…change as we get older. When we are children, “No” is the most ominous word that can come out of your mother’s mouth. As we get slightly older, “We’ll see,” takes on that connotation (because it means your-ass-knows-the-answer-is-no-and-now-I’m-annoyed-that-you-put-me-in-this-situation-where-I-can’t-tell-you-no-publicly-because-of-the-company-we’re-in). Then comes “I need you to…”, which is quickly followed by “How much money do you have?”
I thought I was going to stay somewhat begrudgingly in that last stage for a good long while. I was wrong. All of a sudden, I have entered the worst of stages, that I wasn’t expecting to hit for years and years, given the fact that my mother is 10 days shy of her 42nd birthday. If The Most Ominous Words Your Mother Can Say was a video game, this would be the final boss battle.
To the best of my memory, today was only the third time I have ever seen my mother cry outside of the context of a sad movie. It is the second time I can remember her voice cracking while she was speaking to me because of the overwhelming emotion. It is the only time I can remember her admitting she is afraid. It is the only time since I was small enough to need to hold someone’s hand when crossing the street that she has allowed me to touch her and hold on.
This conversation began with her asking me to get in the car. I could tell something was up by the tone of her voice, so as I was opening the car door, I started asking what was wrong. When she says the next thing she says, you think the most ominous words your mother can say are, “I’m sick.” Then she gets more specific, and you learn you are wrong again.
The not talking may drive me crazy, but she didn’t need to ask me to not speak of this for me to know I can’t. I can’t tell my best friends. I can’t even tell my dad. She has asked me not to spend more time at home than I was planning to. She has asked me not to call her everyday or do anything out of the ordinary. She considered not even telling me because she didn’t want to taint my senior year, and has asked me to party tonight and carve pumpkins tomorrow and live my life without being constantly overwhelmed by fear and worry. This is a tall order. I am more afraid than I have ever been of anything in the entirety of my life.
After she left, she texted me with one simple word. Smile.
And so I’m going to try to, because my mother told me to. I’m going to try to smile as much as when I first started dating my ex and everyone told me how happy I looked. I’m going to test the black-don’t-crack theory with the potential for laugh lines I’m going to create. People are going to think I’m on some shit when thesis gets real and I’m just beaming away.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for me to say I’m surviving without any tears.