We’re only four days into 2018 which means people have already succeeded and failed at their resolutions for the year. But I’m avoiding the topic, what I mean to say is that it’s January 4th, and it’s been three years since my mom died.
I don’t know where my words are. Well, I do, but I don’t want to use them. Because then I’d have to be personal and I’d have to be honest and I’d have to share all these things I try so hard to keep hidden because I don’t know what else to do with them. I’ve only had this blog for four days, isn’t it a little early to start getting personal?
Trick question, it isn’t. Because I’ve already written about my mom so what am I trying to hide, I made this blog/portfolio thing and this is a resolution I am not going to fail at, and because apparently it’s healthy to talk about these things.
Here’s the short version: she had breast cancer three times over the course of ten years. We thought she’d beaten it the first time when I was nine, but eight years later we found out it had just taken a long journey from one breast to the other. A year later we thought she beat that, and a few months after that she noticed a strange rash on her chest and we learned it was inflammatory breast cancer.
It was separate from the other two, rare, and it was incurable. My dad and I were at the appointment when they told her. That was in February 2015, in October that same year they told us their was nothing else they could do. On December 17th she was put in a cancer hospital for the pain, and she never came home after that. She died on January 4th, and you know all that already.
People say that time heals all wounds, but it’s a lie. What they mean to say is that you get used to missing them, you get used to being angry, and you get used to that hole inside of you, and those are all very sad things to get used to feeling.
I don’t want to think of the times my mom was sick though, because she was with me for twenty-one years and I have so many more memories of her from before she was sick. But maybe it’s because the sick memories are the last ones I have that they stick so badly.
I was thinking about my mom (which I do often) and an image of her came into my head. Her hair was long, she was wearing her glasses like she’d just been reading the paper. She was smiling, and she was happy. I want to remember her this way, not sick with short, curling hair caused by chemo but healthy and how she was before (and after the first battle) the cancer.
I hate that it’s so hard to think of her healthy, because that’s the thing with sickness, it infects your thoughts. You remember the smell of foam sanitizer, the beeps of machines, you remember how family and friends would come to visit on the pretense of caring (and I’m sure they did, sure they do) but mostly because they want to say goodbye without saying goodbye. You remember how you tried to stay positive, and you tried to tell yourself that your mom was just sick and that sickness meant a cure until one day that evil truth spread to your brain: Mom isn’t sick, she’s dying. And I tried to kill the thought, tried to blame it on my tiredness and my frustration but it was the truth and it was something I had to accept, something I shouldn’t have had to accept because it shouldn’t have happened.
See, it happened again. Three years later and I still think of mom in the hospital. So I’m going to stop thinking about the cancer and the hospital and focus on her, my mom.
This is the woman who nurtured my love for unicorns, who would bake cakes and cookies with my sister and I, who would take us to parks and defend us against bullies at school, who would volunteer for school trips and walk us home everyday from grade school. This is the woman who could brighten every room and make everyone happy with just a smile. She was a woman who loved with all her heart and believed that those she loved could do anything. When I first started writing, with the low confidence I had, she never stopped believing I would be a famous writer. She always gave suggestions for story ideas, read my work and gave it raving reviews, she always said she could see my future novel in her mind’s eye and that she knew it would be great, whatever it was about.
I don’t know about fame or greatness or anything (I mean it would be nice but it’s also a one in a million chance) but just the fact that she believed in me, that she could have that much confidence in me when I had so little, and still struggle with, keeps me motivated.
So mom, this is for you. Thank you for believing in me, and for continuing to do so, because too much has happened in this life for me to believe you’re ever really far from us. Thank you for inspiring, for loving, and for making me the woman I am today. You made me brave, you made me wise, and I am a better person because of you. You were so incredibly brave, and I miss you and I love you now and every day for forever.
(A month after she died, I wrote about my mom for Incite Magazine. It was my first non-fiction piece, and the first time I was being myself in my writing. It was scary, it’s still scary, but I think it’s supposed to be. I never shared it before because like I said in my first post, I’m really bad at talking about my writing. And I didn’t want to make anyone sad. If you’d like to read it, you can do so here.)