When I was eleven years old, it was explained to me that my mom might not live another five years. But maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I wasn’t told this at all. Maybe they explained to me if the cancer didn’t return in five years, she didn’t have to worry about it returning again. Maybe I wasn’t told that either. More likely I overheard it, somewhere. But maybe not at all. I mean, I was eleven, after all. Most likely I miss heard something. Either way,
October will mark the 22nd year of my mom as a cancer survivor.
I’m never comfortable during October, the change in hours, the darkening skies, the changing leaves, the so much fall feeling. Most of it comes from the October of my fourth grade. It’s something I don’t really choose to talk about much. People know. My closest friends know most.
I spent a great deal of my life going to doctor’s visits, chemotherapy visits, radiation visits, emergency room visits. In the last four years I made a considerable change in my life to help out and do what I thought was the best, or the right thing to do. I spend a great deal of time fighting paperwork and bureaucracy all with the hopeful intention of doing what was the right thing. All of this came at a great emotional cost to me. Over the past four years, and even before, I’ve given up a lot of days, I’ve missed countless days of work and school. I’ve missed deadlines, I’ve failed classes, I’ve blown job interviews, and maybe helped put an extra strain on an already fragile relationship (one particular ER visit ended with an ex stating something particularly cold).
But I went along, and I tried my best. Because it was the right thing to do, right? I don’t really know. I got to a point where I was afraid to answer my phone, or even look at it, because I couldn’t handle the bad news anymore, or the worse news. I just.. I was done, and just surviving. Stubbornly holding on to an ideal of the right thing.
As of this week, for better or for worse, and not fully my own choice, but by a mandate, care of my mom is now the responsibility of someone else, temporarily, maybe, but from the looks of things, permanently. Like I said, this wasn’t my exactly my choice, but it was the right choice. I’ve gone back and forth with this for over a year, trying to find the line between living with myself and doing the right thing. My best friend, as she always is so good at doing, eloquently summed things up for me, finally convincing me that eventually I was to be forgiven and that I wasn’t actually abandoning anyone, but it certainly feels that way.
There is a cost to all this, however, as there’s now a financial burden placed to maintain the life I have, the same life that I begrudgingly accepted into, because again, I was doing the right thing. Now that responsibility is no longer here and I can finally relax (yet for some reason I still find myself unable to work or sleep or create) and I can’t help thinking that maybe, and even if it sounds incredibly selfish, I think I’m ready to have my own life.