Monday, August 26, 2013

This post is full of questions.

Last week, my mother began a new chemotherapy treatment. After having no real therapy for quite a while, the three days of medication really took a toll on her. 

Over the weekend, I asked my sister what she thought my mother will do if the now stronger-than-ever-cancer treatment doesn't work. That's not a question I asked with a song in my heart. She thought mom would be realistic about it, but I told her I wasn't sure. Last week I was talking to my mom about what she wanted me to write in the email I send to our friends and families about her treatment, and my mother said to write, “Thank them for their prayers and support, and to continue to pray that this time the medicine will work.” She choked up when she said it, and I did too.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe I’m letting my opinion of my mother’s Christianity-fueled “magical thinking” cloud my judgment. Maybe I’m the one with the “cup is half empty” theory. I totally realize that I need an attitude adjustment about this. The thing is, it kills me to see my mother sick from chemotherapy. It makes me angry to see the affects being sick has on her. To see her exhausted, and gray, to see her lose her sparkle (but not her edge, not totally). Yes! It pisses me off that she’s being used up this way.

Is it wrong to wonder, what if we stop these toxic treatments and just let things take their own course? Would it be better to be well for six months or whatever it is (and who knows how long she would truly have? Not even her doctor can say; certainly not me) or to be sick for a couple of years? Is the feeling, “This time the medicine will work” greater than “Today I feel good for the first time in ages”? Is it worth it? We keep telling her to fight, to be strong, but what does that really mean? Where does peace of mind come from? From knowing you’re letting medicine and your doctor manage your disease or from knowing you've done all you can? Is "giving up" a failure? 

It doesn't matter what I think because it’s not my decision to make. In the same situation (and please, please, please, to whoever has control over this, may I never be in this situation), what would I do?  

The other day my mom and dad were talking to me about their funeral plans, and about their final resting places (which will be wherever I and my siblings see fit, apparently; that was news I wasn't exactly prepared to get). The whole conversation had a level of hilarity and yet total realism that I wasn't expecting. We could have been talking about where to park the car, if parking the car was funny.

I've been talking a little bit about the things I do and don’t believe in with a friend. These have been interesting, text-based conversations. I don’t say everything I intend to say, and yet, sometimes I say more than I would tell someone, were we actually speaking. And then there are all the things I imply, that I think are clear or obvious. Sometimes I over-clarify, sometimes I even undersell the information I'm sharing. It’s true that I’m prone to over-sharing, and it’s true that I like words in my head but not necessarily in my mouth – but these conversations have been making me think about the difference between the things I really believe, and what I say I believe.

Is that how you know when you have grown up? When you’re consistent in what you think and feel and exhibit in your actions? Or is it when you accept your inconsistencies and failings as part of you? I'm not sure if the ideas at the beginning of this post match the one at the end, or maybe they do. I definitely don't feel like I have the capacity to self-analyze the things I am thinking about, certainly not right now. 

At lunchtime I listened (for the first time in a long time) to the recording that was made at the recital I played in when I was 11 months pregnant. My performance starts out a little off out of tune and has it's wonky parts, and my breaths were ill-timed and so loud... but then there are moments I hear of total sharpness (and I'm not talking about tone) and whatever that quality is that I love about my own playing, that I put out in my performance and somehow had the technical ability, to play exactly how I felt about that piece of music (La Flute de Pan, the first movement, by Jules Moquet), that it has always made me cry to listen to it. Every time I hear it, I cry. And not because I think I'm so great or that I'm trying to say that I performed the piece brilliantly. I totally didn't. I think that's what makes me cry, that I did a pretty good job and finally sort of heard what it means to be expressive. This is a totally unbalanced paragraph that I should revise, but I think I won't. I've been trying to figure out how to work in an extra walk or bike ride and not feel guilty about not spending that time with my son, and though I believe the goal of losing weight and being healthy is worthwhile, in listening to my own totally imperfect performance and yet hearing that thing that I love about music, what I really should be doing is getting in some practice time on a regular basis. Maybe that, the sound, the method, the repetitive exercise, will help me clear my mind and feel better about things that I can't control. Isn't that what all my questioning is about, anyway? I think it is, actually. 

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