Nobody’s perfect, or is it just me?

Jelly with her long yellow tennis-ball-coloured toy

After a few worrisome days, Jelly is slowly coming back to life. She has howled a few times, brought us her favourite toy (you know which one that is), and managed a few short walks. She’s slowly on her way to a full recovery.

Every step she takes forward, it seems our parenting takes a step back. For example, in our desperation for her to eat again, we’ve been doling out treats out left and right. No need to sit or shake a paw or any other awe-inspiring manoeuvre; a mere visit to the kitchen is all it takes. And we’re normally pretty stingy on the treat front.

Then there’s the sleep issue. After a few days of sleeping longer than me, imagine my excitement when Jelly woke me early Saturday morning to give me a kiss. Could there be a better way to start my day than with a kiss from a perky pooch? In my joy, the fact that it was 5:20 a.m. didn’t even register. What happened to the rigidly consistent parent who would normally send Jelly back to bed?

That parent was MIA Saturday. I was so excited Jelly was feeling better that I leapt out of bed at that ungodly hour and took her out for her morning piddle. Then I fed her a little bit of food to assess her level of hunger–she’d eaten very little for two days by then–rather than holding off until her usual breakfast time.

Then, I disclose with deep shame, I let her come up for what we like to call “family bed”, a very occasional Saturday occurrence (Saturday is  laundry day) when Jelly joins us in the human bed so we can all sleep in together. She was snoring within seconds, allowing her parents another hour or so to snooze. Boy did we need it. All that fretting was interfering with everyone’s sleep.

Is this good parenting or bad? Must we judge it at all? I’d call my behaviour typical parenting, but maybe I’m being defensive in a time of weakness. Even parents who normally set diligent boundaries with their children lapse sometimes. It’s simply harder for many parents to set firm and consistent limits with any being, two- or four-legged, who has some kind of health or emotional challenge. Finally I understand why parents let their children into their bed in the wee hours: they’re too exhausted to send them back to their own beds.

All rules were not forgotten, however. At no point did we let Jelly up on the couch, despite my really really wanting to invite her. Is merely wanting to break a rule a parenting sin too? I’m told that so long as I don’t act on it, I’m okay.

Firm and consistent parenting is an ideal, but there has to be some room for flexibility too. Rules are hard to uphold, and sometimes I’m guided by emotion rather than reason. I’m weak, I admit.

Today, we were already back on track. I sent Jelly back to bed rather than celebrating her early morning awakening. Then we headed to a PALS visit, where I met a woman whose dog sleeps until 10 a.m. most days. Dare to dream, Annie, dare to dream.

basset sleeping on bed, head out and human's feet out as well

How to be a bad mother in one easy step

Basset with hot water bottle on head and covered in blanket

Remember how hesitant I was to start volunteering because I feared my precarious health would make me unreliable? I had visions of calling in sick on a regular basis, but I should have known better. I am a reliable person. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I don’t cancel any commitment unless I’m strapped to a hospital bed.

I am pleased to report that, several months in, my health has not affected my volunteering. I’ve had to cancel only one date because of illness, and legitimately so: I didn’t want to risk sharing an infection with an unsuspecting blood donor.

I’ve been feeling under the weather the past few days–am I still allowed to say that if I’m in remission?–but I had a PALS visit with Jelly scheduled yesterday. Of course we’d still go. I’m not contagious, I’m just not feeling 100%. What does the U.S. Postal Service say? “Through gout, fatigue, anemia, and fluid retention….” (That doesn’t sound quite right.)

It never occurred to me that one day Jelly might have to bow out.

Upon awakening at 7 a.m., I realized that Jelly had slept late. (She’s up with the birds, remember?) Most mornings I send her back to bed once or twice before we all get up. She didn’t wake us? t naively believed Jelly had finally overcome her early-morning awakening.

Then J. gave her breakfast, and I realized how wrong I was. When our dog is disinterested in food, we know she’s unwell.

Normally Jelly eats in record time. Those dogs who pick at their food all day? Jelly ain’t one of them. In fact, she has a special dog bowl that slows down her eating. Before she had her special bowl, she’d inhale her kibble so quickly that, soon after she finished, she’d leave her breakfast, each little kibble intact, all over the kitchen floor. (I’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks here.)

