It couldn’t be any prettier outside my mom’s house. The sun lights up the edges of the clouds. The peachy hues of sunset undulate with the tranquil blues of the sound. The Olympics have a dusting of snow and the flowers are still blooming on the porch.
I’m a tearful mess. My logic part of my brain tells me to appreciate the moment, the beauty, and the kitty on the couch.
But in this moment I feel empty, torn up, and tired. I’m planning a trip for my mom to attend my grandpa’s 95th birthday party. Statistically speaking, I should be appreciating his years of good health and relatively sound mind. But she told me today “I think this will be the last time I ever see my father. I’m just getting worse and worse on chemo and don’t think I’ll have the energy to fly to San Diego again.”
I wish he had the cancer. I would be sad. But I could handle that happening. I can expect my grandpa to die at 95, but not my mom at 65. I used to worry that she would die before my kids graduated from college and started their careers. I wanted them to know my mom as adults because she gives such damn good advice for people navigating young adulthood. Now I worry that she is never even going to see my kids born. I’m positive I’ll be struggling to pass on advice to my likely future kids about how to find peace and balance without her. Even if I was married and ready to have kids right now, how could I ever manage a new baby with the pain and exhaustion and trauma of caretaking?
I have so many memories of visiting my Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas. We went to the zoo, to the beach, to the after Christmas sales. They worried about what kind of food we wanted and told us they loved us. I heard stories from my grandparents about raising my mom. We played in the pool in the backyard and were warned each time to not run barefoot across the linoleum because Uncle Jay broke his shoulder doing just that. My grandma made candy and spaghetti and salads for us and all of us went out to movies.
I lost my Grandma while I was in TFA, and I was sad, but I coped and I was thankful my students were nicer to me because of it. She was 85. It seemed old enough.
The thing about my mom dying while before I have kids is that we are not going to carry on the Christmas at Grandma’s tradition. Maybe October 22nd to 25th will be the last time that I’ve got three generations of my mom’s people in one room. I had four grandparents growing up. I still have three! I wanted my kids to have that. I wanted to have the advice and wisdom of my mom when I was faced with crazy teenagers. I wanted a free babysitter.
I have a dad. I have a step mom. They are both nice. But they are not my mom. They just don’t love me as much as she does. Maybe my dad does, but my step-mom just doesn’t see me the same way my mom does. She has been mean to me in ways my mom would never have considered. She doesn’t love me as unconditionally. She finds my lack of attention to detail kind of annoying. She rejects my viewpoint when I call out our family on anything really hard. But she does love me and I’m lucky for that. She held me and cried with me when my mom called with the diagnosis. But it’s just not the same. I want my mom. I want my mom that wrote a book and changed the world and is the most fun to do arts and crafts with. I want my mom who loves animals and plans trips to see elephants and whale sharks. I want my mom who helps me through anything-through abuse, through TFA, through grad school. I want my mom who edits my blog for me.
I have all of these dreams-and I want to accomplish them or at least get started before my mom goes so she can imagine the teaching memoir I want to write, or know I’m on the verge of getting a PhD.
But I just sleep and wait for her to wake up. She sleeps 14 hours a day now so this is a lot of waiting. I watch Glee, but I cry about how Cory Montieth died. I read 900 page historical romance novels until 2am because I can’t sleep anyways. I try to exercise. I’m not getting my dreams done. And I can’t figure out how to make it happen either. The most I have to be proud of is being my mom’s scheduler and fun-planner and caretaker. I’m just freaking afraid afraid afraid of the pain that is coming down the road because I know that unless she is killed by accident shortly, what we’ve experienced so far is only the beginning.