Friday, February 23, 2018

My Own Worst Enemy

The thing about life,is that it continues to go on no matter how you feel. 
It doesn't care if you don't want to get out of your bed.  Life isn't going to stop because you're going through more than you believe you can take.

I was getting overwhelmed by mid December.
Mom's cancer and her treatments were enough to overwhelm anyone.
I tried my best to handle everything well. 
I admired mom's strength and often wondered how she could handle this as well as she was. 
She had her days, but for the most part,she persisted on as if she wasn't a newly diagnosised breast cancer patient.

I felt selfish most days because all I could think of in the more intense moments of panic was ,I am 15. I want to go back to how things were before cancer.
I want to party and be with Chris as much as possible without feeling guilty. 
I want to enjoy the new life I was given just months before this hell began..
If I felt that way, I can't imagine how mom felt. She was the one with breast cancer. Fighting for her life. 
So many emotions at one time to a 15 year old is hard to handle.

So I did what I knew best and I would seek out a temporary fix. 
The miracle in a pill bottle that I had discovered a year or so before .
I didn't have to look hard or go far. 
All of my friends were older and I had access to anything I wanted.

That would do the trick for a few hours and then it was back to feeling feelings again. 
Something I hated. 

Things had been going great with Chris and I. 
I was so thankful for him and I knew he was who I wanted to be with.

He and I discussed our future together and I meant what I had said but because I had always been let down, I honestly didn't take him extremely serious about wanting to marry me.
Deep down, I knew he would eventually leave me too. It was a waiting game in my mind.
His actions matched his words but I was used to con-artists and figured he was just really good at pretending to love me. 

I had good reason for why I felt that way and for not trusting any male .

When a girl isn't wanted by her own dad, her self-esteem isn't the greatest. 
If my dad left me, why would any other guy stay?

It didn't help that I was cruel to myself. 
I'm my own worst enemy and I would tell myself that it was my fault and I wasn't loveable.
Telling yourself those things after awhile, turns into your own reality.
It'll also drive you mad. .

My pain from the past would always come up. 
Like an unwelcomed ghost that refuses to cross over.
My current situation and the demons of the past were enough to keep me down ,with no hope of anything getting better.
No matter how hard I tried, I didn't feel okay unless I had a substance in me or was with Chris. 
Even then, I told myself,it wouldn't last. 

I wasn't sure how I was ever going to be ok.
So I took it a day at a time and dedicated myself to trying to escape the reality of everything and enjoyed any genuine moments that I could.
I often told Chris that he had no idea what he had gotten himself into. 😏
And his response each time was 
" Stop trying to push me away. I'm not going anywhere,no matter what. I don't care how tough it gets, I'm with you to stay".
I believed him. 
I just had the voice inside that reminded me of others who also promised to stay.

I wasn't winning the battle within me...

I accepted that I wouldn't ever be stable and decided I would ride the train of life untill it derailed...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Dancing in December

The days went on and before we knew it it was Christmas time. 
Mom was about 5-6 weeks into her chemotherapy treatment and we were getting into a routine of everything. We were more prepared for the side effects of the poison that was being injected into my mom. She lived as best as she could.
She now had categorization of days.
Bad days. Good days
Bad days were, vomiting at the slightest smell of food. Feeling weak after being up for half an hour.
Waking up with headaches that then triggered more nausea. 
And the biggest at that time. Her hair on her head was falling out in bigger clumps. 

Her hair falling out was something that bothered me so much that I couldn't look. I would leave the room.i felt so bad but it felt like a punch to the gut..

Her blonde hair was coming out and the expression on her face made me sick to my stomach. 
I was so hurt for her. 
I was helpless. 
The good days were of us sitting in our living room and talking about everything. 

My mom didn't drink but a couple of times a year, she liked cheap wine. 
I believe she fully deserved to have a glass during this trial in life. 
Mom was a sappy type of drinker. 
Meaning she would be so happy,she would cry. πŸ˜‚
She would dance as well on the better days and I only wish I could have recorded it. πŸ’œ

One day, Mom came to me and suggested I should get out of the house for awhile. 
I had been with her as much as possible only leaving to her appointments, the ones she allowed me to go to or out with Chris for a little while.
So I agreed that it sounded like a good idea.

I called Chris to come and get me 
(The picture was the actual day that this all occurred)
Chris and I hung out and watched movies. I didn't want to be away from a phone in case mom called.
Within 2 hours, mom had called and I heard music blaring from the background.

