Not too long ago, I drove Craig home and put him to bed after a rousing evening of movie watching and festival touring. As days go, this was one extraordinary day for both Craig and Mom.
Craig got a haircut for the first time in 5 weeks. Regardless of the style, he made an appointment and sat through a 30 minute process without hiccupping or vomiting. Even though the place creeped me out like the birds (what place says, “how can I take care of you today?” except for maybe some “offsite businesses” just outside of Vegas), kudos to him for hanging in there! Plus, heyyyy, he looks good, so double bonus.
I drove him to his apartment, gave him his meds, and then we scurried off to meet up with the family over at Brelle’s house. The fam was planning on walking through a Gaylord neighborhood festival later in the afternoon, but, by Craig’s impetus, we went early. We walked, slowly but surely, the several blocks to the fest, fest, festive festival. It was replete with beverages, junk food and, oh yes, a petting zoo for the youngins and the 65 and over crowd, as it would turn out. There we were wheelchair wrestling for space near the goats and alpacas. Ya know, come to think of it, I recall seeing goats lying on top of each other on the Discovery Channel-it’s their natural resting position, you see. Yes, yes. And, wherever there are goats in nature, there are camels and turtles sharing space in perfect harmony. Why there wasn’t a polar bear, search me. But, it was cute to see Mom and Dad interested in the animals and even cuter to see that Diane had overcome her childhood fear of petting zoos. (The girl would fall into hysterics, and always for the goat, too. The very FRIGHTENING goat. ACK! Who cares about sharks, gators and the like? Run! Don’t walk!! “Them” goats are fierce! Only love in my heart, D.) .
We toured around the festival, navigating the many obstacles they set up for the occasional wheelchair warrior. Cracks, cords, little knee high kids–seemed like a regular backstage studio for American Gladiator! It was outrageous. But, not as outrageous as the sunshine band on stage. We stopped at an acapella group singing—”interesting”—versions of old standbys. Let’s face it, the Lawlers aren’t fan club presidents of any acapella group, and this one was no exception. If singing doesn’t work out, they could always double for a dog whistle! I kid, I kid. It was more like a whale call. (Ouch!) Noooo, they weren’t that bad. And, I’ll give them props for singing a Beach Boys song—Good Vibrations. Mom is a big Beach Boys fan and immediately began to bee bop along…and then cry. We’re becoming ”comfortably numb” or desensitized to the frequent crying, rising to the occasion when the tears “speak”. It’s becoming easier to distinguish tumor tears from grieving tears, fortunately. Both are valid and important to recognize, and we do. Each time, we pause and comfort her; some of the time she knows why she’s crying and others she doesn’t. We work through both as they surface, and that time was no exception. I rubbed her back and Jill patted her leg–”comfort food” for the moment, as we say.
We walked back after spending some time at the festival. To share that moment as a family was meaningful and memorable, and for that I’m grateful.
At home, each of us fell into chairs, “comfortably numb” from our long walk–some more than others since this was the longest Craig or Mom had walked in quite some time. I massaged Mom’s feet as she and Craig rested. Shortly thereafter, and to our surprise, both Craig and Mom were up and at em, ready for a movie at 6:30pm. Most nights, 6-7 is the groggy prologue to sleepy hour for Craig, but tonight was different. There was a familiar sass to him as he teased Dad. He seemed extremely interested in what we were up to-particularly when it came to what Mom was doing-and wanted to join. We even laughed and joked around like old times. To see him smiling and laughing again is food for the soul, and a “mental still-frame” I will keep close in mind. He seemed enlivened by the day’s activities, and more alert to conversations and smartass statements said under breath. The evening finished with a movie and the obligatory after movie critique. We sat around as a family and laughed together for the first time in awhile. I did my best impersonation of one of our doctors and that cracked Dad up. Good to see him laugh. Though admittedly tapped out by the end of the night, today seemed to be the most active day yet for Craig, and the most lighthearted and at peace we’ve been in some time (relatively speaking, of course).
A Van Morrison/Pink Floyd duet serenaded us with a version of “Comfortably Numb” as I drove Craig home, and immediately he fell into story. It’s a rare occasion when he initiates a conversation anymore, so this was a prized moment. In a voice stronger and smoother than “normal” he said, “I can’t tell you how many times I thought of this song as they were sticking me and pumping me full of medication at the hospital. The IV morphine [and other pain and anti-nausea meds]… I’d first feel very warm and then I’d feel feverish. Then, pretty soon I’d be out of it and hallucinating”. I asked what part of the song and he said all of it. And there were others, too. Other songs fell into heavy rotation in his mind, partly because he didn’t have his own music handy. This exchange put a certain human touch to his circumstances. He has yet to describe or reveal much of what he is feeling and thinking, but through a song, he shed a bit more light into what he experiences in a moment when the light seemingly turns off to all of us watching.
In any event, these moments are pearls-blemished as they might be, but beautiful nonetheless.
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