I awoke, surprisingly, with ease, dressed myself, put on my nowadays, minimal makeup, and I fixed my hair. My mom drove herself to work as I braced myself in the passenger seat. She enjoys tailgating, but swears she doesn’t do it. I got into the driver’s seat after dropping her off and drove to my dad’s house. I was early and we left early, so my dad and I made a pit stop at the local Starbucks where I was instructed to get him a venti vanilla latté with whole milk and no foam. For me, a cappuccino.
My dad and I arrived at the Kansas City Cancer Center (KCCC) quite early, but after he checked in, there was not much of a wait at all. The realization that I was sitting in a roomful of cancer patients was powerfully sobering. And not only cancer patients but also cancer patients of all ages. A tall, dark, attractive young man presumably around my age, strolled in with a cane in his left hand and following him, a young child, eight maybe nine years old, rolled in in a wheelchair, her balding head shocking to my keen senses. I sighed, internally, and continued to read the magazine the center provided with loads of information on what to expect with chemotherapy and ways one can minimize the side effects. I decided I’d bring notes next time or see if I could take one of the magazines out with me.
After the short treatment, my dad needed to run errands. We picked him up a toaster and Eggo waffles at the local Wal-Mart because he said he’d eat that and only that, for breakfast. My dad needs to eat. He’s extremely skinny. This observation was proven by his constant yanking up of his loose jeans and later that night as he removed his shirt preparing for his bath. After arriving back to his home, he decided he was going to sleep before the rain came, so I let him be and returned to my mother’s house. I drove up to the coffee shop, Scooters, to access my email and catch up on some work. While sitting in my seat, responding to condolence emails, my friend and musician, Jason Damato, came on the coffee shop’s XM radio. This made me proud and I instantly sent him a message on Myspace, expressing my happiness for his continued success.
Shopping is therapy and I didn’t pack enough clothes for my prolonged stay, so my best girlfriend, Megan and I made a successful trip to Gordman’s. I came away with a few new tops and a pair of cute eyelet flip-flops. I picked my mom up at work shortly after our mind occupying shopping excursion. After slipping into my pajamas post eating an early dinner, I decided to dress myself again and visit my dad’s once more to check in on him. His cell phone was turned off and his mother, my nonna, was worried after being disconnected from him. He was fine when I arrived, but stubborn as ever. Linda, my dad’s girlfriend, had arrived shortly before I had and informed me that she couldn’t get him to just relax and sit down.
It was a challenging night of balancing acts, cigarettes, and further information that my brother had managed to call Linda but neither my mom nor I. After fetching my dad his latest craving form Sonic, a banana split, I had to split. I said, “goodnight,” and returned back to my mom’s around 9pm. Sigh, another difficult day with my father. But the morning had gone so smoothly. What was causing him to be so “out of it” as Linda described and I had observed? The possibility of drugs crossed my mind and I slipped into a déja vu. It’s like I’m fifteen all over again and baby-sitting someone who refuses to be taken care of but cannot take care of himself.
In April of 2009, I went to Kansas City to see my father through his radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Between intense longing for my home on the west coast and my then boyfriend that awaited my inevitable return, spending quality time with my dear mother and spending more time with a person I wasn’t very fond of but loved nonetheless, my father, I kept a brief log of the eventful days that passed by. That was day four of some of the longest three and a half months of my life.