Friday, September 21, 2012

Sometimes life asks a lot of you

It's Friday and another week of school has come and gone, like the waves on the beach, only maybe not quite.  I hope I am teaching somebody something.  Originally, the thought of having to prepare for four different classes scared me senseless, but after a couple of weeks, I find that one of my biggest challenges is keeping a consistent pace between my two classes that are supposed to be the same.

Now I have two full, beautiful days wherein I will not have to handle chalk or breathe chalk dust.  For these two days, I can sleep in, which now means until 7:30.

My sister has breast cancer.  That is what I alluded to earlier, a few posts ago.

Her prognosis is good.  They caught it early, and she had three surgeries to remove all the cancerous tissue until there were what they call "clear margins."  Not being a doctor, I imagine "clear margins" to be areas of tissue around the cancer sight where there is no cancer.  I think of MLA margins, the kind I try to teach my students to use for their papers, one inch at the top, the bottom and down each side.  Empty space, free from text.  Clear tissue free from cancer cells.

My students might appreciate the parallel between text and cancer cells.

Meanwhile, my sister is losing her hair.

She never really liked her hair, and she was able to buy a smashingly cute wig.  Even so, there is something about running the comb through your hair and feeling, watching the hair come off in the comb.  Clusters of it detaching from your person, lying prone and dead on the counter like some sort of amputation,  It isn't pain, like a a stubbed toe or a pin prick or a bee sting.  It's just sickening, a sensation that takes your breath away like a fist in your gut, but less sudden.

So many drugs.  Poisons.  The stuff organic chemists make a career of developing.  It is so weird to think that my daughter is developing these medicines, and my sister is having her body pumped full of them.

A professor of Shannon's once said, "It takes a poison to kill a cancer cell.  If you could heal cancer with vitamins, there'd have been a cure long ago."  So they research and design and create medicines... medicines with cloaks that allow them to travel right up to a cancer cell and recognize it before they "uncloak" and attack.

I want to be with my sister.  We are a very unhuggy family, which is sad, but it is the way it is.  So I probably would not hold her, and we would not cry together.  Instead, I would tell her how nice her new wig looks, and we would run errands together, and I'd find ways to help her rest when she was tired.  I'd make dinner and do the laundry because that is what I do.  I'd chat with her while we walked the dog.  I'd drive her to her appointments and make lame jokes while the drugs were running into her port.

I don't know if I could actually say the words "I love you."  But I would do my level best to live it out.  Because I do love her.

It's so hard to be so far away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I prayed for the "family member" having surgery on 8-17 and now I realize it is your sister/cancer. I'm so sorry--causing me to pray more fervently and specifically! I loved Beth during those high school years! I expect to be in Anoka area next Sat for granddaughter Andrea's bridal shower (Phil/Margie's daughter). Trusting that your teaching days will be rewarding. ~Pauline