How fast we learn lessons when time isn’t guaranteed.
On Friday, April 20th I found out my mom has ovarian cancer. Cancer, is there a more terrifying word?
Every issue I had with my mom, real and imagined, fell away. In that instant I was released from the anger I’ve stubbornly held onto for years. Big, seemingly insurmountable problems now look small and petty. I look small and petty. Why did it take cancer to release me and allow me to just open my heart and love her without conditions and judgment? In the dark of night I often wonder if I’m a terrible person, I hope I’m not. I hope I’m just a very flawed human who can learn lessons even if it takes a jolt to my gut like my mom’s cancer.
My mom’s cancer. Those words crush me. When I read them – yes, read them. My mom sent out a family email to inform us. I know you read that and thought, “what the hell?” But, it’s not strange for my family. We’re not a conventional family by any stretch of the imagination. But, each family is different, and I think that’s ok.
When I read the words they didn’t make sense. I kept re-reading them, it felt like I was reading a foreign language where the only word I knew was cancer.
“Who has cancer? Somebody, please, read this to me…who has cancer?”
My mom… wait, it says my mom has cancer. That can’t be right, I must be reading it wrong. If that moment were a movie it turned from color to black and white. The details of my surroundings fell away, but the edges grew sharper. And I hurt, my body ached, I wasn’t breathing right and there was a gut wrenching noise, it was me. Then I called my husband at work. I said words, I don’t know what they were.
I called my sister, I quickly realized she was in her car and hadn’t read the email. I tried to not tell her, but she knows me better than anyone in the world and almost immediately started to cry. I told her to pull over. I yelled it because she didn’t seem to hear me. She pulled over and I told her. She started screaming and wouldn’t stop. She couldn’t stop. I yelled at her, I swore at her to stop – I slapped her face with my voice so she’d snap out of it. She did. I told her to breathe. Take a breath right now, take another, now go home and call me.
As I sit here in the dark I’m thinking of my beautiful, funny and always sees the bright side mom. I don’t feel any of the anger I’ve stubbornly and stupidly carried around for years. God, why am I so damn stubborn? Why can’t I see my stubbornness until there’s a “life is not guaranteed” moment. Sometimes I just hate myself. Hate the way I am. Why am I the most difficult with the ones I love the most? Guess that’s for another day.
We have a battle ahead. My crazy, dysfunctional family – my brother, whose faith guides his every step. He’s better than I could ever dream of being. I hope his goodness makes God hear our prayers. I hope my brother’s unwavering faith makes God grant us a miracle. My sister, who is so close to my mom they’re practically the same person. My jealousy of that is gone now. I hope my sister can use their bond to bring comfort and strength to my mom. Our spouses and partners who are our rocks. Our family.
I think of my mom’s battle ahead, our battle as a family. I’m so angry right now. I swing wildly from dropping right to my knees and begging God to be kind and merciful and cursing him for doing this to such a good person.
Nothing makes sense right now, but despite that, and my own endless flaws, I’m strong. I’m ridiculously strong, and I rise to moments. I’m going to rise to this one. I swear cancer, you don’t have a fucking chance. My dysfunctional, crazy, beautiful family is going to rise to this moment and fight you like superheroes.
Please mommy just be strong too.