Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cancer and Mouring and Mothering

I miss my husband. He's been gone for over a week now.

He needs to visit his mother who is 7 days into her chemo now and likely feeling ill.

He makes me feel safe and smart and needed and whole. I hope I do the same for him. This is a scary time and I'm still feeling the sting of Steven so I'm definitely over emotional.

After I dropped Adam off at school today I pulled over the car and cried.

Not a little cry.

The kind of crying that gives your stomach a workout, the kind where you stop breathing for a moment and you think you might die but if you don't cry you won't know that you're alive.

Today I cried a lot.

Then I went home, washed my face and called Mrs. D because she always has something to say and she always makes me laugh.

Last night I went to the trunk of Hubby's car and found a bag of Steven's clothing. It's not the right thing to do but I'm keeping it. It's mine.

My father in scuba diving alone in Mexico. The risk he is taking is ridiculous but I guess he needs to live his life as he sees fit.

My husband is 3,000 miles away with his mother who is trying to beat her lymphoma.

I drove my children to school this morning and listened to their discussions with delight. I could see the smiles in their eyes through the rear view mirror.

When Adam and Eve smile the world stops for a moment. They are so pure and whole and joyous that you really do think you're in Eden. Sometimes if you're lucky you'll get a giggle, or a tandem giggle, it's like the birds singing in the morning.

If this sounds like a love letter to my family, that's because it is. All of my days and nights are about giving and loving and living with and for them.

So I shake and cry because I know that my children, those two souls that G-d has let me borrow for this lifetime, those sweet angels are at a precariously high risk of having a blood borne cancer.

I'm terrified.

I squeeze a tiny bit of control back when I run and raise money for LLS. I'm marathoning right now because I've never been so desperate in my life to have a disease cured.

Usually this all doesn't bother me but today I'm sad. I'm profoundly sad and lonely and frightened, sometimes the fundraising makes me feel better, more in control. I'll take a long run in about an hour. That will surely help.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

How can I forget a friend?????

In the end of January 2003 Steven's partner succumbed to AIDS.

His name was Frank and we were friends, we had been for 6 years but we weren't as close as Steven and I were.

I'm trying not to sob and vomit because I can't remember Frank's last name.

I know it's stupid but I can't remember and I'm furious that someone so decent and kind can't be remembered.

I'm trying to contain my venom today but it's been precious few weeks and I'm feeling terribly abandoned.

My father is on his way over to help with the kiddos.

When Hubby is away I feel the loneliness of no more Steven even more intensely.

I'm so glad my Dad is on the way.

My mother in law started Chemo today.

I hope G-d didn't forget about us.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Called Steven's Mom Today

I wanted to hear that deep south swampy accent say, "I love you" and she didn't disappoint.

We are inexorably bound.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Funeral Was "Beautiful" - The Chemo Begins Today

Apparently it was a beautiful funeral with a baby blue casket and a lot of flowers.

Steven's entire graduating High School class showed up. It was 90 minutes long and the town virtually shut down.

Like my cyber-rock Kenn I wonder if the small town that gave West Hollywood the gift of Steven celebrated the life of a man taken by AIDS or by Lymphoma.

Since no mother should bury a child (did I mention that Steven was the second of her sons to succumb to AIDS?) I will reserve judgment.

Some of the guys are very angry that Steven wasn't buried here. I don't share that rage, I wonder if it's just exhaustion.

My mother in law is due to begin chemotherapy today. The doctors have given her a 50% chance of getting to remission.

My children are frightened and there's nothing I can do to allay their fears. The fear that their Grandmother will die is a real and reasonable one. They are also saddened by Steven's death but they take it in stride.

Adam and Eve want to know that Mom and Dad are healthy.

They want to know what would happen to them if we died.

They worry that their Uncle smokes.

They see their strong father sad and suffering this is new and unusual.

I can only hold them, show them our fitness and tell them that G-d needed Steven to keep the other angels happy. I tell them that I'm hopeful for Grammie but no one is really sure, Daddy just needs us to all be very good for him.

