And then, in the blink of an eye, cancer.
You can only stand on the outskirts for so long before it grabs you in. For first-timers, the words that are hurled from the onset are shattering.
“…tumors resting on three major veins…”
“…lesions on the brain…”
You find yourself gripped, nodding, stoically taking it all in (smartly, with a tape recorder going) and try to keep your composure because the last thing your mother – your rock – needs to witness is your own fear.
So you keep it together and let the world swish past you and do what you’re told. See this oncologist. Okay. Go to this radiology appointment. Got it. Get to this surgeon. Will do.
And before you know it you’ve spent a week – precious time in Cancerland – just preparing for battle. You spend your afternoons watching endless episodes of Law & Order: SVU and Dr. Phil and Judge Judy (because that, my friends, is the routine of retired people). But it’s okay. You welcome the mindless and the mundane. Much more happens in a week’s time.
You’ll start to hyperventilate in the middle of Kohl’s. When you do, your friends’ words will get you through it.
Your husband will realize what an insanely difficult job you have as a mom and will appreciate you like never before.
Your teens – with cell phones attached to their bodies like extra appendages – won’t even text to see how things are because they are so afraid to know.
Your little boys – usually so wry and animated – will sound small – like little boys — on the phone.
You’ll wonder if you sent out your bills before you left but then you won’t even care.
In fact, you will brilliantly assess with unapologetic clarity that so, so many questions and worries in life — actually, most of them — can be answered with a simple
Life throws curveballs. We get that.
Miscarriage. Infidelity. Death. Check, check, check. Been there. Done that. Me, too.
We’re women. We put on our big-girl panties and push up our sleeves and expertly deal with it. We sniff out friends who will drop everything and listen. We surround ourselves with other survivors and find strength. And we get through. There’s a shitload of wine. And there’s an abundance lot of tears. But we push through. Because we’re women and that’s what we do.
Women are so incredibly strong about everything that Life – laughably – almost seems to come easy. So Life keeps at it. We are so unfathomably unbreakable that Life keeps hurling us zinger after zinger after zinger until finally — eventually — it finds our Achilles Heel. Life gives us children.
And then Life zings us agin because these children – the very beings that make us crazy for a very good portion of our lives – become the very pillars that we depend on down the road.
So at this exact moment I am a pillar of strength for the most important woman in the world to me.
(* reposted from 2011. My mom passed a few months after this originally appeared. Of course I still lean lean on my exceptional tribe of women and my adored brood of children for Life’s continuation of zingers because well, that’s the easy part. xoxo)
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.
Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:
Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/
Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/
Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/
Chapter 10: Click here: A Momoir, Chapter 10: Coming Clean: The Art of Mastering Uncomfortable Conversations
Chapter 12: Click here: A Momoir, Chapter 12: When a Teen Up & Leaves