What does that word mean to you? When you read it or say it? Normally happy things. Weddings. First Dates. Engagements.
Big Daddy and I are coming up on an Anniversary. How we met is sort of a long story and not nearly exciting as, say The Pioneer Woman’s, but basically in two weeks it will be the anniversary of the day Big Daddy and I met in person. The beginning of our beginning. Eleven years ago.
And, this time of year is also the anniversary of a beginning, but a beginning of an end. I don’t recall the dates, but five years ago this time of year my parents had me over to dinner, fed me something I liked and told me the pain in my Mom’s back wasn’t a slipped or ruptured disc, it was a tumor.
They weren’t sure, but it was likely.
It was like a movie. Everything slowed down. I considered vomiting my potatoes. I don’t know where my brother was, but my sister seemed to continue eating. I think she was only 16 or so and while she knew all those words, I’m not sure she put them all together. She was only sixteen and you can fix cancer. Sometimes.
The past few weeks have seen me losing a grip on my tightly controlled panic. Four years ago this time of year, I started having crippling panic attacks. There’s more to that story too, but needless to say, it took medication and therapy to get me to a place where my panic floats along the surface and doesn’t have me tightly in its grasp like it used to, but lately, I’ve been faltering. Last week, I edged close to an actual panic attack. I told it to eff off, but it was there. Making faces at me. Taunting me. Telling me that I wasn’t rid of it yet.
I took a little extra zoloft that night and woke up feeling a little better, but the specter of the attacks is at my back like Norman Bates waiting outside the shower curtain. I’ve been upset over this, not just the malaise but the fear of what panic did to me before. Fearing that more than the attacks itself.
After my shower today, I was rocking upstairs and it was quiet and I thought about how MUCH I was missing my Mom lately. So much. I could feel it. It weighed on me. Tears are pricking my eyes. I moved a box of her things, things she hadn’t worn in decades but that managed to smell like her somehow and I considered curling up inside of the box in the fetal position.
And as I rocked and thought maybe it was just the coming holidays that was causing me to miss her. Another Halloween that she wouldn’t see, another Thanksgiving and another Christmas when it hit me that this was the time of year of her diagnosis and more than that, it was five years since then.
And the world lurched to a stop again and the lump came into my throat and I thought of that dinner when I hadn’t noticed how different my parents were acting and how I tried to ask calm, rational questions because the Princess was there and Big Daddy was on business in Mexico and the last thing I wanted to do was lose my shit because not only was I someone’s mother, and mother’s do NOT lose their shit, but I’m the oldest and we don’t lose our shit either.
I didn’t eat anymore. I went home. I put the Princess to bed. I called Big Daddy and I climbed into the shower in our rental condo and I sobbed. I begged. I pleaded. I bargained. Big Daddy came home. Life became surreal.
The beginning of the end.
I don’t know the exact date. After the summer and before Halloween, our pumpkins purchased during a time of optimism not carved. No candy bought, the Princess trick or treated with Big Daddy and my Brother and me trailing along behind. Probably lost in our thougths and trying to put on our happy faces.
And so, I’ve been itting here, considering my sadness, my apathy, my longing, my panic and missing the anniversary of the beginning of the end that’s been sitting right here in front of me. Stewing some place in my brain that I buried or refused to acknowledge but that was there, needling me. Reminding me. Calling to me. Paining me.