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It’s almost Christmas. It doesn’t feel like it to me – I’ve purposefully avoided Christmas music this year on the radio (spend my trips back and forth to work on the phone with either my favorite “old-time” gospel from my childhood or silence in the background). We don’t have a tree. There’s no indication in our apartment that it’s Christmas at all. We’ve only bought one gift, and I just don’t feel like shopping for any more.

I’m hoping that when it will feel better when Bobby gets home. He’s in Guatemala…. I was sorry we had committed to him going down there, but I’m glad he did. When I look at the pictures, of Marlena and Tim’s faces as they hold their daughter for the first times, I’m really glad that Bobby’s there to record and share it with them.

Last night I went over to M&D’s. When I got there, Mama was in bed. No one else was home. The tree was dark. The house was dark. There were boxes and crap everywhere – Christmas decorations, and wrapping paper, and Susanna’s summer clothes, and old books and movies that she cleaned out of her room and of course moved into the main living area of the house. I started a load of clothes, turned on the Christmas tree, and sat on the couch and cried.

I cried for Mama, and Daddy. I cried for Susanna – that her high school and now college years are taking place under a dark cloud of sickness and fear. I cried for everything’s that’s gone – the warm house that used to be the cool hang-out for my friends, where cookies or something yummy was always baking and it always smelled good, my mama used to buzz around and continuously fight to keep our too-much stuff neat in a too-little house. I cried because the house is dirty – it’s cluttered and unkept. I cried because everything is different – the tree was turned off and no Christmas music was playing. I was home (which is where Mama ultimately always wants me to be), but she didn’t even know it because she was in a deep, unnatural sleep in the dark bedroom. I cried because nothing will ever be the same. My children will never know exactly what it was like when I was little, because that place no longer exists. I cried because I was sitting alone in my parents’ dark house at Christmas… and it felt like the loneliest place in the world.

So then I got up and folded laundry, and put another load into the washer, and ate some pot roast that Amy and Mike brought over (it was good, but it didn’t taste like Mama’s), and straightened the living room. I cleaned the bathroom because I always feel better when the bathroom is clean – the sky can be falling, but a clean bathroom just makes it better for some reason. I consolidated all the Christmas junk into the dining room and stacked all Susanna’s crap so that Daddy would know what to take to storage. I found a place for the movies that she had “cleaned” out of her room… and she told me thank you for helping, which made me feel good. It feels good to be acknowledged sometimes, especially by the one person who is truly one of the most self-centered and least appreciative people I know. I loaded the dishwasher and disinfected the kitchen countertops. I lit a candle – candles always make things warmer. I talked to Daddy when he got home – chatted about Mama’s treatments and my day at work. Mama got up for a few minutes and I talked her into not going to VA today, or even tomorrow – she’s going Christmas Eve because we all know that she’s going to expend too much energy acting like nothing’s wrong for everyone else’s benefit, and come home exhausted to take yet another treatment. The less time she spends up there, the better. I talked to Susanna about her grades – she pulled out a 3.0 somehow, and complimented her on the state of her room (even though all the crap had basically just been moved into other areas of the house). I looked through the folder containing all Mama’s test results – read the liver biopsy report that said that no malignancy was found.

Left at 9:40pm, drove home, crawled in bed and passed out.