And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
On Monday, at 1:00 in the morning, I was officially on my first day of my weeklong break. I was comfortably tucked into my recliner, fireplace on, blanket over me, watching several episodes in a row of The Gilmore Girls, when my daughter Olivia sent me a message on Facebook.
“Mama, can I ask you a question?”
One o’clock in the morning questions are usually a red flag. They’re usually something like, “I want to go backpacking this summer in Europe with a guy named Bubba McGee and he’s forty-two and he’s been unemployed for twelve years, it’s a thing with him, and we figured we’d just make money along the way by doing odd jobs and we’ll sleep under the stars and we’re going to leave our cell phones behind to fully appreciate the natural world and that’s okay with you, isn’t it, Mama?” So I immediately paused The Gilmore Girls and answered, “Sure.”
I couldn’t have been more surprised.
“So this week is spirit week for Halloween and it’s kinda like spirit week back in high school. Tomorrow is pink day so you wear something pink. I am assuming it’s for breast cancer awareness. Do you find stuff like people wearing pink annoying? Maybe romanticizing the disease? I don’t know, I am just debating whether or not I should wear pink.”
I am three years out from breast cancer. I still have a daily reminder, in the oral chemotherapy I have to take every night in the form of a little yellow pill. That will continue for at least another two years.
I knew where this question was coming from. I wrote a Today’s Moment about it, on 9/9/17, when I was right smack in the middle of daily radiation treatments and really not feeling well at all. We were in Home Depot, getting a key made, and Olivia found a keychain with a pink ribbon on it.
From that blog:
She asked if I was looking forward to Pinktober, the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month and many businesses turn their lights and signs pink. She said she would wear pink for me in October. She said she would show me support.
I told her that I wasn’t looking forward to Pinktober. That maybe I would next year, when this is all behind me. But that right now, everywhere I look, there’s cancer. Turn on the TV, there’s commercials about cancer. Go on the computer, there’s articles about cancer. Go get a key made, there’s a keychain about cancer.
“I’m just so tired of it, Livvy,” I said. “I can’t get out from under it. Radiation every day. Cancer Center every day. Look here, look there, see pink ribbons and cancer. Cancer, cancer everywhere.”
Olivia said that she loves Autism Awareness Month and everything is lit up blue. I told her that this might be because she has such a good handle on her own autism, that she deals with it with grace and intelligence and compassion.
“I might feel better about Pinktober when I get to that point too,” I said. But right now, I’m not there. I wish I was. But I’m not.
And then Olivia said, “Oh, Mama,” and she flung her arms around my neck. This almost-seventeen year old young woman, who typically walks ten feet in front of me in public, who won’t hug me outside of our house and who rolls her eyes if I hug her, well, she threw her arms around me in the middle of Home Depot and hugged the stuffing out of me. She planted a solid kiss on my cheek.
And that was just what I needed.
It was just what I needed. And now we were three years later, and she was asking me about wearing pink. If it bothered me when people wore pink.
So I answered her, “Not so much anymore. When I was in treatment, it was too much of a reminder.”
She said, “So it doesn’t bother you anymore?”
“Okay, cool,” she said. “Then I am gonna wear pink.”
It’s not the first time I felt grateful to have such a kind daughter. Such a NICE daughter. In this case, someone whose life has been touched by breast cancer and who wants to show support for her mother and for others who deal with this, but only wants to do it if her mother is comfortable with it. She could have been part of a pink-wearing pack and I would never have known. But she wasn’t going to do it without making sure that I felt okay about it.
She’s twenty years old. And she’s amazing. This won’t be the last time I feel grateful.
“I have a pink sweater, so that will work,” she said.
At 1:30 in the morning, I answered, “I have a pink sweater!”
“Oooo,” she said. “Wanna wear it tomorrow?”
So on Monday, I didn’t see my daughter. But I knew she was wearing pink. She knew I was wearing pink too.
And I felt her hug, just like I felt it that day in Home Depot, all day long.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.