Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Profound Sadness

Peace + Peace = 4
As many of you recall, my mom could not make the 3000 mile journey to be at my side when I had my son in October. Originally it was a question of spontaneity. Airplane tickets tend to be absurdly overpriced if you have to purchase them last-minute (especially cross country) and since you seldom know exactly when to expect labor, that's how she'd need to buy them. Even so, she was going to do her best to stash some cash so that she could be there.

It was really important to me that she be there. I've been in the hospital a lot and she has always been by my side. Being admitted without her seemed like a frightening and to be absolutely candid, saddening idea to me. I was a little bummed by the mere prospect that there was even a remote chance she'd be unable to make it. Finding out I would likely have to be induced was almost a relief, even as much as I did not want to be induced, simply for the fact that it would give my mom a heads up to make arrangements to come out here.

So when I called to let her know there was an official deadline in place as to how far my doctors would allow this pregnancy to continue, I was excited. When I dialed her up on the telephone there was something in her voice that suggested something was amiss, but her boss' wife had been being especially cunty lately and I attributed it to that. Looking back, I should've known better. The good news was that my grandfather had plenty of free miles to fly with and could very likely fly them both out here for next to nothing.

When I went into labor naturally the next morning, I texted her while waiting for my contractions to reach the five minute mark to let her know she should grab my grandfather and hurry to the airport. That's when, as recounted in my blog about my labor experience, she informed me she would be unable to make it due to having the flu. I was upset by this but had bringing a new life into the world to distract me from how sad the idea really was -- for her to miss the birth of her grandson. She promised to make the trip to meet him as soon as she could.

The days after delivery all sort of blurred together. One week turned into two and before I knew it, it was Halloween. My favorite holiday next to Thanksgiving. My grandfather was at my mom's house, so we decided to Skype. He doesn't know how to operate the program, so the only time he gets to see me is when he visits my mom's house, two states away from where he lives normally. I was really excited to introduce them to Jude in real-time. It was also nice because I could also introduce them to Aaron's parents, who were over at the time. They've been wanting to meet for a while now, so this would be perfect. Unfortunately with company over and with mommy duty never ending, I ran out of hours in the day and we had to postpone the call until the following day.

The next day, I got my mom and grandfather on Skype. I was so happy to see them both. It had been a tough few weeks postpartum. Adjusting to life as a parent is no easy feat. Seeing my own parent was extremely comforting. She did it alone. Immediately I knew something was off. My mother, who has never worn a hat in her life, was in one. "You're in a cap," I remarked curiously.

"I am," she responded. I shook the strangeness out of my mind, because she's not opposed to trying new things and introduced her to new grandson and Aaron's parents. Then she teared up a little and apologized for having to tell me this way, with company present. I boggled for a minute, wondering what she meant, and then she simply blurted out the news, "I have cancer."

Anyone who knows me knows how rarely I cry. Especially in front of other people. Yet the moment that word left her lips I just burst into tears. Unable to hug my mom, I hugged Aaron's. Aaron appeared from the back room and guided me into the bedroom for some privacy, baby in one hand, phone in the other. There my mom and grandfather tried to console me and the only reason I was able to regain composure was due to this singular thought: she has cancer and yet she's the one trying to comfort me. How ridiculous.

She assured me she was responding well to treatment and revealed that she had known for some time now. She made up the story about having the flu because she didn't want me to relate the birth of my first child to her having cancer. Then she removed her hat to show her bald head, having already lost all of her hair to the chemo. All of her lovely red hair. She looked good though. Her skin was luminous and her eyes were bright. Illness and radiation hadn't made her any less beautiful.

Since then I've learned it's lymphoma, a very aggressive form of cancer, but also completely curable if caught in time. So there is hope. It will be a while before she can come out here, since she has to plan the trip around the breaks in her chemotherapy, but with any luck I'll be able to hug her directly after the holidays.

In the meanwhile, anyone have any particularly delicious recipes with ginger as the main ingredient? Cookies, tea, muffins, etc.? Easing her nausea from the radiation would be a fabulous gift. More  immediately useful than prayers or wishes (though please send those too).

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