I don't like May very much.
I remember Sunday, May 1st 2011. It started out like such a wonderful day. Kevin and I had recently started trying for a baby and figured we'd be successful very quickly. We had lots of naive hope for our future. We had spent the day shopping and bought some beautiful Le Creuset cookware, something we had wanted to treat ourselves to for a while. We came home, put the new cookware away and turned on the TV to learn that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I was overwhelmed and amazed. May 1st, a day that would go down in history! No sooner did that news start breaking when I got a call from my brother.
"Mom is in the emergency room. The doctor says it's 95% likely to be cancer."
Nothing else mattered anymore, the TV was blaring but I couldn't hear it. My world went silent. Then it turned red. I was angry that an ER physician felt like he had the ability to diagnose cancer. I was furious. There was no way my mom had cancer. She was only 52 and healthy! My dad was the unhealthy one - he was blind and had diabetes. She was supposed to stay alive and care for him. This was impossible. What kind of irresponsible ER doctor throws around the word cancer when it's clearly not true?
We made the next available appointment for her to be seen by an oncologist the following Friday, to "rule it out" which is what I kept telling myself. Kevin and I immediately booked a flight to Utah to be with her because no matter the outcome, we knew we wanted to be together. The weekend following was also Mother's day. What bittersweet a visit it would surely be.
That Friday our plane was delayed. When we finally arrived, we literally ran from the plane to our rental car and sped to the doctor's office. We got there just as she was being ushered in. My brother, his wife, my dad and now Kevin and I were in the exam room with her as the doctor arrived. I will never forget the surreal feeling in that room.
The doctor sat down on a chair just feet from her, took a deep breath and then looked her straight in the eyes.
"This is what we call stage four colon cancer. It has metastasized to your liver."
The ER doctor was correct. My anger turned immense sadness and horror. My mom was very stoic and even accepted this diagnosis with a joke, because that is how she was. She said "Can I cancel my Weight Watchers and Curves membership?"
Without treatment, he gave her two weeks to live. With treatment, months.
We spent the weekend watching her die. I know that seems crazy to say, but she deteriorated before our eyes. She couldn't get her first chemo treatment until the following Monday so that weekend the cancer ate at her while we all watched. Sunday, Mother's day, was the last Mother's day I had with her. We cleaned her house and pampered her as much as we could. But I knew this would be her last.
We reluctantly left to go home to Texas the following day as she started chemo. I am happy to say that chemo extended her life for a few more months until the Christmas season of 2011 when she finally was taken home to heaven.
Last May, I played these memories back in my head starting with May 1st when I got that call from my brother. Mother's day is now a triple whammy for me. I remember that my mom is no longer here, I remember her diagnosis that weekend, and lastly that I am no longer a mother. I think this mother's day is going to be extra hard because I have now lost a baby.
But I will get through it. I will be a mother again someday. I will see my mother again someday.
Someday Mother's day will be joyful.
But for now, May is just hard.