Home Is Where I Am Worth It.

The cat and I have had a rough weekend. Not boozing and partying… this time.

We’re homesick. We’ve come to the undeniable conclusion that moving to NYC was maybe a horrible mistake, ( we both had sobbing meltdowns), and it’s just never going to happen.

Home just doesn’t exist for us.

It’s starting to feel impossible: a life, getting settled, friends, living in an apartment that feels like a safe place not a bomb shelter, a job, friends, meeting our neighbors who don’t exist, just like even one friend would be plenty, buying new bedding, hanging my mama’s piggy dishtowel holder, and all the other missing ingredients that make a place, home.

BREAKING: My girl, Eleni, (if you give a name it sounds less like a lie), just called me & she wants to stop by to see my pad aka take a tour of my two rooms. I do have one friend, kewl.

My place is a mess, AGAIN. I was finally kinda settled but our family home sold in a day, which is awesome! Being there is sad now without my mama. Her v. loving touch and chic sense of style is everywhere you look in every room of our house. It’s a nightmare. I went back for the last time and to celebrate my dad’s birthday as well as what should have been my mom and dad’s 31st wedding anniversary.

But really, I went back mostly because I wanted to pack-up boxes of more stuff (than ever before) and then relive the fun of moving into a 6-floor walk-up, all over again! Again, again! This time without the movers. My dad is still raving!! He had such a blast…!

I’m nervous my friend, Eleni, will think I’ve begun hoarding and I live like this all the time, but then I remembered we’ve lived together before, and so she already knows I’m a hoarder.

I've developed a plan to distract her from the mess, though. I've set up a beverage, or as Eleni would call it, "bevy!" bar. I stocked it with: a variety of tea bags, Keurig K-cups, a Keurig coffee maker...(bc only giving my guests a K-cup would be sorta cruel, and plus, they'd feel all obligated to drink it to be a good guest, obviously,& I'm pretty sure snorting Donut Shop grounds is a gateway to harder drugs, like shooting up expresso or liking Dunkin' Donut's coffee), bottled water, and also a little, teeny-tiny, bottle of red wine. I don't drink, however, I thought it would be nice to offer my guests a bevvy so they can relax aka get drunk enough to not remember the mess. Eleni will never know.
I’ve developed a plan to distract my friend from noticing the chaos covering my apartment. I’ve set up a beverage bar, or as my friend would say it, “bevy!” bar. It’s stocked with: a variety of delightful tea options ranging from mellow to tantalizing and sensual, Keurig K-cups, bottled water, a Keurig machine (*bc giving my guests just the K-cup would be a little mean and then they would feel all obligated to be a good guest, obviously, and I’m pretty sure snorting Donut Shop coffee grounds is a gateway to harder drugs: like shooting-up expresso or truly liking the taste of Dunkin’ Donut’s coffee), little wine glasses, and finally, a teeny-tiny, bottle of red wine to match. I don’t drink, which is v. unfortunate bc if I did, I could become an alcoholic, & then I’d hangout at the nearby bars from start to finish, so at least I’d have something to do all day. But, I want to be able to offer my guests alcohol. They can relax, kick back, and drink to not remember how messy my apartment is… perfect plan.

I really want to make a home. That’s organized and feels right, where all the furniture fits, and the tile floor doesn’t look scary to walk on without socks AND shoes.

And, it’s hard. The truth is I miss life a few months ago, which means I’m crazy for real. The month of my mama’s life was like a sci-fi, horror, thriller, dark comedy, family-drama by Stephen King. The plot was about life’s hardships testing what, at first, looks like any other happy family, (JK. My mom had terminal cancer– shit was obviously not okay.) The storyline takes viewers on a ride of what it takes to truly break people into v. tiny, little pieces, smashing them a little more with an anvil, followed by an hefty sumo wrestler who jumps up & down repeatedly, just to make sure every one gets really, really broken.

There were so many circumstances during the end of my mom’s life where I found myself thinking: Okay, okay. Focus, Doan… What did Katniss do in the Hunger Games

I remember how much pain my mama was in… when she was first diagnosed the oncologist started her immediately on 15mg of morphine taken twice a day, so 30mg, (I have a super-duper, hi-tech calculator.) She and I freaked. We say hugs not drugs in our family, and my mom would rarely give my brother and I even so much as an aspirin as kids. One time, my brother broke his arm and my parents didn’t believe him. (IDK why, and also, is insanity genetic?) Finally after a day or two, my dad gave-in and took him to the DR who was like: No, it’s not going to heal on it’s own. It’s broken bone. By the end of her life my mom was on a continuous cycle of almost 200mg every other hour through an IV hooked-up to a pump. The pain was cruel, and so was the course of this becoming so normal to us.

