My mom was always the blogger so none of us know how to post on barbigwire so I thought I would post it here…
Its 3:06 am on Saturday morning and this is the first time since being diagnosed with Lupus that I have been wide awake at this hour in before I can even remember. I think it’s true that dogs can feel a human’s pain because Damon has his head buried in my lap looking at me longingly. He won’t leave my side, so obviously seeming to understand that something is not right. Yesterday was the day that my subconscious mind had been suppressing its fear in anticipation for, for the past year. My vibrant, strong, positive mom became less than. In the last year of the cancer chronicles for the Bigelow family, we have faced countless bumps and bruises, molehills and moguls, but yesterday was the first mountain that has blocked our course.
At this point, the timeline in my mind has blurred, and the countless hours spent between work at mass general and shuttling to Brigham and Women’s have all faded into one continuous stream of thought. I can’t remember when this started, how it started, and what I could have done to anticipate this, but what I do know is my mom is now not only internally sick, but the physical signs of cancer have manifested. My mom doesn’t really look like my mom anymore, but more the hollow shell of the whole she once was. I sit by her bedside and watch my dad. I always knew and understood his deep sadness over my mom’s diagnosis, but yesterday was the first time it seemed like that sadness became consuming. Helpless and terrified, he held the hand of his soul mate, best friend, partner and wife as she lay in bed, unable to recall why she was in the hospital, the ages of her children and the face of her very familiar oncologist. My sister, the life of the party continues to try and keep the laughter flowing, but her fear is now slowly chipping away at that strong exterior she holds so tight to. How do I keep everyone afloat when I’m not so sure I’m even above water?
I think my sister and I have found our individual outlets to help us through our grief. Bridget has found her passion in going to Kelly’s bootbybrabants classes. I am lucky to come home to Evan, whose silence can even be comforting when there are no words left to say. But I worry about my dad. My mom was always his outlet. How can he fill this void when he goes home to a house filled with only company of his four cats? Who does he talk to when he wakes up in the middle of the night with nightmares of what may be? I think he is afraid to have candid conversations with my sister and I about how he is feeling, probably because she is our mother too, and not only just his wife. For such an open and honest person, he is starting to master the art of beating around the bush. One day,on a much needed dinner break at the Brigham, he and I went for a bite to eat at the Mission Grille. He sat across from me asking “ hey is there like some kind of makeup that we can put on mom? Ya know to make her look more like herself?” At that point I asked him if her physical signs of illness were becoming a little more than he could and handle and he simply said “yes.”
I have never thought of myself as a particularly strong person, but now I’m starting to realize that there are many evolving roles in the family of a mother with cancer, and I may need to step up to the plate now to be said strong person. I need to figure out a way to keep my family from falling so deeply into despair. How? I’m not entirely sure, but I will do my damnedest to try. I feel lucky to have such a strong group of support from so many of our friends and family. It does make all the difference to know there is a squad of people cheering on my mom and our family.
Tomorrow, or really today will be a new day filled with different challenges. One day at a time they say. I guess that’s the only real way to move forward. I thought since my dad shared his thoughts from beneath the blanket, maybe I would share mine from thoughts of a daughter with a mother with cancer. All I can ask is for your continued thoughts and prayers for some recovery for this current crisis. I can’t thank you all enough for the love you have all shown for my mom and family. Until next time,
Nurse Kelsey, (Lasagna Bridget and Tim Blanket)