To say that I’ve had a rocky relationship with my parents may be the understatement of the century. I’ve seen my father twice in the past sixteen years, and that’s two times too many. Mom’s and my relationship began the slow process of healing when my father quit the scene in 1993. Since then we’ve both grown into the women we are today, shedding the layers of decades of abuse and turning our faces toward the warmth and light of emotional freedom. My sister and I have seen her through the loss of my brother, two minor strokes, brain surgery, pelvic surgery, and open-heart surgery. She is the strongest woman in the world, as far as I’m concerned. I understand her better now than I have in my entire life. And for the first time in 31 years, I drove to her house today not because she guilted me into coming, but because I NEEDED her.
And that’s when she told me about the test she was given for multiple myeloma and lymphoma. And that’s when she showed me the results, which were highly abnormal. The test was run again today, but she won’t have the results for at least three days.
I sat by her side today, for no reason other than to sit there. She showed me how to crochet. She gave me some of her mother’s hand-crocheted afghans. She ate a few of my bourbon balls, amazed that her tomboyish baby girl learned how to cook. I just sat there with her and tried not to think about it. And when I left, I hugged her like I’ve never hugged her before. I hugged her like I MEANT it. I’ll never forget the look on her face as I pulled out of the driveway. Something told me not to forget it.
I let Patty Griffin sing to me on the way home, as the tears leaked from my eyes and the gravity of this started to sink in. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for her to leave me. I just now came to understand exactly how much I need her, just today. Hours before she told me this.
Nothing is certain at the moment. Nothing is certain but the love I’ve suddenly come to understand for this woman who gave up everything so I could have a chance. My beautiful mother.