It’s Saturday, which means karate in the morning (Paul) and singing lessons (Grace), summoning forth a culinary wonder (that’s healthy, low-fat, low-carb and not infected with the free radicals that cause occult cancers) for dinner for my twins. Tonight, perhaps, the asparagus kalamata olive tart from Cook’s Illustrated.
But this is not what happened, in the Week That Has Grief in a Death Grip, because this is the day that I am seeing the rolling reports via text as my sisters deliver the news to their children that their grandmother has cancer.
My mom. Let’s be real. It’s my mom. I’m losing my mom.
I delivered the news on Tuesday, in true journalist fashion — objective and philosophical, with penetrating and illuminating commentary. Tuesday is the day we learned. It wasn’t just kidney cancer, a “growth” on the kidney, which could be malignant or benign. That debate isn’t even a debate anymore. The CT scan of her chest revealed tumors spread all over both lungs. Metastasized cancer. All over.
I look at the pictures on WEbMD. The tumors in the slide show are purple and if they weren’t killing my mother, gripping her right where she breathes and sucking the life out of her, they would be beautiful like those pictures of Earth from the Moon, where it looks blue and swirly and alive and not damaged by our excesses.
My mom doesn’t want people to know she has cancer. There’s a stigma. People who have cancer have failed somehow. There is some bad habit somewhere, some vice they hide in a cabinet or sneak out to purchase at a convenience store and stash in a brown paper bag, something they are not quite honest about. That is how people get cancer.
Now it’s Saturday, and the twins have had time to absorb this. Paul tells me on the way back from karate that it’s something you think about all the time. You don’t think it’s there, but it is. In the back of your mind, always, there is this thing: You are losing someone, someone you love.