Saturday, 18 February 2012

"There is a comfort in the strength of love: 'Twill make a thing endurable, which else would overset the brain, or break the heart." -William Wordsworth

What happened next:

I get home and go to see my mom.  I am not sure what to expect.  I find my mom to be in high spirits but her words are all coming out wrong.  It's frightening.   She wants to take me for lunch. I try to suggest that we can stay home and eat, but that won't do. I still let her call the shots, she's my mom and that hasn't changed, she is still in charge. She's excited I am here and wants to take me for lunch.  She wants to walk down town.  I am curious to see what she is capable of because I know these are all things she will try to do alone anyway, might as well see if she can do all these things.

This is a mistake.  She cannot walk properly.  She almost falls down the hill, but we keep going.  She refuses to turn around.  She refuses to do anything but keep going.  She wants to take me for lunch, and who am I to say any different.  We make it about half way before we have to sit down, not becuase she wants to, but because I need a break.  I have had to walk behind her, essentially hugging her from behind to hold her up the whole time. This makes her angry with me, but if I let go she falls over.  She refuses to admit this is the truth, according to her she is off balance because I won't let go.  When I let go she crumples to the ground.

The whole time all I can think is "what have I done, we shouldn't have left the house, what have I done, we shouldn't have left the house" Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

We make it. We get to the restaurant but she can't talk properly to order her lunch.  I try to help.  Suddenly I can't remember if it's the mushrooms she always likes on her burger with no cheese, or is it cheese and no mushrooms. How can I have forgotten this? It's always been the same.  She can't tell me. The waiter is being patient.  How can I not remember?  Something so simple. I order some combination and hope that it's right.  We eat and I call a friend to give us a ride home.  I make sure she's safe in the house and I head to my temporary home to try to understand what just happened.

What just happened?

My brother gets to town the next day.  I feel relief that he is here now too.

Two days later we take mom for a CAT scan.  She cant talk today.  She is not happy about any of this and the lack of communication makes it even worse.  We get into a fight with her outside the hospital about being able to smoke on hopital grounds. It feels like fighting with a child.  She has lost her ability to communicate with words and it's a long day that ends in the worst way possible.

I dont remember much about the day, about the hospital, about any of that part.  I don't remember if the scan was quick, if my brother and I sat outside the room the whole time, if we wandered around, if we left the hospital, if it was only 5 min and then it was over.  I can't remember any of it.

I remember seeing my mom on the scan table, and how little she seemed, how scared she looked.  I remember how good my brother was at holding her hand and reassuring her about what was going to happen and that it would be ok. I couldn't even look at her.  Seeing her look small and helpless was too scary.  I could not face it.  I could not hold her hand.  I could not reassure her.  I got uncomfortable. I looked at the ground. I got out of that room as fast as I could.

I remember being amazed at how patient, calm and positive my brother could be while I couldn't even look at her.

We get my mom back home and all go our own ways for a few hours.  After dinner I feel this need to go up the road to just check in on her.  I find everyone there. I smile at the fact that we all seemed to have the same thought.  It's a small house and it feels crowded with us all in it, hanging out in the kitchen.  My dad asks to talk to me outside for a minute.

My dad tells me the Dr called with results from the CAT scan.  I am shocked we got results so quickly.  He says it wasn't a stroke.  I'm confused.  He says it's lung cancer.  It's spread to her brain.  She has many tumours.  Time slows down.  I understand the words he's saying but I cant quite figure out what he means, or what it all means.  The tears stream and all I seem to be able to do is twirl my hair in my fingers.

My mom doesn't know.  We are going to take her to the doctor tomorrow to tell her.

I have to go back into the house and pretend I dont know this horrible secret.  How can I look at my mom in the eye knowing this horrible secret.  She is so thrilled to have everyone around.  She is enjoying having her family back.

I don't remember how long I stayed at the house but I do remember getting back to where I was staying and sitting on the front step for an hour crying uncontrolably.  It was dark out so I guess I must have been at mom's for a while

What will I do without my mom?  That is the only thing I can think. On repeat.

Fear of the unknown is a terrible thing.  I have never truly lost anyone.  This is new, horrific territory and I do not want anything to do with it.  I wish life had a pause button, a chance for me to catch my breath and assess what's actually going on.  A chance to catch my brain up with reality.  This is something I still wish.  That I could just take a break and get things figured out without losing time.


  1. Dear Elizabeth, hope your mom is recovered, if not hope she is in better place. Just wondering about William Wordsworth quite and how to relate to your circumstances. Can you explain to me the real meaning of the quote? I appreciate it.

  2. Dear Elizabeth, hope your mom is recovered, if not hope she is in better place. Just wondering about William Wordsworth quite and how to relate to your circumstances. Can you explain to me the real meaning of the quote? I appreciate it.