When you get the kind of news that nobody likes to get, the kind that stops you in your tracks and makes you re-think your ways and your habits and your life, the kind that helps regrets to surface and hope to disappear, it doesn't feel right that life goes on all around you as if nothing has changed.
I want to stop people in parking lots, in stores, on bike trails, at schools, and tell them what is happening. I want to tell them to stop acting like life is normal. I mean, how can everyone just go on doing normal everyday things when something so horrible is happening just under their noses?
Why do I have to keep on doing all the things that I always do - making meals, doing laundry, driving people where they need to be, shopping for food or clothes or school supplies or anything when all I really want to do is sit in my bed and read or sleep or eat copious amounts of ice cream or chocolate or nothing at all.
It seems unfair that I have to continue to act like everything is normal when it's not.
Sleep is such a beautiful escape. But then I have to wake up.
16 years ago this August my father was diagnosed with the worst kind of cancer in his brain and given months to live. Cancer in the brain. It makes me think of some terrible creature, living inside of his head, eating away at whatever it sees. Devouring his memories, his abilities, his life. He made it almost to the end of January.
16 years later, on the first day of September, my mother is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Stage 3.
I always choose to find the good in the bad. I always choose to find happiness when there is sadness. But this time it is not so easy. It is almost too much. I find myself crying when I least expect it. I no longer control my emotions, it's like they control me.
My brother told me that, if you think about it, cancer is a gift. I could have been told that my mother was in a horrible accident and died. Instead, we are given the gift of time. And it's true. More time with her is a beautiful thing. But some days it is hard to see beyond this cancer that has taken up residence inside of her without permission.
So, I wear my smiling mask and I wait.