" Tiffany! I figured out how to use your stereo"!
She was shouting in the phone because her beagees band was blasting from my stereo system.
She was rambling on and singing 🎢🎡🎢

" I'm having a good ole Time. I am singing and dancing to my CDs."
I can tell Mom. 
Chris could hear her as he sat beside me.
We were laughing at her. We couldn't help but to. 
I couldn't get a word in without her interrupting me with singing and shouting .
" I bet I am having a better time by myself than you two are" more singing🎢🎡.
I said' mom, did you get into the arbor mist'? πŸ˜‚
" As a matter of fact,I did and I am having a party for one*!
She then wanted to talk to Chris.
I got up and put my shoes on because I knew we should go check on her. 
Chris told her to save him some wine and we would head over.

I could hear music from the driveway.
Laughing as we walked inside, mom had her glass of wine in one and  twirling around with her other hand in the air.
She wasn't lying... She had rearranged our living room to make room for her shananigans πŸ˜‚πŸ’œ
She saw us and grabbed us both into a hug.

I turned the music down and Chris convinced her to sit before she fell. 

Mom said " look here at the two of you crashing my little party".
I told her I didn't want her to hurt herself or bust our eardrums.

Once she sat down, she started to cry. I knew it was coming but considering the situation of her battling cancer, this was more than sappy tears. It was much deeper than that. 
She started apologizing for things in the past and for the things I had went through and especially for the situation that separated us when I was 13-14.
Chris sat in silence. He knew of what she was talking about and how it had effected me. 
She then wanted me to tell her everything that had happened to me that cold October night.
I didn't want to. It would hurt her more to know the full truth. In detail. 
I told her that. 
She kept pressing me and refused to stop until I told her everything. Every awful detail that had changed so much of me and our life.

I told her I didn't blame her. She didn't do anything to me. 
She bawled and apologized.
I told her that we are moving on from that and now have bigger battles to face.
That conversation was tough but looking back,I am grateful we had it. 
She had sobered up and Chris and I put the living room back together. 
Chris stayed until dark and he and Mom discussed future plans, regarding me. 

It was like mom knew something that I didn't know at the time and God was working things out for a future I hadn't imagined before. 
I was still in awe of her strength and of the respect Chris showed mom. 
I wouldn't know then, how amazing their relationship was until long after the time. 
We had great moments in the middle of bad times. 
These conversations meant so much and I believe were also a gift. 

Chris and I cooked that night and mom managed to eat a little before feeling sick and laying down. 

What started out as a funny, wine moment that included music I knew nothing about, turned into a wound being sealed up and memories made. 

She was carefree for awhile and I was glad. 

December was one of our favorite months but this time cancer tagged along. 

That month would have many ups and downs. 

It's crazy how things can change so much within a days time. 
We learned to cling to the good times. The happiness in bits and pieces.

Taking it for granted was always a problem. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Little Things Have A Big impact

The morning of Thanksgiving started off better than I had originally thought.
Mom was up at 3am preparing the turkey. 
I asked her if she needed any help and she said" I think I have it. I would like you to do my makeup and maybe try something with my hair while I still have it, later before everyone gets here."

Mom had been cooking away that morning. I showered and dressed. 
I could see her from my bedroom and I noticed her stopping every few minutes. I asked her if she was ok and she said she felt nauseous from the smell of the food.
Chemotherapy doesn't care that it's Thanksgiving. Cancer doesn't care if you're just 52 with a teenage daughter that depends on you. Or older kids and grandkids who adore you.. Cancer is selfish. It doesn't discriminate either. It's evil. 
I was so angry inside that despite her best efforts, that poison was making her weak as time went on. 
Mom admitted that she was embarrassed for family to see her thinning hair. Her lashes were coming out and so were her eyebrows. 
I assured her I would help her beauty shine through before everyone got there. 
I did her eye makeup as best as I could. Her lashes were falling  out. Her eyebrows were as well and once she saw how badly, she cried. 
She said " I'll never be pretty"
" Just look at my eyebrows. They have bald spaces".
I told her she was beautiful and we would fix it. 
Her crying broke my heart. 
Something inside of me just snapped. 
I left mom sitting there and went into the bathroom and grabbed a razor. I brought it back to my room where mama was and I said" I'm going to color and draw your eyebrows on"
Mom said " Tiffany, everyone will know and it will look bad"
I shook my head and smiled. 
" If anyone is worried about your eyebrows,then they have bigger issues"
I said " I'm going to match you"
She look up at me confused. 
" You're not shaving your head"!
😁 " No mom, I'm not. 
But I am taking the rest of my eyebrows off"
See, I hated my eyebrows anyway and plucked them until they bled. 
I wanted mom to feel better and not feel so alone in this nightmare we were in. 
I raised the razor to my brows and before she could stop me, I shaved one completely off.
I looked ridiculous!
Mom's mouth gaped open.
I said " see, now we will both have drawn on brows"
A smile crept across her face and she said " you're crazy! Now you have to shave the other one"
So I did. .
I didn't take into account that shaving your eyebrows off as a female especially, is pretty much permanent. It takes forever for them to grow back. The process isn't pretty. I also didn't think about how I had never actually drawn on eyebrows...

