The monsters we battle are secret ones. They track us no matter where we hide and just we think we have vanquished them forever they rise up stronger than before. This is why I should not have been surprised when the panic gripped my throat in the middle of Woolworths. Certain fears are socially acceptable, spiders, fire, heights, rats and so on. These are fears rooted in the solid reality of our world. The fear that plagues me has no basis in solid fact. I am mortally terrified of frozen foods. Supermarkets, crowds and shopping malls too, but it is always the frozen food section that finally sets me off.
So there I stood on Thursday afternoon in Woolworths laden with shopping and completely unable to breathe. In retrospect, shopping during lunch hour was not a good idea. In fact shopping anywhere that is not virtual is a bad idea for me. Despite that I won the battle that day. I did not cry. I did not pass out although it was a near thing. I simply went into a change room and waited it out. Finding out that the boots I bought for Small girl aged 5 were too small finally reduced me to tears, but at least I was home and safe. I also ended up with a lovely green dress I have no recollection of choosing. I am not a coward, so I went back on Friday and exchanged the boots. Me 1. Irrational panic 0.
The purpose of the shopping trip was to get some new pajamas for the trip into hospital on Tuesday morning. I may be going to feel terrible, but I’ll be damned if I have to look like it. I now have fabulous sleepwear, Mac powder foundation and long last lipstick. Another not so irrational fear I have is what surgeons and their teams say about you when you are, to all intents and purposes, dead to the world. Lying there at their mercy. Her thighs are wobbly. Her boobs are sagging. Her legs are hairy and so on. Of course, I never got around to the wax so Immac will have to do the trick.
I also have some real fears about this operation I haven’t quite given voice to yet. There’s the obvious dying bit. So, just in case everything I have is left to my children and my husband. I also do not want to be kept in some horrible coma stasis if I do not wake up. Give me two weeks and then flip the switch. Oh, and I’d like to donate my organs. What else while I am on this morbid diatribe? Yes, the funeral. I want a Wiccan/Pagan ceremony – Sally and Adam are in charge of finding someone to do it. I’d like to be cremated and at the ceremony have 3 small vials of the ashes given to each child and the rest returned to the earth. Music wise, I like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and some Leonard Cohen. Julie can sing. I think that would be nice. Afterwards I big party with a big bonfire and the sharing of funny stories about me. That would be a good send off and a hell of easier that raising a dolmen!
I am also concerned about living my life in a wheelchair. However, with a bit of creative interior design and some driving lessons I think I could survive that. I could still wear high heels and never have to worry about getting sore feet standing on them. Most of all, I am terrified the operation won’t work. That my aorta will be attached to my spine and they can’t do the disk replacement. That despite everything I’ll still be pain and not be able to sit through a movie or go dancing. That my beloved shoes will have to go into storage for Small girl aged 5.
And what about the things I have yet to tell my offspring? Like how to apply liquid eyeliner. Who will hunt down and kill the first people to break their hearts? I will, even if I have to from beyond the grave. Instead I have bought a bag of goodies for their father to distribute for each night I am in hospital. Still, I do want them to know that they are each wonderful, unique and much loved. The warrior. The wizard. And the Angel. Okay, maybe Small girl aged 5 is a bit more Valkyrie than Angel.
Enough! I still have to pack. The new PJs, underwear, make-up and make-up remover, towel, face cloth, movies, Keith Richards autobiography and my hair straightener. The final item on the list may raise some eyebrows. I can’t be separated from it. The laptop, modem, cellphone and associated chargers are all too obvious. I know that I will probably feel too ghastly to go online, but the thought of not being able to fills me with the fear of entrapment. I must have access to Mr Delivery should the food be too awful.
The next on my to do list is to pack school bags with everything they need for the week in the hope this will reduce morning trauma. Must remember to ask devoted father to call educational psychologist and set up a time for the feedback interview – also to sign permission slip for extra reading lessons. I know absolutely that devoted father is perfectly able to cope and that all will go smoothly. I am slightly and bizarrely jealous of witnessing my ease of replacement, but c’est la vie, mainly I am deeply relieved he is going to be there for them and here for me. I cannot imagine how I could do this if I were a single parent and my heart goes out to all those who are. They are immensely strong men and women who deserve many accolades. I read an article about how gay parents are more socially acceptable than single ones. This callous disregard for single parents fills me with ire. Very few choose to be single parents and in all certainty dreamt about raising a happy nuclear family, it just didn’t work out that way, so why treat them so awfully?
I have devoted today to completing my role in the Great Wendy House Construction. The door is a pretty pink. So is the bottom of the floor. Sadly, I don’t think the underside of the floor is meant to be a light shade of pink. Husband went off to work and I thought how clever I’d be. I couldn’t find a tin called varnish, but I did one marked Wood Primer and I thought that would do. It looked just like varnish when I opened it and set to work. Lesson: Read the instructions. Soon I’d used all the oil that sat on top and was left with a thick pink ooze. It became too thick to apply so I added some wood oil sealer to the mix. I guess I thought it couldn’t get worse. I was reminded of a friend of mine, John Lee, who as a child spilled Nesquik powder on his mother’s white carpet. Instead of getting the vacuum he went for a bucket of water and you can imagine the rest. I did a similar thing with worse consequences involving a coal heater, a towel and a wardrobe. I hope the floor is fixable and at least it is the side that sits on the ground. I am looking forward to renting one of those air spray guns to paint the outside walls. It sounds likef a lot more fun than a brush.
All in all it has been a pleasant last weekend before the rest of my life. I saw Rango at the cinema. Johnny Depp was the hero’s voice and I could listen to him for years and not get bored. In fact, I must put Pirates on the hard drive for the week’s entertainment along with Pauly Shore and with any luck True Blood. I have has a long and interesting conversation with my darling Dad about postmodernism and political correctness and found out more history of my family. Uncle Willie Bruce who fought against the Boers and who could leap a horse clear over a road and some daring WW1 pilots. I understand the African respect for ancestors as I become more interested in finding out who mine were. Great Aunt Diana or Dr Diana Knowles-Spink, is having her final send-off next weekend at her home in London. I am sure she will liven up the other side as much as she did this one and am somewhat relieved to have her watching over me now. I think eternity with her would never be short on excitement. These chats with my Dad make me realize how much miss him on the other side of the world and how much I wish my children could grow up near him and benefit from his extraordinary knowledge, wealth of stories and huge capacity for caring. I walked into his old tobacconist the other day (to buy my boys penknives, an essential boy’s tool) and was poleaxed by the scent of his tobacco.
Ah well, I’m going into hospital tomorrow, I’m allowed to be maudlin. See you on the flip side.