It's a difficult moment to be a Jew, we don't discuss the afterlife, we don't dwell on it, we simply march on.

I'm teaching Adam and Eve to march forward, shoulders squared even when your eyes are watery.

I'm very afraid.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Skiing Alone Flying through powder

We ran away.

We took the kids and we are literally on top of a mountain.

Hubby's mother had a 5.5 hour emergency surgery yesterday. It's lymphoma and it's bad. I told him she could come live with us, that I would take care of her if it's what he wanted. I also promised to not repeat the conversation.

He is my husband, any decision he makes will be fine with me. I love him and I'll do anything for him, including caring for his mother who gave me such a magnificent man.

Adam and Eve have learned to snowboard. Hubby has learned too.

Something wonderful happens to me on the mountain and I'm free.

I find the steepest meanest trails I can, covered in powder to my knees and I ski so hard I fight for breath and every so often I'm so scared I cry.

But I ski like I run. It's intense and it's solo and the physical challenge shuts my brain off for hours at a time.

The teenage hotshots whip past me coming off the ski lifts but I glide past them, weaving through the trees, jumping small cliffs and my 37 year old knees are giant shock absorbers. My thighs are tight and they ache but there are so few things in this world that I know I do better than most.

Skiing is something I do better than most

And on the Mountain

No One




NO Matter

How Hard



I needed this. Hubby needed a break, Adam and Eve needed this.

Tomorrow I'll ski and run since I'm now adjusted to the altitude.

This is bliss.

I may not be a size 2 but my body works perfectly and I'm immensely grateful for that.

I believe.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Days of Anger

I think I'll do a post a day about something I'm angry at.

Just for a while...

If you're uninterested just click away. I won't be angry at you.

I'm angry at people who lie.

Steven's Sisters cried and screamed over his dead body for three hours.

The stood over a contorted yellow and bloating corpse to flog themselves yelling at the heavens, "We should have come and visited when he was alive." And other things but basically a self-flagellating yell that echoed through the halls of our fair hospital.

These were appropriate sentiments.

I believe Southern Baptists declare their sins aloud in Church and somehow are absolved of them? I'm unsure.

What infuriated me even more though was the, "honey, you did the best you could" and "he knew you loved him" that reverberated through the tiny room.


They didn't do their best and he felt totally unloved and alone. Their best was jumping on a plane and coming to visit and they didn't do their best until he was long gone.

And you know what else? They didn't do their best until someone else footed the bill.

Greed is bad.

Catering to your basest fear is bad.

But consoling someone and telling them their behavior was acceptable when it was not. I'm still deciding who is the bigger asshole.

I detest false praise for children as much as false absolution for adults.

It's too fucking late to be a good family.

And Steven would kill me for feeling this, much less writing it because he's kinder and more forgiving than I am.

So what angers me is telling people it's okay to be bad as long as you feel guilty after the fact.

I grew up in a very observant home. I am first generation after the Holocaust. I'm the first American on one side, perhaps that sheds a little light on my rigidity and adherence to laws of conduct. My upbringing tells me, my belief system tells me that what you feel, what you believe and what you think are of no importance when compared to how you behave.

This behavior has left me very angry.

I spend every bit of energy I have today letting Adam and Eve feel loved and letting them know that my seething rage is at AIDS and a family's failure to actively love.

I know my children are small but I don't want them afraid of death. What I want is for them to watch our family value our lives.

This is a good lesson.

My children know AIDS.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


Because a title would only take away from it

6:50 Steven passed
6:55 His partner called and told me

I finished cooking for my family, kissed them and left

8:00 at the hospital

peeling sisters off a broken looking yellow version of v

Cried because he died before he wrinkled

Called the mortuary

Called my mother

Called my husband

Rocked his sisters and begged them to stop touching him, his skin is peeling off

Thanked his mother for sharing him with us

Laughed uproariously with the family and friends

Nudged the dancing queens and begged them to act straight just for a few minutes, they raised their waxed eyebrows and said they were

Made hotel reservations

Said amen to a Buddhist prayer recited in Korean

Said Amen to a Catholic prayer recited in Latin

Was doused in holy water from New Mexico

Silently said the Shema and thanked G-d for taking him

Begged the nurses to help the mother out because her knees were buckling

Drove mom, sister, niece and brother in law past Mickeys, Rage and various cruisers to deposit them at a hotel.