Oh well. It was done and my mom was smiling with tears in her eyes. Together, her and I figured out how to draw on eyebrows. Mine were awful! Hers looked good. She had some hair there, but not alot. Still more than I had. 

I straightened her hair. Hiding the pieces that came out.
 She looked beautiful. (The picture below is after this)

She hugged me tightly and I fought back the urge to weep loudly. 

She vomited 2x before people arrived. She hid the fact her head had been pounding all morning,from everyone. Never complaining.
That Thanksgiving, my sick, strong mother reminded me of how tough she was. I knew she would beat this.
The joy on her face around her grandkids and some of the family that was there, is always in my mind. She loved them. She loved us. 

Once everyone left, it was her , and a member or two of family,Chris and myself.

He thought I was insane for shaving my brows off. 😁 But understood why. 
We sat and talked about nothing in particular and enjoyed our time together. 

I wish I could go back in those moments. 
Chris could make mom and I laugh and forget for a moment,of our situation. 
I don't think he will ever know how much those moments meant to her or I. 

That Thanksgiving will always be one of many times I will remember as the beginning of a chapter I nor she, asked for. 

We made the best of it.
She kept her faith. She knew she would need it as time went by. She refused to let this cancer be who she was. 
Clinging to Jesus, was exactly what carried her through. Something I admired , while breaking apart inside. 
I wanted so badly to wake up from this terrible nightmare. 
Pinching myself never worked though. 
It doesn't work for real life events...

Over the next few months, I soaked up as many moments as possible,with her. When she wasn't insanely sick from chemo.

Coping in my own way. Which really wasn't ever coping at all. I did my best in the moment. 
Feeding from her courage. 
Watching her do her best to live as she had before this entered her. 
Chemotherapy weakens the person it's said to help. 
It's an ironic treatment.
I despised it. 
I despised this whole freaking situation. 

I would learn that a person can only take so much. 
Making you or breaking you. 
With time not wavering for either of us...

Sunday, January 28, 2018

One Moment at Disney World, The Next, A Nightmare.

Mom had this way of making me feel like everything was ok. She made me feel as if cancer hadn't came into our lives messing up what we had going for us, finally.
I could have been fully convinced if the doctors hadn't kept bringing it up. 
Yeah. I know. It's their job.
I wanted to stay in denial of the horrid facts. Life was easy in denial land. 
By Thanksgiving, she had a surgery to put in a portacath into her chest for chemotherapy treatments. I cannot remember the exact number of treatment sessions,but this device would make it "easier" for them to pump poison into my mother to kill the silent killer that was cancer inside of her. Chemotherapy still made no sense to me. I wasn't educated enough to find alternative options. Nor did I have the resources to do so. It felt wrong. This whole situation was wrong and so jacked up. 
So instead of planning Thanksgiving meals and gatherings,as she always had, we were planning a surgery and she was making arrangements for me. Since I couldn't stay at the hospital the whole time,nor could I drive alone, legally, and mom didn't want to be judged for letting me stay with Chris or completely alone for the time she would be in the hospital, she had me stay at family members home. She said Chris could stay. Of course, separate beds. 
She was somewhat nervous for the procedure but handled it like a true champ as she always did. She assured me I didn't need to stay and insisted I go to where I was supposed to be. I left, and I was crying the moment I hit the elevator. 

That night Chris and I and some family,drank and played pool. 
I wanted to drink my fears away. 
I tried like hell but only ended up crying and Chris walking me to my bed.

Here I was drunk while mom was in a hospital alone... That killed me. 
I told myself and Chris that I was not staying away from my house and the next day I was going back home. If I couldn't be with mom, I was going home, the closest place I could get to her. 

My hangover the following day was ridiculous.
I told the people I was staying with, I was going home. They said I'd have to ask mom. 
I called her and told her if I cannot be with her, I wanna go home and I wanted Chris with me. Not for some romantic reasons,but I needed him and I needed to be in my bed. 
She sensed how defeated I felt and how no wasn't going to work. I even told her I drank that night and wasn't any better off being"supervised" where I ended up having access to alcohol and got wasted anyway.

She gave the ok for me to go home while she was in the hospital and I promised to check in with people who were " in charge" of me.

