Saturday, July 17, 2010

The ugly bits

My mom has cancer. OK, technically, she has a mass pressing on her esophagus that is extremely likely to be cancer. She called me on Thursday to tell me and was unusually chipper while she broke the news that the doctors had used words like "long road ahead" and "get ready to fight." Words that rip the breath from your lungs. I know she was doing what mother's do, softening the edges.

She's going Monday for a meeting with the doctor to do the biopsy. Then she will meet with a surgeon and an oncologist. We don't yet what the treatment will be, or even if she will have surgery. It all depends on the type of cancer. We don't know much of anything which is a special kind of hell.

But this is what happens. A couple very close friends of mine have walked this road this year. We knew that this day would come for all of us...saying goodbye to our parents. It's the way of things. But we are all just in our 30s--my mother is 55-- and I don't think any of us thought it would happen so soon. I guess I realize now, that it doesn't really matter. 30 years. 40. 50. It wouldn't ever be enough.

I am not suggesting my mother won't make it through this and live to frustrate me for 20 more years. In fact, I refuse to allow anyone to speak those words. But I'm scared. And she's scared and I don't know how to help her. And my children see me in tears, and I, like her, put on a too cheerful smile and tell them it's OK. And I had to call each of my 3 brothers and break the news to them. And tomorrow I have to call her mother--my grandmother, healthy and full of spit and drama at 75--and tell her to pull it together and stop talking to my mom about her death.

And I believe in a God who is loving and just and a life after this one. But my mother does not. Which scares me most of all. I'm not sure I've ever felt quite so much like a grown up. Or so inadequate to the task. I long to pass that mantle of responsible adulthood onto someone else. But I suspect you all already have your own.


It's been a year since I've been here and I don't know if this will be my return to blogging or just a singular random purging of the thoughts I couldn't say aloud. Time will tell. It always does.


  1. I am so sorry you and your family are going through this. I have the overwhelming urge to put my arms around you and whisper a prayer for peace into your ear. Instead I'll just pray from a few miles away.

  2. I was so glad to see you in my reader, but I'm so sad about what brought you back.

    Your mommy is younger than mine, by about 7 years! I'm only 26 and the thought my mom is getting old enough to deal with these kinds of things seems like insanity.

    I'm so sorry, and you guys will be in my thoughts and prayers. Keep us posted, okay?

  3. Oof. I will hold you, and your mother, and your whole family, in my prayers. We are dealing with the deterioration of my husband's parents (who are MUCH older), and are, in fact, moving across the country so that we can be near them to help and to just BE THERE for whatever time is left. It's daunting, indeed.