|Do you want to make Maybelle happy with food? Bring|
Wildflour cinnamon rolls, her favorite food of all.
Leigh and Claire are making it possible for me to go through the process of being promoted to full professor, which is happening this fall—while I’m recovering from brain surgery. I’m creating all the main components (my narrative, copies of the things I’ve written, student papers with my comments), and they’ll organize this stuff and put it all online. It’s a chunk. Hours of work. And they’re doing it.
Administrators here are glowing examples of exactly what you’d want: supportive and happy to make this work in whatever way they can. I will be on medical leave all semester. They’ve made that clear.
And Leigh created a site on Rally.com for Maybelle’s Fun Fund. People from anywhere and everywhere can donate money to help support babysitting. I’m single and will need help. My mother and best friends are taking turns being live-in support, but they can’t do it forever. So I’ll have the funds to invite babysitters—people Maybelle adores—to come help. This site is growing and growing. As I’ve told Leigh multiple times, this is amazing. Amazing!
I’m getting emails from students, former students, colleagues, friends who are offering their love and prayers and good vibes. They’re asking what they can do—they’re recognizing possibilities and are responding. They want to be with me. I’ve gotten emails from colleagues across the country who are sharing how much they’re thinking of me, the work they want to do with me when I’ve recovered. I’m hearing from students I worked with very, very closely a year ago or a decade ago—students who've such a great part of my life. I talked with an alum yesterday, a student with whom I worked very closely while she was with me. She wanted to hear my voice, to hear me saying how shitty things are.
And I said it. Things are shitty. Everything is triggering pain.
Is that fair? So many people reaching out. So many people sending love. And I have fucked up feelings. I guess the more appropriate way to say that is that I’m experiencing complex feelings. But they’re fucked up.
I feel guilty: I don’t deserve this, this much generosity. It’s more than I’ve ever experienced before. Far more. It’s coming from so many places, so many times. People I’ve never met at Trey’s workplace are sending money. People I’ve never met who are friends of my mom’s, or single moms who’ve heard about me, or friends of the many friends on Facebok. I can’t possibly deserve this much. What in the world could I do to be worthy of this?
And if I’m not guilty, if I do in fact deserve this generosity, then it can feel like evidence that I’m going to die soon, that the brain tumor will kill me. The beautiful words that people post online and send me can feel like obituaries: “Alison transformed my life. I’m so grateful that I got to work with her.” “Let’s raise money for Maybelle, since Alison won’t be with her long.” “We’ll feed her while we can, because she’s on the decline.”
Let me be clear: nobody is writing these things! Nobody’s writing an obituary. Almost every message ends with some version of, “You’re going to do great!” “Kick that tumor’s ass!” “I can’t wait to get together once you’re feeling better!” But sometimes the upcoming death is what I read, what I see and hear.
It’s painful. This moment is excruciatingly painful—not physically, but cognitively. Emotionally. It’s three days until my surgery, and I’m feeling vulnerable. Afraid. Sad.
The generosity is crucial—it’s holding me up. And I’m still in so much pain.