My mother has been a homemaker all her life. She has never had a career and her life’s work is her children. She raised seven children and after my father’s death, she did it all alone for nearly fifteen years. The youngest of her children went off to college this year so all her children are adults now.
My 31-year-old brother has been on a ventilator for 48 hours now and because he has had a hard time breathing on his own since his nearly nine-hour surgery. We have been told that it is expected considering how long and difficult the procedure was. My mom has not left my brother’s side in the days before the surgery and since the surgery. She is very religious and she spends a lot of time praying. She is watching 31 years of her life slip away and I know my mother will never be the same again.
My mother spent four years watching my father wither away and it changed her. Back then, she had seven children relying on her to get through and now her children are all grown up, and I don’t see her coming back to us from this. This is killing her inside and nothing, not even her faith, can save her.
As my siblings and I watch my mother lose her spirit, we know that her returning to us the same as she was a month ago is not even possible. She feels like she doesn’t have anything left to lose so she has no reason to fight. If she is fighting for anything, she is fighting to be strong enough to take care of my brother when and if he is able to go home.
My mom hung on strong after my father’s long illness and his passing away because she had seven kids who needed her and now, one of the reasons she fought to be strong is slipping away from her. She would gladly take my brother’s place and what mother would not? She is living every mother’s worst nightmare and all my siblings and I can do is feel helpless. I get my strength and my determination from my mother and right now, I am watching the strongest woman I know dying inside and losing everything that makes her “strong” and there is not a thing I do to change it.
I am so numb. I feel like someone dumped boiling water down my throat, and I ache through the deepest part of me. For my siblings and me, we are not just watching my brother struggle, but we are also watching our mother lose the part of her that makes her human. When we tell her to eat something, rest, or even take her medications, she looks at my brother and says, “This is my life. Thirty-seven years of my life have been all about my children and I have nothing else.” And I am not sure what is harder, watching a young man fight for his life or watching a woman whose entire life was all about her children, lose her spirit and strength.
My brother’s diagnosis screams at us, “abandon all hope,” but we trying to keep the hope alive. We are praying for remission against all the odds because we know it is possible. It is just so hard to be hopeful when we have been handed a cancer where the chance of remission is so small.