Last year I received the worst news any 25 year old could imagine; my mother was dying. With a 12 month death sentence and the diagnosis of Glioblastoma, I couldn’t help but break down with emotion. I cried, wept, and drenched my down pillows with a never-ending stream of salty tears. For the first week, all I did was cry. I could barely look at her gorgeous, bright blue-eyed face without bawling. How could this happen? And brain cancer? I felt hopeless and heart broken.
As the weeks turned into months and her condition went from horrible, to better, to worse, and back again to better all in what seemed like one night’s timespan; I learned that fantasy is hope. To get through, I convinced myself that some sort of miracle would fall from the starry night’s sky, and suddenly cure my bitchily hilarious mother. I was delusional, I know, but fantasy was better than worrying her with my tears.
I’d try and stay positive and say things like, “everything is going to be alright,” and you “will beat this,” but none of that mattered (and it was probably super annoying to hear). What mattered was spending time together and giving back some of the love that she had always spoiled me with.
I’d make her favorite recipes, take her for a beloved car ride or walk, give her a warm bath, and most memorably, just sit there and hold her.
We all knew the inevitable was coming, but it was too painful to face. Fantasy was better than the reality. My mom knew better than anyone; she had watched her own fiercely independent mother deteriorate under the crumble of this ferocious disease.
I always admired my mom for her youthful and brilliant attitude, but now I realized how very important attitude truly is. Without her idealism, I don’t think she could have remained as hopeful and tenacious in the face of cancer. Even with 3 rapidly growing brain tumors, she was sharp as a tack. I’d ask for her famous carrot cake recipe and she’d name the magazine with the exact month and year. What should I do with the evergreens we picked? She knew. What animal did she want to be? A polar bear, just so she could bite people. This woman was a magician with life.
She joked her way through the tortuous year of brain surgery, chemo, and dreadful pills. Kept hope alive through countless doctors’ appointments, and smiled through unfathomable setbacks. And when it was her time, she went peacefully.
Nearly 5 months after losing her and dreaming up multiple fantasies of seeing her again; it happened. I felt her warmth, watched her laugh, and it all happened over our mutually coveted comedian, Joan Rivers.
The night the Fashion Police legend passed, I had an abnormally vivid dream.
Somewhere high above the blue sky, I found my mom and Joan cracking each other up on a sofa in the middle of a puffy, white cloud. The scene was radiating energy, and as I walked closer I could feel their bubbly and zesty auras. When I finally got close enough for them to see me, it was like I didn’t exist and was merely an illusion eavesdropping from the sidelines. Joan was the same age as we’d last seen her on TV, and my mom was younger, probably about 30. They couldn’t stop laughing. Suddenly my mom noticed me and cautiously said, “you can’t be here, you need to leave.” The soft whisper of “you need to leave,” rang in my ears until FLASH I woke up.
My mom and I could watch marathons of Joan and laugh for days.
I fantasize about this. I dream about holding her, listening to her stories, and just seeing her smile. But my mom was right; I did not belong there, at least not right now.
Now 9 months after her passing, I fantasize about everything. I wish I could just squeeze her and tell her, “I love you.” I wish that she would come back. I hope that this whole thing was a bad dream.
Fantasy is better than this horrible reality. Cancer stole my mom.