Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Meet My Hamster (aka, The Long Downward Spiral And It's Wherefore)

Other than to tell you about his predilection for shrieking "Galaxy Quest" quotes, I've never really introduced my little hamster, have I?

How remiss of me!

As you may have surmised by now, yes I have a tiny little furry rodent who lives in my brain and keeps me up at night. More often than not, it's after I've had the evening cup of coffee, or pounded a Coke Icee at the movies, but even without Demon Caffeine to poke the hamster, he's a bit of a night owl. He's the one who has to hash and re-hash, over and over all those skeletons banging about in my mental closet, muttering commentary in my ear on things that cannot be changed.

It's really annoying, and usually, just a sign I need to stop drinking coffee at night, or (eek) deal with the real stress factors, because let's face it - my ruined love life in 5th grade really isn't the problem in the here and now - it's just a well worn groove of "Should-a Could-a Would-a"** that's easier to traverse than the actual crap keeping me up at night. I think, I worry - it's what I do.

But lately,I'm overwhelmed by a darkness that sends my little hamster into hiding. This darkness follows me, blocking my view of the ever-hopeful sun, wringing out my joy by the gut-twist-fuls. I know it's name, I know I have no power over it, and that, I think, is what pushes me to the edge.

Four states away my aunt is dying of esophageal cancer. A year after her surgery, the cancer is back, and there is very little that can be done for her, hovering at a near-skeletal 80 pounds. They can't do chemotherapy, because she's too weak, and she can't seem to gain weight or strength.

I wanted to go and see her while I was up in Pennsylvania this past June, not knowing just how bad off she was, but my father pooh-poohed the idea and we didn't go. Now I'm kicking myself for listening to Mr. Ambivalent, and wondering if I'll ever get to see her once more, if only to say goodbye. I'm afraid of being a selfish jerk, wanting to hover at her bedside just to net myself some closure. I wonder - do the dying really want us to come and cry at their bedside? Does that help them? It seems sort of gruesome, to mourn someone's death before they've even passed on. I'm not sure what consolation I can offer my cousins - life hasn't exactly handed them a fair deal (genetic bullshit with a name I can never remember, but it boils down to them all having ticking time bombs in their heads, and its a gift that keeps on giving, from one generation to the next.) and now they have to lose their mother, their rock? It isn't fair and there's no "moving in mysterious ways" that's going to make it any more reasonable.

To further complicate the scenario,the two families are not particularly close, the causes being schismatic differences in religion, lifestyle, geographic location, and let's not forget the ever present legacy of my grandmother - ambivalence. But I love my aunt, and I enjoy her company, whether we believe in the same dogma or not. I see pieces of myself in her, albeit arranged differently, and I will feel an emptiness in my life when she's not there anymore.

You can see why my hamster is in hiding, can't you?
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Later~
I made a decision, after talking to my dearest husband and my beloved Bea, and making a few phone calls. I'm taking the trip to go see my aunt, to spend a little time with her, and my cousins. I need to have that chance as my sage friend Ms. Q so eloquently put it, to say, "You have made a difference in my life, and I love you'". To spend a little time together, so I can maybe let go a little more gracefully when I must.

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And the hamster begins his laps again, on the squeaky, creaky wheel in my head...

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** a Peter Case song - I love that NY boy!

18 comments:

flutter said...

I am thinking of you, babe

Heather said...

You are doing the right thing.

moredayslikethisplease said...

This is so hard, my dear! Overwhelming doesn't beginning to describe it does it? Enjoy your visit! I know it was the best thing I ever did with my grandmothers.

Ms.Q said...

Dahling,
I wrote a very long comment on this post and sent it...where it ended up I have no idea. So now I will sum up. You are doing the right thing by going to see your aunt. You will feel closure and she will feel loved. Your cousins will feel glad in having you "loving her up" which is the best thing you can do for their mother and by extention, them.

I love you pookie!
Ms. Q

Vodka Mom said...

First, let me offer you strength and courage. I'm glad you are making this trip!
Second- I've got your hamster's brother- he's in MY brain.

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

I'm glad I could take the time from work to watch the monkey boys while you're gone. The trip will do lots of things, all good, and all will help with the grieving when the time comes. Until then, enjoy the differences that make a family "family".

I love you- Bea.

Ben and Bennie said...

Hoping this is a bridge that brings you and your cousins closer.

Kelley said...

"Never give up; never surrender."

Not only topical but also vaguely appropriate, no?

XOXO

Maggie, Dammit said...

Gah! I can definitely relate. My hamster is an entire litter.

I'm so glad you're going to see your aunt. I seem to remember some very similar advice from you when my grandpa was sick. You are surrounded by good peeps, love. I'm thinking of you.

Jennifer H said...

So sorry to hear about your aunt, and I'm glad you will go to see her. I can't imagine that you will regret that.

Sending good thoughts and some valium for the hamster. Or for you. Either way.

Hugs.

FairiesNest said...

I'm glad you're going, give everyone my love. I wish I had known about this....

catnip said...

You won't regret the trip, I'm sure of it.

thailandchani said...

I think it's important that you go to see her. She will appreciate it very much, too!


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Gypsy said...

I'm glad you decided to go see her. I think it's the right thing. Hugs for you.

csquaredplus3 said...

The hamster helped you. I hope your decision has provided some peace, and that your journey will bless you, your aunt, and your cousins.

VelveetaWingnut said...

Safe trip dear cuz...thinkin of you in Ohio...

liv said...

letting go... it's just never as easy as it should seem like it might could sort of be in some weird alternate universe. i'm sorry. one foot in front of the other. speak your piece.

hele said...

I am glad you are going.

Much much love to you.