My mom has a great laugh.
Historically, it's one of those things that you don't get to hear all that often. She'll grin, chuckle, sort of giggle at things pretty often, but her full on, hearty laugh is a magical sound, one that makes your heart feel happy to the core, and it's an elusive phenomenon which gets obscured by stress, work, and her propensity for putting other people before herself.
It's this laugh that I intend to focus on from here on out.
Last night, mom's medical oncologist confirmed that she now has stage 4 metastatic cancer, the disease is no longer curable, and now it's a game of balancing treatment to prolong her life with restraint to provide her a quality of life worth living.
We don't know how long she has. It could be weeks. It could be years.
I, for one, am not ready to look at this as an end. Not yet, anyway. For now, I'm looking at this as a sign to shift gears; from here on out, let's try to make life as pleasant as possible, and hope we have the burden of keeping that outlook for years.
Let's make that laugh our new priority. Finding that laugh will be our guide -whatever will bring us closer to hearing it is what we'll do. Let's fill the world with as much of that sound as we possibly can.
Wherever she wants to be, I want to get her there. Whatever she wants to learn, to eat, to experience, I want to find her a teacher, a chef, a friend. Some things may be beyond comfort - tobagganing might be more painful than thrilling these days - but so what? I don't care to focus on the "can't" anymore. There is sooo much out there, so many other things that could generate such joy that it doesn't matter what she can't do now - there will always be something else that she can do, which may just tickle that laugh into existence. And that is what matters.
So let's go forth, and enjoy. There will be tears, of course-there will always be tears, but we will let them fall, and be glad that they can be shed, and then get up and return to our quest for that laugh. And every time we find it, we'll count it as a triumph, and begin the search again.
I love you so much, mom. Thank you, so much, for letting me share this journey with you. I am so glad that I have such a wonderful role model in you, someone who taught me how to be a great mother to my own daughters, who let me grow and flourish in such a way that I never had the years of teenage resentment towards you that so many girls have towards their moms. I am so thankful that I can still turn to you every day, for advice, for memory, for love, support or a joke...
I appreciate having you in my life so much - am so unbelievably grateful to have you in my life - in every moment, and I will continue to cherish every moment that I have with you for as long as I possibly can. And I will still benefit from being your daughter long after that. And my girls will continue to benefit from being your granddaughters long after I'm gone, too.
I wish you peace, in every step of this journey, and my heart will be with you for all of it, even where my feet can't follow.
So let's get started.
What would you like to do first?