I thought being home wouldn't hurt so badly. But it did.  Chris being with me the whole time helped , but I couldn't shake the dread feelings I had. I was disgusted with the circumstances and angry. 
I stayed in a state of panic. The thought of losing my mom was too much to bare. I never had great coping skills. I always reached for comfort in pill form,or anything in a bottle..

I took a Xanax and tried to calm down. 
It slowed me down. 
Chris and I laid around watching movies. He tried his best to keep my mind from my reality.
I was grateful for him. 

I called mom and a nurse answered.
That scared me. 
I demanded to speak to my mom. 
The nurse stated mom was sleeping and her procedure went well. 
I told her I would call that morning.

I felt like there was someone or something in between myself and my mom. Since the cancer embedded itself into her, I felt like a barrier had been placed in between us. Why do I have to talk to doctors and nurses about MY Mom!?
Why do I feel like her life lied in their hands!??
It's an indescribable feeling and extremely frustrating.

The thought of having a good and normal day was long gone. So how could we have a good and normal Thanksgiving that was coming up soon??
Mom cooked. Mom planned. Mom did everything. I have no idea how to clean or cook or baste a turkey!
How could she even stand the smell of food now that this poison was being put inside her and making her so very sick!?  How could she spend hours cooking amazing meals for many of the people she loved ? How can my siblings and I and others seem ok during a time as this!?
We don't know how to do the things mom does. And even if we tried, it still wasn't like mom's.
My mind raced with those thoughts....

Would mom and I ever have our glass of wine while wrapping Christmas presents for everyone and laughing,again!??? 
Would anything ever be the same again?!? Before this monster came into our lives?!?

The answer was no. No. No.
Not one thing was ever the same once those stupid test results came in. 
Our lives were over as we once knew it.
This woman, who was so strong and a proud mother and beaming with pride and love for her grandkids, and a daughter and a sister,friend was now fighting for her life. 

I was helpless. I hated it...

I still told Chris and convinced myself that I would be the one to help save her. That's the only thought that kept me semi ok. Whatever it takes. I would do anything I could to save her from this. 
We would just have to adjust in the meantime... 

I told myself that over and over. .

Mom said " baby, I have cancer, but cancer doesn't have me".
With that, I was determined we would beat this.
My mom may be sick this holiday season,but by next year, she would be back to herself and stronger for the crap she faced now....

Looking back at those unrealistic thoughts and expectations, I wasn't nearly as smart as I had thought. Nor was I as capable as I had thought. Time would show me that.. life would show me that. As if life hadn't shown me enough by now... but God had other plans. My plans were that of someone in deep denial and in La La land.
.. πŸ’”
Really I believe that I HAD to think that way to survive what was happening. I wouldn't have made it with the thoughts of what actually did happen later on.....

I took after my mom and I adapted to whatever situation so I could make it through... I was an adapter. 
I was left with no choice....
Life happens whether you're ready or not. 
It isn't a buffet,where you pick what you want,and pass by what you don't.... I learned that quickly.. it knocked the breath out of my chest....

How I wanted to go back to when I was little. To our trip to Disney world. Where there was magic and no worries. 
This wasn't Disney world. This was the total and complete opposite of Disney world. This was a freaking nightmare..... A nightmare that had only began. There I was, center stage of the beginning of my nightmares.....

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" πŸ˜‰
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... 

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Fight to Win a Battle We Never Invited In.

There's a time and a season for everything.
It always comes to pass and not to stay.
I'm thankful for that, except when the stormy seasons come. That can consume you. Blowing you off your feet. Turning everything upside down in an instant.

Fall break was around the corner. I was ready to not have to go to school. I was tired of being a liar,when I skipped school. 
Things will always catch up to you even if you think you've gotten away with it. 
The school caught me skipping out one day and that next day, I was called into the office. They let me in on the fact they knew I hadn't done this just once, but 3X. The principal didn't like me as it was. He threatened to have my mom in trouble with truancy board. I begged him not to do that because she had no idea I had even skipped school once. So he decided I had to serve the last three days in alternative school in a town almost 30 minutes away. I knew that was better than my mom facing truancy board but she left for work hours before school started and could not get me there. 
I had to confess to her what I had done..
I told her minor details of the skipping.
She was really mad. I promised her I would find a way to alternative school each day. 
The girl who drove and skipped with me was also caught and serving the same days with me. 
I did find rides. Chris and mom the one day and Chris's mom picked me up. I was embarrassed that her son's new girlfriend was in trouble and needed her to help with my consequences.
That would be one of many things she helped me with.. 
Alternative school was extremely quiet and boring. 
They served us lunch but it was basically left over from the neighboring school and was ice cold. Gag!!
I finished all my work and had 6 hours left to sit and face a wall in a cubby hole. I decided I'd take advantage of my time and write. I always loved writing. My creative writing class was my favorite and I excelled in it. I wrote three stories and wrote to Chris as if I was in jail. Knowing I'd see him the same day... I was in love and everything was new and dramatic.😁😍
The last day of the time serving for getting caught, I would be on official fall break for two weeks. I had a hundred plans. 
I decided I would help Mom out while she worked and I was home. I cleaned the house and did laundry for her. Something I should have been doing the whole time. 
I cooked a few times. Chris would come over and have supper with her and I. All was going well...

