the end of the long goodbye

My mother was taken to the ER yet another time last week for what her nurse called "breathing difficulties". This turned out to be pneumonia. Her oxygen level was scarily low for two days but the IV antibiotics seemed to be doing their job.

But during all of this, the hospital did the usual stack of blood tests and found some abnormal liver values, so they decided to get out the sonogram to look at her liver. And they found a lot of cancer which was inoperable, and considering her other health problems, traditional cancer treatments are not worth putting her through.

The upshot of all this is that my mother probably doesn't have more than four weeks to live. This is the oncologist's guess, although people tend to never die on schedule. So I have spent the last few days talking to many doctors and nurses and hospice administrators. My brothers showed up last weekend but were as unhelpful as usual; they stood around for an hour or two, said little and went home.

Today, my mother had a terrific appetite and demolished every food tray brought to her. (This hospital has rather good food - I even tasted a bit out of curiosity.) 

My reaction to her illness is nothing complex. I'm really sad. I sleep a lot more than I should. 


who drowned?

Last night we had a cold front come in, which means I generally sleep better than usual. And I had a lengthy dream (or more like several different dreams - REM sleep does that) in which Cincinnati* appeared.

At first, I'm riding my bicycle on some beautiful green hills that remind me of the area north of Cincinnati, where he lives. I'm on the top of a particularly high hill, and an older, cheerful man I don't know - who reminds me of the actor Joe Don Baker - tells me to ride down to the bottom of the hill and I'll be in Kentucky.  (The Cincinnati airport is actually in Kentucky.)

I ride my bike down and see a small pond, and am walking by it when I realize there's a dead body submerged just below the surface. It's female, but that's all I can tell. She's wearing really ugly shoes. The unknown man says he'll call the police.

The dream then goes to the unknown woman's funeral. I find myself standing behind Cincinnati's parents. Everyone including me is dressed in black. Somehow I look at Cincinnati's father's wallet, and realize he is paying for the funeral, although he has only written a note saying to pay $21. I find this a bit cheap.

The next part of the dream takes place in Cincinnati's condo, although it doesn't look like the real-life one. He is berating me for bothering him post-breakup, and going through a list of ways I have allegedly done so. But each time I ask for an example, he can't produce one.  

For example, he says I'm bothering him on Facebook. I say "Show it to me. I left Facebook last year." He can't prove his claim. But he doesn't apologize. Instead, he simply goes on to the next accusation.

As this weird conversation continues - although I'm not angry and patiently answering his questions, and he hasn't raised his voice much - he decides we should stand behind his refrigerator to continue, so his neighbors won't hear our voices. He is thinner than me so doesn't have a problem getting behind the fridge, but we find I have problems as I can't get my chest between the refrigerator and the wall.  He finally tilts the fridge over a few inches and I manage to squeeze in. We're both amused by my bust-induced problem. 

In case you're wondering, I never know why or how I got to his condo.

But that's where the dream ends. I have said before that I believe we often dream of two things - our hopes and fears. So I guess this dream was about my fears, although Cincinnati didn't like my Instagram faux pas.

In real life I have had no contact with Cincinnati, and I haven't heard from him. But why doesn't he return those shoes I left under his bed? That's not like him.

* See Key to Characters at right.


perhaps I'm snapping out of it

I awoke a couple of days ago and was pleasantly surprised to realize that I didn't feel as bad as I had been the last weeks. I daresay I felt a bit optimistic.

Perhaps my subconscious has accepted my conscious decision to let Cincinnati* alone for a few months, or even a year, then revisit the situation. Hell, he might even contact me eventually.

The upshot of this is that I began making efforts to keep the house cleaner, and even sorted out the disastrous back yard. No cars on blocks out there now (there never was).

I might even manage to interface with James* tomorrow afternoon.

* See Key to Characters at right.



An online agony aunt figured out Cincinnati

Even though I keep hitting Unsubscribe on my daily email tsunami, I kept my email subscription to The Cut, which is comprised of excerpts from New York Magazine.