So J. and I both tried to recall what Jelly had scrounged in the backyard the day before, other than kale. There was the occasional blade of grass, and a quick nibble on some grass patching that J. had spread. For whatever reason, Jelly has always loved grass (no, I don’t mean marijuana) in any form. Could her gardening have caused her stomach upset?

Sadly, despite our stellar attendance record with PALS, Jelly had to pass on yesterday’s visit. I emailed the organizer early yesterday morning to apologize for the late cancellation. What I neglected to tell her is that a lawn is currently taking root in Jelly’s stomach, causing her some discomfort, and that if she’d only vomit, she’d feel a lot better. Some things are better left unsaid.

If only I could end this post here.

I am a terrible mother, joking about my sick one. While I was busy minimizing Jelly’s tummy ache, J. determined Jelly needed to see Dr. Animal. Turns out our pup has an infection, hence the fever, lack of appetite, and lethargy. She has shown some improvement today, thank goodness, as evidenced by a few fleeting tail wags.

Hopefully Jelly will forgive me someday for neglecting her care. If not, I’ll find her a good therapist, one who will let her up on the couch.

Jelly Jelly, full of belly, how does your garden grow?

Basset hound sniffing at the kale in chicken-wire cages

Within the few days since my last post, our flourishing garden is now bursting at the seams. In addition to our radish sprouts, our yellow and green zucchini, beets, beans, green onions, and lettuce have all made appearances. When they say 5-7 days on those seed packets, they really mean it. Any day now, we expect to see the beginnings of our herbs as well. Potatoes are hopefully taking root in our expensive new soil–growing vegetables ain’t cheap, at least in the first year–and our eggplant and strawberry plants are thriving.

One thing we’ve learned about gardening is that fellow aficionados are generous. In the past, even without a garden, we’ve received their overflow, but this year, they’ve donated the lush benefits of their hydroponics operations as well. Heirloom tomatoes grown from seed, kale for our salads and soups, even nutrient-rich soil from our friends’ garden if we need it.

Now we somehow have to protect our plants from pests small and large. First there are the bad insects, which we have banished thus far with the help of good insects, companion planting–even plants have besties–and soil coverage. Our studious kale plants are reading the newspaper as we speak.

Then there are the squirrels, which are cute from afar, but not in our garden. I have nothing against squirrels, but we are overrun with them thanks to a neighbour who generously keeps them in peanuts. They bury their cache in our yard, digging up plants in the process. Then they forget their hiding spots, often foraging in the wrong places. My keen observations suggest that squirrels are not very bright.

Finally, there is the peskiest pest of all: the beloved dog. I’ve sometimes wondered whether Jelly has iron-deficiency anemia because of her affection for greens. When we leave our grocery bags in our entranceway following a big shop, Jelly systematically pokes her head into each one scouting for greens, pillaging any leaf within reach. When we deign to store those greens on the bottom shelf of our fridge, Jelly materializes whenever the fridge opens in search of a healthy snack. Kale seems to be her favourite. Don’t worry, we wash our greens, especially before we serve them to company.

So why did I make the egregious error of placing our two donated kale plants within our easy reach, completely forgetting that Jelly would then have access to them too? (Remember, folks, I’m a novice, barely a preschooler, at this gardening stuff.) After a few drive bys–there goes a leaf faster than you can say, “Stop! Thief!”–and several more surreptitious attempts to score a snack, our generous friends loaned us chicken-wire cages to protect our kale from The Predator. Jelly still eyes the plants longingly but can’t seem to figure out how to knock the cages out of the way. It’s only a matter of time.

If Jelly does manage to break through the kale cages, our friends have promised a larger chicken-wire contraption to contain the dog. That’s a creative gardening solution. They must have gardening Ph.D.’s.

Fatigue is a many-splendoured thing

I’ve been struggling with more fatigue than usual of late. I should be napping daily, and on the days that I don’t, despite my best efforts, I spend part of the day in a fog. Last Monday, I napped before my volunteer shift so I’d be able to serve soup safely.

Despite my fatigue, I dragged myself out of bed this morning so I could write this post. If I let myself, I could return to bed and sleep for another few hours. My self-denial does not allow for the stimulating effects of caffeine. I am hoping writing will get my brain cells firing.

I try not to belabour you with stories of my fatigue day in and day out. I’d hate for your reading to put you to sleep. And I don’t want you to view me as a whiner. But since people often ask me why I’m tired, I thought I might list the known reasons here.

