It was the day my mom went to see the oncologist that we were hit with some pretty bad news, my mom had a rare and aggressive form of Cancer called Papillary type 2, kidney carcinoma. At that point in time they told us she was in stage four. I was not very familiar with how they staged cancer back then. Cancer is staged by how much it has spread. As well as other factors like cell type. I didn’t know that and so I thought the cancer that was in her kidney was in stage four but once they removed it, it wasn’t. It really didn’t matter what stage she was in though, either way I was going to treat her as if she was going to get better. I knew all too well what cancer can do to a person. I watched my dad die from it. We all know that there’s only two ways cancer could go, either in remission or not. I didn’t want to dwell on the not part. Even without knowing the stage of cancer, I knew what we were dealing with was pretty serious shit and so from that point forward I wanted my mom to have the happiest, most stress free life possible. Aside from her diagnosis I knew her biggest stress in life was me and my brother not talking to one another. Even though I had already been shot down at least two or three times, I decided to give it one last attempt and so I wrote this letter to my brother…..
(This is the first letter I actually still have on my phone. The phone I owned before this one crapped out on me and I lost all my photos and notes)
I just want to inform you what’s going on. Mommy went to see the oncologist today. She didn’t get the best news. While they got the kidney out and the lymph nodes, as well as one adrenal gland, she’s still at high risk. The type of cancer she had was a rare and very aggressive form and it can pop back up at any time. They are not even quite sure if it’s completely gone. If and when it does, pop back up, there’s no real successful treatment for this type of cancer. She was in stage four kidney cancer. She needs to stay on top of her health like nobody’s business. I will be helping to making sure she does just that. That means a lot of doctor visits, tests, screenings, etc. This is VERY serious shit.
On top of that, she’s having a very very hard time recovering all alone. Today her stitches busted and she was bleeding all over. I tried to get her help before she left the hospital but I think she lied to them and told them someone was taking ’round the clock care of her. I’ve talked to NUMEROUS people who have told me there’s NO WAY in hell the doctors would’ve released her if they knew she was completely alone the way she is. She had to have lied to them.
I don’t want this to be a fight. In fact I want the very opposite but [brother] I have to say it. You know as good as I that part of survival, aside from physically healing, is having the will to live. If you’re not in a good mental space and you constantly feel negative because you feel you have nothing left to live for, your body will follow your mind. You will never get better. You will never heal. This is probably why mommy has neglected herself for so long because [brother], she is VERY depressed and has been for a while and I think she is seriously losing her will.
I’m not pointing this out to you to make you feel bad or to feel like you don’t know her as well as me. I’m pointing it out because it’s a fact. You really have no idea what she’s been going through in the last almost three years and it’s because she doesn’t really express it to you as much as she does to me. I do because she shares all of her feelings with me and I have NEVER seen mommy like this. Ask Aunt Debbie. Ask [my husband]. Ask anyone who’s close to her. She has been extremely unhappy for months and maybe even a year straight, she told me that she cried everyday on the way to work, cried while she was at work, and she has cried on the phone with me countless amounts of times where I had to talk her off the ledge and it’s all over the fact that our small family unit is split apart. As parents ourselves now we need to empathize with what she’s going through.
I know she fought with you, I know she fought with your wife and [brother], you know mommy. You know that is NOT HER. Mommy is not a fighter. She’s not a confrontational person. In fact normally she’s very passive. When has she ever fought with any of our significant others? I can’t recall even one time. I, myself have gotten into fights with her because she was fighting with you guys and I told her many times to give up and just worry about her relationship with you and not mine. Even when she protested your daughters christening, I really got into it with her and told her it was a horrible idea. She can tell you that herself. The reason she was fighting wasn’t to try and break you and your wife apart, like you may think. NO ONE wants that. She was doing it because she was desperately trying to hold on to the two last things she felt were good in her life, ME & YOU. She wanted to keep HER family together as any mom would.
As bizarre as we may feel her strong love for Daddy was, we have to remember that it was HER love. We don’t have to understand it but we do have to understand that there’s a huge void in her heart without him. She suffered one of the most traumatic losses a person could suffer in life. Especially at such a young age. She has told me and others, countless times, that she feels that me and you not talking is WORSE than losing daddy. I am dead serious. She has said that it hurts her ten times more. You may think that’s crazy but that’s her feelings and she is entitled to feel them. She feels like she was robbed and she was and we are BOTH to blame. I am NOT trying to put this all on you. Believe me I’m not but I’m just telling you the facts and the truth is, is that this is has had such a deep, profoundly, negative effect on her. That is why everyone, ( aunts uncles, cousins) has been reaching out to you. They aren’t doing it for ME. They could care less about me. They know I can handle my own issues. They are doing it for HER. They see what a negative impact this has had on her life and how it has sent her spiraling down into depression.
I have NEVER seen mommy the way she’s been for the past few years. She’s angry. She’s negative. She’s hateful. She’s neglectful. She’s unhappy. She’s apathetic. She has completely fallen apart. She’s a shell of what she once was. If she died today, I’d feel terrible knowing that the last few years of her life were so miserable on a count of me and you. I don’t even think there’s a word to describe how horrible I’d feel. Time is not guaranteed for her and from here on out I want her to live the happiest life that she can possibly live and the only way she is going to do that and get back into a positive frame of mind is by her family being there, IN UNISON, for her. We have to do it FOR HER.
