Frances has been up to her old tricks lately, waking up in the middle of the night to tell me she's scared, or has to pee, or remembered that she forgot to pick up a quart of milk, a stick of butter and a loaf of bread.
I try to be as polite as possible during our 3 am meet-ups, peering over her upper bunk with half-opened eyes, shivering from her stand-up fan and just generally drunk with drowsiness and trying to get the whole transaction over with before my body realizes it's upright.
As a result of these nocturnal interruptions, evenings have been sleepier and mornings tougher to take.
Last Tuesday night around 9:30, I was ready to catapult the kids into bed and fall asleep to a good foreign home-buying show when Stella passed me a note that said:
I feel adventurous tonight and want to go for a drive in the dark before bed. Pleeeease?!
I couldn't resist.
We all hopped in the car - the girls and I in jammies and Pete in more civilized shorts. It was getting cold so I pulled on my giant hoodie with "Bad ass" on the front, put on my purple librarian glasses, washed off the eyebrows and let my patchy brush cut fly free through the open window.
We no sooner turned the corner when I saw our next door neighbours' chihuahua being walked by a stranger. I peered into the woman's face and realized as we were passing that it was the Loch Ness monster of our neighbourhood: my oncologist. She looked at me, I looked at her and we stared at each other like we'd never met.
Even though Dr. A lives just up the road, I've seen her only twice before - once when she was driving down our street in her old Honda and once when she was dropping off keys next door so my neighbour's mother could house sit for her while Dr. A went to Palm Springs.
Each time, seeing her was like seeing a teacher outside of school: surreal and awkward.
Shortly after this, we drove up to UVic and promptly got rear-ended while we waited to get onto Ring Road. Pete and the new driver exchanged heated words while the the dude refused to admit he hit us, so I did what I do best and stepped in.
I emerged from the passenger side, in full jammie'd, badass, glasses, patchy-haired glory and said, "Are you REALLY denying you hit us? I felt it, my kids felt it, my husband felt it..."
The driver looked me up and down for a second and said quickly, "I'm sorry... I'm so sorry."
Then I realized I looked like the perfect cancer patient, deserving of your sympathy and pithy inspirational quotes, not the badass I thought I was. Ugh.
The next morning I was beat and decided to sleep in an extra 30 minutes. By the time I got gussied up to go on my walk, a whole different, more intense breed of people was out on the streets instead of my usual sleepy compadres. As I pulled Lucy close to me, balancing a full bag of dog shit and making room for a couple of focused Oak Bay runners with their black lab, I looked at the man's face to say good morning and saw it was my plastic surgeon, Dr. T.
I get it, universe.
With the runway leading to my PET scan now littered with rose petals and set to the latest Euro-pop and just the right shade of orange lipstick, the sight of two of my major medical team players plus my fear realized that I look more patient than model badass these days are all signs that I can't let up on the road to breaking up with my cancer boyfriend forever. I need to work, bitches.
I've had a few moments lately, as my hormones come back into circulation, when I've thought, "can I just have a day when all this shit is not so bloody top of mind?!", but the woman who thinks those whiny thoughts is a damn baby.
As the incomparable Kate Moss said, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels... or something, something, cancer sucks, something, something, don't lose focus.