They wondered aloud where everyone was walking to.

I can't wait for them to enjoy the buffet breakfast with the tranny hookers...

My friend of 20 years, my love, my family of choice, he's finally gone.

I can only share with my husband the immense relief it is. I didn't want him to die but he just wasn't living.

His mother chants, "Not my Steven. Not my Steven. Not my Steven. Not my Steven. Not my Steven."

His sisters realize that she did, in fact, love him best.

This is a long day with the laughter dousing the tears. I can't sleep or eat but I can't stay awake or speak coherently.

Eve smiled a little when she heard he died. I think she's tired of sharing me.

I'm tired too Eve but I'm teaching you to be unafraid in the face of death. I'm showing you that no one is invincible and we are all uniquely bound to one another. Eve, my precious, I'm showing you how to be a woman. How to walk tall and proud, how to use your intellect and your resources to thank those around you.

And I will take you proudly to the memorial tomorrow and show you what it is to be a lady because Steven and his partner loved you and you loved them. You will be a gift to Steven's mother who needs to see that a typical family loved and was loved by her son. Not because we're better than the lipstick lesbians who did hair and nails with him, not because our family has more value than the two Daddies who will show up but because Steven's mother deserves to have one little something that's inside her comfort zone.

Because once you join the tribe of mothers you become everyone's mother and when a mother loses her son you honor her. You do what you can to make a woman comfortable who has seen her child in and out of the world. You cater to racism and bigotry because next year or next week when the time is right you will have been dignified and when you say how hurtful it was they might be ready to hear it. Or maybe not, but it's okay because it's fear not malice. And it's okay because their grief is so palpable they really need an enemy and you know it's not real.

It's the wrong order of things. Mothers shouldn't bury children.

It's the same hospital where Adam and Eve were born.

It's the same hospital where I sat with a febrile infant Adam for 5 days praying that I'd bring my baby home when the doctors weren't quite sure.

It's the same hospital where my Uncle Died and my Aunt Collapsed.

His partner swears up and down that he's negative... but then again Steven swore the same thing.

Without Steven I feel old. Like I'm supposed to be the adult, because he took care of me.

When I stop typing I'll know he's really gone.

I'll have to fight the urge to delete this whole fucking blog.

It's Over

He finally died.

I'm off to feed the family.

Thank you G-d for taking the pain away.

Never been on an Airplane

I picked up 5 people from the airport today.

It was their first plane trip, they want to drive back to the swampland they came from.

The tall sister is 5 feet tall
The thin sister is 200 pounds
The brother in law never spoke
The nephew only cares about corvettes
The niece is 7 and wants to recite the 23rd psalm to her favorite uncle

Apparently no one noticed the gay Puerto Rican beside me who has shared a bed with their favorite uncle for so many years.

They gasped at the sight of a straight interracial couple... if they ever get around to opening their eyes this will be quite a tailspin.

There's been no food or water for a few days.

His breath is slowing and his mother openly weeps.

I'm enormously relieved.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Today's Phone Conversations

#1 My morning call to Steven's mother, same as every morning.

ME: Good morning, how's the patient.

JACKIE: Dying Jessica, my baby's dying

ME: I'm so sorry

JACKIE: He only wakes up to moan and we got the second opinion and there's no way to treat the cancer because the chemo will kill him and there's no way to live through the cancer and...

ME: Do you know you're a wonderful mother and Steven loves you?

JACKIE: Honey I've gotta be strong

ME: You are strong and I love you

JACKIE: I love you baby. Will you call his sisters for me?

ME: Sure. I'll see you later I've really gotta go.

