What do you do when your blood work comes back normal and you can finally drink alcohol again? You celebrate!
My friend Robert asked what I was going to do the day I could finally drink. Have a party, obviously. And that is when he coined Kim-O de Mayo. May 9th was my last white blood count after my final chemo. I had just finished a three-shot series to re-boost my system, and after the blood work came back, it looked like it was working. So, I invited my usual suspects for one final party the day before my mom was set to leave. It was a going away for her and a celebration of being social again for me.
Of course Mom rocked the buffet of yummy treats. I am sure she spent all day figuring out what to feed people. And as soon as I got home, I made the margaritas. That is what I wanted most – margaritas and bourbon. I had had the grapefruit soda the evening before, so that craving was assuaged.
The party was planned for directly after school. I love happy hours. Everyone has a great time unwinding and then we all get to bed at a reasonable hour…win/win. People started showing up immediately after school, mainly the chemo madres in order to have some final time with my mom. They had become her rocks over the past six months. My mom bonded with these women over shared experiences, life-stories, and information about Uruguay all while I was sleeping. I think if she lived here they would have weekly get-togethers with some wine and cheese and laughter. At one point, Maritte pulled out a gift for Mom. The ladies had planned a going away surprise for her. As Mom opened it, of course she cried, then the ladies started crying, then I started crying…we were emotional messes. But I am just so grateful for everything that they did for me and for her. Mom and I would have gotten through all of this because that is what we do, but they made the getting through so much easier. And I will never be able to express how truly grateful I am for their presence in chemo, not only to keep Mom company, but also to give her piece of mind when the Spanish started flying from the nurses.
Food was devoured, drinks were consumed. I downed my first drink in six months- a extra strong margarita on the rocks with salt. Then I called my best friend and we toasted to recovery. Because I could not imagine a Kim-O de Mayo without Robert-O.
About two months before being diagnosed, I had purchased a boat-load of bourbon on the way back from Argentina. Then I was given the no-no from my doctor. In a state of sadness and anger, I heaved bottles of bourbon at Brad. “Here! Drink this. Someone at least has to enjoy it.” It was as if I was never going to drink again – a death sentence of alcoholic beverages. But I was so angry at the situation, and I think Brad could tell I needed it out of my house because he took my bourbon and told me he would save it for my first drink. Guess what Brad showed up with. And that brought a warm glow to my heart. Only a true friend saves another friend’s bourbon for the days after chemo. We poured a drink “in a real glass” and toasted to it all – the end (for both of us), our friendship, our love of bourbon, life. Another shared moment with Bradford that I am grateful for.
People came, people went. Stories were passed around. Crumbs were left on the table. The party had been a success. And then there were eight and then four and then two. Mom and I looked around, cleaned up a little, and then collapsed on the couch to read the lovely notes from the chemo madres. We cried some more.
Cinco de Mayo is a day that commemorates the Mexican victory over the French in a specific battle that I don’t remember. (The fact I remember that at all from high school Spanish is a miracle.) Kim-O de Mayo is a day that celebrates a victory over chemo. Both have morphed into a day of drinking and eating with friends. Because that is what you do after a battle. You toast and break bread (pun intended) with the people you fought for and alongside. Thank you to everyone who made the celebration everything I needed and more. Salud to you!