One day I was sitting In the back seat of mom's 2007 suzki car ,that she loved so much.
She was driving and a family member was riding up front, beside mom.
I was lost in my thoughts and planning when my thoughts were interrupted by mom saying
" You know, I've felt a place, a lump on my breast. But I'm sure it's a cyst".
Family member says " oh. You should have that checked"
It was October and something I would later know too well, October is breast cancer awareness month.
I piped up and asked what they were talking about.
Mom said " it's nothing honey, I will make an appointment and show you it's nothing".
I thought' what's nothing'?!
Once home, mom made an appointment to have something called a mammogram later that week.
I asked her what that was and she explained.
I asked her what would a lump on her Breast even mean?
She said " well, I know it's nothing to worry with, but if something is found,they'll test it and see if it's something to be concerned about".
What would be concerning about a lump?
I was confused.
Mom was invincible to me. She would live forever.
She survived so much and nothing was going to take her from me. I decided that right then and there. Mom went to the appointment and came home. She said she would know more in a few days. I proceeded with life. I was with Chris. Some days drinking, some days pills. Other days both and few nothing. Having a blast. Making memories. I kept the house clean so mom wouldn't have to work all day then come and work in the house. She enjoyed that. 
Chris would come over here and there. He worked and couldn't spend every waking moment with me. I somewhat understood that.
The week school started back, I went all but one day that week. The day I decided I was staying home was the day my life went from good to terrible. Mom had seemed down the past week. She never told me why. Or said if anything was wrong. She would randomly come to my room telling me how she loves me and believed Chris was right for me. As a moody teenager, I rolled my eyes and wouldn't give her much time. 
I woke up that morning feeling like something was just wrong. I had suppressed the feeling of something happening to mom for years but that morning,those feelings came back and overwhelmed me. I felt a sense of dread. Mom usually called the house 5X throughout the day. But this day, she called me once. She said for me to be home that evening when she got home and for me to not go anywhere. 
That didn't help the dreaded feeling I had. I agreed. I took a shower and started praying out loud. 
I said " Lord, I don't understand why I'm feeling this way. I'm scared and have no clue why. Things are going well with Chris but I'm already falling for him. If he and I aren't meant to be, please end it now. My mom's phone call is freaking me out. Please let her be ok".
That day drug on and on. I knew what time she usually came home. So when she didn't, I panicked. I cried and started calling her. She wouldn't answer. I knew she had had an accident and wasn't coming home. I knew something bad had happened.
A family member called me and she says " have you talked to Mom"?
I said " no! And I am freaking out"!
She sounded like she was crying. I asked her to tell me what happened. She said 
" Mom will be home soon to talk to you".
Well. Thank God she's alive. I thought.
Now a whole new set of fears came flooding in.
I suddenly remembered that she had went to that appointment and was awaiting the call to see if they found anything on her mammogram. I then remembered that it had been weeks since that.
I called Chris and he wasn't home. I needed him but he wasn't around. I paced the floor. It was way passed time for Mom to be home. I became frustrated. ' what the hell is going and and why hasn't anyone called me'!?
Just then, family member walked in. 
Why were they here!?
Where's mom!?
After about four family members came in, in walks my mom.
I ran to her asking what's going on!?!
She told me to wait until everyone came inside...
What the hell!?
Talk about panicked.
Once everyone that was there sat down, I scanned their faces. Some were crying. Everyone somber. 
Mom sat me down on the couch and grabbed my hands into hers.
Looked me right in my eyes and said" Tiffany,honey. The mammogram showed something in my left Breast and lymph nodes. I went in for a biopsy and the results came today. It's cancer, honey".
Tears in her eyes. My ears started ringing. 
' what did you say Mama"!?
She said " I have breast cancer".
I literally thought I was going to pass out. 
Some family were staring at me. Others were in the kitchen crying. I looked at my mom and said 
" NO, the test and biopsy is wrong"!
She grabbed me as I starting crying so loudly,I couldn't hear anything else. She said
" Tiffany,baby, it's going to be ok. I am going to be ok. I am going to fight this. We are going to be okay"
I now felt like I was going to vomit. Family started talking but I heard nothing but my mom's words from a moment ago.
' I have breast cancer'
Anger set in and I yelled " why are they all here!?"
" Why didn't you call me"!?
It's a blur after that. 
Everyone eventually left. 
Mom was on the phone talking to other family members and repeating those horrific words all over again..
I felt like my heart had been ripped out and trampled on. My mom has cancer. She didn't smoke. Didn't use drugs. Didn't drink more than a few glasses of wine per year. Why her!?!!
She survived 52, almost 53 years of crap to now have to go through this!!?
She finally hung up the phone. Washed her face, took a breath and sat down with me again. 
She smiled and said " you know, I will be ok. I have Jesus. No matter what, I have Jesus and it will be okay. "
She started explaining what type of cancer and the possible stage she was in. These were terms I'd never heard except from on TV. Because this type of nightmare doesn't happen to us, just on TV.
She told me her first oncologist appointment was the next week and she would know more and start a treatment plan. I told her " I AM going with you. I don't care about school. I'm going. Don't try and stop me"!
And I meant it .
I wasn't leaving her side. We were going to beat this monster called cancer and I would do anything to make sure she was ok.
I slept in her bed that night. Since dating Chris and being in our new home, I has slept in MY own bed 
But I was sleeping by her every night. 
The next while is a huge blur. Mom still went to work and was happy. Never complained.. 
The world was still spinning. Mine had changed and nearly stopped.
I couldn't focus. I had Chris and that was one positive thing I could cling too. 