  1. Medical factors:
    1. Leukemia (I expect you to know that one)
    2. Polycythemia (maybe less obvious)
    3. Liver disease (yes, my sick liver makes me tired)
    4. Related to C, pharmaceutically-induced low blood pressure
    5. Several other medications with those little warning stickers on the bottle, “Do not operate heavy machinery….”
  2. Environmental factors:
    1. Bedroom is too hot/too cold/not just right
    2. Pesky songbirds that awaken early in these parts
    3. Pesky dog who takes her cues from the pesky songbirds
    4. Stanley Cup playoffs

Let’s focus on 2D, since the playoffs, however transitory, are currently compounding the chronic fatigue caused by medical factors (1A through 1E). Now that Calgary is out, I am rooting for the Edmonton Oilers under duress. They are making a notable run for the Stanley Cup. Now in the second round, they continue to play brilliantly, despite last night’s loss.

The Oilers’ performance should be of no matter except (and this is a big “except”) their games have been taking place late in the evening. Because I am a devoted hockey pool member with players selected by my beloved (my love for hockey only goes so far), I am invested in how well all teams are performing.

(For the benefit of those who do not know what a hockey pool is [primarily my family], I choose the well-performing players from teams I believe will have success in the playoffs. [Liar. J. chose my players.] Players are eliminated as their corresponding teams are. By retaining the most players through the final round, I have the best chance of winning the title.)

So I’ve been staying up late watching hockey and counting my points. Thanks to J.’s wise selections, Annie’s Agitators is currently second, neck and neck with Jesse’s Water Wings. J. lags well behind, having chosen an inferior team for herself. (I take credit for my success, despite J.’s doing all the heavy lifting.)

But, let’s not forget the compounding role of factor 2C: Jelly, never an avid hockey fan, sleeps through long evenings of our rooting for the underdogs. She startled awake once to J.’s raucous cheering after a goal, but the rest of the time she has slept soundly through our deriding the referees. Jelly would never manage to awaken with the birds if she stayed up with us to watch. Perhaps I should follow her lead?

Basset hound Jelly sleeping in awkward twisted position


Why are these playoffs different than all other playoffs?

We are on the second day of Passover now, Jews around the world are struggling with GDDTM (that’s “gastric distress due to matzah), and my suffering is just beginning. Tonight the Stanley Cup playoffs kick off and Edmonton Oilers fans province wide will end what they have dubbed the 10-year post-season drought. Try hanging out in the desert for 40 years, Oilers fans, and you’ll appreciate the true meaning of drought.

Tonight, with the help of their key player, Connor McDavid (that’s McJesus to you), the Oilers will start their run at the Cup. Oilers fans will be glued to their television sets to watch the first-round match up, knowing their boys in blue stand a good chance.

Sadly, the Calgary Flames have earned a playoff spot by the skin of their goalie, and their fans do not hold out the same hope. I don’t know hockey, yet I’m anticipating they’ll barely make it through the first round. They’re up against the best in the West and if I were the betting type, I’d be placing my money on the other team. Calgary doesn’t stand a chance. That’s why I have not chosen even one Calgary player in my hockey pool. (Sure, maybe J. chose my players for me since she’s the only true hockey fan in this household, but even if I were choosing for myself, I’d have passed on the Flames.)

The Oilers-Flames rivalry dates back almost as many years as the Jews’ wandering in the desert. That’s why Oilers fans are gloating over their successful season and their playoff prospects, while Flames fans fear the end is near.

Life-sized stuffed Grover in Oilers jersey sitting on couchDid I mention that J. roots for the Oilers and I for the Flames (solely to irritate J., of course)? This won’t be a problem after the first round of playoffs, when I too will be rooting for the one Alberta team still in contention, but tonight I will be outnumbered: J. has invited her Oiler-fan friends to her woman cave to kick off Round 1, and I will be the only one wearing a vibrant red Flames jersey. Even our life-sized Grover is rooting for the Oilers, and Jelly will be doing the same, under coercion. (N.B.: I will not be posting a picture of Jelly in her cute little Oilers t-shirt because I refuse to soften the blow of her disloyalty.)

One of the couples attending has baked a homemade cheesecake adorned with the Oilers’ logo. This same couple made that scrumptious rainbow cheesecake for Pride last September, so I know it will be divine. It looks incredible, don’t you think? However delicious it may be, I’ve been told I don’t get any unless I join the immoral majority. If I really want a slice of cheesecake, I must jump on the blue bandwagon.

