My mom has stage-four breast cancer. She has been sick for a long time. I doubt if even Mom knows how many chemo treatments she has received and will need to keep receiving.
She has just started yet another new chemo. This one will probably make her lose her hair again.
Genevieve and I visited her in Connecticut today.
Genny crawls to my lap in the warm sun and rests her head on my thigh. Her untrimmed fingernails are lined with dirt. We don’t have much grass for digging through in Jackson Heights. This is a special treat.
I want to crawl to my mom. I want to bury my eyes against her shirt. Bury my skin against her freckled face. Close my eyes, open them and find us back at our house in Trumbull. Mom’s brown curls bobbing against her bare shoulders. We could be raking leaves or running down the driveway to get the mail or hanging wet clothes on the clothesline in the backyard.
I want to take away her illness. I want to cast it out of her. She is my mother and I need her as much as Genevieve needs me.
Having my own daughter has allowed me to understand the incredible love my mother has for me. And, of course, I think of all the hand wringing and teeth gnashing I have caused her over the years.
I understand now why she didn’t want me to become a stripper. I understand now why she made me brush my teeth. I understand now why she slept next to my bed on my bedroom’s bumpy gold carpet when I was sick.
And I understand why I always felt better in the morning.