If you’ve ever snapped a bone, split it or twisted, chances are good you have your own internal weathervane. The spot I fractured in my foot predicts precipitation fairly well, but, strangely, my sinuses are better than Doppler Radar. I can be going about my business and – whammo! – blinding, crushing pain cuts me down. Most times, if I screw my eyes shut for thirty seconds to three minutes, the pain burns off like a fog under the morning’s first rays, and I know it’s going to rain. I don’t take anything for it. Whoosh! Gone! What happened?
Sometimes, like tonight, the rain’s fallen, the clouds moved on and what Siobhan and I refer to as The Headache remains. Yesterday started out pretty well. Mom answered the phone when I called at 8:45 a.m. because the telemarketers are still annoying their own families. She was still gooey from anesthesia and Tuesday’s procedure. Her friend Erin was just walking up the steps to Mom’s bedroom with a book. Tom was off to work, Erin was staying. Mom wasn’t supposed to be alone after surgery, which she hadn’t told me. Anyway, Mom was making woozy jokes about …something… and that was good news. I waited a few hours and called Dad’s house, where his fab wife Darla answered but she was still sleeping. I promised to call back later.
When I talked to Dad after 2, he was cranky, swearing, firm in his opinions and scathing in his assessments. In other words: he sounded great. I told him if he stopped swearing I’d be really worried. We had a lovely conversation, during which I laughed a great deal. Then Darla sent out a group email stating that she’d started a blog, where you will be nice, damn it, to keep all kinds of people informed about Dad’s treatment. I was thrilled. Then I read the words “[Dad’s] life expectancy is between a couple of months and a couple of years, depending on how he tolerates, and how well he responds to, treatment.”
I didn’t take that well.
The rest of my day was pretty well screwed at that point. I lay down to nap after work and sat up straight when fear shot all through me. Later, I called my brother Todd.
Tata: You’re going to work in a few hours, right?
Todd: Hey! You remembered!
Tata: I didn’t until a little while ago. I panicked and went to the liquor store for a bottle of wine. While I was there, I asked the clerk what day it was. So that’s the only reason I know.
Todd: Don’t let go of that Slinky!
Tata: …always good advice, but what prompted it?
Todd: I was talking to my daughter, who’s got a Slinky by the end her baby brother’s not holding.
Tata: Baby brothers are science projects. You ought to know that better than most.
Todd: I’ll always treasure the memory of you putting ExLax in my Halloween candy.
Tata: I had to do it – for SCIENCE!
Todd: Remind me to send SCIENCE a bag of flaming dog poop.
Todd reminded me that Happy Hour comes but once a day, and we have but a short time on this earth. So drink up! This was excellent advice on an evening I felt like I’d stuck my hand in a socket over and over, and when I feel this shitty, I do something about it. So last night, like every night for over a week, I lit a candle and asked whoever was listening for fucking strength. Since I am completely aware that I know absolutely nothing, I don’t want to offend anyone by calling them someone else’s name, which everyone knows is terrible form –
You: Oh baby baby you really do it for me, Tory…
Pat: I’m Pat. Oh, and so outta here.
You: This here is a valuable life lesson. Shit!
– so I just ask anyone who’s listening for help, damn it! Help! I put down the candle. I sat on the couch and typed something. Ten minutes later, the phone rang. A woman who rescues stray cats called to tell me she’d found two cats together, and they could be available in mid-March, and would I mind if they were both black? I burst into tears, which has become my indoor-outdoor sport, and said yes yes yes.
There was nothing else to do but stand in the middle of my living room and say, “Thank you. Thank you.” So I did.