Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

It is raining today. I've looked at the RADAR and it will be raining, and possibly storming, all day. I think this is OK, the rain certainly matches my mood.

It was a tough weekend in the Olinger household and an even tougher start of the week. Today is that mythical mid-way point and I'm searching for signs of improvement in the forecast.

The kids are sick. Nothing serious, but annoying enough to them that I've spent most of the last three nights comforting one or the other of them for the majority of the time that I should be sleeping. Both seem to be doing better today, I hope, anyway.

Milo is hitting an important milestone today! He's starting preschool in T-2 hours. He is appropriately alternating between terrified and excited. My bet is that he'll be excited until we park at the preschool, then terrified as we walk to the building and into his classroom.

Violet can count to ten! Almost... She's got 1-6, 9 & 10. I think she's afraid of 7 because, well... 7 ate 9. Ba-dum-bump!

Work is busy for both me and Scott. This is the week that all of the first-year students are on campus and we've both got meetings and events galore. We played the "shift the kids back and forth so that both of us can attend as much as possible" game on Monday and Tuesday. That's so exhausting... Plus, the kids totally trashed my office twice yesterday. I need to figure out if I can scrub highlighter off of an upholstered chair. Don't ask...

But the news that has made this week the most difficult, drawing me deeply into my shell, is that our dear friend, my sister-by-choice, has breast cancer.

Selfishly I have yet to contact her. I haven't called because I know that I will simply come unspooled if I talk to her. I haven't written because everything I write sounds like a eulogy -- and I'm not sending something that grotesque to her. I know that she needs me and am very thankful that Scott has done what he always does: reach out, use inappropriate humor, and send massive amounts of chocolate. As in bought an entire aisle of dark chocolate from Target -- one of every variety, several of the most tempting.

I am not the one who is sick, but I am not processing this well at all. I am furious that cancer is trying to steal someone whom I love so much. Every time I put Violet to breast, and that has been quite a few times since she's ill, I touch the very tissue that my friend will lose next week. I hold in my hand that which is giving my daughter life and that which is poisoning my friend. And I am angry about it -- who gives cancer the right to creep quietly into her body, sliding between cells, ravenous and vicious?

On Sunday night, the night before I learned of my friend's battle, I lay next to Milo's bed, sighing because he didn't want me to leave his side. His sleep was uneasy, his fever rousting him every few moments. I lay there and thought, "This is annoying, but it will pass. I can't imagine what I would do if one of my babes was so sick that the illness won't pass. I can't imagine the grief of not being able to lie on the carpet next to the bed of my child. I am lucky."

I wept silently as I recalled a young family that I had seen at Disneyland on the trip to California that we'd taken when Milo was about 19 months old. I was pregnant with Violet and we were visiting my dear friend about whom I am writing. We were in line behind the family for the Jungle Cruise ride and I noticed that the young mother was struggling to hold a child on her hip in the heat. The child looked too old to really need to be held, or so I thought until I saw that she was bald. An ugly, ugly scar mapped her scalp. My heart stopped. I realized that the little girl and her family were on a Make-a-Wish trip.

Instantly my pregnant hormones went into overdrive and I started blinking rapidly to hold back tears. My chest tightened and my breath caught in my throat. It was all I could do to not bawl as I watched the girl, grinning from ear to ear, as she described all of the things she thought she would see on the ride. This mother wasn't just holding her child in a long line, she was clasping her into her body, trying to force her back into the womb, back into a time when she was safe and healthy, back to the time when their souls were one.

I had to look away, gulping air. I rubbed Violet's bum inside me, squatted and kissed a sticky Milo, then hoisted him up onto my hip, vowing that I would carry my children into my body any time they needed me to lift them up. I think of this family every time one of my kids is ill.

I don't want to overwhelm my friend, after all, this isn't about me and what I want -- it is about her and what she needs. I am thirsty for knowledge, but unsure how far to push her; I don't want to hover and smother, yet I am unsure of how to support. She is so generous that I don't want her to know how wrecked I am about this; her first reaction would be concern for me and I think she needs to put her energy into healing. I will write to her by the end of the week, I must swallow my own fear and grief and let her know how much I love and support her.

I want to carry my friend. I want to scoop her up and hold her. I want to sing to her and keep her safe. I want to do these things for her because I love her, because I love her children and her husband, and because I love my children and my husband, and a little girl whom I have never met.


Kristin said...

Now my eyes are full of tears and I can't see my screen very well. Beautiful, as always.

I have no doubt you'll figure out exactly what your friend needs, and you'll be a great source of strength to her. Love you!

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful and touching and passionate! Your friend is lucky to have someone so awesome who loves her, and I'm sure she already knows that! (((hugs))) for you, for such a rough time!

Riding the Roller Coaster said...

What a touching story. It's so difficult to know how to react to news like that, when it is affecting someone you care about so deeply. You don't want to say the WRONG thing, but how do you know what the RIGHT thing is?

Thanks for linking up and sharing this post. And thank you for writing in the comments that your friend is fine (with the C cups!). The perfect ending to the story!