Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Clinging to Strength We Didn't know We had.


His grace is sufficient for the pain you go through.

My mom clung to that. She held on to her hope in Christ Jesus before this killer called cancer,and during her fighting this killer called cancer. 
Mom worked five days a week during her diagnosis and when she started all of the doctor appointments. Seeking help was something mom just didn't do. Now she was being forced to seek out professional help and opinions about her breast cancer. She faced this monster head on. 
Carrying her faith and upbeat demeanor.
I was in awe of her strength and positivity.
I was scared to death. 
Once the official appointments started, things moved quickly. I wasn't prepared for everything to come. 
We now knew terms we had only heard of from TV.
The first visits to the oncologist office was terrifying. I did my best to hide how I felt. 
The doctor showed us her scans and showed us where the cancer was. He said it was  metastatic and had spread to her lymph nodes under her left arm. 
I want to say he said it was stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I saw my mom's confused face. We both asked what that meant. He explained the different stages and what they meant. My stomach turned and I was so scared for my mom.
The good news was, they could start treatment and she would have a good chance at surviving this. 
Mom decided she would beat this breast cancer. 

Once we returned home, I asked her if she was going to still work during treatments. 
I was trying to get any sort of reassurance for this whole situation. I have this thing where if things are as I'm used to, no matter how bad things are, I convince myself the bad things aren't happening. So if mom was still working, I could pretend everything was ok. 
It's selfish I know. How does a young girl process and handle her mother having cancer?
The one person who loved me unconditionally and the only one there for me, had something inside her that could kill her. She was my best friend. The strongest woman I'd ever known. How could this happen to us!? Why her!?
The more I thought about it, the madder I became. 
This was BS!!
Back then, I didn't have a cell phone or Internet where I could research what was destroying us. 
I saw a commercial on TV for cancer patients. It stated they had access to more treatment options. I knew chemotherapy meant mom losing her hair and being sick. 
Chemotherapy never made sense to me. I mean, doctors pumping this poison into people,now my mother, to kill the cancer. I didn't want her to lose her blonde hair. 

I would stay home and be alone with my thoughts when Chris wasn't there. 
Chris was coming by less and less. I didn't understand. I had caught him lying a few times. 
Once he told me he would come back in an hour and I didn't see or hear from him for two days.
Over time, mom and I would talk about his new behavior. She believed he was " doing things that he wasn't supposed to"
I figured he was tired of me and now my life had been turned upside down, he didn't want to be tied down to some stupid teenager with mounds of added issues. 
I prepare myself for him being like the rest and ditching me for someone better.
Mom told me " honey,you should give him the benefit of the doubt".
Yeah. Whatever. I thought.
As time went on, mom's chemo treatments started making her sick. She went into the bathroom and cut her hair extremely short. She said " my hair is going to start falling out soon, so cutting it,makes it easier to accept and it won't be huge chunks this way".
The fact of mom's hair falling out and her becoming bald, messed with me badly. I couldn't handle it.

Rumors were brought to mom about Chris and his activities.
Since she was still working, she was around people more than I was. Dropping out of school at 15 doesn't call for friends. 
The rumors upset me and I refused to believe them.
It was out of revenge and bitterness that the claims were being made. Mom and I both knew that.
We took what people said with a grain of salt.

One day, Chris decided to make an appearance at our house. Mom was going to be home soon so I asked him to hang around until she came home. 
Mom came right out and asked him if what she had been told was true. 
His silence told me everything.
I still refused to believe it though.
Mom had a private conversation with him when I left the room.
She was on his side but couldn't condone his actions.
When I entered the room again, she said " if you're truly wanting to be with my daughter, you have to clean yourself up and keep a job. You're asking to make future plans with her but without a job and with the stuff you're wrapped up in, I can't support a future with her and you".
She told him she only wanted him to keep a job and clean his ways up. Then they could talk further, regarding me. 