I can’t switch allegiances yet, though, because I enjoy being the antagonist. No matter. This cheesecake will not be kosher for Passover, and you know I am too good a Jew to eat of the forbidden fruit. So enjoy your delectable cake but first pass me the matzah, would you? Tonight I must suffer like my ancestors. Bring on the GDDTM.

Cheesecake with Oilers logo on it

Engaging with the not-so-disengaged

Jelly with her PALS bandana on standing at PALS visitJelly and I have our PALS routine down pat now. I show her that special blue bandana and she heads to the front door, rather than hiding under the dining room table as she often does before her walks. We head out to the car and she quivers–in fear or excitement? I don’t know–as I pick her up and toss her into the car. And off we head to our assignment.

In addition to our bi-monthly retirement-residence stint, we participate in many one-time visits, going to places that are unfamiliar to us and meeting new people. Wednesday’s visit was was one of these “special visits”, to use PALS’ terminology. We signed up to visit clients at a dementia program in the community. The room was full to overflowing with those with dementia, as well as staff, volunteers, and assorted supportive family members. The program staff had planned their activities around our visit.

The clients weren’t quite ready for us when we arrived, so we were directed to a couch to wait. Since waiting isn’t Jelly’s forté, she immediately started whining. If I understood her correctly, she was saying, “We’ve come all this way and I’m not the centre of attention? Why is no one petting me? I’m bored.”

Jelly’s vocalization was quite the ice breaker. Upon hearing her cries, people could not help but turn her way and smile. The group seemed eager to finish what they were doing so they could meet the disruptive little imp.

As clients started wandering over, the whining stopped, thank God. In no time, Jelly was in her glory, surrounded by the many doting dog people in that little room. Jelly pranced around, visiting with anyone who wanted to meet her. Some petted her head while others graciously took her rump. Some people bent down low enough for kisses (not from me, I have boundaries, remember?). She didn’t mind when clients asked what her name was, even if they’d asked a few minutes prior. She was my model of patience, acceptance, and inclusion.

Everyone actively participated in the visit except for one fellow, who was seated apart from the others at a table in the dining area. (We were asked to avoid this area because lunch was being laid out on the tables.) This fellow had paper on the table in front of him and a pencil to draw. I was informed he was the artist in the group. He loved to draw.

Unbeknownst to me, a staff member had taken a photograph of Jelly. While the rest of us were visiting, this fellow was using the photo and glances our way to draw a picture of Jelly. Had no one informed me, I would not have realized he was participating in the visit in his own way. Prior to our departure, a staff member told me about the drawing and shared her photos with me. I see quite a likeness, right down to Jelly’s little white socks.

Sketch of Jelly at PALS visit

As you go through your day today, remember that you too may touch that proverbial fellow in the corner. That one person in the room who seems disinterested and disengaged may show you he’s not, but in his own way. Make sure you don’t miss it. I almost did.

Of course my dog is manipulative. So is yours.

Basset hound with computer open and glasses on

When I worked for the school board, I completed a variety of assessments. Sometimes I’d be asked to determine whether a child was bright enough to warrant admission to a gifted program. Over the years, I assessed many children who were, without a doubt, considerably smarter than me.

The cutoff for gifted programs is very stringent–only the top two percent qualify–so often I was tasked with telling parents their child wasn’t smart enough, at least according to the standardized measures I had used. Parents were frequently devastated with this news. Woe to the parents who think their average-ability children will be rocket scientists. And woe to their children, who will face unrelenting pressure to attain these unrealistic parental goals.

To spare myself the trauma, I have refrained from having Jelly assessed. I’ve seen a lot of smart dogs on Border Security, and I know Jelly is not one of them. Loveable, yes, but smart? No. Why waste the funds on intellectual testing to tell me something I already know? Testing or not, I will not put undue pressure on Jelly to achieve beyond her capacity.

Jelly does have moments of brilliance, though. When she dawdles in the backyard, I inevitably find her scouring its perimeter. Most dogs secure the perimeter to keep out intruders, but not our Jelly; she’s searching for peanuts dropped by careless squirrels in their travels along our fence. Which dog is smarter, the one that keeps your home safe or the one that saves intruders from tripping on peanuts?

Last week, animal researchers reported on a study that got me thinking about Jelly’s intellectual potential. Theirs wasn’t an intelligence test, however; they deduced from a simple study that dogs manipulate people to their own ends. Well there’s a surprise. I immediately questioned the intelligence of the researchers.

