Mom says that when you have cancer the first thing you think when you wake up is, “Wow, I have cancer.” She says she doesn’t think about being thirsty, hungry, or even that she has to go to the bathroom. It’s always the fact that she has cancer.
Maybe after awhile it won’t come as such a shock to the system.
Perhaps in time we will be able to digest that my mom has cancer a little better.
Or maybe we will never really get used to it at all.
Every morning when I wake, I find my phone and I text my mom, I ask, “How are you feeling?” Most of the time she texts that she is just fine and at work but yesterday when I asked she said simply, “Not well. Staying home today.”
I’m proud of her for being strong enough to be weak for a little while and for recognizing that she needed to take care of herself. Sometimes I think she forgets she has cancer not the flu. That’s how tough my mom is being through all of this.
She told me yesterday morning that a big clump of hair came out in the shower. A bigger clump then usual so she decided that the time has come.
Time to let it all go.
To shave her head.
As tough as my mom is being through all of this, today she was broken and I don’t blame her because sometimes life just blanking sucks, if you know what I mean.
I never realized that when you go through chemo you don’t only loose your hair but your hair follicles are physically painful. Mom kept complaining of a sore head and how her hair actually hurt before it was shaved.
When I watched my mom cut her hair really short we all made jokes while it was being cut. Making light in the shadows.
Today, however, the darkness loomed in the room like a wake.
In a way my mom is mourning the loss of her former pre-cancer self. She is forced to put the women she has known for 40+ years six-feet under.
My mom has to redefine herself as person with cancer and then ultimately as a surviver.
Cancer changes you; it’s like a volatile ex-boyfriend. It leaves you with emotional and physical scars that are near impossible to escape and piece by piece you have to pick yourself back up. Rebuilding the walls that define who you are.
My dad and I gathered in the kitchen as my mom sat in the chair with all the courage she could muster.
Silence was all around as the last of her red strands fell. My dad tried to make a few jokes but laughter was lost in the windstorm outside.
I will be the first to admit that the photographs I took are not my best work. I was too emotional. Tears streamed down my face as I saw the lump of concrete grow inside my moms throat. She tried to be tough even smiling a few times but when I looked at her all I could see was her brokenness.
She was helpless.
And I was unable to save her.
The wicked game of cancer was too strong.
We were capsized with a long way to go.
A long way to happy.
Small fragments of hair laid lifeless on the floor and my mother’s heart was wide open. Screaming for the pain to cease. Begging the Devil to stop the dance and pleading with God to help.
But she’ll keep hanging on. Hanging on for dear life. I know that she feels like an ill fated beast. But I swear to you she is still the most beautiful woman I know and the furtherest thing from beastly.
“So don’t worry, because I am with you.
Don’t be afraid, because I am your God.
I will make you strong and will help you.
I will support you with my right hand that saves you.”