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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

When the door opened, the first words spoken were: "She just peed herself." And then I was handed a surgical mask and gloves and was led to a room where five fumbling, heartbroken adults were trying to get my 25-year-old cousin off of the couch so they could change her.

*

This has been coming for awhile. Since that day in 2008, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 20. I remember crying at my desk at work: My favorite cousin, the one who is more sister than any real sister I could have ever had or imagined.

We all thought: Maybe she will win. And there were glimpses of possibility, like that time we went tubing down the Russian River or when the marathon was cancelled and we wandered all over the city or when she visited me in Seattle -- one of the first to come -- and we went to Hot Cakes twice because the molten chocolate lava cake was just that good.

But the cancer spread and ended up in her brain. First, her left leg got weak. And then the left side of her body. And now she cannot move her limbs or her head. There are seizures. She blinks rapidly. She drools. She stares at the wall. Drinking water makes her choke and cough.

*

I don't allow myself to ask why, largely because I know there is no answer.

*

The last time I saw her was in December. We watched Julie Delpy movies and concluded that Julie Delpy is hopelessly neurotic. Both of us decided we never wanted to be like Julie Delpy. We would be stronger than that, with better communication skills.

*

Imagine what it is like to watch someone you love waste away slowly. What it is like to walk through that door and not recognize her because she has changed so much. What it is like to have to take her pants off, her diapers off, to have to hold her up while she stands half-naked in her parents' living room, and her mom cleans her. What it is like to not be sure if she sees you and also half-hope that she doesn't because you don't want her to be embarrassed or worry about what is happening.

And when everything is over and she is back in her sweats and sitting on the couch and the pillows are in the right places, you lose it. You try so hard, but you still lose it. You look her in the eye, and you completely break down and sob into that stupid surgical mask. 

*

When she was still in New York, she loved to read menus. She would walk all over the city, pausing outside restaurants to read that day's offerings. I read her menus today. And she said one word, the only word she spoke to me all day: "Yum."

*

My brother thinks it will happen this weekend. He flew down for this too -- arrived yesterday, went back to Sacramento this afternoon. We talked about what it was like to see her this way, if it was better or if we should have just waited, so our last memory of her would've been different. I think it's good to know. I wanted to know. 

We will be sad for a long time, perhaps maybe even a little sad forever. 

"Are you OK?" he said.

"It will be fine," I said. "We keep going. Because what else are we going to do?"

frequent flyer february

Monday, February 17, 2014

I am traveling every single week this month.

First there was the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers conference in Kennewick, where I completely forgot I had to go to an auction and banquet, so emergency shopping at Target happened and I ended up in pretty much the Exact Same Outfit as my coworker Stephanie.

She is also a cat lady, so matchiness is OK.

Then last week I was in Aspen scouting venues for the Washington-themed party we're planning to host during the Food & Wine Classic in June.



This also meant walking through a bunch of snow and ice while trying not to fall on my ass and injure myself as I made my way to the rec center so I could torture myself train at altitude. Swimming 2,900 yards -- the farthest I've ever swam before -- at 8,000 feet sucked was extremely challenging and therefore healthy and good for me.


And this was a truly epic moment for me, not just because it marked the longest distance I've ever swam, but because -- wait for it -- I also peed in the pool for the first time ever. Seriously. Ever. (And before you judge, I'll emphasize that this is totally normal, although maybe not exactly the best choice for your fellow human beings. When I told Salad Bar about all of the peeing on yourself that happens in triathlon, he said he'll be waiting at the IMAZ finish line with a fire hose. Unfortunately, this is not a euphemism.)

And since we're all about firsts, I also went skiing for the first time ever in my entire life.


I'm peeing in my ski pants! Just kidding.

And I was sore for three days afterward and could barely walk down stairs. (This pain was worse than any marathon or triathlon I've experienced.) But strangely, I want to go skiing again soon. (Because, you know, triathlon and scuba aren't expensive and complicated enough, and I need more money-sucking sports at which I can be completely and totally mediocre.)

Anyway, I am off to the airport again tomorrow. Dear mad scientist people: Weren't we supposed to have teleporting machines by now?

recently

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Since I'm currently congested, achey and exhausted -- with a sore throat and possibly also a low-grade fever -- I'm not even going to try to write anything clever.

Instead: Let's look at pictures.

Uni -- sea urchin -- is in season right now.

If uni is on the menu in any shape or form -- like this panna cotta -- I order it.

Meanwhile, Frank is especially proud of his new look.

The best part of that Super Bowl terrible blowout damn you Seahawks game? This food.

This guy wasn't so bad either. Although that hat was hideous.

I took my stepson to work. And registered for Seawheeze.

Dear Coach Mark: I can't run worth shit, but I can make your future triathlete a killer diaper cake.

Speaking of babies, this sleepy potato is my new nephew David.

His older brother Nicholas made us play trains. Note: Nicholas does not have a Seahawks hat. In fact, Nicholas and his family are good 49er fans.
 
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