Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Sunday, May 29, 2011


If you don't already know my mom, let me tell you about her.

A journalist by training, she was the first woman ever to work on the copy desk at the Salt Lake Tribune. She got married and reared four children, wrote books, wrote articles for the Oregonian, and produced much of our family's food on our 11-acre plot. She taught a daily hour-long early-morning scripture class for high school students for four? five? years, earned two master's degrees, and spent a long career at Intel.

And when Mat got sick, she visited every two or three months, staying as long as I would let her so she could wash my dishes, do my laundry, and play Candy Land for the seventeenth time in a row with Colin. I could go on for a long time about my mom.

She was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago. Extensive surgery was required to remove a large mass from her abdomen, and several organs were casualties of the operation. There is no indication that any cancer remains, and there is nothing to do now but wait and see if it recurs.

I will freely admit that I am freaking out. I feel like I'm watching an instant replay of 2005, the year Mat was diagnosed. Rare type of gastrointestinal cancer? Check. Major surgery? Check. Surgeon says the cancer is gone? Check. Cancer recurs?

I'm trying not to go there in my mind, but it's hard.

The difference is that I'm thousands of miles away, and I feel completely and utterly powerless. Seeing the situation from this side of the country is eye opening. Now I know what it's like to never feel like I have quite enough information, to never be sure when, if ever, is a good time to call, and to want to simply be there in person.

I hate it.

I want my mommy.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a mixed bag under the best of circumstances. Although children can be sweet, Mother's Day is really about what Dad does to make Mom feel special, right? Today, without Mat, I thought it would be about as much fun as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Mat didn't actually have the best record with Mother's Day, however. One year he forgot entirely. I realized this pretty quickly, but decided not to say anything (e.g., be a martyr). All morning I thought, "It's OK. It's no big deal that he forgot Mother's Day." I repeated this mantra in my head until about noon, when a flip switched (probably prompted by a tantrum from one of the boys, then two and five). I gave Mat a piece of my mind and stormed out the door to take a long, long walk.

While I was gone, he wrote me a a book of cartoons called, The Mother's Day Book for Kimberly, or "Trying to Think Like I Think You Might Be Thinking."

The first page features a conversation between worms. The wife worm says, "You remembered!" and the husband worm is saying, "Of course. I may be a slimy worm but I wouldn't forget Mother's Day!"

Another page features my two-year-old standing on my head, saying (as he often did), "I want juice!"

I came back from my walk with a cooler head, the book made me laugh, and all was forgiven.

And now I have a book that Mat wrote for me, and a good story to go with it.

I'm so glad Mat forgot Mother's Day.