School was overwhelming even moreso. I would not be able to attend mom's appointments and they were important. I needed to know about this killer that was inside of my precious mother.
I took it upon myself to take mom's mammogram X-ray Thing to school and show my princaple. I asked him to meet with me in his office later that day. He agreed. I told him I wasn't making excuses anymore and I couldn't do this whole high school thing any longer. He looked at me with a confused smirk on his face. He said " may I ask why"?
Sure Mr.
I handed over the Manila envelope with mom's scan in it. I told him to put it up to the light. 
He asked what it was. I told him my mom had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and was in the beginning stage of doctor appointments and she worked and I needed to help her. I'm all she had and I needed to be with her. School got in the way of that. I told him I wanted to drop out at age 15...... Yes. I was that bold. 

Silence filled his office. He asked to meet my mom and he would then give me his decision. I told him " here's the thing. Mom isn't selfish. She will not ask for help and she sure wouldn't want me to quit school to stay home and help her and go everywhere she needs. She would be opposed to the idea and I didn't have time to argue my case. "
More silence.
He settled on calling her to verify she has cancer. Once they hung up, he took my file out, put it one paper at a time, into his shredder. He had tears in his eyes. He said " Miss Riggs, you've given me a hard time since moving here, and you've not been easy to handle. However. I'm a Christ follower and I believe you're barring your soul. Your mom does need you. This is an incredible amount of maturity and love with strength on your end. We never had this conversation. I'll be praying for you and your mom. Spend every day with her. You may leave at 2:55pm today. Records are gone"
I was crying and he left me in his office alone to compose myself. 
I don't know how paperwork like that works but I know he shredded them and I've never heard a word from anyone there. 
My classmates in creative writing class did write me and Mom letters but that's the last I heard. I walked out of school that day never to return. Off record with no one in trouble. 
My focus was saving my mom. 
I told her what Happened at school that night. 
I told her there was no use in her arguing about it. It was done and I was free and would help her from then on...
She smiled and hugged me.
That next week was full of appointments and information..
This season of our life wasn't welcomed. We never asked for it. We faced it head on... 
Clinging to each other and Jesus.
We sure would need Him more and more as time passed...
You don't know how strong you must be until being strong is the only option you have....
This was the beginning of many ends. 
I was never the same girl. Mom was promoted to a fight for her life and I knew I was going to find a way to save her. I had too. 
And I tried...

