And a spot opened up.

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Or rather, the surgeons made one: They decided to fit my stepmom into their schedules for Monday or possibly Tuesday of this upcoming week. She had less than a day’s notice for her last day of working at her job, because the hospital needes to run a lot more tests before the surgery: It caused a total scramble, but she says it’s preferable to the waiting. Also, this way she’ll be avoiding holiday stress, simply by being too drugged and busy recovering to really worry about anything.

My dad said it’s strange to prepare for major surgery when you’re feeling totally fine… Surreal, to try to imagine the pain you’ll be in after it happens. I’m reminded of when Oats had her gallbladder removed, and how she said the post-surgery punched-in-the-gut feeling was still preferable to the gallstone attacks that had her crying in agony. My stepmom has no symptoms, no discomfort, nothing.

The doctors assume it’s cancer. Which is weird to deal with, for my stepmom, because there’s been no diagnosis, no gentle revelation in a private office with an empathetic health professional and a box of tissues. Instead, the discussions have simply and organically morphed, among the many busy surgeons, nurses, and technicians. One minute they was all about a routine colonoscopy, the next they were all about various findings and possible meanings, and eventually the c-word is casually taking up space midway between thoughts on surgery options and recovery times. If it were me, I’d like to think I’d yell, “HOLD UP! SINCE WHEN DO I HAVE CANCER?!!!”

But of course it isn’t me, and my stepmom is a rather reserved person who isn’t exactly given to loud outbursts.

I’m not going to visit. I did look into tickets, but everything between now and the New Year is crazy expensive, and then in January my mother’s coming out here for a week… And also I don’t really want to. Will I regret it? Maybe, but most likely in the way I regret the few misgivings I carry with me: With a healthy dose of resignation, and acceptance that it was the way it was. Or in this case, is the wayt it is. Certainly, if my stepmom gets sick I’ll make an effort to go, and hope to do so anyway in the early summer. For now though, I’m trying to be diligent with phone calls. Also, a special gift… I’m thinking of a subscription to a foodie magazine, one of the more offbeat ones, the kind with articles by hipster chefs who run foodcarts, and instructions for DIY cheesemaking. My stepmom and I are very different when it comes to many things, but a love for culinary writing is something she successfully instilled in me a long time ago.

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