Broken

A favored coffee cup broke the other day. I don’t know how. It was in a pan of soapy water and I looked down to see two pieces: the cup and its handle. Disjointed. A fleeting sense of “Oh” then a wave of nostalgia.

It was my souvenir of a trip I took with my grandson to the New Orleans Jazz Festival a few years ago. LBC (Life Before Cancer) years ago and we stopped twice at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets. The pictures and other mementos are in a box somewhere but the cup was a daily reminder of our sojourn. Lips to rim, a whispering whoosh of breath across the steaming dark liquid and a river of memories rises up: the boy-child grown to manhood and everything in between. But those stories will wait for another day.

So I threw it away. Two days ago. It was broken after all. And a handle glued is not to be trusted, not with steaming coffee or a lap endangered. I need my coffee too much, more than my lap, to risk it. Suddenly, I just could not bear it. I spent a minute digging through the trash and garbage to dig the cup out and resurrect it to the kitchen table. Broken. Damaged. Not quite useless though. I could put pencils in it and turn it just so. You might not notice the break. If you didn’t look too hard or too long. Or just didn’t know any better.

The days when I feel like that cup looks are less frequent now. But still there. If you look just so, or too hard, or too long. If you know me. Or you are the sort of person who can hear the catch in my voice, notice the tears in my eyes, or recognize that look on my face.

My hair has grown back, though still way too short for me. But I think I like it this way. A little thinner on top, too. I don’t like. A little curlier in the back. The lines around my mouth are deeper. My physical stamina is non-existant. I ache in places I never dreamed of. And the neuropathy in my hands brings me to tears some days. Days when I cannot zipper and button my clothes, turn the key in the door, or hold a pen and write legibly. Typing this isn’t much easier and definitely not faster.

Then there is chemo brain. Every day another yawning day full of unfinished tasks, heaping piles of indecisive actions covering the surfaces of my home like dust and ash. Lists of “to-do-lists” with nary a check to blemish them. I have gone from the woman who got things done to the woman who’s done in by the least little things. And that’s for the important stuff. Insignificant tasks, minutiae of no great import, looking for or putting away some trivial item will take hours out of my day. But DAMN that shelf/closet/bookcase/drawer is organized/clean/tidy/WHATEVER now!

I’ll take them: Small victories in mending that which has been broken for too long.

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