Forget a study; I could speak to canine manipulation simply by observing my dog’s skills. For example, I know that some mornings Jelly pretends to go outside to pee, only to return too quickly to have relieved herself. She’s hoping she’ll get her breakfast faster. (This exact behaviour in her own dog prompted the canine-manipulation research described above.) Good try, Jelly. Now get back out there.

I also know that Jelly races around with my dirty socks so I will chase after her to retrieve them, thereby leaving my lunch in a vulnerable position. Ditto if I carelessly use the washroom without moving my meal prep to a safe spot. In both cases, I will come back to find all my lovingly prepared food all over my floor (if not already in Jelly’s stomach).

And every evening around 8:30, Jelly awakens from a deep sleep only to pace and whine to go out. We take her out because we can’t stand the disruption. She believes that, upon coming back in, she will be one step closer to her bedtime treat. Clever girl, but no treat for her. We don’t go to bed that early.

Come to think of it, Jelly is not manipulative, and she’s certainly not smart, she’s just hungry all the time. Maybe she’s trying to tell us something. Do you think we should feed her more? We could, but I think she’d still prefer peanuts to kibble.


Sometimes boundaries lapse, and that’s okay

Hospice room with woman in bed, younger woman reading to her, and dog with paws on bed

Months ago now, two PALS volunteers, one of whom happened to be a social worker, interviewed me to see if I too would make a suitable PALSie. Ms. Therapist went off script near the end and asked me how I’d contain my therapist self in this role of PALS volunteer. What a great question. I was stumped.

As a helper by profession, I find it hard to ignore that supportive instinct in other settings. The job of a PALS volunteer is not to be a therapist to the people we visit, many of whom I’ll meet only once. I must deliberately set internal boundaries to stop myself from becoming overly or inappropriately involved with these visitees.

Setting these boundaries is not easy, I’ll admit. During the interview, I acknowledged I’m not great at shutting off this supportive side of myself. I told the interviewers that I often avoid the potential altogether by not informing acquaintances that I’m a psychologist. Sometimes Knowledge of my profession alone may encourage people to seek my support inappropriately. I may have previously mentioned a fellow gym goer once seeking relationship advice while I was naked in the change room. Lesson learned? Once burned, twice clothed.

Because the role of the PALS volunteer is therapeutic by nature, I must be aware of maintaining my emotional boundaries at all times. This becomes harder as I get to know some of the residents in our assigned retirement home. In fact, I wavered last week during our regularly scheduled visit.

Have I mentioned that one wing of the residence Jelly and I visit is a hospice? Yes, people go there to die. As I was entering the building, I happened upon a woman I had met previously. She was leaving after visiting her mom, a hospice resident. This woman was obviously feeling emotional, but she stopped to greet Jelly and told me how much her mom had enjoyed the last PALS visit. She asked me to check in on her mom again that day.

According to the bounds of my role, I should have wished the daughter well at this point, but instead I said, “This [watching your mom die] must be hard.” I learned she’d been visiting daily and commended her for being such a good support to her ailing mom.

The daughter became teary, but I felt I had to acknowledge what she was going through. It felt better to risk making her cry than to ignore her impending loss. Boundary crossed. I didn’t hand her my business card (although I had one in my wallet) or mention that I’m a psychologist; I wished her well and off she went.

Sadly, I don’t know if I’ll see that woman or her mom again. The thing about a hospice is that people aren’t often there long. I did take Jelly to visit the mom, who looked all the more frail since we were last there. She was exhausted and politely declined our company. I respected her boundary and moved on.

All Jelly and I can do is show up and hope to provide comfort. Sometimes we are successful. If that involves crossing the occasional boundary, so be it.

In case you were worried, I’m still here.

If you recall, I wrote about the unanticipated responsibilities of the cancer patient a few weeks back. To summarize for those of you who may not have committed my posts to memory, I learned the hard way that I had to arrive reliably when expected or people would think I had died, or perhaps they’d worry about where I was, but you get my drift.

With this in mind, I am writing to assure you that I am not dead. I missed yoga Thursday, which is highly atypical, and I haven’t been spotted at my usual haunts (the grocery store, the library, the dog park) over the past few days, but I am indeed alive, just far from home.

