Shadow Memories:

Seven Years Bad Luck

I was only eleven years old when I was informed of the news, and I admit, although I was a bright child, I didn't totally understand what was going on. I was going into sixth grade, so I was still fairly ignorant of the woes of life, the tragedies that are bound to tag along with the good times. Well, seven years ago, over the summer, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.

I remember my parents sitting my brother and I down on the living room couch while they stood in front of us. It was silent for a few minutes, and I know both my brother and I had no idea what was going on, and even less of what was to come. I remember clearly the tears forming in my mother's eyes as she looked down at us, trying her very best to smile.

Oh yes, I remember that moment perfectly. We just sat there, not moving, barely breathing, until my mother finally broke the silence to say, "I have some bad news." Now, me being eleven, and my brother thirteen, we were hardly thinking along the lines of a possible fatal illness. No, we were thinking a bit more selfishly. Our first thoughts were probably more along the lines of "No more video games?

"I went to the doctors today…I have cancer." Talk about putting someone into shock. I don't think I even blinked, just kind of stared at my mother for a while. I knew what cancer was, but I had never known anybody who had it. Or, rather, I wasn't aware of anyone who had it. All I remember is that was when my mother let the tears go. Somehow, in the midst of her crying, she told us not to worry. She told us that the doctors had found it in time and they were going to perform surgery to remove it before it gets any worse. She said all of this, but my brother and I were confused by the tears. If everything was caught in time, if everything was going to be okay, then why was she crying? And why has daddy not said anything? Why is he just standing there with his arm around her?

Now I can't speak for my brother, but he looked as stunned as I felt. I can't say what was running through his head, but the expression on his adolescent face was mirroring my own, so it wasn't hard to imagine what he was thinking.

We hugged. We cried. We went back to what we were doing, although there was now a lingering sadness and worry in the air. When I went to my room that night, I know I cried some more, praying amidst my ragged sobs. "Just let her be okay."

As it turns out, the surgery was reasonably serious. She had it performed a couple of months later, having a large portion of her left lung removed. She was in the hospital for a couple of weeks, and I remember my uncle flying up from Louisiana to be there with her. Things like that don't happen for birthdays or holidays. A trip that long is time and money consuming, especially by air

I remember my dad being in the hospital with mom more than he was at home with us. I remember not knowing what to do or how to act, so I got jealous. I wanted dad to be there for my brother and I, but he was too busy being there for mom, who needed the comfort much more than we did. I know that now, but at the time it was all I knew how to do.

Six years later, mom had a relapse. The doctors found another spot on her lung. She was put on chemotherapy and pill after pill. She became drained physically and mentally, so much so that she had to be taken off chemo. She lost all her hair and had to buy a wig to wear to work. I'm not sure why, but I think out of everything, this was the hardest for my mom. It was like a reminder of her illness every time she looked in the mirror.

These memories are things that never leave me, and probably never will. My mother still has cancer, and the count is up to four small spots on the remnants of her lungs. She is taking a new drug that is supposed to work miracles, and she drinks special herbal tea. I continue to hope and pray that the cancer goes into remission, for good.

I try not to think of all of this as depressing though. I think of it more as an incentive to live my life to its fullest, enjoy whatever time I have on this planet, whether it be a day or a hundred years.

Many people would take their mother falling ill due to lung cancer as a reason to simply not smoke. I can't do that. Why? My mother never smoked. It was just one of those freak instances in life where something goes wrong. But I know that God will help us through with everything. He already has. I know that He will take care of my mother.

during life and in death, and I am doing my best to leave this matter to him and try not to take advantage of the time I have with my parents, because some day, I know they won't be there for me anymore. So right now I have to be there for them.