Sunday, November 02, 2008

Phrasing is so important

Early in 2008 I proclaimed that I wanted it to be the year of no chemo caps. In my naivete I thought that was clear enough. It got to be August and frankly I was feeling pretty cocky about it. That should have been a warning sign in and of itself. Tis always wrong to tempt the fates that way.

For several months I had been working on reestablishing a very important friendship. While on the east coast Michele and I finally saw each other. However just getting to that meet up was a bit challenging. She has never been great at returning phone calls, I knew that from living with her for three years and sharing an answering machine. Our contact had been very limited and we had not actually spoken to each other, only voicemails until my last Tuesday in Massachusetts. We set up a meet up for that afternoon where I would spend the night and she would drive me to the airport on Wednesday morning. Things were set up, she would call me about noon when she expected to be back in Northampton from an appointment in a neighboring town. She needed to be home by about 2:45 to meet the kids after their first day of school.

As I sat in Spirit's house (which could be metaphor for my experience, but is an actual person's name and home) and waited the anxiety built for a variety of reasons. Time ticked onward and my anxiety edged closer to annoyance and sadness. Finally I called, leaving a message on her cell since it was close to the time she needed to be home. Eventually (maybe after 3pm?) she called back with some odd ball excuse. In some ways it was a typical flake Miche response. "After the appointment I went to Wal*art to pick up things for the kids and then it was time to get home" Something like that. Anyway she came to pick me up and seeing her smile, hearing her voice live was amazing.

The next morning while driving to the airport she finally fessed up the truth. She had had an exam which revealed a lump in her breast that morning. While the medical provider talked about clogged milk ducts, fibrous tissues, the other possibility loomed large in her mind. Hence the sort of "black out" visit to the store and forgetting about me in a way. We talked about how unlikely it was - she's under 40, doesn't smoke, hasn't been on birth control pills in eons, etc. She was scheduled for a biospy that Friday. The possibility of just doing a lumpectomy that day was discussed and we talked about the pros and cons of that as well. I know I sent an ecard that day, and maybe left a message. A few days later I received the call I was dreading. The good part of the news was that it was Stage 1, meaning it was quite very early. The recommendation was a lumpectomy and radiation.

In mid-September she visited my flickr account, looked at some of my yarn photos and requested a shawl. Actually it was a beautiful request:
It would be great to have you wrapped around me and keeping me warm and protected through my next series of life events.
How could I refuse? Of course being me, it took awhile to find what I wanted, which I do regret as I wish she already had the shawl. First off I had to confirm some of her favorite colors. Then it was off to find just the perfect pattern and yarn. I went to A Wool Gathering with Kathleen on the hunt, but found nothing. Once it was Ravelry to the rescue. I found I had some yarn in my stash that might work.

So the shawl is being knit and with every stitch I hope this is all going to be fine, that she will live a long life, watching her three children grow. Also with each stitch I remember I must be specific about my prayers and wishes to the universe. I was foolhardy and flippant asking for only no chemo caps being needed. With every row I breath a prayer of thanks that we started reconnect before the diagnosis as the idea of not knowing or finding out some other way is just too painful to contemplate. With every other row I am saddened to be still so far away during this time as I wish to hold her during treatment, take the kids out for dinner when she is too exhausted from radiation and what ifs.

Words are imporant. Friends are precious. Use both wisely.


Ginny said...

Sometimes knowing when and what to say are the hardest parts of this insane human interaction we call life. All the best thoughts and prayers to Michelle. Keep us posted on how she is doing.

heather said...

aww so sweet (and sad). hope she does well.

LittleWit said...

Healing thoughts to Michelle. I am glad you were able to get back in touch with her before she found out. I really believe that things do happen for a reason.

Lisa said...

Bittersweet, but true. I love the way she phrased the desire for a shawl. You both are lucky to have the other in you life....cherish that while you work as well...