Dawson: “Welcome to Family Feud. Let’s start with the Windrum family over here.”
“Ok, first question: What do you get when you mix the holidays with cancer?”
Windrum Family: “Let’s go with…a nightmare?”
Dawson: (Chuckle). “Well, let’s see. Survey says: (DING!) One chaotic Christmas cocktail, and not of the alcoholic kind. That would definitely be a nightmare.”
Thanks Richard Dawson. Ummm, yeah, not too difficult a question, Richard. Oh, and please stop looking down my red dress.
Man, even as a kid watching the game show Family Feud from afar, I worried he might see the cleavage I didn’t even have.
My mom and I got into a huge family feud this week. I probably should have just put a big old reminder on my Outlook calendar so I could have better prepared myself for a blowup I fully anticipated. In fact, I wonder if clicking to “Dismiss” that reminder would have prevented the fight from taking place altogether. Guess I’ll try that tactic next year.
I could feel it brewing. I could feel my anxiety level increasing. I could feel more guilt, sadness and anger settling in. This happens to me all the time, but these emotions are off-the-charts during the holidays. And, I’m not even the one with cancer. Seriously, I can’t even imagine all the waves of emotions my mom rides not only during the holidays, but ALL the time. She has lung cancer. Inoperable. Incurable. (No, she didn’t smoke…doesn’t matter).
Needless to say, time is precious. “Holiday time” is extra precious, which makes it nearly impossible to fill it in a way that fulfills all of our expectations, most of which are completely unrealistic to begin with.
For starters, I live in Omaha, Nebraska. My mom lives in Phoenix, Arizona. The distance makes it difficult to just “be there” for everyday needs. You know, when she undergoes “scans and results hell,” when she’s just feeling crappy and needing to hang out with one of her kids, when she wants to see her grand kids and completely forget about cancer for just a flippin’ second. So, extreme guilt and I are best friends on a daily basis for the in-person comfort and company I can’t provide.
Then, the holidays roll around. That Christmas cancer-flavored cocktail really starts to make my head spin.
Here’s a just little taste of my thought-process:
“Crap, we aren’t in Phoenix for the holidays. Crap, I’m bummed out. Crap, my mom is going to be bummed out. Crap, I feel guilty (still), sad and angry. Crap, yes, there are other family members in Phoenix, but they’re doing the same dance of trying to spend equal time with their families too. Crap, is this the last “good quality” Christmas left? Crap, I’m sick of worrying about all this crap! Crap, I don’t want my mom to hear my girls laughing in the background during our Christmas day phone call. Crap, my girls are spending Christmas with their other grandma. Crap, will this hurt my mom’s feelings? Crap, yes, it probably will hurt her feelings, but what can I do about it…other than feel more crappy? Crap, why am I worried about my feelings when my mom is the one with cancer? Crap, I just need to forget about all of this for awhile. Crap, I haven’t talked to my mom for a few days. Crap, I hope she’s not ticked off. Crap, when am I going to call her? Crap, I’ve been swamped at work. Crap, the girls have homework and need a bath. Crap, that gives me maybe a half hour of “free time.” Crap, I know my mom needs to vent. Crap, I just can’t handle it tonight. Crap, I’m a crappy daughter for saying that. Crap, my mom’s need to vent continues to grow. Crap, I really just need to talk to my mom. Crap, maybe I can call her on the way home from work. Crap, that won’t be enough time. Crap, I’ll reply to her Facebook message after dinner. Crap, the girls are upset I’m in the computer room again. Crap, here I am going on with my life while my mom battles this cancer beast. Crap, that just doesn’t seem right. Crap, I really need a good cry. Crap, when and where can I do that? Crap, my mom meets with her doc soon. Crap, what’s he going to say? Crap, it’s going to be bad news. Crap, I mean bad on top of “inoperable,” “incurable.” Crap, that means another dose of reality. Crap, well it could be good news. Crap, that means all of this crap drags on even longer. Crap, did I really just say that? Crap, I mean really, did I just say that? Crap, I am a horrible, horrible person. Crap, I’m just really tired of worrying about how it may all end. Crap, stop it Jen, there may be hope. Crap, I’m exhausted. Crap, just called mom. Crap, we got into a fight. Crap, I blew up. Crap, why did she say those things? Crap, why did I say those things? Crap, we’re at a stand-still. Crap, we’re wasting precious time. Crap, we’re wasting precious “holiday time.” Crap, I’m still mad. Crap, I need to get over it. Crap, my girls are amazing daughters. Crap, too bad my mom can’t say the same thing. Crap, that’s a bunch of crap, Jen. Crap, why does cancer have to enter every little, tiny speck of every picture? Crap, maybe cancer isn’t playing any part of this. Crap, I’m tired of trying to figure it out.”
And, remember…these are only MY thoughts. Now, back to the red dress.
Dawson: “What in God’s name is going through Jennifer’s mom’s head (Yes, the one WITH cancer)?
Windrum Family: “We’ll say, way too much. More than we could handle ourselves?”
Dawson: “Survey says: (XXX) There’s not ONE answer for that.”
Crap, that’s what I figured.
This is where you come in. Tell me what goes through your mind on a daily basis. Does cancer have your family playing Family Feud? Does the game get more intense during the holidays? How can we all be better team players?