Last Thursday started out as a normal day for me. I got up (late, as usual) and got ready for class. At 11 I had section for an ethical reasoning class I’m taking. As I was leaving my dorm, I glanced down at my phone and noticed a missed call, voicemail, and text from my mom. I quickly dialed the familiar number, thinking she just wanted to talk and that the pressing news could be dealt with during my 7 minute walk to class.
Ten seconds in to the phone call, before I even got 50 feet away from my dorm, my mom told me she had bene diagnosed with acute Leukemia.
I was shocked. 54. My mom is 54. How could she have Leukemia? How could something like this happen to her? Happen to us? My immediate reaction was to cry. And scream. And collapse. Luckily, my roommate happened to leave our room moments after I did and was able to intercept me and bring me back to our room.
When you find out news like that, it’s as if your world is moving at a million miles a minute and not moving at all at the same time. So much is rushing through your head. Will she die? What about my dad? What about my brothers? What are we going to do about hospital bills? What about my classes? I need to take off time from school. I need to make sure my brothers are eating and doing well in their classes still. Your mind flips through all of these trivial matters and then it lands back on a single fact: your mom has cancer, and there is a 50% chance that she is going to be dead soon.
You close your eyes and try to calm yourself down, but the image your brain keeps playing is one of the big guy flipping a coin in front of your very eyes. Heads up, she lives. Tails up, you’ve lost the person you love the most.
People you haven’t talked to in months, even years start texting and face booking and calling. And although you feel like there are so many people around who seemed so concerned, their condolences and offerings make you feel even more depressed and scared, because their attempts to comfort you merely remind you that the one person who never fails to comfort you might be dead soon. And that’s scary as hell.
You don’t want to talk about it. Talking about it makes it real. If you talk about it, you think about it. If you think about it, you cry about it. You’re in class and the smallest triggers set you off, leaving you balling in your math section.
No matter what you do, you can’t shake it: your mom has Leukemia and you are most certainly not okay.