a moment when everything changed

the moment when my mom was on the other end of the line, terrified and in tears, telling me her breast cancer* had come back and it had metastasized and she needed to get the emergency room.

i was numb and angry and sad and in disbelief all at the same time. i told her not to drive there herself but that i would come get her, bring her back in, and take her back home. i remember driving down the freeway with tears running down my face crying and praying and swearing (not the really bad ones) and i felt like god was somehow ok with all the feelings including the anger and disbelief and heard my prayers anyway.

i sat in the corner of the ER room, to the left of my mother’s head. the PET scan was posted against the artificial light on the opposite wall. my mom was on the gurney. the doctor stood at her feet. he did not have one single bit of good news. not one. the cancer was everywhere.

there were so many moments after that moment, but that was the moment when i felt my mom’s dreams of travel and visits to family in idaho and south carolina and southern california and who knows what else in her retirement all seemed to evaporate. all the dreams she had postponed while she took care of us kids when we were little, took care of my dad when he was sick, worked to support a family of 6 after dad died, then–still working–took care of her parents after they moved here to retire and, having just retired herself, looked forward to enjoying after finally starting to feel a little better after her cancer treatments the year before.

*because that was another moment sitting with my mom in another doctor’s office just months after my grandmother’s death a couple of years before.

[Day 180 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

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