I don’t want to remember but I can’t forget. I have these memories – snapshots of different moments in time of caring for my Mom. If I write my thoughts here, perhaps I’ll be able to turn the page in this chapter of my life and finally move forward. My Mom died exactly one year ago after a five year battle with lung cancer. She shocked everyone with her determination to fight and beat it. Most of all, she shocked me. I never knew my Mom to be a strong person; not that she was a weak woman, nope, not her, but she was never the best in a crisis. We used to laugh at how Mom would be the first to run away when there was an emergency and we still laugh.
No, when she was first told about the cancer her response was, “Not now. I don’t have time. I’m selling my house and I’ve got to get it packed up!” That was in January. The doctor called her in April, right after she had moved into her new modern, spacious apartment. This was the first time in her life that she had the things she thought were luxuries – a dishwasher, washer and dryer right there in her apartment, a refrigerator with an ice-maker! Best of all, she had her cousin and friends living in the same complex. Anyway, the doctor asked her if she was done moving and was she ready to go in for more testing. Reluctantly she agreed. After a myriad of different tests we got the news and it wasn’t good. She had small cell lung cancer. The bad news was that it’s aggressive, good news was that it responds well to chemotherapy and the radiation should knock it back. “Chemotherapy? Radiation? What do you mean?” she whispered. I held her hand as we listened to her doctors spell out the course of treatment. “Okay” she said, “Let’s do it.” Privately she said to me “What am I going to do? Wait to die without fighting?” I was so proud of her that day.
She started her treatments and once she understood that she needed to take the pills and drink her fluids and do everything they told her, she rocked it. Then her hair started to fall out. She’d been told it would and she already had a beautiful wig on standby but she wasn’t emotionally prepared when it happened. We had to rush out and buy her a baseball hat that she immediately plunked on head. But later, when she took it off, her hair came with it. She decided it would be better to shave her head rather than have her hair fall out in clumps so off we went to the salon where my stylist buzzed off what remained of her pretty blonde hair. She sat there with her eyes closed as he snipped, clipped and buzzed. She finally looked into the mirror when he was done. She didn’t make a sound but I saw the tears rolling down her face. I saw such sadness in her eyes. It broke my heart to see her like that. I told her she was even more beautiful than before. She took my hand and kissed it. Then she looked at me and called me a liar. Even on one of her most difficult days she could smile.