Oftentimes we tend to forget that it isn’t only the person with the illness (cancer) that suffers. The family suffers too.
We (my family) found out my mother had cancer when I was in the sixth form of high school and by then it was already at stage four.
Those were the worst days of my life. I would never willingly go back to that place.
One evening I got home at about 7 and nobody was home. That was strange because she was a teacher. Teachers get home by five. My neighbor came by at 7-something and told me mommy was in the hospital and I needed to go stay with my grandmother and from then things just started getting out of control.
That following Sunday we went to the Chest Hospital to pay her a visit where we learned that one of her lungs was completely filled with water and was completely useless. Cancer wasn’t confirmed then, but we already knew.
She came home in less than a week and that’s when the work began. We made trips to Ripon Road in Kingston every Friday for Chemotherapy sessions. Chemo (the session)was fine but as soon as we got to about Harbor View she had to vomit. That on top of many other side effects would continue for the next three to four days. So here’s the math. She would travel to Kingston on Friday. That’s a minimum of four hours driving. then she would spend the majority of that day receiving chemo treatments. Then from Friday until about Tuesday the side effects would kick in. That means she got two days to rest. Two days to prepare her mind as well as her body to vomit for another five days.
It was extremely difficult to watch my mother go through all of that. I watched the most powerful woman I knew (next to Margaret Thatcher) become someone I could barely recognize. I watched a hundred and seventy pounds become seventy pounds. Flesh and fat became skin and bones. I remember one morning early I had to travel to Hope Road to purchase an Egg Crate so she wouldn’t get bed sores.
I watched her lose all her hair. At first I didn’t even realize she would lose ALL her hair. She lost her eyebrows, her eyelashes. Every strand of hair fell from her body. I watched the penmanship of a teacher become hieroglyphics like those on the walls of pyramids.
Through it all though, she was all about god. She honestly believed he was putting her through that to make her stronger in him. And so I started believing too. I prayed profusely. I oozed prayers like a fresh stab wound. I was her little trooper. Supporting her every decision. We Stopped using the microwave, started eating cous cous instead of rice, started making smoothies and I was making crazy trips to the health food stores all over Kingston. Fasting became the norm in the house.
Because Mommy had to get better.
She didn’t get better though. She got worse.
On May 27, 2012, after many rushes to the hospital she was rushed for the last time and was admitted.
One day short of a week since she had been in, I woke up early, made her a smootie for breakfast and was on my way to be in time for the 6:30 visit.
I ended up traveling back home with that breakfast and things i didn’t even take there.
I knew she was dead but I refused to believe it. I just thought it was impossible for someone like her to die.
I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream and I didn’t jump on her to shake the life back in.
I sat by her bedside. I held her hand and I told her I would be OK.
To this day, it feels like she is somewhere in Ochi at a beautiful hotel and a conference for teachers and I keep telling myself she will be back soon.
Over 500 words