I couldn't argue. She wasn't unreasonable.
He told her " Wanda, you're going through enough as it is. I'm sorry I have messed up. I'll get myself together and won't disappoint you anymore. I'm sorry".
 Well. At least he wasn't sick of me. Or ditching me for another female. But I still didn't like what he was doing.
He came over more after that day and would help me as I helped mom.
Mom came home from work and ran straight passed me and Chris on the couch, into the bathroom. We heard vomit hitting the water inside the toilet. My heart sank. Chris put his head down in pity.
I went to check on her and she was on the floor crying.
Something that will bring the strongest person to their knees is seeing their mama crying.
I got down on the floor with her. 
"I'm so sorry Mama" 
I whispered. She just sobbed next to me on the bathroom floor.
I remember thinking how messed up this was .
It wasn't long ago that the roles were reversed and I had a stomach virus, puking and laying on the floor by the toilet crying while mom grabbed a wet rag and held my hair back while putting the warm rag on my forehead.
I decided to get up and warm a wash cloth up for her and do the same but I didn't want to leave her. 
I guess Chris read my mind because,I looked up and he was getting a cloth and placing it under the warm water. Handing it to me, he had tears in his eyes. I held that warm cloth on her and started praying for her to be healed. 
All three of us were sitting on the bathroom floor in silence. Mom trying to stop her sobs.
It felt like forever.
We helped her up and she asked us to walk her to her bed. 
That was so unlike my mom. She didn't lay down unless it was bedtime .
Removing her shoes and placing them neatly in her shoe corner, mom says " I'm so sorry"
For what Mama?!
" For having this sickness and putting burdens on you"
I told her to hush that. She had no reason to aplogise or feel like a burden to me. 
I told her to never ever feel like that. I was here to help.
Walking out of her room, I just knew this was the beginning of a long tough road. 
Going to the kitchen where the medicine the doctors gave her and warned her she would need, I found the nausea medicine. Chris was up getting her a glass of water. We gave her the medicine and she fell asleep shortly after.
I kissed her hand and closed her door.
I sat by Chris and I was trying so hard to not show how upset I I was about this messed up situation.
The second he hugged me,I lost it. I was weeping like a newborn baby who has colic.
"This isn't fair"!
"She doesn't deserve this"!
" Please don't leave me"
I sounded desperate. 
I was desperate. Desperate for my mom. Desperate for me .
" Babe, I will save her".

He just hugged me tighter and said
" I'm not going anywhere. I'm really sorry. 
I believe you will do all you can for her and will both get through this"
We have too I said. 
I cried myself to sleep on the couch while Chris just held me. 
When I woke up, I heard sizziling coming from the kitchen. It was dark and the house smelled of some food. I was thinking that my mom better not be up cooking!
Her bedroom door was still shut. I opened it and she wasn't there . Heading to the kitchen, I saw Chris cooking and he said, " hey gorgeous. I thought you both would be hungry,so I found something for us to eat together."
I couldn't help but smile. 
Where's mom?
" She's taking a bath"
I went into the bathroom and there she was. Bubbles and all. My products.
What are you doing mama?
" Hey honey. I am feeling a little better and wanted to take a bath. I was going to wait until Chris left, but he's insisted on staying and cooking. I felt awkward bathing while a man was in our house and I think he knew. He went outside to smoke while I ran the water. He didn't come in until he was sure I was settled"
Her half laughing made that day seem better.
Mom was extremely modest. And certainly not used to a man doing anything for her or me. So Chris doing all he was, was a shocker and something we weren't used too.
She scolded me half intended about me leaving a razor without it's cap. She said " the medicine and chemo make it easy for me to bruise or get cut and bleed and get infections easily. I could have cut myself on that razor blade, because you left it uncapped and I could have bled out"
Smiling as she said the last part. Being sarcastic just was a part of who we were I suppose. A serious situation had to be lightened up with sarcastic comments.   ❤😁
" Gotcha mama. I will make sure to mom proof everything so you're not hurt" 😉
As we laughed,I told her I'd leave her to relax. 
She stopped me and said " Tiffany,baby. We're going to be alright. I am going to be ok. It gets tough before it's easy. We're survivors .
Now, let's talk about that guy who's head over heels for you, out in my kitchen cooking for us"
Smiling I said okay, what about him"?
Mom said
" I think I'm still right about him. He's different in a good way. A way you need. Actions speak louder than words. He's backing up what he says. I believe you should stick with it. Pray for your future. That includes a future husband. He may be standing in my kitchen right now".
She was smiling. Proud of herself and her predictions for him. 
Okay Mom. You just may be right. 
When I walked out of the bathroom, closing the door, I couldn't help but beam with happiness and thankfulness. Chris had our plates made. 
He made fried"taters", buttered shrimp, and made hamburgers for me. He and Mom liked shrimp. 
I was so happy to be with a guy who actually cared about more than just himself.
There was not a time where I needed that more. I didn't want mom to worry about another breaking my heart. I didn't believe Chris would hurt me.
What male stays with someone so messed up and helps her care for her sick mother?
A good man. One sent from God,that's who...
I needed him even more as time went. Mom needed me. I needed them both. And loved them so much.
I had confidence that I was going to save mom and by the next year, our lives would be back and all would be well...
Little did I know... Sometimes I think God laughs at our plans. Not being mean but because He is in control...