AUTHOR'S NOTE: I couldn't decide which blog to write. So I wrote both. Read one, read the other. Read both, read none. This one's for me.
My mom is dying. Like, really dying.
Yeah. That's happening. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Those words have been running through my mind since I found out that her cancer is no longer responding to treatments; since she decided that she'd rather enjoy the life that she has left rather than spend her time nauseated and worn out from the chemo.
I was home in Virginia this past weekend, for a surprise party we threw her celebrating five years of fighting. When they told us, I didn't cry. I watched my mom, dad, brother and sister break down. I hugged them, held Annie's hand. Cracked a joke, lightened the mood. Told my friends, choked up talking to my boss. But I didn't cry.
Saturday, my best friend jumped out of a bush and surprised me (he lives in Nashville). I'd told him everything, and when I hugged him, I felt that relief of being around someone who has seen you at your absolute worst and loves you anyways. That bone-deep satisfaction of knowing this person doesn't care how ugly you are when you break down or how crazy you get when you're at your least sane. And I had tears in my eyes when we broke apart. But I didn't cry.
Saturday night, my oldest friend's parents hugged me tight and told me I was always welcome to come to their house, for whatever I needed. Even if it was just a hug. Her mom had tears in her eyes, but I didn't cry.
Monday, my dad and I talked about what "after" looks like. He teared up at lunch. I didn't cry.
But Tuesday night, alone in my apartment, after putting myself to bed at the very reasonable hour of 9:30pm, and finishing my book by 10:30pm, it hit me. She. Is. Dying. As in, in a few months, she won't be on the other end of the phone when I call. I won't be able to text her all the stupid questions that only moms know the answers too, like, "can you get eczema in your va-jay?" or "how many Advil is too many?" or "is it too early to eat a cupcake?" As in she will no longer be my sounding board for every problem, every issue big or small. She'll no longer be my biggest cheerleader, at least not publicly. She won't be at my wedding, or see the birth of my first child. She'll miss me falling in love with the person I'm going to be with forever. She'll never visit my first house. She'll never see my first grey hair. She'll miss my midlife crisis and she'll never get to see me get my comeuppance from the triple handful of a child I'm sure to receive as a karmic gift from the universe for the years of sass I inflicted upon her.
And I lost it. I was uncontrollably crying, sobbing, couldn't catch my breath. I immediately doubted my decision to come back home to Charlotte. Should I not have left? Should I be there, in Richmond, soaking up all the time I have left with her? Is it selfish of me to want to be there now? But I know she wants me to keep living my life. I know it makes her happy, and proud (I hope) to see me at a job I love, surrounded by amazing friends who keep me sane.
That doesn't make it any easier.
Luckily, I'm blessed with an incredible support system. Somehow, they calmed me down. Breathing got easier and my head slowly cleared. Yes, she's dying. But look at how much she's lived.
If it hadn't been for the cancer, we wouldn't have the relationship we have now. I'd never have been brave enough to move to Greenville nearly sight unseen. I wouldn't be in Charlotte now. I'd still be shy, timid, afraid of adventure. I wouldn't say yes to new things as readily as I do now.
She won't be physically at my wedding or at the birth of my child. But she'll be there. And for her, I'll live live to the fullest extent in my power. I'll go on adventures. I'll travel the world. I'll meet new friends and I'll keep the old ones close. And she'll be there with me every step of the way. And that is how I'm getting through this.