We got back yesterday from a great girl's weekend in St. Louis. I love a road trip more than almost anything, and this was a (mostly) very nice one. Hit the highway with a bag full of snacks, ate our way through a welcoming barbeque (with lots of desserts), a bagel brunch (with huge dessert table), a party spread with a World' s Fair theme (with huge dessert table) and a hospitality bag full of, you guessed it, a bunch of desserts. There was something in the bag called a St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake, which we'd never heard of before and is one of the best things I've ever eaten. I'm pretty sure at this point I have pure corn syrup running through my veins instead of blood, but it's okay. How often do these things happen? I can always abstain another day. (Right. Like that's going to happen).
The Bat Mitzvah service was incredibly moving, and I was in awe at my friend Leiba for organizing it. A hundred people from around the country, a weekend full of activities, some people (like myself) who knew almost no one and a large group of people who seemed to know everyone. Coming from a relatively small family it was a kick to see a huge, raucus Jewish family swing into party mode. This bunch knew how to cut loose. They do it with dessert, not alcohol.
There were some moments of levity along the way. My road trip bud Stacey and I had heard the stories of Leiba'a mother-in -law for years, but never seen the gal in action. Every time she visited when the family lived here we were discouraged from meeting her, due to her snappish nature. We saw this weekend that these stories weren't exaggerated, unfortunately. From refusing to leave the airport terminal because her darling son wasn't picking her up personally to physically jumping out of a moving car when she did actually see him, she lived up to the hype and then some. You could spot her easily at any point. She was the one who looked like she was smelling month old smoked salmon all the time.
And then there were the M&M's. Like I said, this event has been years in the planning, and a lot of personalized gifts were given out during the welcoming BBQ. Cup holders with the Bat Mitzvah girl's name - Becca - on them. Rubber bracelets imprinted with her name and the date. And so on. Well, one of Leiba's (I think) cousins wasn't able to help as much as she wanted, so she said she wanted to order some personalized M&M's for the weekend. I hadn't known until a couple of years ago that you can special order M&M's to say anything you want in any color you want. The trick, of course, is that M&M's are small, and it's hard to fit a lot on them. So instead of saying "Becca's Bat Mitzvah" they read "Becca's BM". We discovered this with a mouth full of candy and it was quite the effort not to spray everyone around us with chewed up chocolate. When we asked Leiba (very carefully, mind you) if she knew about this, she rolled her eyes and said her cousin thought it would be cute. Cute. We asked what Becca thought about it. Cute wasn't a word that came up. It was a constant chuckle throughout the weekend as people started reading the M&M's and choking as it hit them. Sadly (or luckily), I don't think her MIL ate any. I'm sure the whole room would have heard about it. Very loudly. Oy vey, no one knows what she puts up with with that daughter-in-law of hers. Could she tell us some stories.
The weekend would have been a home run except for one thing. As soon as she picked me up Stacey warned me that she had really really bad news, and she didn't exaggerate. One of our friends, who was vacationing in upstate New York, had developed terribly severe abdominal cramps, bad enough that her husband took her into the ER. Next thing they knew she was in surgery,where the docs removed a "huge" tumor, along with the ovary it was on. With no pathology in hand they actually used the "malignant" word. It was bad enough that she has a colostomy, and while waiting for final pathology results the team there is already talking to her about major cancer centers and possible treatment options. No symptoms. No signs. Oh yeah, she had been complaing about feeling a little tired lately. Anyone reading this not feeling a little tired?
So between the update phone calls and the fact that everything we did reminded us of our friend Maggie in some way, it was hard. We would be laughing one minute and on the verge of tears the next. She has kids the same ages as ours. She was one of the very first people who drew me into the group when we moved here. And all we can do at this point is wait.
I love road trips. But I really hate waiting.
P.S. Happy Belated Birthday to my own Mother-In-Law, who I love dearly, even though she doesn't provide me with any comic material. Couldn't you be a biatch just once, so I could write about it??