Ten Years

I mentioned on twitter recently that my blog was ten years old last month. What I didn’t mention is that I started it because my mom had brain cancer and I was sending out mass emailing of status updates on this and my overwhelmed friends urged me to start a blog instead of fill up their inboxes.
This week is another ten year anniversary in that thursday marks ten years since my mom died. She was only sick for about four months. I knew her death was imminent, but was still shocked when it came. Well, not shocked. I’m not sure what I felt aside from overwhelmed.
The anniversary is making me feel kind of fragile this week and I know I’ve heard other people say the same thing happens to them with anniversaries. But, I mean, I don’t get it really. It’s been ten years and it’s hardly fresh or new and she’s not more dead this week than she was last week or will be next week. I guess it’s not important why this date matters, since it clearly does.
So I think I should mark it somehow but am not sure what to do. Saint Candles are the obvious choice, but they seem to be an American (read:the continent) thing. I don’t know if I could find any in the UK and I don’t want to ship them from North America if they will arrive next week or later and have to deal with all of this over again.
A few friends have suggested that I go into a church and light a votive candle there. They’re right in that my mom certainly would have appreciated the gesture and my presence in a Catholic church. I think this would just make me angry. Everyone called my mother’s mother a saint when she died. She was a larger than life figure in many ways and had admirable principles that she held to. I doubt she saw herself as a saint. My mom was in her mother’s shadow for a long time and only outlived her mother by about ten years. I don’t know if anyone called my mom a saint. And my mom certainly didn’t believe in her own saintedness. She was entirely convinced she was going to hell. During the brief period where she understood she was dying, she was terrified and upset that she would shortly be burning in hell. This is not a way to spend the last few weeks of your life.
The church’s actual teaching is that if you’re very sorry and repent, you don’t have to go to hell. She didn’t remember that part. She just remembered the part where she felt horrendously guilty for minor sins and would certainly be punished for eternity. The church did not give my mom peace in her last days. Nor in the days before that.
There was some volunteer who came around for a while to read the bible to her. I don’t know who organised this. My mom had trouble speaking because of the cancer but one day managed a ‘shut the hell up’ and got the volunteer to actually talk to her like a human. That made her feel better.
So I don’t want to go into a church, since that will just make me angry. Making people terrified of hell is abusive. That they have an escape cause doesn’t help. If it did, it would have helped my mom. All she remembered was the part they went on and on about which was eternal torment.
In any case, I’m not wholly sure that offering eternal bliss is better. Maybe it makes the dying person feel better. I don’t know, as it’s all so conditional. Why would you offer conditional love to a dying person? What does it cost to assert that they’re actually loved?
Priests tell mourners at funerals that it’s all temporary and soon we’ll all being hanging out together again, so I guess the best they have to offer is denial. I know exactly where my mom is right now and where she’s been the last ten years. It’s a small plot marked with an ugly headstone.
Which I can’t get to because I am thousands of miles away and the UK Border agency still has my passport.
So I’ll burn a non-saint candle and wonder why I’m doing mini-grieving this week, feeling sad and angry over again, wondering why round numbers matter. If we used hexadecimal as our standard counting system, it would be another six years. It’s all so arbitrary. Every part of it – who gets cancer, who dies, what dates seem important and on what years. And maybe the arbitrariness: from top to bottom, from every angle is what makes it all seem so futile and extra sad. An arbitrary milestone. An arbitrary existence. An arbitrary end.

Logging Activated Thu Oct 17 15:07:57 2002 PDT
Jamitch teleports in.
Christi says, “hihi”
Christi says, “albertsons..”
Jamitch says, “kio okazis?”
Christi says, “so, we went to the albertson’s last night, and
they were having a sale on candles!”
Jamitch says, “uh oh..”
Christi says, “they were only $.70 each!”
Jamitch 😀
Jamitch says, “how many did you get?”
Christi says, “so, we got 20 of them. and as we’re loading
them into the cart, this overweight guy with a comb over starts staring at us”
Jamitch says, “ok”
Christi says, “and comes over and says “are you girls starting
a candle factory or something?”
Jamitch says, “???”
Christi says, “and we’re like “no” and he stares at us some
more, and then says “well, then why are you buying all these candles?”
Jamitch says, “ok”
Jamitch says, “so clst kicked his ass?”
Christi says, “so celeste looks at him for a second and is
like “my mom is dying, and we’re buying candles to put by her.”
Christi says, “no no. the ass kicking comes later”
Jamitch says, “so what happened next?”
Christi says, “so, he continues to stare at us, and then is
like “you know what? those candles won’t help. only the love of jesus can
cure your mother”
Christi pokes celeste
Jamitch says, “ack”
Christi says, “hehhehe”
Jamitch says, “i think i met the guy before”
Jamitch says, “one night at that albertsons”
Jamitch says, “with jenny”
Jamitch says, “he said “hello young christians!”
Christi says, “buying diet coke and way too much toilet paper?”
Christi says, “heh”
Jamitch says, “and “praise the lord for such a beautiful
Jamitch says, “we pretended not to understand english”
Christi says, “yeah, that’s him. he started yelling prayer at
us, and telling us that he could lay hands on her and cure her”
Jamitch says, “then clst kicked his ass?”
Christi says, “so we said that would be great because she was
missing half her brain and was in a coma.”
Christi says, “but he wouldn’t commit to that, and just
promised to pray for us, and if we just read our bible hard enough we’d be
able to cure her”
Christi says, “and we said thanks, and started off with our
candles, and he starts back into the “the candles won’t work! put back the
candles! you need the bible not the candles!”
Jamitch says, “christ”
Christi says, “oh, and celeste told him that they had a non
resesitation order for her mom, so we couldn’t pray”
Christi says, “yes, so anyway, celeste told him that her mom
was scared of the dark”
Jamitch says, “fuck”
Christi says, “and he told us to get a lamp”
Jamitch says, “what a jerk”
Christi says, “it was fun”
Christi says, “he was hilarious!”
Christi says, “and he kept yelling prayers at us”
Jamitch says, “he’s lucky tiffany wasn’t there”
Jamitch says, “hehehehehehe”
Christi says, “he was praying and celeste was smirking at him,
and he told celeste that he really believed in her love of god, she was such
a good christian”
Jamitch says, “HAHAHAHA”
Christi says, “and off course wanting to know how well she
knew her bible”
Christi says, “which is pretty darn well.”

