peas in a pod. Then I wondered if it went deeper – skin and bone and blood and cells and DNA deep.

You see folks I’m being genetically tested, BRCA 1 & 2. I’ve been waiting a while, it’s called the “Angelina Jolie Affect”, a lot more people are aware (hurrah) but that means the longer the wait. That’s not a bad thing, you can push it out of your mind mostly, so far back that the alarm bell is more like a fairy bell tinkle but the nearer results day comes the more like a klaxon it sounds.

Nothing will change but perhaps something will shift. They’ll be decisions to be made again but I’ve made tough decisions before, there will be more statistics and I hate statistics but the threat is not imminent. I’m still cancer free. So what does knowing or not knowing actually achieve? Why does it seem to matter so deeply to me? Why have the darn test in the first place?

Well, for me, I’ve already had cancer, my risk of return is higher than the average bear, so why not know. I’m a forewarned is forearmed kinda gal.

I can then choose to cut off my breasts and remove my ovaries. It’s extreme but it lowers my risk of return to civilian levels again, and maybe I get some respite from the bloomin’ hot flushes from Tamoxifen – so they’re big pluses. It would mean MRI’s every year, which is not my favourite thing but I’d feel more secure having an MRI than a mammogram (my tumour was undetectable on the mammogram). Apart from the higher rate of return and the (shall we say) full on surgery it’s not too bad.

Truth be told, I always assumed it was probably genetic, there’s a lot of cancer in my family. A lot, a lot. But what if it’s not? what if it’s fluke? With my families track record, this would blow my mind. What have I done to cause it, what have I not done? No one to blame but yourself and your cells and you make those. No wonky Gene defence, nowhere to hide. If it was fluke then Karma, luck, and a higher being is out the window because I’ve had my share of pain (and yes, life doesn’t work that way and yes, people suffer more than I have, much much more but not knowing and waiting make me selfish). Minds Will Be Blown.

I keep my toes painted red and I slip on my grey sweatshirt armour because it’s simple and I love simple. Simple on the outside because what lies beneath, way way down, DNA down, well that’s just too complicated for now.