Monday, January 15, 2018

RVs and fire pits can equal lies and consequences

It was hard to believe that in just two and a half months, I had a new life that I enjoyed more than I ever thought possible.
I was in school and had made several friends. I was in several classes with people older than me. I fit in just fine with them. I was even making decent grades. I excelled in computer class and creative writing class. Mom and I had moved across the road from where we lived originally with my grandma, into this cute white ,2 bedroom house. 
Mom spent her free time, sprucing the place up as she always had in our homes. She worked a lot as a housekeeper for government buildings. 
There was some work that needed to be done on the kitchen and outside and though she was capable of doing anything and everything, she didn't have a lot of extra time or money. So she decided to ask Chris to fix our floor and the banaster outside. He built homes for a living at the time so he was the right person to do the job. She insisted on paying him and he insisted on her not paying him... Two of the more stubborn people I ever knew. Their cute, friendly arguments were hilarious. Arguing about what time "dinner" was . Chris insisted dinner and supper were opposite of what mom said. They eventually agreed to disagree on that. 
Over time, my interest in school became lessened as the days went on. I wanted to be with Chris. I had no interest in being at school. 
I met a girl who was two years older than me . She was known around there as a trouble making, drinking, female and the second mom met her ,mom told me " that girl isn't your real friend. She is only out for herself and you both together are nothing but trouble. Stay away from her". I argued that. I saw her as a friend. 
Telling me no about something wasn't working for me.  She had a car and was not afraid to dip out on school to go do sketchy things. 
Mom sent me to school on the bus and the girl was waiting in her car from me to get off the bus and walk out the side door of the school so we could go swimming. Our plan worked flawlessly. I wanted to go see Chris. He knew nothing of our schemes. He wouldn't have approved. So off to Chris's we went. 
The look on his face after looking at his watch, then back at me told me he wasn't happy I skipped school. I told him I just wanted to spend the day with him instead. After a little while, he chilled out. I asked him if we could get some drinks and go swimming. I had planned everything out so I could be home before Mom got there and make it seem as if I went to school. 
Smirnoff ice and swimming sure beat being in a classroom all day. Chris asked me to not make that a habit. Sure..
We had a blast as always. I sobered up and was taken home. My mom didn't suspect anything out of the ordinary for me. 
That weekend Chris and a couple planned for us all to have a double date-camping trip, at the girl's family lake spot in their RV. I knew mom wouldn't ever allow me to spend the night with Chris so I had to improvise... Lie. 
I asked her if I could attend a sleepover at the new girl's house I skipped school with that week. I told Mom it was all girls and would be all night. She wanted to confirm with the girls mom. 
I always had things figured out. So I had the girl whose RV we were using, call Mom and act like the other girls mom. It worked. I told Mom thanks and I would see her sometime the next day.  I didn't have a cell phone so she only had my word to go on and the only phone we had between the four of us to call if needed. 
I was so excited. We drove down to the lake with this nice RV. Stopping at the liquor store and fast food joints on the way. 
Once there, it was getting dark. We unpacked and started to get our things settled inside. The guys started a fire in the fire pit. 
I had been mixing alcoholic beverages for awhile now so I had plenty experience of making everyone an amazing drink. 
The later it got,the closer it came to us having to go inside to sleep. I had liquid courage by then and my nervousness had waved goodbye to me at Margaretta#3. And was far away by tequila shot #4.
It made for an interesting first night with Chris. 
Not any of us slept much that night. 
Two bedroom RV with a bathroom, shower and kitchen was incredibly awesome. It was hard to leave the next day. I had to prepare myself for Mom's questions about my all girl sleepover.. 
It wasn't like I enjoyed lying about these things but the truth wasn't comfortable to tell her. Plus I didn't want her mad at Chris. It wasn't his idea or fault. He never forced me to do anything. He was my voice of reason almost always. 
Going from the best night/weekend ever to acting like I had stayed up all night talking about girl stuff and having pillow fights was a huge jump. 
It was that weekend I went from liking Chris alot to falling in love with him. 
I was already planning another trip overnight with him. 
That week at school,the computer class I was in, needed students to pay a fee to continue the particular lesson. So mom gave me the money for the class. I had every intention on paying for it also. 
But then I had an idea yet again.. I called school skipping friend and had her pick me up from my house after mom left for work that morning and have her take me to Chris again.
He had spent his money on us that weekend and wasn't getting paid until that Friday. I wanted to go drinking and swimming again. I didn't tell anyone how I aquired the money to pay for the alcohol and they didn't ask. We spent half of my computer class money on more alcohol. Smirnoff ice isn't cheap at all. But I wouldn't drink anything else. Off to the swimming hole again. 
That next weekend Chris said there would be a party in the mines. I was frustrated because I knew mom wouldn't let me go. He was old enough to not have to answer to any parent so he could come and go as he pleased. I felt like I was mature enough to not have to answer for anything also. I was almost 16. I knew more than my mom... 
I knew it all. 
