Twenty-Two Months

My mom has died. I’ll probably fill you in a bit more further down the road (almost as fun as a birth story, I’m sure), but for now just know this: she passed away Tuesday afternoon, almost a week after she started to really shift and we came together to keep vigil. She died at home, in her living room, with us by her side and a favorite young caregiver who knew exactly how to guide us through it. It was no easier after almost two years of knowing it would happen this way. My mother is gone. Yesterday, David and I stopped by Wegmans to get some groceries after a long day spent funeral arranging with Paul and Sarah. I need to stay away from stores for a while, I think, because here’s what happened every single time I passed an older person: “Oh, you’re alive!” I’d think. “Good for you.” Or, “Ah! Still alive for your kids? Must be nice!” I doubt that’s healthy. I took the girls shopping today for dresses to wear next week. It was a sweet…

Update from the Brain Cancer Chronicles: Mom’s Almost There, but Not Quite There, and I’m Not Ready for There Anyway

Let me tell you what’s weird in Brain Cancer World. Two weeks ago, when mom’s hospice nurse came to visit, she declared my mom’s condition “status quo, with deterioration.” I think that means, “Still living, but a little less than she was before.” Last Thursday, a day after we visited with Mary and Tim and one of their brothers and sister-in-law, I got a phone call. Everything the day before had been status quo: Mom slept most of the visit, but when she was awake, she was listening and responding. That day, the day after the visit with the family, something changed, and I raced down to her house. The nurse had stopped by earlier, and noticed that Mom’s color had changed. Her lung capacity was diminished, which we knew, but she had what the nurse called “the Look.” It was this Look she didn’t know how to describe but knew well from her work with dying patients. It’s not a good Look, basically. It’s not a Look we’re going for these days. So, based on…

Leah Reads: Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age centers its story on a late evening in Philadelphia, when a young Black woman’s boss calls her in a last-minute emergency to babysit her young daughter. Emira, the babysitter, is asked to take the toddler to the neighborhood’s upscale grocery market, where she is accused of kidnapping the white child. The story spirals from there: Emira’s acceptance of, then resistance against, the societal expectations that had immediately deemed her guilty, her boss’s over-the-top obsession with proving herself a nonracist, all set against the backdrop of Instagram culture and coming-of-age adulthood. This novel is different than anything I’ve read–that’s a good thing–in that it’s very rare one reads a book where she’s not quite sure how to feel about the villain character: Do I like her? the reader thinks. Is it okay if I like her? Such a Fun Age is Kiley Reid’s debut novel, and she writes her characters with such a gentle pen that it’s not until I was halfway through the book that I figured…