On Wednesday, J and I had no trouble at all crossing the U.S. border, even as a gay married couple. I guess we don’t look like terrorists to President Idiot. (On that note, did you hear a two-year-old potential terrorist in need of brain surgery was allowed entry into the U.S. even before the courts lifted the travel ban? Turns out not all preschool Muslims are terrorists after all.)

Of course I feel guilty being here when others are fearing they will not be allowed into the country, but our trip was planned before (some call him POTUS, I call him) President Putz started undoing everything his predecessor had worked so hard to accomplish. We would have lost a lot of money had we cancelled. No travel insurance for the cancerous, remember?

So here we are, far south of the 49th parallel, escaping a brutally cold spell back home and taking a break from real life. J. is learning to forego marrying people for a week, which is a challenge given how much harder she’s been working since retiring. (I realize that last sentence is oxymoronic, yet consider who we’re talking about here.) Retirement, my tuchus, I say. Meanwhile, I am learning how to take a break from volunteering since I too have been biting off a bit more than I can chew (and I don’t mean food here) of late.

How perfect is this trip? Friendly customs agent, flight arrived on time, and the rented red VW Beetle practically drove itself to our well-situated and well-appointed apartment. I am thoroughly enjoying the gas stove I’ve always wanted, and, to J.’s amazement, I haven’t yet burned the place down! Sure I forgot toothpaste, but that problem was quickly remedied. Turns out Americans brush their teeth too.

Pug holding Trump toy in its mouthWe can walk to everything we need. We’ll easily score a gift for Jelly while we’re here in one of the fancy pet stores. Who am I kidding? We never bring home gifts for Jelly. She doesn’t realize we should since she’s a dog. If I do see a squeaky President Putz dog toy, though, I may not be able to help myself.

When I get back home, I’ll have real life to contend with, but for now, I’m enjoying my short-lived fantasy of no responsibilities, no obligations, and no cancer.

So if you were worried about my absence, worry no more. I’m busy living every vacation day like it is my last. Time to head out in search of that dog toy.

A moment in (cancer) time

hand pushing elevator down button

I usually try to end my blogging week with an upbeat post. Something funny or light to make you laugh. Who wants to hear from Debbie Downer right before the weekend? But Sadness nixed my planned frivolity this week, and I always listen to Saddy. Everyone should listen to Saddy.

Yesterday J. drove me up to the Cancer Centre to pick up my chemotherapy refill. (I’ve given up on having my drugs mailed to my home since that unfortunate Canada Post fiasco last year.) J. waited in the car while I popped in to the pharmacy.

Things went as planned. I made my way through the hoards of patients–cancer stops for no one–hopped onto the elevator, and headed to the pharmacy. I showed the kind pharmacist my red card (also known as the PROOF YOU HAVE CANCER card), and she gave me my little brown paper bag, as if I were hiding condoms or something (not that I’d know about that).

I returned to the elevators, which at that moment were overflowing with patients going up. I needed to go down. After the uppers were gone, I pushed the down button while I watched an older gentleman shuffling toward me very slowly. I asked him where he was headed, and he said he too was going down. “Great. I’ll have company,” I said, perhaps a bit too jovially given the environs.

When our elevator arrived, I let Mr. Shuffle enter first. I followed him in and pushed the button for us. He leaned against the elevator wall as if it were holding him up. After the doors shut, he said, so quietly I almost didn’t hear, “I am so weak.” I looked at him sympathetically but did not know how to respond, so he added, “The chemotherapy.” I touched him on the arm and said, “Cancer is hard.”

I struggled to know how to respond, and I still wonder if I said the right thing. Is there ever a right thing to say? It wasn’t the time or the place to get into the nitty gritty of his treatment; we had only one floor to travel. I didn’t want to minimize his experience with a “Things will look up!” because I didn’t know if this would be true for him. I could have given him a hug, but strangers don’t often hug, and I might have tipped him over. It’s more than that. Since he seemed to be alone, I wanted to bring him home and take care of him, but my boundaries stepped in.

Cancer is hard in different ways for different people. I’m hoping this man sensed that I could see that he was struggling. Maybe I provided comfort, however fleeting. And I’ll hope there comes a time when he doesn’t feel so weak. But right now, I feel sad that anyone has to endure the worst of cancer. I know it’s not easy.

I still feel sad when I think about this man, but I have to let that go today. Joy is joining Jelly and me at the university, where we’ll be cheering up some stressed-out students. Volunteering, my purely selfish endeavour.