Oh hey look, I still exist. Mostly. Where do I even begin? Preemptive apologies for how long and rambling this will probably be.
So this past spring, mom and I moved. She wanted to buy a house, but was waiting for her house on the river to sell, post-divorce. We decided the house we were renting wasn't the right thing to buy, and so informed the owner. He put it on the market and against ALL ODDS, it sold in like two weeks. Scramble to pack, find a new place, etc.
Let me tell you about this move. I'd been doing one bedroom apartments in LA for ten years. I have a lot of stuff - craft supplies, fabric, loads of dishes - but NOTHING LIKE THIS. My last move took the pros a total of 3 hours to load in LA/unload here. This move? Three guys, a thirty foot truck packed to the gills TWICE, and eleven hours. Plus eight carloads. Plus four pickup truck loads. Plus two more loads with two guys and their big pickup pulling a trailer. Plus we left a waist-high pile appx 6 feet wide and 12 feet long for the trash haulers. I spent some time during that move crying on the floor of my empty bedroom because I knew I would be trapped in this unending chaos and clutter forever, in a place I am really really not happy to be.
But, suck it up, whatever. Found a new place, went to sign the lease, I paid a year in advance for convenience, walked out the door with the keys...to a voice mail from the real estate agent saying we had an offer on the river house. Are you fucking kidding me. Oh it's a lowball, this isn't going anywhere, let's get the painters and new blinds etc etc.
But it DID sell, oh FFS, let's not unpack anything else, start looking at houses AGAIN, find an amazingly incredibly perfect one (well, perfect aside from being in a Town I Do Not Want To Live In), we buy it, we move AGAIN and at this point I really should've gotten on some kind of medication, or at least started drinking. Though hey, at least we're moved and don't have to do so again, and the house is great and I tear into the painting and upgrading hardware and building out mom's closets and all that. Yay, new house!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
And so. The downside and the upshot. The reason I'm living with my mom in a Town I Really Don't Want To Live In is because a little over three years ago (very shortly after the extremely traumatic divorce), she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, which had already spread to her liver and her spine when they found it. I was fortunate to be unentangled enough - no mortgage or kids or relationship or anything that would prevent me from moving to be with her, so here I am.
And so. After a few years of various treatments and chemotherapies and their accompanying ups and downs, she was doing pretty well. Then shortly after we moved into the Terrific House, her regularly scheduled PET scan showed that the cancer was active in her liver again. Options were discussed, a chemo regimen was selected, and the very first one just knocked her out. She was exhausted, sleeping constantly and nearly bed-ridden, for months. Every week, she'd go back to get blood work done to see if her numbers were up enough to have a second round, and every week the answer was "no."
Week-long hospital stay for fluids, potassium, blood, platelets, etc. By this time, she's also put on about 40 pounds of water weight, because her liver isn't functioning well. Ultrasound of liver, and surgeon draws off over three LITERS of fluid from her abdomen, but it keeps coming back. Then bedrest for a couple of weeks, and various diuretics, and Lactulose, and then the last visit to her (seriously amazingly wonderful) oncologist who said what we'd all been afraid to hear: I can not give you anything else.
At this point, between the cancer and the chemo, her liver was pretty near destroyed. We all did everything we could. She never lost hope that maybe it would get a little better on its own, that she'd have more time.
She died on September 26.
This is hardly (sadly) a unique situation. Everyone loses their parents, unless they die first. But she was the center of my life, especially for these last two years, she was the best person I know, and god fucking damn it she was only sixty-two.
It is difficult to watch someone wither, to lose their strength from both the disease and the treatment, to lose their cognitive function from the ammonia and other toxins building up in the brain due to liver failure. It is especially hard when it's someone who was so alive and so vigorous so very recently. Power tools! Her Harley! Sailboats! She had her own little Catalina, and crewed on a 72-foot schooner! She could cook ANYTHING. She could sew, she could refinish furniture, she was a pretty damn good shot, she could ride the unruliest bitchiest mare you could find and back a twenty-foot horse trailer straight into the skinniest driveway you'd care to name. You guys would have liked her. She was also really into glitter nail polish. My next set is going to be in her honor: The creamy turquoise and black and silver of her Heritage Springer, the black and yellow and grey of her favorite DeWalt drill, the ocean blue and seashell and sand of the bay here that she loved so much.
So to all of you I've been out of touch with, I am so sorry. I'm embarrassed and guilt-stricken to have disappeared like this, and to have been shut away for so long, but....even a "hello" would've initiated a conversation, and a conversation would invariably have included the words "how's your mom?" And I just couldn't. The only way I could maintain my [fake] veneer of calm, to continue to function and help her and do what needed to be done was to just put the walls up.
But I'm really mostly okay. I seriously, seriously am not writing this so that everyone will say Oh you poor dear, what can I do, is there anything I can do? Because I love you all, but there is nothing. I'm still a little bit broken and often inconsolably grief-stricken and sometimes furiously angry and always slightly unmoored and adrift, but I really am mostly okay.
And so! I am back. Or I'm very nearly back. NerdLacquer will also be back. We will all be back, and we will all be fine, eventually. And again -- my most profound apologies and most sincere thanks to all of my friends who don't hate me for disappearing and all the NL fans who wondered What In The Damn Hell. This is What In The Damn Hell, but it'll be much better soon.