Facing Cancer

I came to visit my parents today.  I left my family up in the snow and with a little tug at my heart, I drove south.

As I got outside my mom's house and prepared to go in, I was scared.  I was afraid to see my mom.  I was afraid that she would look sick.  Even as a grown child I don't want to be reminded that life is fragile and that my parents aren't invincible.

When I saw my mom, I was relieved.  She had a hat on and some fake hair framing her face.  The hair was the same color as my mom's natural hair and I imagined it was her hair.

Later when she was adjusting her wig, she asked if I wanted to see her bald head.


She understood.

I went with her to get her bone marrow shot.  This is the one that helps her bones, but at the same time makes them ache from her toes to her teeth.  I saw her eyes water slightly as they poked her.  But the entire day she was filled with cheer, chatting with the receptionist, the lady next to her, and to me.  She made jokes.  She was light.  She was grateful.  She told me of the man she met last week.  He was in his forties and had been in an accident and was paralyzed.  She told him that he gave her hope and courage.  She told him that if he can go through what he has gone through, that she can conquer her mountain.

I found myself holding back tears.  I felt sadness that she had to go through this - that anyone had to.  I looked around the white communal room that we were in.  There were other bald people.  Mothers. Fathers.  Brothers.  Sisters.  Friends.  Sitting.  Receiving chemo.  Hoping.  Returning smiles.  And that is when my heart began to complain.  I fought to keep anger out. All of these people -  victims to an awful disease.  All these people being brave and trying to get better.

I have witnessed people being kind to my parents.  People have been kind to me.  My emotions have been closer to the surface than they have been in the past and I'm filled with gratitude for the littlest of gestures.  And I wonder if there is suffering so that people can experience the goodness of other people's hearts.  I wonder.

I'll be visiting my mom and dad for a few days.  Mom is feeling well now, but says that usually three days after her chemo, she gets sick.  Really sick.  I'm bracing myself to see her that way.  Once again, I'm scared.  I'm scared because I don't know how I'll react.  She says she can't focus well during her "chemo flu"; she can just lay there.  But I'm here and I'm hoping to be company to both her and my dad.  I'm hoping to bring companionship - even if it is quiet and simply just being present.  Because sometimes doing nothing is enough.

She is resting now.


LeAnn said…
I'm sorry Kelly, I'm always a listening ear if you just need one. Or a meal if you don't feel like making one. Seriously.
I always felt lost in the fray of cancer. Not sure what I could do or how I could help. But I think just being there is so much. Just visiting and smiling.
It seems like too many people have to go through all this either directly or indirectly but I think you are right. You learn about the kindness of others through trials. And I think we come out of it better people.
Enjoy the warmth. Bring some back if you can.
Kelly said…
Thanks LeAnn. I know you know how I'm feeling. That helps to not feel so alone.

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