I’m pretty sure I’m (not) fine.

I decided to make a mix of dirt and diatomaceous earth to spoon on the houseplants rather than try and add the dusty stuff loose.  

I’m having a problem with fungal gnats; when you have as many houseplants as I do, that’s an issue. I’ve been using the sticky traps Doctor Google suggested, but that only captures them after the fact, and they seem to do little more than breed.

I’ve become quite the homicidal maniac when it comes to the little bugger. Because they grow and turn into bigger buggers. I keep having flashbacks to Captain Janeway and the macro-virus. [i]

The plants have been neglected of late. I offered them my apologies this morning.

Just kidding.

I’ll do it later.

My father didn’t die from his heart failure, surprising everyone. Surprising even the nurses, and they’re pretty much the last word on who’s likely to stay or go. He remains in the hospital, however, and the weight is still falling off. Not enough blood is reaching the gut, even now, post valve replacement. They’ll do another procedure (no surgery anymore – procedures and interventions, oh my) in a few days to try and stretch it out.

My mother stayed in Vancouver the first week, restarting the chemo that looked to take her out very early last time but at a lower level this time, all while living in a hotel close to St. Paul’s so she can visit my dad throughout the day.

Even at a reduced dose, the chemo is a no-go. She got weaker and more unsteady by the minute, even with the dose reduced to a third. Canker sores appeared in her mouth and on her tongue almost instantly. And last night we spent the hours between ten p.m and four in the morning in the emergency room because her ankles had doubled in size and the joints had torqued.

So, no more of the chemo that’s the only chance to add time. [ii]

She tells me stories now. About how her mother cursed her out when she told her getting married to my father next Friday was “necessary” (my grandmother was a damaged and difficult woman). That part of the story I knew. What I didn’t know was that she’d been planning to go to England to either have an abortion or have the baby and claim to have been raped.

Only the latter caused me a twinge; that’d be a hard legacy for a child to live with, I’d think.

Pregnant and unmarried in 1969 would also be hard live with.

My dad didn’t know she was pregnant when he proposed. He made her dinner in his apartment, kicking out his roommate for the night. My mother says the food wasn’t great and that his proposal was awkward. But here they are, fifty-three years on and still in love, even after a lifetime of life.

I loved the engagement ring my father bought her. It was stolen by the rat bastards who broke into my parents’ house last year and robbed them. Karma came quick – an arrest and a quick trip back to prison, but the things they took are gone and never to be seen again.

The stories are hard to listen to because I know I’m becoming a library, but it’s better than when she tells me she feels the end getting closer, or when she shares deep regrets and lifetime sorrows.

Holding space is hard.

And yet, amid this chaotic crap, I’m experiencing growth. I’m maturing (and not before time) and solidifying things I’ve been working on in recovery. We really are forged by fire.

Forged in fire.

This isn’t to say that my old friend dissociation hasn’t tried to pop in for a visit or ten. PTSD is an aggressive long-term guest. I pull myself back into reality multiple times a day. It’s frustrating: I don’t have time for escapism.

My mother left the hotel last Friday, wanting (needing) home. I drive us both into Vancouver every day now, which means I use the HOV lane, bear witness to the stories people tell when they know that the end is getting close, and listen to complaints about how Vancouver isn’t the city it used to be and why big buildings are bad. I tell her she’s becoming cantankerous. She agrees.

I want to tell her that even without the stories, her legacy will endure. She doesn’t need to worry she’ll be forgotten. Despite our complicated relationship, my mother is the person I love most in this world, next to my son. She is the best friend I’ve ever had.

Even if she’s wrong about the architecture of the modern buildings she decries every day. I mostly keep quiet about it. I’m learning which things are important. I’m learning to be calmer and less quick on the trigger.

Unless I’m on Twitter.

So, I’m fine. What else can I say when people ask me how I am? It’s complicated. I’m locked up and compartmentalized and trying hard to stay this way. I don’t have time for grief right now. I’m committed to staying on task.

Unless a nasty of the Freedom/Freedumb Convoy happens to roll into my field of vision as I’m enduring the hellscape that is the commute between Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. I was so relieved my mother wasn’t in the car. I was free to be sort of me.

You’re supposed to stop the Q-tip when there’s resistance.

Do they know they look just like the Taliban they profess to hate? Signs threatening Dr. Henry were plastered across the back window. Others threaten the Prime Minister or offered racist dog whistles. White supremacy flags flapped on the back above the oxymoronic/moronic “mandate freedom” bumper sticker.

I like it when rage comes. Rage makes everything else go away.

The sign you make when
you don’t understand the word “mandate.”

The story would be better if I’d gone Fast & Furious on her. Unfortunately, and fantasies notwithstanding, I did nothing more than flip her off. It might have been repeatedly. She might have had me open my window, and we might have yelled pleasantries we couldn’t hear at each other for a bit.

Non-verbal is best when one is trying to communicate on the highway.

She tried to escape my free opinion by ducking into the HOV lane with her single-occupancy monster truck, but fate and rush hour traffic conspired against her. We were in lockstep for so long, my fingers started to get tired.  

I bet she felt like crap. I bet she went home and was all distressed over me exercising my freedom. They’re “freedom for me but not thee” down to their bones. I hate that I feel bad about making her feel bad. I hate that dipping into the dark side is so easy and tempting.

My behaviour sucked and it didn’t even help. My reality remains the same.

I alternate between numb and incipient tears. I’d indulge, but I don’t have the time. I’m suddenly managing my parents, running two houses, and driving two hundred kilometres a day. Thank God I’m spending fifty dollars a day on gas.

I can also sublimate grief by thinking about profiteering oil execs.

On the bright side, the weight I didn’t need to lose is falling off, a combination of stress, strong emotions, and starvation. My eating disorder is thrilled. I’ll hit double-digits any day now and I’m torn between eating and celebrating. [iii]

Relapse is also a distraction I don’t have time for.

I don’t reach out very often because I don’t want to take my finger out of the dike. I don’t write, I don’t read, I don’t talk to friends, and I missed my last counselling appointment because that was the Tuesday they told us was his last.

These are difficult days.

One foot in front of the other.

I’m pretty sure I’m not fine.

It sucks to be human sometimes. I don’t think fungal gnats feel grief.

I hope not.


[i] Star Trek: Voyager. Macrocosm (Season 3, Episode 12). 1996. Television.

[ii] Obviously, I’m pushing nutrition, my infrared sauna, time outside. It’s a bit of an uphill climb. Cancer steals the life, but it also steals one’s energy and appetite. Getting her to eat even close to enough is a big challenge these days.

[iii] I’m not starving though I’m not eating much. I just liked the alliteration.


8 thoughts on “I’m pretty sure I’m (not) fine.

Add yours

  1. I’m so sorry Michelle. You are holding together so much and you are right, holding space is hard. I’m sending good thoughts in the hopes a little micro vibration of energy hits you and brings a smidge of comfort. And good for your dad for surprising everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The biggest thing I got from all this is – you are an ear to your mother, which I think is very important for both of you. Yes, she might want to pass on some legacy, but sometimes there’s wisdom in those shares, and at other times it just feels good to share something you have not told anyone before. So kudos to you for being able to do that on top of everything else. My parents never really told me stories towards the end. Not sure if they didn’t want to share, or if I didn’t make it clear to them that I would listen or both.

    Liked by 1 person

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