Sometimes, I am the life of the party; other times, I slink backwards in an attempt to meld with the latest wall coverings. I am moody, for sure, but I’ve grown accustomed to it, so I search for soulmates who can also be accustomed to it.
When I was twenty, my mom was quite grandly and unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Disease that spread to her lungs. It threw me for a loop. It’s been decades and still that story — my deep, anguished, heartbroken feelings — has clung to me, staining my daily joy. Against all odds, she was in remission this entire time! Then last year, she was unceremoniously and unexpectedly diagnosed with endometrial cancer. After the hell she went through the first time (that might be an understatement), she chose to skip chemotherapy after a full hysterectomy. Dad and I gave her our 100% support. We were there the first time, and nobody should have to endure that twice.
What does all of this have to do with where I’ve been over the last many weeks? My husband and I are getting better every year at managing and being present and enjoying our family together. He also strives for success in his career, and I am a full-time student because in my younger years, I was distracted by an inability to handle the abundance of emotion I felt (see: mom and cancer above). Fortunately, my ability to compartmentalize has greatly improved. When mom had her cancer diagnosis last year, it was April and I was in the process of working on Final papers. It was a challenge, but I got it all done. Summer was a wonderful break and then back to the grind in September. I started working on my Final papers this April and guess what? “Your mother’s cancer is back.” It’s called recurrent endometrial cancer and it is not a good cancer to have. We don’t yet know her prognosis — we’ll know in about nine weeks after three rounds of chemo. But that’s where I’ve been: participating in my marriage, helping our kids with homework, cooking, completing my Finals, and taking my mom wig shopping. This moment, I’m stepping outside to play with my kids. It’s gorgeous outside, they’re singing, and I don’t want to miss it.