Holy crazy year, Batman. And it’s only March.
It feels like only a week ago that B&B hacked every branch off our Christmas tree in the middle of the family room after vowing not to water it for the full month we gave it a home.
Ironically, that’s where this story begins…
So, Christmas came and went. And B&B committed to an outside-the-box approach to removing our Christmas tree. I wrote about it, and my piece appeared on The Huffington Post in early January. A few days later, I received an email from Jen, who writes the blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She had read my Christmas tree horror story, liked it, and was offering me the opportunity to submit an original essay to her for an anthology she was compiling.
Jen skyrocketed to blog fame after her Elf on the Shelf post went viral in December, 2011. It resonated with me because I refuse to participate in those elf shenanigans. I view moving that elf around the house as the equivalent of playing the tooth fairy. Every night. For a solid month. And I am a sorry-ass excuse for a tooth fairy.
Jen’s first book, Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat, became an Amazon best seller and sold over 10,000 copies in its first 3 months of availability.
She is a giant in the blogosphere.
And an overall hilarious human being.
Let me see….let me see….did I want to be affiliated with Jen?
Oh, hell, yeah.
As a matter of fact, I petted the computer monitor when I read her email. Literally reached out and stroked it.
Was I at all nervous about my submission? Of course I was.
But not abundantly so. Between B&B and the boys, there is never a shortage of absurd material around which I can craft a story.
Meanwhile, I’d already been invited by Allison Tate and Lindsey Mead to participate in This is Childhood. They are two of my absolute favorites…as writers and women, and I was indeed verklempt that Lindsey had reached out to me.
Beating on my breast, Tarzan-style, I declared, in my best Oprah-shout,
“2013 will henceforth be referred to as The Year of the Collaborative Effort!”
Then, I floated about my business, patiently awaiting inspiration, both funny…for Jen…and poignant…for Lindsey.
While I was dancing on clouds, I received a text from my cousin. Her Dad, one of my favorite Uncles, had just suffered a massive heart attack, and we were instructed to prepare for the worst.
My entire family and countless friends collectively held our breath and said our prayers for a very long four days.
It was during that time that Little Sister’s husband called me. He and I are super close, but he calls me only in times of crisis. From the mall. When he needs help with Christmas, birthday, and Mother’s Day gift advice for Little Sister.
“I’m sending you a picture of two robes. Which one should I buy her?”
“I’m texting you a picture of two watches. Which one looks more like her? Please reply in the next 45 seconds because I’m holding up the line waiting for your answer. No pressure. Just hurry up.”
Little Sister’s birthday is in May, right before Mother’s Day. And Christmas had just passed. I was still sweeping up the pine needles to prove it. So, I was alarmed by his call.
He told me, “She couldn’t call you. She is a mess. We got a call from the dermatologist today. She was just diagnosed with malignant melanoma.”
“What did you just say?”
He said: “Cancer. I said your sister has cancer.”
I didn’t hear too much after that. I know he kept talking. And I kept saying, “Mmm hmm. Mm hmm. OK. Mmm hmm. Sure.”
I hung up with him and eased myself down onto the sofa. There aren’t many places to hide in my house, so B&B found me there a few minutes later.
“What was that about?”
I whispered, “She has cancer. He called to tell me my sister has skin cancer.”
Two days later, we lost Uncle Bob. We had felt it coming, but the news still levelled us.
Little Sister flew herself and her stupid cancer across the country to be here for the funeral. I don’t really do church. For a litany of reasons, not the least of which is that my mind wanders, and all I think about is how-many-things-I-could-be-doing-right-now. But I listened a little bit that day. One of Little Sister’s oldest and dearest friends, whose voice is reee-diculous, sang at the church service. And my cousin gave a beautiful eulogy.
After the church stuff was over, we had a good old party in Uncle Bob’s honor. A “sure, I’ll have a cocktail in the middle of the day” kinda party. Everyone took turns telling stories about him. We celebrated his life, laughing until tears ran down our cheeks. I don’t pretend to know what happens to the human spirit after we die. But, it certainly felt like part of him was there with us that afternoon. In the anecdotes we told. In the love we shared for him. In the legacy he’s left in his children and grandchildren…and so many more whose lives he touched.
I sat next to Little Sister, whose stupid cancer was an uninvited intruder in her young body. And I found myself hoping that she would be open to receive all of the positive energy and love from the people in that room. And just maybe it could knock that stupid-ass cancer right the hell out of her.
Here is what i thought…
It’s Bethany. With all due respect, this melanoma nonsense is downright horse shit. Little sister has 3 kids. And those kids need their mother. So work your magic on this piece-of-shit cancer.
Also, dear universe, if you could help me locate my funny, I’d be super duper grateful. I have that essay due. You know. To Jen.
So, F the cancer. And send the funny. Cool? Cool.
I realize it doesn’t work that way, but the yoga is really affecting my judgement recently.
I managed to pen something and send it to Jen before my carriage turned back into a pumpkin.
Little Sister flew back home, where she had a follow-up procedure and some blood work done. She called to say they’d gotten all of the cancer during her procedure.
Thank fucking God. And/or the Universe.
Then Jen e-mailed me to say my essay had made the cut for her book.
Holy shit, right?
So, I immediately reverted back to my Oprah impression, announcing
“2013 is the Year of the Collaborative Effort!”
My sweet Interrogator proved the perfect muse for my February This is Childhood piece.
And our anthology, appropriately titled I Just Want to Pee Alone, was just published.
Several of the contributors to the anthology announced its availability on Friday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was greeted with this…
You know how it’s great to have the smallest house on the block?
You’re reading the smallest house right now. The tiniest blog in the bunch.
I am supremely lucky to have been a voice in the writing series that allowed me to express myself in a cerebral style. This is Childhood introduced me to a group of women who’ve been an invaluable support system and sounding board these past few months.
And I’m eternally grateful to Jen for the opportunity she’s given me to be a contributor to this hilarious anthology. I will always pet the computer monitor in gratitude when her name appears in my email inbox.
Buy the book. You will laugh.
Don’t believe me? Read this review.
Here’s to 2013, the year of the collaborative effort.
And, as always, F U, CANCER.