Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our first Mother's Day with cancer.

I'm glad that this post isn't called "Mother's Day from Room 302B" or something to that effect. My mother has been home from the hospital since Thursday, after going in for a planned stay on April 23rd.

Still, I was dreading calling her yesterday morning. As much as I miss(ed) her and want(ed) to talk to her, I knew that hearing her voice would hurt as much as it helped. Her voice...isn't hers. My mother's voice is strong and sassy. This is one of those times when Spanish makes more sense to me than English, because for 22 years of my life I've thought of the "is" in that sentence as a permanent kind of is, a this is how it always has been and this is how it always will be kind of is. A "ser" kind of is. Cancer taught me that "estar" can sneak up on you. La voz de mi mama estaba fuerte. Now, her voice is barely above a whisper. It is characterized only by its hoarseness. I feel bad asking her to repeat herself, because I know that the shortest of conversations is draining to her. It's draining to me too, because I don't know who this frail person on the other end of the phone is. Mi mama es una mujer de fuerza. 

But the woman on the other end of the phone, who can barely muster the strength to thank me and ask about my exams, is my mother. I guess doing the impossible for 22 years can catch up to you. She's not invincible. (She's too young to not be invincible.) Forty-two and fragile just isn't fair.

On your first Mother's Day with cancer, tears spill out of your eyes after approximately two minutes of hearing your mother labor to speak with you, and you try with all of your might to keep her from hearing them. You use every bit of strength you have to keep your voice steady. When that strength begins to falter, you quickly tell her that she should get some rest and you'll talk to her soon. The heaving sobs come as soon as you push "End". You feel like a woman of despicable priorities for not being there, despite the impending deadlines, despite her telling you not to worry. You are ashamed of yourself. You are six years old and having a nightmare again, only this time it doesn't go away when you wake up. Before you can stop yourself, you wonder how many more Mother's Days you'll get to wish her. And the rest of the day feels impossible as you move your sobs from the bed to the shower. On your first Mother's Day with cancer, you wish you were sick one. You feel like being your mother took everything out of her. You wonder if anything will ever feel right again. 

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