The Bad Liar

She was ordered to clean her room. It had been awfully quiet up there, so I paid a visit. I did not find an industrious housekeeper at work. Instead, I found clothes all over the floor, books piled on her bed, and a box of sketches strewn out in a corner. It looked like an art center exploded in the middle of her room. Meanwhile, Jordan reclined in her desk chair, feet up on the desk, her left elbow bent on the back of her chair, her right hand nonchalantly clicking her computer mouse as she scrolled through fashion pages online.

– Jordan, you’re supposed to be cleaning your room.

– I am.

– No. It looks like you have your feet up on the desk as you surf the web.

– No. I’m not.

I stared her down for more than a minute. She didn’t even pay attention to me. She just kept tapping the mouse and scrolling through her pages, eyes fixed on the screen. Finally, she turned and stared me back with pursed lips.

– What?

At that point, I started laughing. I know, it was the wrong thing to do. She was blatantly lying and defiantly challenging me. I suppose the right thing to do would have been to have raised serious cane. But, there was something so willful about it that I just couldn’t help myself. And, given that she’s got some major surgery scheduled in less than a week, I just decided to let it go.

We’re trying not to make too big a fuss about this coming Friday. Compared to brain surgery, what lies in store is a piece of cake. And the more we focus her mind on the seriousness of it all, the more we’re likely to freak her out. It’s good that she’s still ready to go … optimistic, unfazed, brave. Occasionally, she’ll show signs of concern, but then she encourages herself and she’s ready for the day to come.

On the walk back from a pre-Valentine lunch, Jordan confided in me how eager she is to do things with her feet again. She wants to swim, dance ballet, fight with martial arts, play tennis, ride horses, and attempt gymnastics. I counseled her to take things “one day at a time.” She asked what I meant, not really knowing what to make of the expression. I told her she’d been doing it for six years. I held her hand and reminded her how, when things looked bleak during her cancer fight, she still made the most of every day. I’m not sure she totally understood, but she squeezed my hand three times (our ritual signal for “I love you”) and then started a conversation about the delicious joy of fresh salmon.

“One day at a time”, I thought. Jordan does it naturally. I don’t have to prepare her for it. Sometimes, she takes one day a time to the extreme that she lies to herself and to the people in the room. But, she presses on. I’ve struggled all week thinking about Jordan and her upcoming surgery. I know it’s what’s best and I know it will have incredible outcomes, but I don’t want her to feel pain and I know it will be hard being so limited for two months. Still, I have hope because Jordan lives life to the fullest every day she can. Even when she’s supposed to be cleaning her room.