A bit more upbeat

Today we rediscovered the world of processed food. Saltines, it turns out, are the world’s greatest food when you haven’t been allowed to have anything pre-salted in three weeks. Steak sandwiches and pierogis have also hit the menu. There is no baking taking place in the kitchen tonight. The stew does not have to be inspected six times over. I find myself putting all the Kosher foods away on the first night of Hanukkah. I consider us paid up throught Lent of 2050 on the giving up of food things.

And it’s the weekend, which means that even though I still haven’t done anything to prepare for Christmas, I’ve got a shot at it. For the first time in over 13 years, it’s 10 days before Christmas and my husband has done more shopping than I have. Things Must Be Rectified.

I’m still exhausted, but it’s the exhausted of someone who sees the light of home on the horizon — of things returning to normalcy — of delivery people and pre-roasted chickens and potatoes from a box and eggs that come in shells and bread that comes pre-sliced. In a few more days the dog will be underfoot again and maybe, just maybe, we’ll find time to put the tree up.

I’ve declared myself a firm disbeliever in radiation, though as with anyone in an interfaith relationship I’ve promised to respect Nighthawk’s belief in subatomic particles. I stole a hug yesterday, and will steal another one yet tonight. I can smile again.

Tired in all the wrong ways.

Radiation. It’s, well, weird. You can’t see it, smell it, taste it, or sense it in any of the usual ways, but it’s just as real as the things you can see or smell or taste or feel.

Nighthawk received his radiation dose today — the big one, the one that will (in theory) kill any thyroid cells that remain in his body, and in turn kill any cancer that they might carry with them.

There wasn’t much ceremony to the event. The attending physician went over all the don’ts, no kissing/etc. for 7 days, no sleeping in the same bed for 5 days, no being in the same room for the first 24 hours, no significant exposure to public places for the next 7 days, no this, no that, no whatever. There were some positives — the dreaded Low Iodine Diet finally ends Friday and the new thyroid drugs are started. In theory, everything after that slides back toward normal, or the new state of normal that we’ll develop for the purpose.

And me, I’m tired. I’m more tired now, seeing the end of the tunnel than I was a few days ago when this was the event we were all waiting for. I don’t know why, to be honest. Maybe it’s all the restrictions. When you’ve spent all but four nights of your entire married life allowed to be within inches of this person who’s a part of you and suddenly he’s got to be way over there or the invisible heebie-jeebies might get you, it’s hard. It’s hard to not kiss him goodnight.

I’ve put three hundred miles on the car in three days. Three trips to and from the hospital and one trip out to Lancaster to help some friends. I’ve cooked and cleaned and organized until I could fall over and there’s still dozens of things to do. The Christmas cards are in their wrappers in a bag in the other room. The tree’s still in its box. I haven’t bought a single present for anyone. Hell, the blanket I started knitting last winter for a spring baby shower and a summer baby is still left unfinished in the dining room. Tomorrow I go back to work, with what energy I cannot fathom.

Maybe I’ll use the radiation I absorbed today. Sure, I can’t see it, smell it, or touch it, but I can’t do any of those things to hope either, and as corny as this sounds I think that might be the only thing keeping me going. Hope that 2007 will be a healthier year, that we can go without surprises for a little while, that somewhere there’s a place to stop and recharge.