“Hey mom, tell us a story…”
These are words I hear from my 11 year old daughter and 7 year old son several times a week. They never tire of hearing tales about my sister’s hilarious sleepwalking antics when she was a little girl. Or of the time my brother cranked the family car into gear and “drove” it into a street sign. They laugh every time as if they were hearing the stories for the first time. They can’t get enough of hearing about their family and all the mischief we got into and the stuff we pulled when we were kids.
For me though, it’s the giggles I can’t get enough of. I want to bottle that sound up so I can hear it anytime. Because for a 40 year old single mother with metastatic breast cancer, it’s unlikely I’m going to be around to soak up enough of those guffaws that a lifetimes deserves.
Thankfully, I’m in an area of stability with my illness. I’m on the part of the cancer ride where people say “but you don’t look sick.” I don’t wear a wig—despite chemo treatments every few weeks. I’m not frail. I’m not burned from radiation.
But the truth is: I’m nauseas and tired the week of treatment. I had to leave my job because I couldn’t keep up. I deliberately go hard on the weekend knowing that Monday and Tuesday will be spent under my covers. My stamina is low. My body keeps betraying me.
I basically operate on energy reserve. It’s a give and take between family gatherings, birthday parties, field trips, basketball games, dance recitals and then daily living. It is laundry, packing lunches, grocery shopping, cooking…attempting to keep the process as “normal” as possible for all of us. Cancer mom is our reality. I wish it wasn’t. But it is.
Some days are pretty haunting when that thought of not being here for my kids creeps up and I don’t have the energy to chase it away. So I let it stay. Those are the empty days—except for the tears.
But I’m determined not to dwell for too long on those days. The kids keep it so real for me, forcing me to live in the moment with them. It’s like we’re filming our own home movie. It’s woven with laughter and all the stories that I’m determined to tell again and again.
They don’t know it, but we’re counting on each other to preserve those memories in a sort of soundtrack of life that they can replay anytime. Today’s memories are their tomorrow’s stories.
So as long as you ask darlings, I will continue to tell. And I’ll hold so tightly onto the giggles.