So, yesterday, I left Christi in the East Bay and came down to Cupertino with our only automobile (did you know that “east bay” is pig-latin for beast?). Christi convinced Tiffany and Luoi that they wanted to drive doen to Lucy’s Tea House (La Teejo de Lusi) in Mountain View for dinner. So those three, Mitch, Vince, Tammy and I had tea and some food. I asked Mitch where I could buy candles in the area and he sent me to Albertsons on El Camino, in Sunnyvale, right next to highway 85 and that big empty mall that used to be an Emporium. They had hundreds of candles. We now have candles in reserve. We meant to buy one of each, but accidentally skipped a few. Even so, we ended up with twenty two candles. There were on sale for twenty percent off. I was extremely pleased. I was returning to the aisle with a grocery cart when a guy walked up and asked if we were buying one of each. I said heck yes, there’s a lot of them and they’re on sale to boot. He asked why we were getting them and I said my mom was sick.
“Lighting a candle isn’t going to help her. Getting on your knees and praying to Jesus will help her.” he said, but not immediately. He seemed harmless at first but quickly accelerated up to preaching us the word. He told us about how his daughters had the power to lay hands and heal. I said they were welcome to lay hands on my mom if they wanted and I was sure nobody would mind. We got lots of folks praying at her bedside. The more, the merrier. He decided it would better to pray right there in the grocery store. and he held christi and my hands and asked Jesus to bless us and my mom. It was the first time I’d ever prayed in the grocery store. The stock boy thought it was a bit odd. I think they guy was a bit embarassed at some point, cuz he got really quiet when folks started staring. I think that if you’re going to proclaim the word in a grocery store, you ought to be out, loud and proud (to co-opt a queer saying), but I guess Jesus doesn’t necessarily want people to stare at you if you’re going to get thrown out of the store. But he really did not want us buying the candles, so maybe it would have been worth it to him. He asked if I thought the candles would heal her, and I said no. He said, “that’s right, only jesus will heal her!” but why was I buying them anyway? “She’s scared of the dark now, and an electric light is too much light, so these are perfect.” He suggested a kerosene lamp. But there were none in the ethnic foods aisle.
He must have told us fifty stories of people being healed by prayer. Some guy died right there in a church pew at church and the congregation prayed for him and he walked out alive. I said, “oh, but we have a do not recessitate order for my mom.” and he had oodles of stories about people praying instead of calling ambulences and being healed. Are fundamentalists more likely to die of heart attacks because of delaying treatment? There’s a study and some graduate degrees waiting there.
Despite Jesus’ amazing power to heal, this guy’s cart was full of diet foods and he combed over his bald spot. He didn’t say anything about praying instead of going to the barber. If jesus can cure his daughter’s tumor, can’t He grow hair on the top of this guy’s head? What about the Jesus diet? Pray five times a day to cure obesity. One man, he said, had his asthma cured by prayer, but refused to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. “And do you know where he is now?” “burning in hell!” I said. Hallelujia! (apparently it was a rhetorical question.) Anyway, it was getting late, so I said goodbye to him. At first he just seemed very lonely, but then I realized I did a bad thing by encouraging him.
The checkout woman said, “did you get one of every candle?” Had almost the same conversation again, except she said, “I guess she needs a lot of praying.” and let it go. I don’t understand why millitant atheists vince and Tammy want to stay in the south bay. People are praying all over the place.
Anyway, Margie is off at Albertsons right now, because she’s very keen on candles and likes to buy them on sale. It seems she and her sister regularly burn twenty two of them in a week.
I came back to my parents house and refilled the distilled water on her oxygen generator and set my watch alarm to go off every two hours and tried to sleep. Mom’s breathing was very rough and uneven. Its the sort of thing that makes me think she won’t make it to morning, but she’s as strong as a horse, so I wasn’t sure. I turned up her oxygen, elevated her head, have her more morhpine, but none of these things helped. The hospice nurse arrived this morning while I was in the shower and discovered that I had cross-threaded the bubbler part when I refilled it with water, so my mom had gotten no oxygen during the night. Her breathing is fine now. Ooops. I feel bad about it. Mom is still going. Her kidneys are still going. She’s part camel.
I’m going to see the Saint Francis opera in San Francisco tonight, unless something dramatic happens. My dad is encouraging me to stay in Berkeley tonight. He sarted that encouragement after I threatened to slug him if he said anything more about Jimmy Carter.


I keep asking for candles and they keep arriving (I’m still asking). this is what we have now:
burned out:
homemade St Timothy
St Jude
very low:
BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary)
St John the bapist (russian icon printed out and glued to candle)
head shakra
St Martin of Tours
The Sacred Heart of Mary
Holy Spirit, Gaurdian Angel;

pretty high:
St Alex
St Jude
The miraculous Virgin Mary
just lit:
Foreheard shakra
Neck shakra
Nice candle (coated by christi in rainbow rice paper) that unfortunately lacks a wick, which I’ve just stuck a long fireplace match into with the hope it would behave like a wick