There’s a hallowed out feeling with CID (chemo induced diarrhea) that opens spaces for the spectacular — copious amounts of luxurious food, heart bursting fits of laughter, grief filled tears.
Echos of my mother’s recent death and shadows of my own mortality bounce and blow in sunlight.
He’s waiting for it.
As we walk through the Marymoor Dog Park with our chocolate lab, our conversation is a bit small talkish.
By the time we’re on the road to see our son’s Math Olympiad awards assembly, we’re a bit snappish. Aggressive even in our silent retorts to missed attempts at humor.
We both know how I can storm. The emotional front settles in and I look for something material to hang it on. His little “teasing” remarks about the humanities and admiration for the sciences pop off easily in our weekend of robotics and math.
But I’m feeling less visible. No longer “working” in the humanities, I feel subdued, removed from the conversation. Ashamed, even, at my endless patter about contractors, kitchen paint, laundry and neighborhood politics.
I’m grateful for this CID space. This open, light-headed emptiness. Here the small fleeting image of the silenced wife can’t hold its pursed line. It waves out of control in a trickle of tears after dinner.
“I’m really emotional this weekend, but you said you want me to share when I’m upset, but you need to know that I’m emotional so what I say will sound much more intense than I mean. It won’t represent what I really think.”
“OK,” he says.
He’s waiting patiently.
It becomes clear that he’s been waiting patiently. Understanding the undesired focus on mortality the new tumor markers bring. Watching the approach of Mother’s Day.
He’s different without my voice, I tell him. He doesn’t respect what my research brings to the world. His demeaning attitude will dissuade our son from following his heart in college. His scientific male arrogance, unchecked by me, will erase everything I am and have been.
I won’t matter.
What I learned and studied and contributed won’t matter.
You’ll make it hard for the kids to grow the parts of them that would be me.
You’ll forget me.
Oh, he says.
The love in his face fills the room. It warms those wide-open emotional spaces inside of me.
“Oh,” he says.
His face somehow captures his understanding – the angles and corners, curves and edges, layers and hues, of my entire being.
“How could that ever happen?”
“I love you.”
The truth he speaks swirls up.
And we laugh.