Note: this has not been edited. I don’t have the energy in me for doing that. You’ll see why. I doubted whether to put it out in the open because some people will think it’s ‘attention seeking’ but this is my blog and it hurts and I had to let it go somewhere and if I can’t do this here, then I wouldn’t be able to do so anywhere. I’m sorry for possible grammar and spelling mistakes. But it’s the raw truth.
The past week has been a rollercoaster of sad and happy emotions. Monday was spent waiting while my mum undressed to get a black and white picture of her lungs. The endless back and forth phone calling to the doctors and not getting the answers we already secretly knew but wanted to deny. A density in her lungs. 7cm. If not shrunken by the end of the therapy, close following-up. She had coughed up blood during the weekend too.
Tuesday, that’s when my package from the USA arrived. My beautiful phonecase. It has the Marauder’s map on it. It makes me happy to look at it and brush my fingers against it and wish, wish I could return to a world that’s so much different than this one. It was also the day of the thriller football game against the USA. And we won. WE WON! But I also cried a lot in the afternoon, holding my mum tight. Knowing….knowing it wasn’t looking any good.
I can’t remember much of Wednesday. At some point I thought that the week was taking forever but now, it feels like it has passed by, slipping through my fingers and I’m trying to recall every single detail about her. Just in case. I don’t know why I’m being morbid already. But when I think hard, I remember it was a day spent at work and me not really knowing what I was doing. Automatic pilot. Trying not to cry and pretend it was okay. I felt exhausted from the event of the day before but also, from the fear, the fear that her coughing, her cold, might be worse than just that: a simple cold.
On Thursday, that’s when things started to change. People started to show up unexpectedly at the house, asking how my mum’s feeling. Telling her it would be alright. She was on medications then. Antibiotics. Medrol. Three inhalers. And she kept working. My beautiful, strong mum kept going.
And then, there was today.
The constant waiting began. At 6am we were waiting for our doctor to have a quick screening of her health, listening to her lungs. Again, we asked the question but he didn’t respond. Her lungs seemed to be doing better. A sparkle of hope. However, he wanted her to have another black and white picture of her lungs.
So at 10am, my mum undressed again. And they took a photo.
And the doctor frowned and decided it wasn’t enough. So whoosh, we went straight to the ct-scan and waited for results. A moment or two later, they said they wanted to make a movie of her stomach and belly too. And so they did.
Her next appointment was at 1.15pm with our doctor but we held the letter in our hands. My mum asked to open it and asked me to read it. Asked me if it was bad. A jumble of medical jargon was thrown upon me but I knew. I knew it was not good. Her righter lung, it showed a density with irregular formation. I’ve learned enough at university to know what that meant. It was also the reason why they did an echo of her stomach and belly, to make sure there were no metastases. Again, having been part of the faculty of medicine during my university years, I knew that if they were looking for that, then that density inside her lungs wasn’t any good.
And that’s when we were told. Or at least, my mum and dad were told. I wasn’t there. I was waiting at home. An hour passed and I heard nothing. I knew enough. I already had cried during the hour and was just recovering when the car pulled outside and my parents got out.
“What did he say?” was the first thing I asked. My dad began to sob, my mum too, but his shoulders were shaking whereas her eyes were red, her arms stretching out for me.
“It’s not good, Fien. It’s not good.”
My world fell apart. My knees gave up. I heard a scream. A howl. A wail. It was me. I felt a pair of hands touching my arms, pulling me up, holding me tight but I couldn’t. I couldn’t.
“We have to get your brother.”
No. No. This could not be happening. Not again. I was not losing my mum because of cancer. It’s unfair. It’s so unfair. I’ve lost my grandparents twelve years ago because of cancer. I still am hurting because of that year. I could not have this too. And I remember me kneeling on the floor, holding the table, trying to breathe but not being able to and then I pulled up, somewhere a different emotion sparkling. Strength. If only for a minute or two.
“I’ll get him.”
So I did. I rushed to where he was, the tears streaming down my cheek.
“Daan,” I swallowed, pushing the tears away, breathless, a lump in my throat. I already felt ten years older. “Come quickly. It’s not good. It’s not good. It’s not good.”
So we rushed back to the living room.
“It’s lung cancer,”
Another wail. Again coming from me. I felt pathetic but I could not do this. I still can’t do this. My mum quickly running toward me again, to hold me. I clung onto her tightly. Sobbing into her shoulder, thinking, wondering, how long I would be able to do this?
“Fien, oh my child,” I remember her say with tears in her eyes. “Come sit with us. We have to discuss.”
But I couldn’t. “No. No.” Sobbing, I went to the couch, stared outside while the tears poured like a river from my eyes. My nose was running but I didn’t care. I hid my face on my arm, which was resting on the back of the couch. They were talking and I didn’t care that my snot was running over my lips onto my arms. I didn’t care how my tears mixed up with it. All I cared about was my mum.
“You have to take care of her,” my mum said to my brother. “You have to. You’re all she’s got. She’s got no one to talk to but you. It’s her nightmare.”
And that’s when my body started to shake. Or when I noticed it. Because it is. It’s been my nightmare for the past four years. It’s what has kept me awake during the night, what I tweeted about. It’s what made me gasp for air every time I was about to fall asleep because closing my eyes would bring me closer. Closer to me losing her. Because my dreams predict events. And it kept returning to me and the weight was too real too. And I mentioned this nightmare to my friends two weeks ago. I told them I was afraid of losing my mum and I had no reason to say this. But I did say it. It was like when I said “how can you wreck your car doing that” and me being in a car accident ten minutes later, with my car wrecked exactly like the way I questioned it. It was like that time I predicted I’d be in an airplane on my way to New York and be in a thunderstorm. And then it happened on my return from New York. It was just like that now too. Me saying I was scared of losing her and now, I could be losing her. And I’m afraid. Because she’s my best friend; she’s my mother; she’s my support. She’s my biggest fan. She always listens to me, is always there for me and gives me so much love. The most love comes from her.
And now, we had dinner – although not much was eaten – and she watched the telly and fell asleep. And I sat next to her, my hand resting on her leg because I don’t want to let go of her. I don’t. I’m too afraid. Too afraid how much truth my nightmares could hold. And she coughs and I think: that tumor is working, making my mum sick. And she wakes up, sees me crying and then she cries too.
“I’m so sorry for hurting you,”
A pang in my heart. How can she be stronger than me? “You’re not hurting me. Don’t you ever say that again. You’re my mum. How could you hurt me? Life is hurting me.”
“But I’ve got cancer and it makes you sad.”
“Yes, but you’re not making me sad. Cancer does,” I tell her, holding her, hiding my face in her shoulder. “You would never hurt me on purpose. You would never so stop thinking this is your fault.”
And then she falls asleep again. Her face shows a sadness I haven’t seen for so long. I look at my dad, asleep next to her and looking pale.
And I rest my hand upon her leg again and hope that within six months, I can tell you my mum has recovered from lung cancer.