So last week, I completely forgot to write my Widows Voice blog. Just completely forgot. And I didn't forget that night and then remember the next morning, which I have done MANY times, and then the blog post is a bit late being posted, like today. No. This time I just forgot altogether. I call it "Widow Fail." Actually, I think it deserves a hashtag, because hashtags are all the rage right now. #widowfail. That is how I felt. Like I had failed at my widow duties. Failed our Widow Mama Michele, failed my widowed community, failed myself. Would my Widow responsibilities be taken away? Would I be fired from writing for Widows Voice, even though Im a volunteer? Would the next widowed person in line take my place if I was unable to perform my duties? Was Steve Harvey somehow involved in this mix-up? Who knows. All I know is that my brain isn't functioning correctly right now. And for once, it's not "Widow Brain." It's not that cloud of fogginess that happens due to the grief and pain around losing my spouse. Not entirely anyway. This is a different cloud. This is a "My Mom Has Cancer and I Cant Think Straight" type of cloud.
So, yeah. My mom has cancer.
If you recall, the last time I wrote in here, I vaguely wrote about some personal family stuff going on, and a diagnosis that was upsetting. My mom wasnt yet ready for me to publicly post about it. All of my close friends now know, and of course, our family. The "good" news is, she has one of the "good" cancers. It is uteran cancer, which has a high survival rate when caught early, which it was. She has to have a full hysterectomy, and then after that, we will know a lot more. If it hasnt gone anywhere else and is contained, that is all the treatment she will need. If not, then chemo and radiation will follow. Right now, the doctors feel that she will probably be okay after the surgery, which is on Tuesday, Jan. 12th. I have been here in Massachusetts at my parents place, since Christmas week, and I will be here until the 17th, so that I can be around for the surgery, and some of her recovery period, which will be a few weeks. I am lucky in the timing of when this happened. Because Im a college professor, Im on break right now until late January, so Im able to remain in Massachusetts, without going back to NY for work until later.
I havent been at my parents house for this long in years. I came here on December 22nd. It has been over 3 weeks already, and by the time I leave, it will be about 5 weeks total that I have been here. It has come with its challenges. Being a 44 year old adult who used to be married and whose husband has died, staying in your parents room, with no car or independence really, sort of makes you feel like you are 15 years old all over again. Not sharing a political opinion with almost everyone around you, makes for awkward and tense dialogue sometimes, in close and tight quarters. Doing all of your work and your writing at the dining room table where you have your laptop spread out, instead of in your own cushy home office - can feel weird and foreign. Spending New Years Eve with my parents, and another married couple who are very good friends, and watching them all hug and kiss at midnight while watching Ryan Seacrest on TV - a very lonely and awful feeling, no matter how you try for it not to be.
My mom will most likely be okay. Things will probably be okay. Eventually. But the fact is - the word "cancer" is very scary. Frightening, in fact. I know she is scared, because I am scared, and Im not the one with the diagnosis. She has been trying to keep herself as busy as possible in lead-up to the surgery, to take her mind off of that horrible C word thing. She will probably be okay. But heres the thing - once you get that diagnosis, then you begin "the cancer dance." Am I really okay? Will it come back? Is that pain in my side something more than a pain? Will I lose my hair? My energy? My purpose? How is this going to work? There are endless jumbled thoughts going through all of our heads. My mom, my dad, my brother, and me. Aside from my husband, who is gone, my mom is my best friend. We talk everyday. Sometimes more than once. We have a natural rhythm, where we dont even really think about how nautral our relationship and friendship is. It just IS. And just like I could never imagine my life without my husband, I cannot imagine life without my mom. And I probably wont have to. But thats not the point.
Heres the point. (Yes, I do have one inside this jumbled mess of a brain) One day, I will have to deal with the death of my mom. Or my dad. Or both. Someday, both. And then other people will die. Or get sick. Or I will get sick. And there will be decisions and hardships and sacrifices. Even with this situation, it is maddening to me that Don isnt here to go through it with us. If he was here, I could help in so many more ways. We would have our car. We could go back and forth. Nobody would have to pick me up at the train an hour away. I wouldnt be a burden or something else to deal with. I could take off work and Don could keep working so I could be with my mom. Or the reverse. We would be doing it together. And at night, he would lie in bed with me in my parents room and we would giggle and then maybe cry and he would hold my hand and tell me: "She's going to be fine, Boo. " And then he would tell me why, and share actual statistics with me about cancers and things, because he was in the medical field and knew stuff like that. And then I would sigh and feel better.
But that is not my life now. Not anymore. Instead, I take a Tylenol PM so I can sleep without anxiety, Instead, I have to figure out a way to pay my rent and bills for the month of January and February, since I dont get another paycheck until the end of February from the college. What is important right now is that I am HERE for my mom. Family comes first, and not being here right now is unacceptable to me. But its 5 hours from my life, and my kitties, and my job, and so I cant pick up temp work like I normally would during this holiday break to make ends meet. And Don cant stay in NY and pick up a few shifts while I stay here with mom.
I just have to do this alone. Without you. I have to do everything , from now on, without you. And honestly, I dont know if I will ever get used to that. It will never feel normal or right or fair.
Things will probably be okay.
But okay, without you, is so much different, than regular okay.
It just is.
And it always will be.