17 May 2011

Where I have been.


I went to the Stationery Show today. The first time I went, 8 years ago, I had a different name, a different job, I lived in a different city. 8 years ago, my mother had just had a double mastectomy to rid her of invasive lobular breast cancer. Today, I have a new name and my mother has stage IV metastasized breast cancer that thrives in her bones, her stomach, her lymph nodes, her blood.

Every night on my way home from work, I used to speak to my mother on the telephone. Now, she sleeps before I leave work. I walk home and I talk to friends about my mother, or I talk to her in my head, or I write to her, and tell her things I am afraid to say. When death is far away, it is easier to speak of it freely. Now that death creeps closer, we are in a delicate waltz.

My mother has always taught her children what her mother taught her: live each day as if is your last. Now that we know what will end her days, my mother and I think differently. Do not live each day as if it is your last. It is a terrible burden, terrible, terrible knowledge that no one should lay down to sleep with. Live each day full of love. Live each day with grace, with dignity. Be the best you, the person your parents dreamed they would make, the person you have always wanted to be.

Cancer has fractured my mother's shoulder, it has put her in the hospital too many times, it has kept her from her granddaughter's birthday party for fear of infection. Cancer causes my teetotaler mother to live on cocktails of painkillers. But, cancer has not made my mother anyone other than the joyous, sage, impish, speed-loving mother who will remain my North Star for the rest of my days.

10 comments:

Emerson Merrick said...

Oh Leigh. Bittersweet tears on this end of Metropolitan.

Mon Petit Fantome said...

All I can say is that I love you dear. My heart and lips whisper prayers of light to you and yours. I've had to walk a similar path with my own Mother...know that a wee phantom hand holds yours from here.

east side bride said...

<3

Fat Girl said...

Leigh your words are beautiful...I am so sorry that your mom who I think of fondly from years ago must take this journey; I wish you stregnth and send you and her love.

Kevin said...

dearly beloved,

this is a profoundly powerful entry. thank you for reminding me to stop and reflect on the joy, and love your mother has brought to so many people's lives. Yes, dearest blanche, sage and impish indeed ;)

by land by air by sea said...

i am moved to tears

Aimee Pelletier said...

I have just found your blog and am touched so much by this post. Especially love the "live each day" quote. I will remember it.

Kelly said...

A beautiful and brave thing to write. Brave, because of so much that you've had to accept to be able to talk of these things. I will continue to think of you.

Amal said...

Leigh, you are a true poet, in the Wilder sense of the word, realizing life while you live it--
every,every minute. So strong and so full of grace.

Daniel-Halifax said...

Oh Leigh, I'm so saddened to hear this. The great thing about mothers, is they live on forever in our hearts and memories. You made a beautiful bride and she and even more beautiful mother-of-the-bride.