White Elephant

Soccer season has started, so off we go to sort of watch little children sort of kick at a ball in sort of the right direction. (My boys are not of the traveling team ilk of footballers.) Teddy’s assigned gaggle of seven year olds met yesterday and I felt good enough to plant myself at a picnic bench, guard the Gatorade, and meet the parents. I grappled with the idea of sending the coach a warning email: a Mom With Cancer Alert. Instead, I went to the park hoping my mommy friends in the know would shield me (they did), that my obvious wig wouldn’t give me away (unlikely), and that I could spend an hour as Regular Mom (not yet).

I need to consult my cancer veteran friends regarding re-entry into society. I don’t want to impose my Disease on unsuspecting soccer moms, but it was probably obvious to more than just the parents in direct earshot of the kind inquiries about my last chemo treatment. I suppose it’s possible that no one notices that my “breasts” and “hair” seem frozen in time and space. But I felt like I was wearing some hideous pink ribbon emblazoned t-shirt, toting a bottle of Purell, and carrying a clipboard promising to wear out some sensible shoes for The Cure. I’m not embarrassed about being Bald and having Breast Cancer, I just have no idea how to disarm its white elephant power in an innocuous social setting. And I feel terrible making nice people (minding their own blue Gatorades) come up with some sort of “that sucks, so sorry” sentiment on the spot. Of course, the alternative here is to hide out at home until I have hair; but I’ll still be losing eyelashes before the Rattlers call it a season. Lisa gave me an “I have Cancer, what’s YOUR problem?” travel mug, which could herald my reluctance to shake hands or remove my hat, but not absolve strangers of the pressure to say something profound, or kind, or untrue (they might look fabulous, but they don’t look real).

This week Teddy’s spelling words are all about family, and his obligatory five sentences included all of us:

I like my family.
My brother is cool.
I don’t have a sister.
I look like my father.
My mother has cancer.

A-Ma, superstitious and a bit disturbed, urged him to edit that heartbreaking truth perfectly printed in thick #2. Mommy doesn’t have Cancer anymore! But that’s not obvious to Teddy, the soccer parents, or me. We’re not there yet. But because I want to enjoy a bit of sunshine and fledgling attempts at “soccer” in spite of feeling socially awkward, it’s definitely time for this to become funny again. A-Ma frantically trying to thwart the evil eye of a carefully printed, simple sentence was kind of funny. So was Teddy’s indication that he’s ready for things to return to normal around here: “No Mommy, I need someone under 50 years old to help me brush my teeth!”

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