Cindy (not her real name) is a mom I met almost three years ago at my child’s elementary school. Our girls are in the same scouting troop. Cindy has Stomach Cancer. She has a wonderful husband and three lovely young children.Oh, and she also has an amazing mother-in-law. I will get to that later on.
I feel a strong bond with her children because my mom had Breast cancer when I was young. My sister was away at college and I felt all alone. My dad did not like to talk about my mom. My mom hid in her room for almost two years. Finally, when her chemotherapy treatments were finished, she came back to the living. And living she did. She lived for another 20 years and then got sick again. She died in 1995. My heart was, and still is broken. My mom was my best friend.
So, I do know what those kids are going through. The only difference is that their mom has not come back to life. I am not sure she ever will. It has been almost three years and she is still in either her bed or a hospital bed. She now has tumors in her Liver. Although her cancer is considered “stable”, Cindy is almost always in pain. Her dear mother-in-law has basically taken over. Cindy’s own mother and father have not helped at all. They live far away and are in denial. Cindy has written them off.
How do you live when you know you are dying? How does one go on? Cindy’s children want their mom back but will she ever return? Can their father replace a mother’s hugs and kisses? How do I tell my friend to live for the moment for the sake of her children when she carries such a heavy burden? Who am I to get angry when I see those kids looking so sad? I wish I had all the answers.
My friends and I share our feelings about Cindy. We feel that she is not trying hard enough to put on a “happy” face. This will be the third Christmas that the kids have to watch their mom in pain. The baby is only four. It is so unfair. I play out so many scenarios in my mind about this family’s future. I know which future I wish would come true. You all know it. The happily ever after future. This is the future where mom is not wearing a nightgown.
She is not lying in a hospital bed. She is not dying. She is attending school functions and concerts. She is decorating the Christmas Tree. She is taking the turkey out of the oven and wearing that apron that says “Mom’s the Best”. Most of all, she is living.