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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Elegy for last week

On Sunday, I baked with a generous expert in her own kitchen, and made the pie crust that had baffled me my whole life. I went home excited to think about food again.

Roasted a chicken, and ate the challah I made with the baker.

On Monday, I began sorting through all the clothes I packed away last year. I started with the smallest basket, which I thought would be the easiest. It turned out to be full of my old bras. Awesome. Most of them I felt fine parting with; they were of the Macy's clearance rack, workhorse variety. But a few were very pretty. I tried on my favorite one, made of black lace. The first beautiful bra I ever owned, I bought it when I was 26. It cost something like $60, which I thought was ludicrously, deliciously, expensive. I was expecting to be swimming in it when I put it on. Even my right side, which has an implant, is much smaller than it used to be. I slipped the straps over my shoulders, and reached my arms behind me to clasp it. I realized I hadn't used my arms like that since August of last year. I did that motion at least twice a day, every day, since I was about 13. Fifteen years of a movement that can look impossibly elegant, or just impossible, depending on the equipment. And then nothing, for over a year, until that moment. I was full of regret, before I even looked in the mirror. It would show my diminishment. But when I looked, it was kind of okay. Believable. The bra little big, definitely, but I looked passable. Even the completely flat left side looked alright if I squinted. I tried on all the other bras in quick succession. I was thanking god for pretty lingerie when I took off the last one, a white one. There, in the lining of the left cup, was a dime sized dried up puddle. See, I never felt a lump in my breast. My symptom was a bit of blood, or serosanguinous fluid as they say, coming from my nipple. And there, in that soft lining, was the mark, the very last physical clue of my breasts. That I had them, that they existed.

Made pot pies for dinner.

On Tuesday I had a sore throat, and Matt pushed me to go to the doctor. "With your immune system..." he began, but I cut him off. "My immune system is fine. Chemo didn't hurt it too badly." "Why not?" I shrugged, and made muscle man arms.

Ordered pizza.

On Wednesday I saw my breast surgeon, and got disappointing news about the reconstruction process. Her recommendation: wait at least a year before proceeding. I thought I was ready to walk away from fake breasts, but it hit me hard, and I mourned the loss in a way I never did last summer.

Dinner, again pizza, with support group friends.

On Thursday I left work early, and ate a pie from Sunday while watching TV. Watching the Daily Show, I found some hope for the future of my chest while using the internet on my phone. I was elated, but Matt preached caution.

Went to an Indian restaurant, and my eyes were to big for my stomach. I had a little bit of everything.

On Friday my coworker asked if someone had kissed my cheek, but it was just an odd blush. Blood near the skin. Sanguine.

Lunch with a former professor. Thai curry, and jasmine tea that she found too bitter, but for me was just right.

On Saturday I cleaned my bedroom windows for an hour. Walking by everyday, I didn't notice how filthy they had become. I used six rags and half a bottle of natural cleaner wiping the glass and scraping out of the dust from every crevice in the molding. I cleaned everything inside; the dirt on the sill between the glass and the screen was another matter. It was too cold to open the window. I did the baseboards too. By the end I found it sparkling, but Matt said he'd never know the difference. The light shines through differently now.

Took fresh juice from the new place, and a two mile roundabout walk to get there.


  1. I loved this - how life resumes its usual paced, infused with the excitement of everything feeling "OK".
    I hope you go out and buy yourself an even more expensive bra that is in size you wear now.

  2. Thank you :) and now that I have permission for a shopping spree...look out!