Mary Panza at Word Fest 2011

I can safely say I want off the crazy train I have been riding. On Friday, February 13th my sister said that they had found something on her mammogram. I don’t get crazy about it because we are queens of lumpy things. I have lymphomas on my back, cankles and one on my neck. I know it sounds so sexy but we are built the way we are and don’t you want to date me. This was different.

On Friday, February 20th we got the news that something didn’t look right. My brother and I met her that morning, got breakfast and I watched my sister to through every horrible scenario there is. She was a nurse since I was 5 so she has seen it all and mostly not the good. I find that nurses go to the dark side so matter of fact and so quickly that it must be a common personality trait among them. I watched her go from hard as nails to apologizing for doing this to us. That is also very typical, as though we have control of anything. So after I told my brother my wallet was in the car and probably empty (my typical with Joey) he paid for breakfast and off we went. I went with her to tell her daughters and that probably was one of the most heartbreaking things. After that we did the thing we do best, shopping. When the chips are down they are also in our carts.

The weeks that have followed have been the toughest and ones that I never want to live through again. The good news is that she had a lumpectomy and that the outlook is excellent. It was caught early and treatment will not be horrible. I told my sister straight out that I have invested thousands of dollars in my hair and I am not shaving it if she needed chemo. Why does anyone look to me in times of crisis? Damned if I know.

All this said I have realized something so true that Capri and I talk about often. We are the youngest in our families and are really not meant for this kind of thing. We also hate being grownups. I mean I like to drink legally and during the day and in dark bars, as well as having credit cards and all the other perks of adulthood, I just don’t the responsibility. Me, Capri and our friend Serpico are the youngest with large gaps between siblings and as a result our parents were exhausted. Really, all we had to do was not get arrested and remain amusing. Nothing was asked of us. I really liked it that way. I liked the no expectation thing. Now that I am in my late 40’s I am surprised and sad for my sibs that they are stuck with me. I am a giant 17 year old trapped in my mother’s body. I’m good with that it has always worked for me. I don’t want to know about cancer and chemo and losing my sister. That was not in the plan, God, and haven’t we all been through enough? That was the rant I have screamed to the sky for the last two months. I yelled at God in the chapel in the hospital while my sister was having her surgery. I cursed at my mother’s ashes on my mantel. And why do I have a mantle? What the fuck?

Capri says that we were just meant to be comic relief for our parents and families. We both know that should have come to an end a long time ago. We miss it. I miss it because now that my crazy is controlled I can see that all is not what it seems and I have been (in many respects) the Happy Wander. That was a term used in the Sopranos about a person who has a clear head and is happy for no real reason and how Tony would like to choke the life outta them. My “adult” life has been a drama of my own making and in a sick way I was happy about it. I tra la la my way through poetry, massage and music scenes and for a while, believed that I was something. I was good at all these things and never had pressure to be the best at them and it is all fun and games until you beloved sister gets breast cancer.

I want to believe that I stepped up and was a good sister. I did what I knew and that mostly involved making it about me. I told her that I would be pissed if she died and left me in charge. She told me I would not be in charge, our niece in law would. It seems right. She had the most logic and scares the shit out of us. She also bakes. I also yelled lots. I would tell her to stay positive and stop being Debbie Downer. I told her the night before the lumpectomy that I was sick of her boobs and boobs in general. She told me not to yell at her or she would hang up. I kept yelling. She never did hang up.