What sucks is the reality that most pancreatic cancer patients start even higher, at 60-120mg upon diagnosis. I’ve read bone and pancreatic are the most painful cancers, but: we know the truth is that every kind of cancer is a pain in the ass. (*BTW, Amazon.com is donating to charity.)

The comfort I miss is knowing my purpose. Back then, it was v. clear: Wait for mom to die.

Plus, I had a blowout memorial service to plan. I started carrying around a (totally normal) binder setup with v. serious dividers and those clear sheet protecter thingys holding: notes, inspiration pics, infographics, checklists, contacts, 5 Wishes, common funeral terms. I studied everything to do with death way more than I did for my SATs. I learned the types of services to learn the difference between funerals, memorials and celebrations of life. And, I found websites with names that should NEVER EXIST, like:

www.creative-funeral-ideas.com & http://www.usurnsonline.com/ & of course, Pinterest.

I would seriously consider checking out the 85 percent off casket sale! Those suckers are super expensive. Maybe the even carry designer? Gucci, gucci, gucci.
I would consider checking out the 85 percent-off casket sale, for real! Those suckers are pricey.

Yes, there is a shit ton of stuff about funeral planning on Pinterest. Some of it was super helpful, like the info graphics showing all the stuff you’ll need to after your loved one dies. Most of it was super scary. There were pins of black dresses, where the pinners had saved it saying crap like: just in case! OR,  hopefully I won’t need this! (P.S. If a loved one starts pinning shit like this out-of-the-blue, I would definitely consider it time to start sleeping w/ a machete under your pillow. Just in case!)

I drove our family and friends, the hospice team, my ex and my GF’s moms, nuts by following them around with pictures of super sad memorial setups and bugging about color schemes, flowers, photos, poems, etc., and do we have the list of music she wants? (Carly Simon to perform.) I was a neurotic funeral-planning-zilla, which really added to the ambiance of my mom dying. But all our visitors put up w/ me and even entertained my planning antics, because well… my mom was dying.

My brother and I learned that a real-life, true-blooded and ancient, 90-yr-old lady who was an organ player came with our funeral package (not to keep, just to rent unfortunately.) We spent the following days trying to convince my dad to let her play while the pastor was walking into the service to begin… to the song In A Gadda Da Vida. It was a no, but we doubted she had the serious chops, to play it anyways.

While I was home, my ex finally relinquished my dad’s flask. It has a Raider’s crest on it and also his name engraved onto it. Luckily, my ex said I’d gotten it back just in time, because he was two-weeks away from legally changing his name to “Brent” so coworkers would stop looking at him funny every time he uses it at work. (My ex is actually super fun. I’m not here to make him a monster. Besides, it’s usually not the clueless dude’s fault anyways– it’s jsut that the chick is a major, crazy bitch.) We talked and kissed and laughed outside his car for over an hour. He held me tight, pulling me in close for minutes at a time, as if he could absorb from my skin and soul everything he’d skipped out on after my mama died.

He kept saying,”I’m sorry” & “I regret.” Me too. I’ve learned in the past year that it’s not worth holding things– you’ll always cause yourself more pain than that person ever could.

There were signals, like in a 500 Days of Summer montage, that I wasn’t his girl. But, I was a little distracted by my mom dying. Truthfully though, I knew I didn’t mesh with him too many things, like: eating fancy food, moving to Arizona, letting our kids try out every religion so they decide what to believe (But IDK about this, bc what if they choose something weird and kill us?), Kings of Leon, the reality that it doesn’t really matter whether or not he goes to work and makes money bc there’s going to be a civil war soon when people turn on the government bc Big Brother (like the book, not MTV) won’t let us grow our own food, saying we were just a case of good chemistry with bad timing, and that everyone has trials in life & my mama dying is just another hard thing… like moving.

At age 24… I can assure y’all: hanging out in chemo centers, screaming at doctors, riding in ambulances, sleeping in hospitals, wiping poop off my mom’s face (1x thing), calling hospice to come help bc my mom is screaming from her bed as if God is trying to beam her up and she’s pulled out the damn cord on her morphine pump again, and just the whole overall shenanigans that came along with watching my mom dying… is not like moving.

He tells me he wants to come visit and see Brooklyn, like in the Newsies. And, maybe, he’ll move here. I say okay, sure. We say g’bye. I may not hold a grudge– but I won’t forget. (That sounded kind of Kill Bill, & super bad ass!!) He had also said: he’d make bone broth for my mama when that’s all she could digest, he’d love to cater the lunch at her memorial, he’d help me with the three-tier, disaster cake I’d promised for family friend’s baby shower, he’d understand, he’d be there… he’ll move to New York, which I’ll add this new one to the collection of stuff he doesn’t mean.

It took a while for me to get here. But I now know: I’m worth it. Everyone is.

Published by

Steph Doan


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