I have said many times that I will do ANYTHING to make her happy. I know that this is a large part of what’s keeping her down. Having to deal with the fact that she now has to have two separate relationships, which means separate gatherings, separate holidays, etc and it’s killing her. Add in a cancer diagnosis and poof, her will to live is gone. It’s gone. We are her life. We are all she has. Imagine if [brother’s daughter] only wanted to be around you on her terms and not while her sister is around? Imagine how badly you’d feel for her sister? How sad it would make you that you can’t see them laughing and playing together? We may not be able to stop cancer but we sure as hell can make her happier and give her one less thing to be upset about.
With that said, you are my brother and I will always have love for you and I will always care about you. I don’t want to even see you living with regrets. We need to fix this and we need to do it ASAP. Even if you feel you can’t get past it, fine but can you at the very least, fake it? We don’t have to see one another, talk, anything that doesn’t have to do with her but I can imagine that seeing [brothers daughter] and [my son] together would put one of the biggest smiles on her face. It would really help to lift her spirits. Seeing us together would help her tremendously.
Please think about it [brother]. When daddy was sick, what got us all through it was that we had one another to lean on. We need to do that for her too.
In all honestly I wasn’t really expecting much back from him. In fact I wasn’t expecting to hear back from him at all but to my surprise he responded and seemed to be on the same page. I remember going to my mom’s house that weekend and telling her. I hadn’t seen her that happy in years. It made me feel so good to see her that happy. A few days later he even called me to wish me a happy birthday. While we were on the phone we discussed getting our kids together and going to my mom’s house. My brother also asked what we were doing for my birthday and so I told him we were going to a popular, kid friendly restaurant. We hung up and made plans to see my mom the next day.
My husband and I got dressed to go to the restaurant. We pull into the parking lot and my husband went inside to wait for a table while I hung out side and finished a cigarette. I see my husband walk in the building and then come right back out with this shocked look on his face. He comes up to me and says, “you’re not going to believe who is in there….”. He then says, “your brother and Satan!”. I asked if he thought they saw him but he said he didn’t think so. We both found it really weird that they were there. I specifically told my brother we were going to that specific restaurant and that specific location. Why would he go there?
We walked by and pretended like we were surprised to see them. We went over to their booth and saw that they were almost done eating. That was the first time I had seen my niece in person. It was a little awkward and so we all used the kids as a buffer. Satan was especially awkward. The girl has some social problems for sure. She’s very neurotic to begin with. She just looked very nervous that we were standing there and so she was trying to care for the baby but it all seemed so unnatural and jerky. The baby was about 11 months old and Satan was shoving a straw with iced tea down her throat. The kid started to choke a bit and Satan started smacking her on the back really hard. I couldn’t bear to watch it so I turned away. She was so rough with the baby. You could hear each smack reverberating in her chest cavity. We chit chatted for a minute and we went to our booth and sat down. After we got our orders in, we saw them getting up from their table. Satan is flinging the baby around like a rag doll trying to put her jacket on. (I have to note here, I have never seen such strange interaction between a mother and a baby, she treats the baby almost like she’s a toy or something. It’s hard to explain. Everything is just so mechanical and there’s no warmth or love). They came walking over to our booth to say goodbye and verify that we’d see them the next day at our mother’s house.
The next day went well. In fact I think it was probably the happiest day she had in over a decade. She was in her glory watching her grandkids run around her living room. For me it still felt awkward. There was still a very palpable tension between me and Satan. She was talking to me but again, it’s not talking to me, it’s talking at me. We exchanged a few words here and there.
It was the first time I really got to sit back and observe them as parents and what I had observed that day was something I had already heard from many of my family members and my mom, and that’s that my brother seems to be the main caretaker of the baby. Satan was still trying to milk the whole, doctor messed up my arm when he gave me a shot, thing and so she kept saying that she couldn’t pick the baby up. Every time my brother would put his focus on me or my son, she’d find something for him to do. She’d yell out “honey, the baby needs a bottle.”, “honey can you go get a diaper.”; “honey can you go see what she’s doing.”, honey, honey, honey.”. At one point my brother went and got a diaper from the car. I have never seen a person change a diaper the way Satan did. She held the baby up in the air and against her body and with the kid’s feet dangling, she ripped the diaper off and handed it to my brother. The new diaper went on the same way the old one came off. It was just bizarre.
There is just something about Satan that gives me a band vibe. No matter how many times I saw her, I could never get myself to a place where I feel comfortable around her. I’m not saying I’m clairvoyant or psychic but when I’m around her I just feel like I’m in the presence of evil, like she is capable of some really horrible shit. I do not trust her. Other people that are more in tuned with their intuition have described the same feeling. I cannot put my finger on exactly what it is that makes me feel that way. It’s just her overall affect I guess.
I was so happy to see my mom being able to get her mind off all of the horrible shit she was going through and to enjoy life. Maybe there was hope after all….or maybe things are just too good to be true.
(To be continued in my next post).