Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The pictures of us.

I was telling my daughter just last month how I hardly ever see her in pictures she sends me since she is busy with all kinds of tasks, especially capturing the fleeting moments of childhood.
And there is the story we leave behind, not of ourselves, but of those we love, those we hold dear to our hearts.

On our only vacation in France, in a moment of sheer frustration on some thing or other, I handed my husband the phone camera I had, and asked him to take my picture,  He hesitated, making some excuse I can't recall. What I recall is how that refusal, at that particular moment, in a particular setting where I wanted to be memorialized and wasn't, that refusal appeared so callous and harsh at that moment.

I saw it as a betrayal of sorts.
A denial of something that touched deeply, but it was hard to name.
A negligence on his part that was casual and inconsequential, but has stayed as a dark spot, an incomprehensible stain I still can't figure it. I have to add that he did take a picture of me by that creek and mill that had been painted by Van Gogh.

What is about our expectations that leaves us stunned when deep beliefs are contradicted by one statement?
I can name a whole lot of moments when he took pictures of me, and I didn't want to be in any of them.

I can now peruse pictures I took of my children, and can tell you about that moment and the moment before and after, and the moods each was in. I didn't know then what I know now: that pictures carry a whole lot of meaning that is hardly appreciated at the moment, but immensely treasured when that person is gone.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Everything is too much...

You are here
and I draw courage.

I can't show you my scars.
I can't remember what it all looked like
before this place was burned down, annihilation
aimed at just a tiny cell, drew a bigger path to
form a fire wall around the burning house.

I'm dying to tell you everything.
Perhaps, when you are stronger, and you
see your own house threatened with fire,
I will tell you everything so you can
tell me everything too.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Ah, those pesky school routines!

Remember when you were in gym class, back in seventh grade, and you went through warm up exercises, circling your arms, squatting, push-in up...Well, if you continued to do them, all your life, you'd have a fit body, including your arms, and your torso, and your belly. Those were my thoughts when I walked in my simulation visit for future radiation treatments and was asked unusual questions.

Do you have trouble putting your arms over your head?  No.
Do you have trouble climbing on the platform? No.
Do you have trouble lying down and still for fifteen minutes? No

Easy questions.

Not so easy when the execution started. On my back, with my arms over my head, with my feet tied down, with my head tilted just so, the technician worked for forty minutes molding a custom-made body armor that was to keep me in place during radiation treatments. Forty minutes later, I was in so much pain, that I thought my body was giving up for good before it even received the first session of real treatment.

I had failed in a profound way. Who knew that putting dishes away above my head twice a week when my turn came up to empty the dishwasher had not been enough to keep my arms in shape? And my neck? Heck, I only look at myself in the best of light in my house, avoiding long mirrors whenever possible. For the real event, the radiation, I would need to be half naked, a la Marilyn Monroe, part of the time, while the machine adjusted its beams in very precise ways for very precise timing. My breasts, my underarms and part of my torso were covered with a thin cotton pillow case and were not aided by push-up- bras or pretty corsets.

No. I did this all to myself, by laughing at those routines and ignoring the laws of gravity for decades.
I felt bad for the staff, who had to position me this way and that, an inch from the waist up, two from the hips down, moving me just so to align those majestic rays to do their precise work of killing some precise nodules hiding behind my not so precise skin.

The first treatment hit me like hot sand on a cool beach. Not literally. I left the radiation room and the only thoughts I had: I should have practiced those not so stupid routines all these decades. I should have listened to those teachers.