Saturday, December 24, 2005



I know there will be something
warm and hot on the stove and Mom
will have been waiting.
Waiting for the sound of the car
completing my snowy journey
since my last call nearly three hours ago
from the outskirts
of Williams Lake.

My throat catches
as it always does
as the lights come into view
on their little log house as I
drive over the crest of the hill.

Turning right into the driveway
over the cattle guard that
never keeps all of cattle out.
Left past John’s shop and the sheds
that house my childhood treasures and the newly re-built
computer shed/movie-making studio.

Down the slope
between the creek
and the basement door and
I’m a little slow
getting out of the car
because I’m scared to see her.

I brace myself
and put on a smile
and it’s okay
to hide a little behind the
It’s Been A Long Drive face.

She gives me a huge hug and
we’re both shaking with emotion
and she calls me Boo Boo.
I’m just surviving the moment because
she’s lop-sided
underneath her sweater
and I’m trying not to look
while trying not to make it obvious
that I’m not looking.

-Leah Costello

Saturday, December 17, 2005

All She Wants for Christmas


I’m walking through the Bay
looking at men’s clothes because
Mom says John wants a sweater
for Christmas.

I’m not sure if John actually wants a sweater
for Christmas or if it’s
one of those things
like when you’re a kid
and your Mom tells you that
what she really wants
are some new
oven mitts or ear muffs or black socks.

Because she knows that
what you really want
is to make her happy.
So she picks Something Easy
for you to buy
and you don’t realize
until you’re older
that for her it wasn’t about the item
it was about
seeing the look of relief on her daughter’s face
that she found the present that her mother really wanted.

I guess that’s why she didn’t ever make it
hard and tell me that what
she really wanted for Christmas was
for me to shack up with an artist or
share her leftist political views
or move to a small town.

So I’m wandering through the sweater aisles
and the most important thing
at the moment is deciding on
brown or blue?

I know that they’re expecting a
call from the Doctor this morning
to tell them if the
test results say that the
cancer has spread to her lymph nodes or not.
I don’t know what a lymph node is but
I know enough to know that we
don’t want her to have cancer in them.

When my phone rings in the
Men’s Department I know already
that it’s good news because
I understand now that
good news is shared
as soon as possible and that only
bad news waits until there’s been
time to process and plan
a communication strategy.

So when I arrive on the
Kitchen & Bath floor I understand that it’s not about the
blue Cuisine Art griddle pan because
she’s already received
what she wouldn’t have been able to ask me for.

-Leah Costello

Monday, November 28, 2005



I’m sitting in my car on 2nd Avenue
in tears because she’s going to have a

I’m devastated for my mother because
she’s a very sexual person
and although it might be unusual for
her daughter to understand that about her mother
its just one of those things I’m
acutely aware of right now.

I’m feeling so profoundly sad for her
but what can I do but sit, in tears,
in my car on 2nd Avenue.

-Leah Costello

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's Cancer


I’m driving to sailing and I
call Mom and John to
ask about the check-up.

It’s been a couple of days so
probably perhaps that means there’s no
bad news to speak of?

It’s not unusual for them to mention
days or weeks later in a conversation
much after the fact
that Mom’s broken her arm
and they had to drive 6 hours to the hospital in Kamloops, twice,
and now she has a metal plate bolted into her elbow.
Or that John lit the computer shed
on fire by accident last week but luckily the
local volunteer fire brigade
of neighbours with buckets
dipping water out of the creek
put the flames out before they reached the house.

John’s flustered and worried and frustrated
and I’m trying to be sensitive but also
pressing him so that I can understand what’s going on.

And yes there is a lump so
I’m asking what happens next and if they’re going
to do some tests to find out if it’s the bad kind.
And John’s says finally, clearly,
as if I should already know

that its cancer.

-Leah Costello

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chances Are


I’m emailing David
that my mother has found a lump and that
what will I do
if she’s not going to be around to be a
grandmother to my future potential imaginary children?

David writes back not to worry because
97% of the things
you worry about in life
don’t ever happen.

I know he means well
and I feel a little better
but what if the 97%
includes things like
what if I don’t get that report done or
what if I can’t afford a new car or
what if I’m late in filing my income taxes.

And the 3% includes
that my mother has cancer
and that she is going to die
and then she won’t be around to be a grandmother to my kids?

-Leah Costello

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Casual Call

In my past life as a caterer we would say that it’s
not only about the food it’s about the
presentation too.

So I’m talking on the phone to
my mother
first about new recipes and the
daily activities of her cats and mine.

And then about how I’m
feeling, about my
upcoming move and
ending yet another relationship.

We update on my
who is about to undergo
surgery and radiation for a
small cancerous tumour in her breast.
And we’re genuinely sad and
respectfully worried but then again
that’s the kind of thing that happens to
grandmothers. And mothers,
when they get older.

And then Mom mentions that
a few months ago
she also found a lump, and that
she’s scheduled to have it
checked out too
sometime in the coming weeks.

And looking back I wonder
if it was spontaneous that she
mentioned her health on that call or
if she planned the message carefully to be
mixed in with other things to make it
seem like no big deal.

-Leah Costello