Cancer can’t kill Kid Rock
I pack up what’s left of my adolescent bedroom, once plastered with poorly ripped pages of Seventeen magazine, high school horror stories and Sharpie, now a deep teal I had taken months to pick out of a catalog with two “grown-up” Home Goods boards full of precious moments (up to and including my 21st, 22nd and that night I slammed my head in the cab door). Also pinned to the panel is a three-year-old fortune that reads,
“Doesn’t this cookie look like a cunt?”
The words “Joyous Christening” hang by a string on the left-hand wall, gifted from two boys on my seventeenth birthday. A drum-head hanging from the center wall reads, “Tonight’s theme: Happy Birthday Meaghan,” gifted from the very same boys at an over-crowded basement sweatshop/birthday the following year. My armoire, broken since sophomore year Saint Patrick’s Day, is empty.
My suitcase isn’t big enough and I keep forgetting to pack the Keurig.
The last words my mother ever spoke to me were about a sponge-bath. They were over a 30-something second phone-call from the intensive care unit and she was only half-coherent. She told me all about her dirty hair and the nurse that called her “sir.” I bet her my life she looked beautiful. She said she had to go but that she loved me, so I said, “I love you more.”
Her last to me were “got me” and “goodbye.”
Our house is hoarded with the belongings of three or more generations of dead people, tucked away tightly like a game of Jenga in my (dead) dad’s room. I pull from the bottom of a heap what looks like a bag of boots and hope for the best. I was never any good at this game.
Cue the panic and the Jack.
When I was stressed at school, mom would send a shaky picture message of the $16 Amazon poster on my bedroom door that (un-ironically) read, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Last weekend, I kept calm and told cancer to go fuck itself (literally, it was written on a cake) at a benefit concert called “Cancer Can’t Kill Love,” organized by the best of my friends. Somewhere in between the sounds of my sweaty friends playing sweaty music with sweatier rock bands and the sweet, sweet sound of “Picture” by Kid Rock, I felt it. The warm, tingly feeling you get when you’ve had one (or six) too many jell-o shots which, ironically, is the same feeling you get when you’re in unconditional love with your friends.
A la Erin Conlon, the “always” friends. The ones who stood by you when you stripped your hair and got a buzz-cut. The ones who rubbed your back when you got so high you thought you were blind. The ones you drank in dug-outs with, pissed in driveways with and comfortably cried in crowded bars with. The new friends you know will be forever friends, and the old ones. The ones that will drop everything, drape a bar with streamers and cheers to your dead parents, all while simultaneously dancing the Cotton Eyed Joe.
The ones that celebrate her life, and subsequently, yours.
By 8 o’clock Sunday night I was 100 percent hammered and 60 percent asleep, overwhelmed by the six-plus hours of alcohol-induced intimacy packing out our usual hole-in-the-wall. That, and that “Picture” was playing again.
Today, I have 15 days to get out of this house.
See also: over a dozen pit-stained pictures set to the tune of “Timber,” a thousand somewhat dollars towards finding a cure and an army of friends that would’ve gone to war for mom, and subsequently, for me. Cancer can’t kill that.