You never REALLY think it will happen to you. You and your loved ones are invincible. The tragedies that we hear about every day, those terrible things on the news, they won’t ever happen in your life. I used to think this way too, until it happened to me…
The majority of us go through life regarding our parents as strong, wise, people that we call our everyday saviors, or in some cases… our superheroes. When we are young we rely on them to satisfy our basic needs; shelter, food, clothing, comfort, and love. As we get older and face adulthood, we may begin to provide the basic life necessities for ourselves. However, we still call on Mom and Dad when life get tough. When we can’t quite pull together all of rent, when we can’t remember how to cook spaghetti, or when we need a shoulder to bare the weight of a broken heart. The truth is, no matter our age, we always find ourselves calling on the wisdom of our superheroes… I mean parents.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. The images are burned in my head.
For me, it had been another normal day for my 16-year-old self. I was caught up in the latest high school drama; classes, clubs, friends and boys. After I wolfed down some cold dinner (which had probably been awaiting my arrival for several hours) I dropped my book bag in my room and was quickly headed back out the door.
As I swung out of my bedroom and around the hall corner Mom emerged from her room. Quiet and unusually lethargic she stopped me and asked about my day. Naturally, I told her, and returned the question. In that moment, from the look in her eyes, I knew something was wrong.
Earlier in the week mom had gone to see a specialist who looked at a lump Mom had found in her right breast. We didn’t really think much of Mom’s trip. At least I didn’t.
I know you might be thinking that I am a terrible child who didn’t love her mother. This was NOT the case. Like most children I simply considered my mom invincible, bad things like cancer don’t happen to parents… parents are superheroes. Additionally, it wasn’t unusual for women in the town we lived in, to be sent out of town for testing in facilities with newer imaging technology. In fact, Mom was sent out of town for mammogram imaging almost yearly, and every time she came home with a clean bill of health.
But this time was different. This time the doctors were worried. This time it wasn’t just an overly cautious procedure. This time it was the real deal. This time it was CANCER.
In reaction to the news, words filled with urgency spilled out of my mouth. “What? Are they sure?” “Can’t they just cut it out?” “Mom! Just let them cut it out!” At that moment the words that I uttered seemed genius. “Mom, if your boob is the problem just let them take it. Then the cancer is gone right?!” How naïve I was then. Little did I know, cancer isn’t that simple, it’s like a rubrics cube that even the geniuses can’t solve. It’s an evil, methodical, invincible plague. I know this now.
After five hard years of battle Mom lost her fight to the cancer. 09/03/2015. The day my world changed forever. During those five years Mom never let up, she was a constant fighter with a fantastic attitude. Eventually the cancer spread from her breasts, to her organs, and finally to her bones. At the end she was riddled with cancer from top to bottom, but she never let that break her spirit.
Mom was able to find joy in many places others wouldn’t. Even the smallest things brought her sheer delight. Maybe it was a new song on the radio, a chocolate milkshake, or a smiling stranger, there wasn’t a moment she didn’t cherish. Mom’s health was bad, even sitting up and keeping her eyes open was a struggle for her somedays. Physically mom was in no shape of a superhero, but I think that her attitude during some of the hardest days of her life should serve as an inspiration to all.
When faced with hardship in life it is so easy to let it change you for the worst. We all are guilty of complaining when even the slightest thing goes wrong. Falling into a spiral of negativity we make mountains out of mole hills. But life is short, and life is good. When you feel like you’re up against the world, remember the joy and grace Mom had in her last days. Even when her whole body was fighting against her she was able to find bliss in the small things.
To some, the day Mom was diagnosed with cancer was the day she no longer appeared to be a superhero. But not to me. The way my mother handled her fight with such grace and poise proved to me that she was even stronger than I originally thought. The day Mom finally turned in her superhero cape was the day she gained an even better accessory… a pair of wings.