Monday, May 23, 2011

On turning 30.

This weekend, on Saturday the 21st of May at 11:57 a.m., I turned the big 3-0. I was 165 pounds and 69 inches long, a healthy young woman with a slightly graying (!!) full head of hair. When people ask me how it feels to be 30, I say that it snuck up on me. I say, "It feels the same as it felt to be 29." Or, I mutter something like, "Um, OK" and then change the subject. Depending on what kind of mood I'm in, I fake smile and say, "AAAHH-mazing. Oprah was right! Life gets better with age!" Really, what I should say is that 30 feels weird. 30 feels like I'm too young to have a dad with cancer. 30 feels overwhelming and great at the same time. The journey from 29 to 30 feels like both the best and worst year of my life. 30 feels frickin' crazy. Now pour me a glass of wine.

Last May, when I turned 29, I was five months pregnant and feeling spectacular. I had one of the most amazing summers of my entire life as I was able to visit with my family and prepare for my baby's entrance into the world. I walked and did yoga almost daily, and I felt an extreme sense of peace with my life. In September, my lovely baby boy was born, and I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful childbirth experience and was blessed with a healthy son. I fell in love all over again with my husband, and together we navigated the ups and downs of parenthood. After Calvin was born, my parents came to visit us. In the moments of those days, I realized that for all these years, they have loved me just as much as I love Calvin. I saw in their faces and actions a pure kind of love that knows no limits.

One morning in October, I got a call from my dad telling me that my mom had suffered a stroke. I thought I was dreaming. What the fuck. Seriously?! How could this happen? My dad was beyond upset because he was traveling in Buffalo, NY at the time, and my mom was all alone. Luckily, she had a few good friends by her side for the worst of it. After a series of tests, it was determined that my mom has atrial fibrillation, a irregular heart rhythm that can cause blood clots. Thank God/Buddha/the spirits above that she recovered completely and is now on a medication that will prevent future clots.

In November, my entire family came out to Boulder to spend Thanksgiving with us. Angus's parents came as well, and we cooked our first official dinner in our kitchen at 3101 Ouray. My dad carved the turkey, Angus's parents gnawed at the turkey legs, Calvin took in the action, and we all toasted with a good red wine. Katy got to meet her nephew for the first time. Their first meeting was love at first sight.

For Christmas, Angus and I took Calvin to Pennsylvania to spend time with my parents. It was Calvin's first flight, and he did great. His favorite events were walking around the living room with Poppy and looking at the lights and ornaments on the tree, sleeping in a new room, and opening his first ever Christmas presents.

The next phone call I got was from my mom. My dad went into the ER in January with flank pain and discovered a tumor growing on his remaining kidney. In shock and devastated, Dad went back to his surgeon to discuss options. After what seemed like a million different answers and a long waiting period, it was determined that the only option for a potential cure was to operate and remove the kidney. Immediately, we booked flights home and spend some time with my parents processing this news and preparing for surgery.

In March we returned to PA ready to stand by my dad has he underwent major surgery. The surgery was a success, and Dad left the hospital to return home after only one week. When we left, he was doing well and attempting to adjust to life on dialysis and heal from surgery.

We decided to return to PA once again in April for a visit as my dad's recovery was tough, and we wanted to lift his spirits. On our third day in Lancaster, Dad developed a fever and went to the hospital. He unfortunately had developed pneumonia and c-diff, an intestinal bacterial infection. Immediately, treatments were started, and Dad slowly began to feel better. He had a feeding tube placed to help with nutrition and continued to go to dialysis three days per week. The day we were supposed to fly back to CO, he developed a pulmonary embolism which required immediate intervention. Thank goodness, the doctors were able to catch it early and treat it right away.

The morning of my 30th birthday I got a call from my dad that I will never forget. He told me that they had found cancer on his lungs. The mother fucking son of a bitch cancer is now metastatic. Most recently, we have learned that there is also a tumor on his liver. We have found an amazing oncologist to work with who is hopeful about a targeted therapy called Sutent which attacks renal cell carcinoma specifically and slows the growth of the tumors. We are also hopeful that this will mean better days ahead for my dad. For God's sake, he deserves them.

Sometimes I imagine life's moments in Polaroids. So, for instance, I "take" a picture of a moment that means something and store it in my heart of hearts and promise to hold onto it forever. From 29 to 30, I've collected many Polaroids, many of which no doubt will be topics of writing to come although it's tough because most of the time these are moments that I can't even find words to describe. I have to say that this collection of photos has been my most special yet. From life's joys to life's heartaches, I hold them all close.

I am 30. I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a child. Here's to hoping that this year is full of good health, happiness and a lot of love.

There's a place I go sometimes that feels safe. It's the bathroom with the old, brown and blue floral wallpaper, with the dried boogies wiped on the wall above the toilet paper roll. The single sink with toothpaste stains and contact lenses cases and Old Spice shaving cream cans. Mr. Squeaky Shower and the smell of cologne. It's the creak, creak of the plastic tiled floor and the smell of the metallic water that we have delivered monthly because our well went dry. There's an old cross-stitched picture that hangs on the wall by the towel rack. It says something about family and leaves falling from trees and the change of seasons. I think it means that we will always stick together, but every time I pee, I read the saying and try to piece together its meaning. There's a mother with her children and the wind is blowing, and the house is calling them home.

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