I have been slowly been watching this show on ABC Family called “Chasing Life.” It’s about the aspiring journalist who has leukemia and what she goes through.
I don’t know why I wanted to watch it. It makes my heart sad. I know that is a strange phrase but I am unsure how else to say it.
My mother died of duodenal cancer (cancer of the duodenum) on December 6th, 2011. She was my best friend, a soul buddy–someone who knows you and understands you to where you don’t have to say anything and they just know–and it was more than a Mother-Daughter relationship. Her death broke my heart. I never had a broken heart until she died.
I even knew it was coming, her death. In the span of a decade, she fought cancer four times. First, she had kidney cancer and they removed the kidney. Five years late, she had thyroid cancer, and they removed her thyroid, put her on synthyroid, and did a bout of radioactive iodine to “make sure” all of the thyroid cells were gone from her body. After I had my son, she had pancreatic cancer and they did a Whipple procedure. They wanted to do chemo but her body took so long to heal. The last time, it was duodenal cancer and it metasticized. She was also 100% Ashkenazi Jew, type 2 diabetic–non-insulin dependent, and probably the most wonderful person I have ever had the opportunity to know.
She travelled the world I her twenties. She lived on the cabuts in Israel. She did missionary work in Japan when you were not allowed to say the word God. She aided in the research of a book containing commonly asked questions to help those in the Baha’i Faith find answers. It was written by Helen Hornsby, entitled “The Lights of Guidance.” It was dedicated to her and my father.
She was such a bright, radiant personality. She found the perfect sign for her stating “Sit long, talk much.” She even had her own newspaper column in OleMiss’ student newspaper from 1993-94, in which she wrote about our family.
The last 4 months before her death was the hardest experience that I have ever had to endure. It was worse than finding out that my parents were getting a divorce when I was 11. It was worse than when I stopped talking to my Father at 16 over my sister’s form of employment at the time. It was worse than when a close classmate of mine died my senior year because of a late birthday celebration. It was worse than the fallout with my Sister where we stopped talking for about two years. It was worse than my Uncle, my Mom’s brother, dying–he was more of a father to me than my own; he was supposed to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. It was worse than the emotional onslaught of self-blame, failure, and depression after having the severely unwanted c-section delivery of my son. It was worse than the fallout with my both of my siblings when moving back to Mississippi.
I think I watch “Chasing Life” in hope to know that cancer does not have to be a bad word or a sad word. Cancer can be difficult but cancer can make you strong, patient, present, and aware. It can make your loved ones strong, patient, and kind, even if they lose their loved one. You do not have to feel alone. Sadness comes to everyone when a loved one dies. That future that was waiting is gone, forever. You can never have that future with that person back. All those plans, what should have been, could have been..gone in the blink of an eye. And there is nothing you can do about it.
I admit, dearest Readers, that I am terrified beyond words that I will die just like my Mother. I don’t want to see my loved ones watch my body whither away. The cancer sapping all my energy away that I might have to enjoy my last bit of time with my family; and the cancer spreading and preventing me from being able to eat solid food ever again. A miserable existence that one has to endure until my body finally stops working.
She broke her promise.
She broke the promise she made me when we were laying in bed together one night. Waiting for one of the British comedies on PBS to come on, when I was like eight or nine years old. She promised she would be around to see all three of my children. I only have one right now. Yes, even at that age, I wanted three children.
It is amazing how powerful hindsight is. Learning from the past is the reason we are taught history in school. In hopes to learn from other people’s mistakes.
What am I chasing, again?!
It’s the Mom on “Chasing Life.” She reminds me of my Mom. Some of her quirks and the things she finds funny. I’ve only ever met one other person who reminded of my Mother, my former boss. What a woman and quirky too. She is a great woman and I love her very much. Well, thank you for reading.
I do want to ask Readers. What are you chasing?