Posted by Mishi Methven on Feb 21, 2012
Seeing Red (Curls)
Anger is not an emotion that I spend a lot of time on. Out of all the things I've felt in the last 8 months, anger is always the one I try to push away because it seems so unproductive and destructive. But… once in awhile, I just can't help it. I feel the fire inside me starting to crackle and burn.
People who know me will know that my temper is more like a firecracker than a forest fire--- I can go from 0 to 60 in seconds and back again. Once I've "exploded", I'm usually done and can return to normal quite quickly. I would say it's the redheaded temper--- except I don't have red hair!
But my anger about Stella's cancer has not been like a firecracker… it's a slow burn that starts deep inside my stomach and then creeps through my blood before it reaches my cheeks, making sure to stop at my aching heart for a long enough time to hurt. I hate feeling angry. It's one of the few emotions that I have a really hard time controlling, and for a personality like mine, losing control is pretty disconcerting. But…who am I kidding. I haven't felt like I can control anything since June 24th, 2011.
Part of the catalyst of my anger was that lovely Ontario holiday, Family Day. I am generally a fan of it… a day celebrating families is a nice sentiment, but this year Aimee and I boycotted it. A holiday celebrating parents and kids felt almost mocking to us. And I started to think about what a horrible title "Family Day" is for a public holiday. Not everyone has families. Not everyone has positive connotations with the word "family". I began to think about those from broken families, those people struggling to create families, those who have been abused or disowned from their families. And the more I thought about it, the worse mood I was in. Soon, I was allowing myself to be mad at anything and everything. Before I knew it, I was so mad I was seeing red.
I saw red when I walked by Aldwych Park, where I used to bring Stella to play. She liked the slide and the swings the best. I glared at the children running around and shouting, and the parents standing there smiling with their Starbucks coffees. I know those parents. I used to be one. They looked so smug.
I saw red when I emptied out two diaper genies, ran out of wipes and diaper cream for both kids, and thought about how Aimee and I have two children who we change multiple times a day…but one of them used to be potty trained and one of them should be able to do so much more than lie helplessly on a change table incapable of rolling over, moving, or even opening her legs.
I saw red when I tried to read Stella a book and her head kept flopping down to her chest, so I had to hold her head back with one of my hands on her forehead, while trying to turn pages and hold the book with the other hand.
I saw red when I went through Stella's drawers and removed all the clothing that no longer fits her. It's a reminder that she's getting bigger…taller…older. But she's dying. It makes no sense. I filled her drawers with new T-shirts Aimee had gone out to buy. T-shirts in 3T because that's what fits her. T-shirts so that we can access the ports that are now on both of her arms. T-shirts so we can stick thermometers under her arms and phenobarbituate and morphine in her arms.
I saw red when I saw a mother lecturing her daughter about how they had to hurry to get home in time to practice piano before their next play date, and rolling her eyes and tugging at her kids jacket impatiently, rushing her away from the park. I used to do that to Stella. I hate that I used to do that.
I saw red when the 6 o'clock news featured lineups at the Science Centre, Zoo and Harbourfront where kids and their parents waited to enjoy family day together. I was mad at the parents who complained about having to wait in line, while my once active daughter lay flopped on the couch, clicking her tongue rhythmically at the air.
I saw red when I had to spend an inordinate amount of time filling a syringe with deadly medication, tapping out the bubbles, double checking the amount and then pinning my 2-year olds arms down while I gave her an injection painfully slowly to minimize the pain. I was hardly breathing from the stress of it all.
I saw red when I thought about all the parents who need to watch their children in pain constantly. The parents whose children endure years, or even a lifetime of painful treatments for various ailments. I saw red for anyone who has lost someone they loved with all their heart, whether they were 1 day old or 100 years old.
The problem with anger is that there is nowhere to put it. When I am sad, I cry tears. When I'm happy, I smile or laugh. But when I'm angry, there is no way to express it so I just use the energy to organize the house, or go for a quick walk. It doesn't make me feel good to be in a place of anger. After muttering to myself most of the day and feeling a nervous angry energy that I couldn't shake, I went for a long walk with Sam. He has these deep eyes that make me feel as though he knows more than he's letting on. I let myself get lost in his eyes for awhile. I could feel him rallying me on to go back to the house, take a deep breath, and do what needed to be done. To let go of the anger and focus on the love that has sustained us so far.
We returned home and Stella was waiting on the couch. She held her arm out to me and mouthed, "Mama…hold me". I sank into the couch and scooped her into my arms, wondering why she is never angry at the fact that her body is completely betraying her. At the age of two she is a much better person that I could ever hope to be.
I saw red again, but this time it was Stella's curls. It was her lips. It was cheeks, rosy from pressing up against the couch. It was chipped nailpolish. It was the sunset.
And this time when I saw red, I smiled.
Visit from Tutu's Dog, Buddy to brighten the day
This is Stella's devilish smile. I'm pretty sure she's thinking something along the lines of... 'the only thing better than having one baby to torture, is two!'
Hanging out with Auntie Heather
Stella getting ready to go out for a (very rare) walk