Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Smell

The chemo has taken hold of Art. He slept for the better part of the day. He went to Cedar Sinai for fluid and anti emetics (no vomiting drugs). He slept when he got there, slept for the 4 1/2 hours he was there. He came home and slept. Got up and ate and then went back to sleep. As I write now, he is sleeping. I wonder how long he will sleep. Will it end tomorrow or the next? Without his hair, which we completely shaved the other night, and his weight loss, he looks like...a cancer patient. That’s what he is for now, so how appropriate for him to look the part. But there's the smell. His body omits an order that is combination him and chemicals. It's neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but it is delusional. He sounds like and looks like, kind of, my husband. But he smells entirely different. The smell hinders my ability to connect with him. When you comfort a child that is not yours, the way they smell when you hold them, the way their bodies feel so foreign next to yours, you just know the child does not belong to you. He smells like he doesn’t belong to me.

We got home from Cedar Sinai last night, where he was administered five different chemo as well as had a bone marrow biopsy and a spinal tap. After we got home, I found him in the kitchen, standing over food he had taken from the refrigerator. Just standing over it, his brain unable to make a decision about what even to open. As I approached him, he turned to look at me and with this simple phrase "I can't seem to figure out what to eat," the baton was passed. It was quick and effortless for both of us. We know what to do.

I did three things for myself today. All of them made me cry. I met with a spiritual counselor, and I cried for an hour, opening up and letting Spirit in. I met with a friend for lunch and cried after he left, mad at myself for closing down. I had an incredible moving massage by a man whose hands released so much of this tribulation that I cried during most of that, too. In the spa, I cried in the whirlpool, in the quiet room and in the steam room. I cried while I got dressed. I cried when I stopped at Jo Ann Fabrics to get elastic. I cried while I sang in the car. I was sure that once I blew through that self-protecting wall I would not be able to stop crying. I don't care if I cry forever. Today was the closest I've felt to whole.

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