5 years

Wednesday April 18 marked the 5 year anniversary of my mom’s death.

I don’t know what to do with that.

Five years for anything feels like an important marker: relationships, jobs, the “cancer free” mark that means you’ll probably be okay.

Being pregnant again, another pregnancy without my mom, is carrying me further into the future. I want to ask her just as many questions as I did last time, different questions. How did she feel being pregnant while taking care of a toddler (me)? What was I like then, and how did I respond to news of the baby? When did they tell people? Did they tell anyone the name they were thinking of? How did they prepare their lives to add another child? How did she deal with the intense exhaustion that is being pregnant while caring for a toddler? Was she scared? What foods made her sick? (My dad tells me salad dressing was one, and that she just used lemon juice while pregnant.)

Other people talk about her less. Or, they only talk about her if I bring her up first.

How is it half a decade that she’s been gone? I am two babies deep in a life she will never see or be part of in an earthly way. In the back of my mind somewhere the possibility of her spending time with Giles exists, and it pops up, surprising me. A thought appears, an image of the two of them together: talking, walking, cooking, laughing. I feel a sharp twinge because this will not happen. The pain feels almost new.

I will give birth again, without her. I will touch that line between death and life, feeling for her.

There is still no map. Still no footprints to guide me, and yet I keep going.

Choose joy over fear. Live it, do it, on purpose. 



5 years

I just read this post by Maura Foley on The Hairpin while waiting for water to boil for my coffee.

She writes about struggling to get to that 5 year mark– the famous one in Cancer World, the one that if reached means the cancer is way less likely to come back. My mom was so close too. At about four and a half years, just about 3 months after her annual mammogram that declared her cancer free, it came back.

I hope this girl’s dad makes it, and I hope he gets to live a lot longer. I lived with that worry about the cancer coming back for so long, telling myself that my mom was okay, that she was “better.” But as Maura writes, there is no “cure,” only windows. Somehow my body knew that Mama wasn’t “all better,” and my mind fought with this instinct for four years. And then it came back, or was never really gone. And then she got a year longer than any doctor thought she would. And then she started dying. And then she died. Now I live with a different feeling in the back of my mind all the time: a huge hole, a constant reminder, Mama is not here.

The water’s ready, I’ve steeped the coffee in the french press. Now I’m going to sit on my little porch and draw some flowers.