Dog-Pooped Out of My Own Birthday Party


“Daisy the dog just birthed out of her ancient bowels a mighty river - a massive, deep, and flowing river of unnaturally fragrant dog diarrhea in the very center of Scarlet's birthday party.” Brandon sent that text to his family during my birthday party over the weekend. It happened right behind the chair I was sitting in, as I ate a previously delicious piece of chicken.

Before Daisy had even finished the job, my dad had immediately dropped to his hands and knees with the rag he keeps on hand. He and my mom argued about whether or not it was okay to put Pine Sol on the fake wood floor.

“But, I love the smell of Pine Sol!”


“Not if it’s only there for a second. It smells so goooooooood!”

My five-year-old, Ever, started laughing, “This is so funny. Bam Bam (my mom) and Papa (my dad) are arguing about the floor and the POOOOOOOOP!”

Isn’t that just the most perfect metaphor for most all of life? A jubilant birthday party violently disrupted by the worst dog movement that’s ever been. C’est la vie.

People have been asking me how we’re doing with my mom’s cancer treatment and it’s hard to know what to say back, because it kind of feels like a dog just pooped in the very center of my birthday party.

Almost all of 2015 was charmed, for me. It was the year I stopped sharing a car with my husband. It was the year we bought a house. It was the year I had my second baby. Everything was on the up and up. Then, October came.

I was looking at my still-chubby-from-baby self in the bathroom mirror at my oldest daughter’s ballet studio. Mom was in the stall talking about something I don’t remember. Then, she said, “I have some news…”

And you know, it wasn’t like my heart stopped. I didn’t melt into a puddle of sadness. I’ve just been getting hit with these waves of emotion. Fear. Peace. Joy. Fear. Peace. Sadness. Peace. Peace. Peace.

The cancer thing is big, but the “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) is real and it’s overpowering.

I turned thirty this week. Mom made two trips to my house to fill it with balloons. Way, way, way more than thirty balloons. She remembered me saying (years ago) that every year on my birthday, I missed living at home with her, getting woken up with the video camera in my face and a “What day is today, Scarlet?” and the millions of balloons and cakes with my face on them.

So, she filled my house with balloons this year. And she filled her house with balloons. She got me a big cake and a bunch of jewelry made out of typewriter keys.

There’s no amount of disease or dog distractions that can overpower the love and joy that is bursting out of my mom with every breath. How is she doing? She’s still funny. She’s still inconceivably thoughtful. And busy. And selfless. And fun. “Scarlet, can you take a close up of the tube going into my chest and the red poison? Get a close up of the red poison. Did you get the red poison? And the tube? And let’s get Paul to take a picture of us. Should we hold up a four because it’s my fourth chemo or should we do a three and an ‘O’ because you’re thirty today? Let’s do both. I should have put makeup on. Paul, can you stand up? No, higher. It has to be my good angle! So, I’ve been reading about Carly Simon. You know, she has the most perfect mouth for a singer. It goes from here to here. Big. Like Steven Tyler and Mick Jagger…I only have a few pages of her book left, but I’m reading it really slow, because I don’t want it to end.”