Mortality is a funny thing.
You tiptoe around the subject as a child, understanding in some part of your mind that people die, that life ends, but never thinking it will happen to you, or to someone around you. As a teenager, it’s impressed upon you by adults that you are not, in fact, immortal, as a way to reign you in before you get too out of control. As an adult, you understand mortality in a more concrete manner. Your grandparents may have passed away, or you may know people who lost their parents. But while you know, logically, that everyone dies, you subconsciously breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not happening to you, that it’s someone else dealing with the grief and the stress. You tamp down your inner child who laughs in the face of fate, tempting the gods by thinking, that won’t ever happen to me.
And then it does. Someone you know, someone close to you, the woman who gave you life, is diagnosed with cancer. And just like that, the bottom drops out of the world. You’re grasping at strings of logic that seem too far away, trying to understand why, to understand how this could happen to you, to your mother. This isn’t real, you tell yourself. It has to be a mistake.