To take your heart away..."
These lyrics are from the Bee Gees' song "Words," a simply beautiful ballad. First of all, my closest friends and family know that the Bee Gees has been my favorite musical group forever. Their words and music -- on more occasions than I can remember -- have taken my heart away.
When Robin Gibb died of metastatic cancer, I felt so saddened for him and his family -- and I felt the loss deeply, as I will always feel connected in some way to the Brothers Gibb.
I took Robin's death personally. Damn cancer.
Marie at Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer wrote a wonderful post about how media reports said that Robin "lost his battle" with the disease, and she pointed out that the cancer vocabulary taints how society views cancer with all the warrior/battle/victor imagery. Then AnneMarie of Chemobrain...In the Fog With A.M. From BC 2 AD created an excellent prompt for posts on what words really agitate us, irritate us, or just royally piss us off.
So, following AnneMarie's lead, here is a list of insensitive, ridiculous cancer-related and adoption-related remarks that people have said to me that launch the stupid-o-meter into space:
"You're lucky: you have the best cancer" (Are there any good cancers?)
"You don't look sick." (And you don't look smart.)
"You lost weight. What are you complaining about; you have a nice figure." (Yes, it's that no-food diet, thank you very much.)
"Don't take this the wrong way, but you are luckier than all of us who aren't getting two vacation days off a month [for chemo]." (WTF?)
"Your daughter looks just like you, especially the eyes." (My Caucasian self got on a plane to China in order to adopt my..uh...Chinese daughter. We look different, and [with a Stuart Smalley pause] that's okay.)
"I wonder if she misses her real mother." (Hullo. Her real mother is ME. I'm the one up late at night with a sick child; I'm the one tending to her bruises, and I'm the one she clings to in times of stress. If that's not a real mother, then I don't know what is. I'm the only mother she has known. And the last time I pinched myself, I hurt, so I must be real.)
"She's a China doll." (Correction: She is from China, not made of china, and she's not a doll.)
"I bet she was expensive" (I didn't "buy" her. And I don't go around asking people what they spent birthing their biological children).
So for those who think their insensitive remarks are only words, they might want to start actually thinking. There's no such thing as "only words" -- except in a remarkable Bee Gees song.
|My real daughter|
|The lion is fake.|