One must lose all, sacrifice, in order to gain anything, you must first lose everything. The 14th Dalai Lama
When I returned home Willie was already up and shopping EBay. I put my things down and headed directly to the kitchen. I wanted something decadently sweet. And Willie wanted her dinner. I battered and fried some chicken; butter fried canned corn and whipped mash potatoes with cream. You are saying "Shame on you Dianne", but if I didn't cook this stuff, she would buy it elsewhere and pay three times as much for the heart failure. Everything she loved. I told her if she kept up like this we were going to have to start thinning the population by making the killing humans legal hunting, otherwise some of us were going to starve to death.
I also made a peanut butter pie with tons of cream cheese, whipping cream and peanut butter. Now we can just watch our arteries explode in appreciation. I made the pie so I could bring some to Bootsie. I told Willie about mine and Bootsie’s conversation and that she needed surgery to “Fix things”.
What is that about?” I asked.
“I don’t know, maybe they need to cut away some dead or infected intestine”.
“Is that going to be difficult on her?” I asked “What exactly does that mean?”
“Nothing more. She is going to have some pain, but that’s normal after surgery” Willie explained as she handed her empty plate to me nodding toward the deadly dessert.
“You aren’t going there tomorrow?” Willie pleaded “Please Dianne, I can’t take this, please do not go without me.”
I promised her I wouldn’t, but something told me I should go anyhow. As it went, I did as I was told. I worked to distract myself. It is a strange feeling to draw in walls and ceilings to new buildings that may not be built for a couple of years, very possibly with no more Bootsie in the world. Life has an entirely different perception when looking at the yin and yang…or am I using the wrong verbiage? Just the idea of life going on, it seems like life is so cold and unrelenting never caring about the life and loses we experience? Nonetheless, it does and I need to commit to my end. Geez that sounds formidable.
I had to do a checklist and walk-through at 10am that should consume a few hours. I got to the site at high noon and my God it was hot. I had on a pantsuit and heels which I changed to sneakers, tennis shoes, trainers, whatever. The men were huddled in small masses around the property and I regretted at once showing up when they had time on their hands. I was 15 or so years younger than I am now and I attracted my share of attention. Add to the fact they saw few if any females throughout the day. On the positive side, they would be available when I needed attention to details. But today, I didn’t find any, because, frankly, I didn’t want to. But it didn’t stop the haranguing and it took me a bit longer to break loose. I knew it would be regrettable if there were problems and I prayed there weren’t but made a mental note to maybe take a second (or third) walk-through within the month.
Bootsie’s surgery would be at 11am and she promised me that someone would call me with the news. But by 3pm I heard nothing, so I called. Her voice sounded amazingly upbeat.
“Di, I came out of surgery with a colostomy bag…can you frickin believe it? I have to carry a bag of shit around with me!”
As humorous as that sounded, it was really her way of downplaying the awful truth. I asked her point blank what the diagnosis and treatment were. She said they removed the tumors along with huge lengths of intestine but she was in end stage cancer. I swerved in traffic almost hitting a car of teenagers. I thought it best that I veer off the highway and stop. I found a parking lot, pulled in and I got out of my car. There was a small building with several steps leading to the lobby. I perched there. I bent over, phone in hand, my hair covering my tears. I could see how alarming I looked in the people’s eyes leaving the building, trying to look away, but just falling short. Bootsie delivered this news like she was relaying weather conditions. I didn’t know what to say or do. I wanted her to cry so I could comfort her. Instead she comforted me. Soon she tired and I hung up with the promise of seeing her the next day, but she said she would be out and home. Modern medicine. How could they let her out so soon?
Bootsie never once said the words dead, or dying. It was as if those words didn’t exist .
Over the following weeks we would meet for lunch and talk about everything but her condition. She ate very little and was bloated. There were days she didn’t quite make sense. The meds. She always told me she loved me and she wanted me to be with her. At times she got angry about this. But she never cried. I asked her one day why. She told me she found nothing of a solution in crying and didn’t understand why people wasted their strength. I had to agree with her but it didn’t make emotional sense. I saw her with a bald head and an extra 100 pounds from the steroids.
“Can you fucking believe this” she tapped her cigarette and tried to eat her hamburger, but didn’t appear to enjoy anything.
“Booter..About the cigar...”
“Don’t even Di. Don’t you dare. Do you really think this is going to kill me?” which was ironic in retrospect.
“Anyhow, I am gaining weight…you would think that I at least could’ve gotten a svelte bod out of this, instead I look like a buddha”.
“Booter, you have plenty of time to lose weight, right now the additional weight could be a blessing” I was referring to her apparent lack of appetite.
She lost all of her hair and really looked cute in spite of her chipmunk cheeks, but her hair came in very curly.
“You’re gonna do something about that” Her mom Ginger asked?
“Mom, I have cancer. Curly hair is not such an issue.”
She had a love/hate relationship with her mom.
She told me how it came about.
She spent all her years as a girl very shy hiding behind her mom. She worshipped the woman and treasured every moment she had with her. Her mother felt the same thing for her. As she grew into a young woman, her mother was her greatest fan and accepted anything and everything Bootsie did. Her sexuality not the least of those issues. Bootsie said she would not have wanted to live without her mom.
One day while her mom was visiting her, they were sitting together chatting up their lives and events when blood burst from Ginger’s ears and she suddenly could not talk. An ambulance came straight away and she was whisked to hospital where she remained in the ICU in critical condition.
‘She experienced an aneurism in her brain. The doctors warned the family that she may not survive. If she did, she would never be the same. Bootsie was divided. She wanted her mother. But she wanted her intact.
Her mother recovered and had a long future of physical therapy in front of her.
Bootsie resented her mother after this. She couldn’t bear to be with her. The beautiful intelligent well-read woman was a walking vegetable.
But Ginger did recover. And no, she wasn’t the same. Many of her memories disappeared, sadly. And these were the things Bootsie could not get over.
Of the few things that Bootsie and I argued about, this was one. I could not fathom hating your mother for something out of her control. But Bootsie would get angry. She felt secure in her feelings that they were warranted and that I didn’t have the right to judge her…as she judged her mom.
But now, with her precious daughter in trouble, Ginger collected herself and made it her mission to save her child.
Days turned to months to a year and things felt like they were going to turn. She fought with every inch of her body and soul. Bootsie chose to do everything she could to live which in the end was a more painful form of death.
And then Bootsie heard that magical word.
And Buddha was released