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Friday, August 01, 2008

Pickin' Up the Pieces and the Importance of Batting Cages

A year ago tomorrow I got up early, got ready & headed down to Springfield, IL. Down I-57 & 55 & a whole bunch of other Is until I got to Memorial Hospital. There, in the sunlit waiting room Mo, my stepmom, was sitting in a chair, doing Sukokus with a blanket over her lap.

She looked at me & said that Dad was about to go into surgery.

6 weeks before, Farrah & I were in the grocery store picking out meat for hamburgers when my Dad called & told me that he had cancer. Immediately, I became nauseous and reached for Farrah. Hindsight 20/20, I should have gotten into my car immediately & raced down to see him. But at the time all I could do was fight between handling reality & avoiding it. Avoiding it won.

So there we were, in a chilly waiting room the first week of August, knowing that it was the best of bad news (Prostate) yet still terrified and attempting to make small talk. Mo's training as a nurse was certainly a god-send, as she acted as a calming force despite her same fears.

'He's out and it looks really good'.

So we went to eat things completely opposed to our diets and headed off to bed.

The next day we brought dad home & made a pizza. I left on Maureen's request that dad needed to rest & if I was around that he wouldn't. She's right. He would have wanted to play pool and drink beer and hang out, showing me whatever new motorcycle he'd bought last week. And talk about baseball and physics. But that was not the time.

So I headed up north towards Chicago and upon reaching the 294/80/57/94-merge traffic stopped. And from the 2 Big Gulps I'd put into my belly, my bladder was full. A friend, urologist actually, called while I was sitting, contemplating whether I could angle it 'just right', to ask how the surgery went & if there was anything that he could do. 'Catheterize me, take one of those fancy U of C helicopters & fly down here', I responded. He laughed. I couldn't get up the nerve to 'angle' for fear of ruining the electric seat heaters in the car. Hold hold hold.

During this time, I'd gotten a call from a friend asking if I'd make her brother's 21st birthday party at some club in Chicago. 'Please please come! It'll be fun!!! You need some fun!', Farrah said. 15 minutes later, 5 feet from where I was before, I pulled over, parked my car, walked over to where as few people as possible would see me, hiked up my skirt, pulled down my underpants and released what I can only estimate was a liter of urine on to the side of the road.

Back in the car my phone rang incessantly. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was playing a free show. Ethan really wanted to see them. Katie was going. So in my head I put together a plan to get home, unload the boxes that Mo & I picked up to help the move to Boston by myself, get on the train, to catch the El and walk up to the Metro to then catch a cab over to Amir's (Farrah's brother) birthday party. My friend, Michael, was back in town from China and wanted to hang out too so we could meet up after taking a cab back down to Hyde Park and make last call at Jimmy's.

And then traffic started moving again. Exits every 5 minutes. Must get home to shower and make it up to the north side. Phone ringing. Come have fun. Fun. Fun. Fun.

But I didn't want to. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to throw myself onto my bed and wiggle around like a fish out of water, crying while punching a pillow. Why the fuck did my dad have cancer? And why was I freaking out about it? This was nothing new. Mom has MS, Mo had cancer. Death and illness aren't new to this family. Shit, when I was 13 I had Lyme's Disease that went undiagnosed for 8 months, causing stroke-like symptoms, swollen joints, 1/4 of a year missing school to sit in doctors' offices, MRIs, CATScans, the reason that I quit dancing because they thought that dance was causing it. This was a drop in the bucket. Dad's fine. Right?

143rd Street came up. And I exited. Heading west I had figured out a new plan. In about a mile I went north on Cicero to where the 'Go-Karts' sign is and made a right. Parked the car. Dug out all of the quarters that I had. Left the phone in the car. Sprightly marched in a striped skirt and kitten heels through the go kart area, the miniature golf and toward the softball slow pitch. Picked up a bat, swung it in a more vertical 360 to loosen up my shoulder and entered a cage. Put my quarters in and waited for the machine to start its work.

I hit two rounds of balls. Hard. Knocked them to the netting. Focusing on each one of those 12 inch orbs and striking them with enough force to cause them to stop and reverse in an arc that had I known the starting point and angle could figure out exactly where they would land (wind excluded or included if I knew the wind differential). Yes, I got a 100% in Newtonian physics.

The look on the faces of the kids outside waiting to hit was priceless.

After that I went straight home, lugged all of the boxes upstairs (with the help of 3 dudes) & headed to Jimmy's with Michael & his friends because I knew that I could run home from there if my emotions hit zero.

Fast-forward to today...

Had anyone told me a year ago what the next 12 month cycle would include I might have laughed at them & said that they were lying. I probably would have responded with something like 'whatever, life can't get much more hectic or troubling'. I would have been very wrong.

Currently, work's slowed down, thank the plastic tree on my porch, because my life calendar is certainly full of events. Tomorrow's a quick trip to upstate New York for a wedding reception. Then Sunday my new roommate moves in! Despite apprehensiveness towards living with a roommate again, I think it'll be good. Especially on the ol' bank account. And then I won't feel all depressed cooking dinner for one all the time. And the superbonus is that she LOVES cats so Georgie & Henry are gonna get just that much more love (like they needed it!). And then on Tuesday I have a dentist appointment. And Thursday a girl-date with what is officially my favorite neighbor of ALL TIME, Jess, to go watch The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (shut up, don't judge, I love that shit) & have root beer floats.

But for the biggest & certainly most awesome news of the summer....

My little brother's getting married!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He's so happy about it & Steph is as well & well, it's pretty much impossible not to be happy with them & for them. Such happy & good news that I can't help but constantly smile...probably all the way down to NY tomorrow morning.



Anonymous Jess said...

Emmy--That's a really well-written and moving entry and I'm proud of you. Especially for the part which we both know is hardest and was hard for the both of us and no one else really gets. (I hope, fervently, that this makes sense only to you.)

9:37 AM

Blogger iamnot said...

Hoping your Dad is ok...
Parental mortality is a tough subject to deal with. You just don't know how much shit there is inside about your parents till your connection to them is threatened.
Loved the story. I'm proud to "know" a girl who can relieve herself on the side of the road and hit baseballs in a cage.'re not a Red Sox fan, are you?

11:43 AM

Blogger emertron said...

Uh HELL YEAH I'm a Red Sox fan!

1:12 PM

Blogger iamnot said...

Happy that Manny is gone?
He seems more willing to hustle for the Dodgers.

4:27 PM

Blogger Texas Cinderella said...

Hope your dad is okay too!

4:16 PM

Blogger emertron said...

Thanks dudes. Dad's been cancer-free for a year now. Yay!

3:29 PM


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