Today marks a year since my mom was diagnosed. On this day last year, I was sitting at work waiting to hear if she was being released from the hospital. I got a call in the middle of the afternoon, so I walked into the hallway to take it. It was my mom telling me that she gets to go home and then she says very nonchalantly, “Well, I have cancer!” She tried to sound like it wasn’t a big deal, and she went over the top, to the point that it was awkward. I don’t remember my immediate reaction or what I said to her, but she gave the phone to my dad who told me that it wasn’t as bad as it sounded and why don’t I come over after work to talk about it more?
And then I went back to my desk and continued with my day as if nothing had happened. Looking back, why didn’t I leave then and there to go see her? Even after work, when I got to the house, I don’t remember asking any questions. I didn’t ask how serious it was, or what her prognosis was, or what the doctor said, or even if she was scared. Nothing. I suppose I was in shock and I should give myself a break, but really? I remember desperately wanting to know how long she had to live, but I didn’t dare ask that because it seemed so negative and I didn’t want to upset anyone. Throughout the entire course of her treatment I never once asked her or my dad that question. I finally did talk to my dad about it a month or so after my mom passed, and he said that they had been given a rough estimate of 13 months, which is the standard amount of time for stage IIIb lung cancer, but he also said the doctors were always so optimistic that it wasn’t really an issue.
I’ve already reached several “this time last year” moments, but this feels like a big one to me. It’s the beginning the end; the point at which I really felt my world crumbling. I knew what cancer meant. I knew that she wouldn’t make it very long. But I really held onto that 13 month estimate and hoped that she would at least get that long. I figured that would buy enough time to make some more happy memories and have one last everything. Unfortunately things don’t always work out the way we want them to, and we lost her after only five short, horrific months.