I conjured up yet another plan and lie to my mom about what I was doing and where. She didn't have reason to not believe me so she let me go to a late movie that would turn into another sleepover with all girls. I had to make up names for these imaginary girls. I was a big fat liar. 
Alcohol and lots of people in the middle of nowhere doesn't mix well. Guys I didn't know were hitting on me not knowing I was dating Chris. Someone they wouldn't dare mess with. They found out quickly who I was dating and it wasn't a pleasant sight. Hours of dancing and hit and miss fights, with drinking included, is tiring. No one had a tent. Everyone but a few left for home and we decided to stay. None of us were capable of safely driving anywhere. The only choice was to park the truck by the fire pit and sleep in the bed of the truck... In September, the days are hot but the nights, not so much. It wasn't comfortable. But Chris and I made the best of it. 
When I woke up to the sound of birds chirping, my eyes saw nothing but blue sky. I panicked briefly. Why wasn't I in my room?
Why was I outside?
Why am I sleeping on a cold bottom of a bed of a truck with a ball hitch that was in the strangest of places? Where are the rest of my clothes? Why do I smell like a BBQ pit and alcohol?
Ohhhhh. Now I know. Once I looked over and saw Chris passed out, it all came back.. or most of it. Jumping up and off the tailgate, I was searching for a towel or blanket or anything. I found some of my clothes. Enough to cover myself and figure out what time it was. I woke Chris up telling him I had to call Mom before she came searching for me. 
That was enough cause to get him moving. There were no cell phones either had to use. 
The truck started moving and doors opened. Two people that did not come there with each other,come wobbling out. Looking as confused as I was. The other two people that the two from inside the truck had came with were on the ground together. 
I couldn't help myself.. I said " well, looks like I misplaced most of my clothes and you four misplaced and switched out your girls."
They didn't see the humor. 
Chris and I got ourselves together enough to take me home. I still didn't know what time it was or if mom had tried finding me. 
The walk of shame is always the worst. But to do it in front of your mom is really bad. She invited Chris inside. She seemed fine. She asked how my night was at the all girl sleepover. 
I was hoping she wouldn't question me too much. I felt horrible physically. Hangovers aren't fun. I was terrified she would question Chris. She asked him" so how was your night"?
He shook his head. She asked how we met up since we weren't at the same place. Chris just stood there  I wasn't feeling well and wasn't on top of all the lies I had told. I told her I called him to come get me that morning. She turned to him. " Well that was awful nice of you to go get my daughter from her sleepover".
Chris said nothing. 
Mom asked " so, Tiffany, you were there all night? You weren't with Chris"?
I said no. 
Mom wasn't an idiot. So she said " no to which question"?
Then I became bratty and told her to leave me alone and stop giving me the third degree so early.
She smirked. Now I was really worried. Why is she smirking like that!? 
Mom said" Tiffany, it's 3:20pm. I don't consider that early. Maybe it's just me though".
I snapped back . " Well excuse me, I haven't checked the time. I haven't been awake long"!!
Mom said " look, I'm not as stupid as you think I am. Other than the fact you two have spent almost every day with each other and are extremely close, you both have black soot on your faces and arms and your top is inside out and backwards, your underwear is hanging out of your front pocket and you have a hickey the size of Texas on your neck. Tell me again you weren't together last night and probably last weekend also".
Chris's face was red as a tomato, I know my mouth dropped to my shoes. 
Crap. Now what genuis.
She told us both to sit down. 
I was afraid to protest it. 
Calmly mom said " you know if you tell me the truth,no matter what it's about, you'll be in far less trouble than if you lie and then keep lying. Because it isn't just one little lie. You have to keep up that lie with more lies and then it comes to you lying to my face. I didn't raise you to be a liar. "
Now I felt bad. 
Chris chimed in and I'm thankful. 
He apologized to her and explained where we went and told her most everything. Leaving out inappropriate details. I told Mom I was sorry for lying and knew the truth would have been better. 
She decided I was grounded and would have to do all chores before I could see Chris each day. That sucked, but fine .
She said if I lied again, she would stop me from seeing him. 
It went better than I anticipated. 
Mom really liked Chris and was supportive of us but didn't want me to do stupid things. 
Chris would come in a few times a week after school while mom was home and mom would cook these amazing meals for us . I was a picky eater but he wasn't so she was thrilled to make food that someone would enjoy. 
I quit lying to her in big ways. I would not detail certain things because, well , I just didn't. 
Fall break was around the corner and I planned to spend time with him then instead of skip out on school. 
Lessons learned are always learned the hard way. Or it was for me anyway. Mom didn't deserve to be lied to. She was too good to me and I could be honest with her.  
Chris continuesly worked on the things mom asked him to do at the house and I was finally in a place where I didn't have to fake a smile. 
I spent time with Mom that I hadn't before and was building a relationship with Chris and rebuilding one with mom. Things were going really well for once...
It's too bad that good times don't always last as you would like them too. If I would have known that within 6 weeks, our world would be flipped upside down, I would have slowed down and taken the happiness in more. 
Time is definitely not on my side. Not then,nor ever.
God was preparing me for future tragedy, setting the stage for events I never wanted and I didn't see it coming...