There’s a ridge inside my mouth. It’s just where I imagine the edge of the tumor is, except it goes back farther than I thought. It starts below the molar behind the tooth that was extracted, runs halfway between my tooth-line and the bottom of my mouth, and ends where those two bumps are in the middle. (I’m not the only one with those two bumps, right? Had them all my life.) The pain from the tumor extends to the second tooth on the right side, but the ridge doesn’t go past the middle of my mouth.
I keep tonguing it, trying to figure out if it is? If it isn’t? It must be. It’s jagged, and I’ve never noticed it before. Is that a good sign? It would be where the bone ends. The pain from the tumor is less, and I’m taking less painkillers because of that. So the tumor must be shrinking, leaving behind a hollow.
What does that mean?
Will I need surgery?
Is there anything they can do to fill in missing bone?
I’m still scared they’re going to take my teeth, but more about the healing time for major surgery. Then again, what the hell am I doing being upset about that? I could still die.
I’m glad I’ve stopped worrying as much about whether I’m going to die or not. My anxiety tells me that not worrying about it means it is more likely to happen, but that’s a vicious circle of ridiculousness that I am able to push from my head most of the time.
I still have bad days. I still take Ativan, probably less than I should.
But we’re moving forward.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are a mix of good and bad moments.
After the Morrigan poop incident and hiding in my room trying to calm down, I get ready. I put on a pair of black leggings and a Christmas-y shirt my sister-in-law Laura got me when we visited them in Sudbury while I was waiting to go to Princess Margaret. I cover my head with a Christmas scarf, which is diaphanous, and I worry the “tiny hairs,” as Morrigan calls them, are going to poke through and look silly.
I go downstairs, and everyone assures me I look fine. I haven’t put on makeup, although I want to; instead, I pretended to put makeup on Morrigan after her bath. She loved that. She looks adorable in her black and red tartan dress, curly hair springing down the sides of her face.
The babies are in their matching red dresses and black leggings, and we decide to do their seven-month pictures today, even though it’s not actually until Christmas. Well, I decide that, because I suspect I won’t have the energy to dress them on Christmas and take decent pictures.
We four adults swoop in and out, putting babies down, picking them up, cooing and making faces to get them to smile. I always take three sets of pictures: one with each baby and one with both of them. I manage to get decent ones because they’re sitting up but not crawling yet. Eight months will definitely be interesting.
As we’re reaching the end, my bowels rumble.
We’re almost there. I don’t want to stop.
Don’t worry–this story doesn’t end with poop anywhere but the toilet. I always feel like I have to clarify this up front. Am I ruining the ending? Bad storyteller, bad.
When I get a decent, final picture of Phoenix, I run upstairs to the bathroom. More diarrhea, because why not?
But when I’m done, my GI tract is in pain. A tear springs to my eye.
Goddamnit. It’s not quite time to leave for the Christmas Eve service, but it’s getting close. We want to get there at 5 o’clock, so that we can get seats for the 5:30 service.
I text Kevin the gist of it and ask him to have someone take the kids and get us a seat.
It’s painful, but I’m done in the bathroom. I go and lay down on the bed.
I’m crying, and I don’t know if it’s from the pain, or because why the fuck can’t I just have one nice night where we sing Christmas carols and feel like maybe everything isn’t shit? I rip off my scarf and throw it onto the bed.
My dad comes in and sits down. “Diarrhea?”
“Yeah.” I tell him what happened.
He puts his hand on my leg. “I’m sorry.”
The pain starts to subside. I don’t know if I’m going to need to go back in the bathroom.
“It’s okay,” he says. “We have plenty of time.”
I stare at the construction paper covered in stickers Morrigan made me that I hung on my bedroom wall. “Why does it have to be like this?”
“I don’t know. It’s bullshit.”
The sweating dies down. “I guess it’s because I waited too long. But I didn’t even wait that long. I just wanted to get the pictures done.”
I want to hate my body, but it’s the only one I have, so I can’t. I feel like it and I are in this boat together, like things are being done to us that we never assented to, so we are in this grudging alliance together. I want to hate something, but I can’t even hate the cancer because it’s not anything. It just exists. It’s not an animal or a plant. It has no willpower. It’s all, Oh, I was here, but I’m not wanted, so I guess I’ll go.
At least, I hope that’s what’s happening.
I want to be angry, so sometimes I’m angry at people around me, and that’s not fair.
The pain is almost gone. It’s not even that late. “I think we can go now.”
I put my scarf on, and we head out.
The service is nice, and I don’t have any more problems. I like the pastor’s sermon. He’s an older man who has the bald head and ring around the back like I imagine I’ll have soon, with the way my hair is falling out faster on top. The theme of the sermon is “In the Still of the Night,” but he talks about how Christmas can’t have been all the quiet. All those animals? And Mary, giving birth? Have you ever been to a maternity ward?
I like that. I think that’s why I never connected to the Christmas story. I’m not a big kid person–I’m definitely not a newborn person–and I was never interested in pregnancy until I got pregnant. But it seemed so ridiculous to me. Silent Night? Away in a Manger, all peaceful and still? No, screaming and blood, thank you very much. Where are those Christmas carols?
Mom and Kevin brought the babies in the stroller, but we all end up holding the kids. Phoenix falls asleep in Grandma’s lap. After Calliope finishes kicking with her new shoes at the stroller in front of her and starts getting fussy, I take her into my lap. She smiles at the people behind us and looks around very interested-like. Morrigan sits in Daddy’s lap. I love it because this is what Christmas Eve is supposed to be like.
We go home. We open pajamas and a DVD. We put the babies to bed. We watch a Curious George Christmas special–or, at least, Morrigan does.
Christmas Day is hectic. I have to coax Morrigan to poop twice, which is exhausting. We don’t finish opening gifts until the afternoon, and all the adults are stressed out and tired. I push myself too hard, I eat too much candy, and I can barely do anything on Boxing Day.
But it’s a good Christmas. So many gifts. We were sponsored by Rob’s work group, so Morrigan got a ridiculous number of presents.
But it’s good.
This year’s holidays could have been shit… but they weren’t. I take lots of videos and post them on our kids’ Facebook group.
All in all, a good Christmas.