Archive for August, 2010

One Day

August 23, 2010

I just finished One Day By David Nicholls. It was one of those delightful books that I was disappointed to finish, and slightly disappointed by a sudden event at the end. I’m struggling to find another book that I will enjoy as much.

It followed two friends over 20 years on the same day each year, a clever and challenging undertaking for a writer but it works surprisingly well.

I related to the character Emma in her disappointment for how her early 20s passed into less than she had hoped. A disappointment, rather with unfulfilled dreams, unrequited love and lack of direction. I look back on my early 20s with a pang that I did not achieve more success as a writer. I look at authors with such awe when I should focus that the only difference between me and them is discipline, and maybe some connections and education. There’s slight embarrassment that I do not have more to show for my attempts at writing.

Just as there is slight embarrassment that I have not read certain classical novels or ever embraced Shakespeare. I know regrets do not have a place in a productive life.

Emma found her focus when she returned to school and became a teacher, sharing her passion with kids. So, at 32 I have my life ahead of me and still time to do more. Which means I should probably return to that novel that I’m ignoring.

Cancer Edit

August 16, 2010

I survived my parents’ cancer. My mother did not survive her most recent bout, but through every doctor’s appointment and surgery I was by her side, that is before she went to India where she died.

Then my dad was diagnosed with his second cancer in as many years and I watched him cope with it differently than my mother. He went from controlling to morbid, to unfunny attempts at humor to annoying.

I know it is not fair to expect two people to handle disease and diagnosis the same way but my father’s narcissistic coping mechanism made him bland company. So it was with great hidden disgust that I agreed to help him edit an essay for his cancer survivor’s group.

Fortunately it was only two pages of narcissism and given that it lacked a cohesive theme I was able to offer a handful of notes. He wrote two things that particularly annoyed me; one was how when he had to go into Manhattan for an appointment he made plans so the trip would not be exclusively about the hospital. During this ordeal, he did not travel downtown to see me or his grandchildren. When my mom was seeking treatment, we made plan weeks in advance down to where we would eat and what we might order and how she would travel uptown. Perhaps for my dad, seeing his friends was more cathartic than his daughter. In which case, I reserve the same right not to be with him every day when we are in his hometown.

The second thing that irked me was that he wrote about his experience receiving the chemotherapy for the first time when a wave of chills overtook his body. *I was worried about my daughter seeing me and freaking out.*

I picked out wigs with my mom, shared her hospital bed for a hysterectomy and then when the stitches and then her organs fell out. I’ve seen my parents sick. Deathly sick. I’m not proud of it, but there is a part of me that knows, through my sister, that he was jealous of how I attended to my mom during her sickness.

Maybe he was really concerned and wanted to protect me. I just don’t see why of all of the things that experience has to be included in his 500 word essay. My husband tells me that I can politely decline helping him as I do not want to relive his cancer. Perhaps.