I was nosing through the "Ask Polly" agony aunt section today, and spotted a letter with the headline "My boyfriend broke up with me for a crazy reason". Since I had found large sections of last November's interactions with Cincinnati* kind of crazy (and still do), I had to read it. 

While the boyfriend in question hadn't been quite as strange as Cincinnati - his personality had changed from someone who couldn't manage his finances to someone who was so obsessed with his girlfriend's vacation spending that it broke up the relationship - the agony aunt Polly's explanation rang painfully true.

"So, who has shot down your chances? Your ex has. He doesn’t ask for what he wants. He watches things go badly, shakes his head from the sidelines, and blames you for it. He’s not an adult yet.

This guy needs a therapist. If Iceland is a metaphor, it’s a metaphor for something much deeper than just you and him. This isn’t about planning a trip; this is about the way he was treated as a kid. Maybe he was coddled but disrespected. Maybe people pretended to listen to his needs but did whatever they wanted instead. Whatever it is, he still feels angry and powerless and he’s projecting that onto you."

The last few lines - those that suggest that this person's parents were lacking in some things - made me wonder about Cincinnati's upbringing a bit.

I have always thought that Cincinnati was treated reasonably well in his youth.

He comes from a very Catholic family, complete with stay-at-home mom. He appeared to have regular conversations with both parents - probably with his mom more than dad, but I don't know this for sure. Recently he admitted asking his mother for advice, and thinking her advice made sense.

He has a twin brother (fraternal) and they both attended a small private college that their parents still support, although they took very different paths post-graduation. He and his twin were the oldest of four children - the younger brother is the angry one while the youngest sister seems happy to stay at home and have a lot of children. Cincinnati was the only one who moved away from the parental home and state, though.

Reading all of this back, I wish I could put Cincinnati on the back burner even further than I already have. I refuse to let myself look at his Instagram or Facebook pages. It's too much like pulling off a scab that isn't nearly ready to come off one's knee after falling off your bicycle.

To digress slightly, but to stay on the Cincinnati subject: There's something I am rather surprised about, and can't figure out. Last November I left an expensive pair of Donald J. Pliner shoes under Cincinnati's bed, but he has not returned them, nor has he contacted me about them. Considering his extreme tidiness, I can't help but think he found the shoes at least a month ago.  And from what I know of him, I would think he would return them as he would consider it the right thing to do. 

Not that I am losing sleep over the shoes.  I am keeping on for my mother's sake, although each week her health worsens. She wants to die and, considering her condition, I cannot blame her. I recently signed a Do Not Resuscitate order for her as she asked me to do so.

* see Key to Characters at right.




Future cancelled due to lack of interest

Although I find myself functioning with admirable speed and skill at work, I go home each evening wondering what I need to sort out before I check out.

If my mother were not still alive, I think I would have shot myself last month. The disappointment with Cincinnati* is part of it, but not all of it.

Ian* has deserted me and I can't get free of the herd of cats in my home. And I don't really have any friends any more. Rachel* is still my friend and so is Elizabeth*, but we only discuss cat-related issues. Getting out of cat rescue really is like trying to leave the Mafia.

Every day when I get up, the emotional pain kicks in. It reminds me of the Beatles' song For No One:

The day breaks. Your mind aches. 

You find that all the words of kindness linger on When she no longer needs you.

All I want is for the pain to stop.

I've made a shopping list of sorts stuff I need to do after my mother passes and before I depart:


  • Make out will, leave what little money I have to anyone who will take care of cats.
  • Burn all personal effects I don't want others to find. These are mostly letters.
  • Delete myself from all social media (I've already done this, but it'll take me a while to disappear from the Google cache)
  • Pre-pay for cheap cremation in cardboard box. Fancy coffins are a waste of time and I'm way too claustrophobic for burial.
  • Write an apology to those who may be pissed off at me for my choice, including Dr. Jarrett.
  • Find an outdoor spot where cleanup won't be too difficult. I watch Tru TV at Elizabeth's too much.


I don't know how much longer my mother will be around but I am committed to caring for her, even though she is in a near-catatonic depression and nothing I do seems to help. But that's all.

* See Key to Characters at right.