*Click* and I throw up


ME: Hi honey, it's Jessica, Steven's friend in Los Angeles

STEVEN'S SISTER: Hi, how are you?

ME: Sugar, it's time

SS: I know, Momma told me but we're real afraid to fly

ME: I know but it's time to buck up and pack your stuff

SS: That's what Momma said. But we've never flown before

ME: The boys will get you a ticket, you just pack

SS: Pack what?

ME: Clothing and shoes, we'll make sure you have everything else

SS: Shampoo...

ME: Just pack your clothes and get on a plane. Have you spoken to your mother? I mean really spoken lately?

SS: What do you mean?

ME: Before you come see Steven you really need to know a few things and your daughter probably shouldn't come to the hospital.

SS: Okay, I'll call Momma.


ME: Hi Jackie

JACKIE: Hi Sugar

ME: You've got the next 24 hours to tell your daughters that Steven has AIDS.

JACKIE: I think you're overstepping your bounds a little...

ME: I love Steven and I know you love your daughters but if one of them walks into this room and kisses him on an open sore she'll have HIV, do you understand how serious this is????

JACKIE: We just do things a little different....

ME: I have their phone numbers and I'm picking them up from the airport and even if you hate me forever I will NOT let them walk into that hospital room without knowing that they have to take precautions when they touch their brother.

JACKIE: I wish you wouldn't

ME: I know you don't believe me but this is out of love. I don't want your son's disease killing your daughters.

JACKIE: I'll do it

ME: I know you will

#4 The phone rings

SISTER NUMBER TWO: How long have you known?

ME: Since '92

SIS 2: Why didn't you tell me

ME: He didn't want you to know

SIS 2: That's not fair

ME: I know and I'm sorry. I did it because I loved him and wanted to respect his wishes

SIS 2: What about our wishes?

ME: My relationship is with Steven.


ME: Do you still want me to pick you up from the airport tomorrow?

SIS 2: Yes

ME: It's okay if you need to be mad at me. I'm very angry too but not with you

SIS 2: I'm not angry

ME: But it's okay if you are. This really sucks

SIS 2: I've never been on a plane before

ME: I know. There's a lot of us here who love Steven and we'll help you if you let us.

SIS 2: I still think you should have told us.

ME: I know.

And she hangs up.

This is more than Steven's family is prepared for.

Bedsores have turned into festering chasms and all he does is moan in pain.

His friends fight the impulse to smother him with a pillow because anyone who loves him would want him to die.

I go to sleep tonight praying for his pain to end.

I'm thankful that his sisters won't flirt with death.

I need to call my brother and tell him I love him.

***** UPDATE ******

Phone rings


PARTNER: What did you do?

ME: What do you mean?

PARTNER: Why did you make her say it?

ME: Because someone had to

PARTNER: That was a dying man's last wish

ME: Tough shit and I don't care if you're mad.

PARTNER: It's not fair....

ME: Did you have sex with him?

PARTNER: This isn't sex

ME: You didn't have sex with him because you didn't want to die and right now kissing him is a death wish

PARTNER: They're not gonna kiss him

ME: Now, they're not gonna kiss him now

PARTNER: Everyone's really mad at you

ME: Okay, at least they'll be alive
PARTNER: Are you gonna pick me up on the way to the airport tomorrow?

ME: Of course

PARTNER: I love you but I'm really angry

ME: Okay


Thursday, February 1, 2007

Sick Little Boys

Hubby and Eve have mended and returned to work and school.

That leaves queasy me home with snotty febrile Adam.

The last two hours was spent with him frogged up into a snuggle on my chest. He's 5 now and doesn't fit the way he used to but I sat still and listened to his breath, wishing I could take the body aches away and silently thanking G-d for giving me this amazing family.

I can't help but think of Steven's Mother right now and the ache in her heart. My love of Steven has transferred to loving his mother because so much of him is gone already.

On a lighter note, we were watching Grease: You're The One That I Want last night and they dusted off Olivia Newton John, when she came on camera Eve declared, "Oh Mommy, she's beautiful. She looks just like me but with blonde hair!"