The past week has been tough for my mom. She received her first injection of her treatment on Monday and also began the oral chemo pills she will take daily. The negative effects have already reared their ugly head.
The thing about being a mom is that you are constantly shielding your children from your own pain or problems. It's just an innate protection you have for you babies, no matter of they are three or thirty-three. I can remember the first time I was really sick when David was old enough to know. I had a horrible reaction to some medication, and there's really no delicate way to explain what it did to me, so I won't even try. But David saw me in my state, and I was weeping and in bad shape. I can recall his little baby voice asking, "You okay, Mama??"
I answered as any good mama would... "I'm fine."
He wasn't stupid. He knew I wasn't fine. He could clearly see I wasn't okay, and that's why he asked. But as a mom, it's my duty to take care of him and worry about him. It's not a part of the natural order for my son to be looking after me. And so you lie. That's what it is, right? You say you're okay when you're not to spare your child the burden of worrying about you. When they are little, it works. They quickly believe it is as you say it is and go about to the normal activities of childhood - hot wheels and crayons.
As children age, it becomes increasingly difficult to shield our kids from our own personal problems. And yet we try, as my own mother tries.
The truth is that I know my mom well enough to know when she isn't feeling well. When she's had enough. When she's irritated and frustrated. When she is wanting to play along with the whole mom-is-fine thing. And I let her tell me she is okay even when I know she's not.
It's hard to understand why anyone on this magnificently made earth has to suffer. Physically suffer. Hard to grasp how in the grand scheme of daily natural miracles - like the conception and birth of a living being, the planting of a bulb in the fall that emerges as a flower in the spring, a cow's milk, the chicken's egg, the perfectly sectioned pieces of an orange - that there is no explanation for great natural misfires such as cancer. There's just no answer. I don't care how smart you may be, how well you understand the human body down to the very cellular level... I don't think you'll find one person in the world that can tell you what purpose cancer has here. What purpose does it serve?
And so I feel it through the phone. I hear it in the voice of my precious mother. I sense it. I know it. She need not say a word. We talk about everyday things. About baseball, school, David's conduct, Madalyn's latest funny, the show she watched on HGTV. And yet it's still there hovering about us in a cloud. The cancer. The side effects. The desperate desire of mine to do something, to make her feel better, to run in and fix it all or take it away from her. But I can't.
And even more painful is that the world keeps spinning. I find myself at the ball park in the middle of a game thinking about my mother. At the grocery store. In the shower. In the midst of all those daily things that just keep on going despite what you or anyone else around you is going through. And I know that's just the way it is, and there's nothing I can do about it. But it doesn't make it hurt any less.
I will never understand why my mother has cancer. I will never know why she has to suffer as she is. I will never be able to wrap my brain around what she's going through. I will never be able to tell her enough how sorry I am that she's hurting, how blessed I am to be her daughter, how much I love her. I will never be able to be there for her the way I wished I could - every day by her side would be ideal. But I'm a mother with two kids to take care of, and it's just not possible.
I think of all those around the world who are suffering, and I pray for their physical and spiritual strength. And I pray for the most special lady I know in the whole world... I pray.
I pray all the time.
I just continue to pray.