On that phone call from mom, the one that started the wheels turning on this crappy bus, I learned that she would head down to Dallas that week, and then go on to Houston for her appointment. My brother and sister-in-law live in the Dallas area, so it was a nice pit stop for her and my dad.
What I experienced then, and what I’ve since learned completely changes the story. Back then, after chatting with mom about the plans, I knew she was deflated and a little hopeless, but she still sounded and acted like mom. As far as I knew, the long, flat drive from Amarillo to Dallas went smoothly. The stay with my brother and his wife went great. Dinner was good, and she had a good nights’ sleep. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. I knew that throughout the past nine years, mom had sheltered Ryan and I a bit more than her siblings and friends. She wanted to protect us. Shield us from the dark side of battling the Big C. After all, it’s not always put on a brave face and go about your business. Sometimes, it’s let some of the pain out in the corner with a good cry while one’s looking.
I knew the two weeks between the wedding and the shower had been filled with a doctor appointment, waiting for results, and ultimately the nudge to MD Anderson. To me, that time flew by with wedding prep and planning, coupled with knocking out several projects I had ongoing with my clients. What I didn’t know is how dire an outlook those test results painted.
Mom was always a fighter. She fought for what was right, she stood up for my brother and I throughout our childhood, and made her voice known in both church and other organizations. She was never bullish or brash, but straightforward and thoughtful. She had been standing up to cancer this entire time, and I’m sure all she really wanted to do was kick it goodbye.
But what if she couldn’t? What if the hopeless sound in her voice really signaled a turn of the tides? Through the years, I had always known there was a chance that a treatment wouldn’t work, or a trial wouldn’t yield the great results we needed. But, I never thought that way. I always thought positively. Maybe that was because my brain and heart could only take that way of thinking; the “what-ifs” and “worst case scenarios” just didn’t settle with me.
This was mid-week, and all I could do was continue to plan for the bridal shower weekend in Kansas. Pack the bags, pack the car, prep Roxy’s food and toys, and make the long journey through the wheat fields over the eastern plains. Think positive. Mom will get her tests run, and her and dad will drive up on Friday. No need to panic, everything will work out.