Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Dear Mom (Part 3)


A book my mother gave me, with our first photo taped to the inside.


Dear Mom, 

It’s been 4 months since I’ve last written. So many things have happened. I wish you were here to experience these things with me.

The most important thing for you to know is that WE WON THE ELECTION. Trump will be out January 20. It has been a very difficult election season, and I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that Trump refuses to concede. First, the counting of ballots took a good amount of time, so we didn’t have an election result until Saturday after the election. And Trump has been claiming election fraud because a majority of mail-in ballots came in for Biden. Never mind that this is because many Democrats have been COVID-conscious and decided to vote the safest way possible, while many Trump supporters still think COVID is a hoax, refuse to wear masks, and gather in large groups with little social distancing. (There have been viral videos where Trump supporters actively cough or spit on other people - which is a crime now.) 

We’re having a huge upswing in COVID cases all across the country - yesterday 184,174 cases were reported nationwide. It’s terrifying. I’ve said this before, but in some ways I’m really glad you’re not here to witness this because I know it would scare you to death - not for your own health but for the health of your children and Pam. Nationwide 242,000 have died. In Escambia County, they have had 16872 cases reported and 306 deaths - that’s 4 times as many deaths as the last time I checked in. (There were at 77 in August.)

I’m still pretty healthy, despite having that pesky cancer. I get COVID testing every three weeks, which is not the most comfortable thing. You would hate it! They stick what amounts to a thin pipe cleaner up your nose and push it all the way back until it hits the end of your nasal passage (which is MUCH farther than you’d ever imagine that went!) And then they do the other side as well. But it does give me peace of mind so that when I’m with people or at chemo I know I’m not infecting anyone.

And as far as cancer you’ll be happy to know that I have been stable (or with tumors shrinking) since March 2019 when I started that chemo. Of course, we know at some point that treatment will stop working and I’ll have to find a new one, but for now I’m very lucky. I had scans last week that were also stable, so I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s always so anxiety provoking to do those. I know you know what I mean. But I’m taking each day as it comes. I feel healthy, and that’s what matters right now.

I just had my birthday, and it was hard. It was hard knowing that I wasn’t going to get a phone call around 11am. (Never earlier, because you knew how late I normally stayed up and wouldn’t be awake much earlier than 11am.) It was also hard knowing that no gift was coming unreasonably early because you knew you wanted me to have the gift on time and didn’t want Veteran’s Day to get in the way of the present being delivered. Some years you would send me my gift in mid-late October! That always made me laugh, and I would always wait until midnight on my birthday to open it.

We finally got the house on the market and are currently in escrow. The realtor is amazing. Do you know… she’s a Democrat?? She wrote me a text eluding to the election being anxiety-provoking, and I was like, “What? You’re a Biden supporter? In Pensacola?” I knew I had a good feeling about her. :) Anyway, we have a buyer and you’ll be happy to know they made an offer well above asking. The realtor says you’d done an amazing job with the house - we have 18 showings and 5 offers right out of the gate and more would have come if we didn’t already accept an offer on the 2nd day.

Anyway, we had the estate sale and we raised over $10,000 - of course, 35% went to the sales company but they donated everything that didn’t sell to charity and cleaned the house from top to bottom. They really took care of things for me. I get really sad when I think about your home being empty right now, and I wonder who has all of the items. But I’m glad they will be well-loved like they were by all of us. Before I left in March I paid tribute (in my head) to all of the belongings we’ve shared over the years - things I gave to you when you moved into your first house in Murrieta and things I gave you when I moved to NYC. Thinking about the lives those items had seen. They provide such good memories. I wish I could have brought everything home with me, but I didn’t have room in my luggage and plus, where would I store everything in NYC?

More news: I got engaged! Brandon asked me to marry him on November 13, 2020 - our 9 year anniversary. He presented me with the old vintage wedding set that we had - I’m really excited. I’ve already asked Candice to be my maid of honor - she screamed with delight. It was cute. We plan to get married next year when things open up again - maybe in August. Though, Brandon wants to get married outside, and it may be a bit cold in the late fall. I know you always wanted to be the mother of the bride, and I’m sorry that you won’t be here to be a part of everything. But we will keep a chair open for you, in the front, in your honor.

A few other updates - in July our company did an online performance of a play called DUTCHMAN, and the New York Times came to see it! We got reviewed in the online AND print edition, and my picture was not only included with the review, but it was also on the front page of the Arts section. We’ve been so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with our work during COVID. Audiences are loving the fact that they can watch and contribute to theater that makes a difference - our social justice work is being received really well, and it means a lot to me. I think you’d be really proud of what we’re doing.

I was in the hospital a few weeks ago and I was thinking a lot about you. Don’t worry, I’m fine - it was a precautionary measure because I have developed an allergy to my chemo (I’m all good now.) But while I was there I couldn’t help but have flashbacks to the last time I saw you at Christmas when you were in the hospital. I remember you crying when we said goodbye. I think you knew it was the last time I’d see you, but I was in denial. I was so certain that I would see you in February when my next show was done and I’d fly back down. Little did I know that this trip in February would be to scatter your ashes. At the beach, just like you requested. In the hospital I felt so alone, and I was only there for one night. I can’t imagine what it was like for you. It must have been so lonely and scary. And boring!

I found an old video of us yesterday - it was from the cruise we took in 2009 at Christmas. Do you remember how it rained and stormed on the night we were supposed to leave, so we left a day late? I had taken a video on the balcony while you were having a cigarette. We joked around and you couldn’t stop laughing that wonderful laugh of yours. And then, a little bit later I turned the camera to you and just watched you thinking while you were looking at the rain. You seemed so content but also deeply moved. And I think this was that moment I missed you the most. Because I miss talking with you and hearing those thoughts. I miss watching you take in the world and appreciating the small things.

Thanksgiving just passed. I know we didn’t get together for it very often after I moved to NYC, but we had a Thanksgiving style dinner so often for Christmas that I still feel nostalgic at this time of year. Sean and I talked about how much we missed you on Thanksgiving, even though we rarely spent it with you. We shared fond memories of it growing up.

We got a new dog! His name is Touchstone, he is a Chihuahua-Terrier mix, and he’s bringing such joy to our lives. It’s taking a while for his personality to really come out, but it is slowly but surely. Here’s a photo of him, posing with Feste.



I’m about to digitize all of our home movies, so that we can have them on a computer rather than a DVD (since most DVD are out of technology now.) I’m a little nervous to ship them off to the tech company that will do the work, but I have all of the DVDs you made just in case.

Well, I’m going to sign off. Just know that I think of you every day - many, many times in a day - and I love and miss you. And I hope that, wherever you are, that you are happy and that you’re proud of me. I aim to be your legacy of kindness, humor, and hope.

Love,

Erin :)



Erin Cronican is a Stage IV breast cancer patient, whose career as a professional actor, producer, and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally and appeared Off Broadway with several plays and musicals. She is currently the Executive Artistic Director of The Seeing Place Theater in NYC. For more information, please visit www.erincronican.com.

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