[Editor’s note: All week we will be posting the finalists for our first D*S Essay contest. The theme was “HOME”. Voting will begin on Friday after all finalists have been notified and posted. Thank you so much to everyone who entered this year’s contest! -Grace]
Eight years. Two thousand nine hundred twenty days since I sat on the edge of my bed with a cloudy head.
“I have something to tell you…”
My heartbeat began banging an uneven rhythm in my chest, in my ears, behind my eyes.
BAM. BAM. BAM. A percussionist inside of my ribcage.
I don’t even think I responded. I tensed up, ready for the blow. Sat down. Prepared.
“I have cancer.”
Then some talk about treatment, probably some tears from the other end. To be honest, the conversation is a hazy mist that hangs in the recesses of my memory. It’s the low-lying fog that is only detectable from a distance; stand in the middle of it and the tangible quality it has seems to dissipate. All that to say, I really don’t remember the conversation when my mother told me she had cancer.
Truthfully, it almost never crossed my mind that I could lose my mother at forty-seven years old. I never thought this disease would kill her. She was the most capable person I had ever known and I strived to be half of the person that she is.
But then the chemo began. Generally speaking, she felt fine. But there were days, unnerving days, where she would cry on the phone. Where she would complain of feeling ill. Where she sat on the couch and said she just needed to feel bad for herself.
And then I saw her. Home from photography school for a visit, I saw my newly afflicted mother; cancer-ridden, bald, skin pale & crepe-y.
What happened to the powerhouse I had always known? Where did the strong, able-bodied woman go? The one who had reared two kids like it was effortless? The one who maintained a marriage, a household and an increasingly successful career? She was frail. She was still positive, still herself, just a little bit weaker. She was shadow of herself, the same shape around the edges, but all of the details were a bit dark and blurry.
[continued after the jump…]