That entire evening is a blur to me. My last detailed memory was us sitting in the waiting room. We were listening to the girl behind us dry heave into the barf bag they graciously provided her. Some children on the other side of the room arguing over a toy fire truck. A man came in holding his shoulder. Another kid came in with an ankle the size of a watermelon. My girlfriend was in Quincy with her parents. We thought you had the stomach flu that so many people had.
When the Physician’s Assistant pressed on your stomach, the look on his face is now etched in my memory. Only, I didn’t notice it then. According to Google you may have been experiencing appendicitis. According to you, it was gas, and after sitting for over an hour, planning your rude nurse’s violent death in my mind, you went for a CT of your abdomen.
Once you came back from that, we sat some more. We sat so long that your ass cheeks went to sleep. And so did you. Then my back knotted up, so I took a walk. I talked to dad on the phone to say we knew nothing yet and were just sitting. Waiting. And I was pissed, because I was sleepy and you just needed some fluids because of the stomach flu and your nurse was rude and they were too fucking slow.
When I got back to your room, you were awake. Staring up at the TV. And you looked like you had seen a ghost. Then, in your typical blunt way, you just said that you had a blockage that they thought might be cancer and you were being admitted for more tests. I knew you were not being truthful. I knew you were holding back. The look on your face gave you away. In 42 years, I’d never seen fear cross your face. I saw it that night. Right then. And I knew they had told you that you did, in fact, have cancer, and you were being admitted for surgery.
The rude red-headed nurse came in and explained again what was going on. We were waiting on a room and you would remain at the ER until a bed became available for you. We talked very little after that. I saw your eyes full of tears. I saw that you wanted to be alone. The details are very fuzzy to me. I was shocked. I couldn’t feel my face. My mind was racing.
We had never been the typical mother/daughter duo. I think we’ve hugged three times. Said “I love you” four. We have gone weeks without talking. Days while living under the same roof. You never saw me play one single softball game in high school nor college. We’ve never even had “the talk”. Neither of them.
But, you’re still my momma. And I am nowhere close to being alone in the world without one. The last year or so has allowed us to see each other more often. Not under the best circumstances, but it has been a good thing. Things were beginning to look up. There was some light at the end of the tunnel. We were getting better.
Cancer has a way of throwing shade though. It can throw darkness even in the brightest places. And you were never the chipper, happy, type anyway. But, what this has done to you has shocked me. I am struggling to stay afloat here, and I need for you to come back. I was not expecting this out of you.
You have always been in the zone during a crisis. You have always taken charge. With my grandfather, my grandmother, an Uncle, a Great Uncle, with my dad (your ex-husband). And most recently, with your sister. Six months to the day after her passing, you got your own diagnosis.
I guess it was just too much. That is how I am processing this. Everything just snowballed for years and this is where you have finally stopped rolling. This is where you decided to bail. My guess is that this is temporary. My hope is that it is. Because even a sick you is better than this version.
How fucking crazy is that? I am sitting here saying out loud, to anyone that will listen, that I miss my momma. That I fucking miss my mother. The one that told me at 5:00 am on Monday, the 27th, that I was “the laziest person” she had ever known. Because I dared to be asleep at that time of the morning. Then she told me that I needed to either stop snoring or go the fuck home. That one. I miss her.
The worse part, at least to me, is that I should have seen this unfolding. For years, things seemed off with you. Your give-a-damn busted. It was a bit fragile anyway, but it really disintegrated in the past few years. Things were off and I should have seen it. I was blind to the obvious. We can’t see what we don’t want to.
I didn’t notice the weight loss. The fatigue; I attributed the fatigue to the emotional toil of your sister’s illness and death. The stomach pains you said were nothing but gas and stomach acid. I figured the weight loss was stress and age. I figured wrong. I was never good with figures.
I wonder how many people can say that their parent having colon cancer is the very least of their concerns? I cannot imagine there are very many.
You seem to be getting better every day. More aware. Remembering more. Your iPhone pin. Your debit card pin. That nobody bothered to make your car payment for you. Because we are all “the laziest people you’ve ever known”.
We are painting your living room this week and you seem to remember that I am not a good painter, and that I really suck at trim work. You even did the motherly thing and blamed it on the paint roller. Until I walked out the door, then you told my girlfriend, that it “wasn’t just the roller.” That is the you I remember. The one that will only admit my failings when I am not in the room.
On the matter of girlfriends, you even made us laugh this week. Names are not easy for you right now. You were telling me something you watched on TV and you lost the name of the person you watched it with. How you worked that out was downright funny.
Unless you were me.
“What’s her name?”
“Whatshername? Your girlfriend.”
“No. The other one. The older one.”
If I could have crawled into a hole right then…….
It was funny. Only because you weren’t trying to be funny.
Such is life for us these days. But we are going to roll with it. Because, what other choice do we have? Not one single thing in my life, nor yours, has been easy for the last several years. So, we will just roll on with this too. Like we do.