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.