APRIL 7, 2010 -- The change had already begun. But this was the day when it truly became real. The day the surgeon came to us, and with a simple gesture, confirmed that our lives would never be the same.
He used both hands to illustrate the size of the enemy. The demon that had taken up residence, and that they tried to evict. Cancer was the unwelcome guest, and my mother its unwitting host.
That day we learned there was no going back. No way around this traffic jam. No detour. We were stuck. Worst of all, Mom was stuck. Our lives, and, more importantly, her life, were altered forever. She was in a war with the devil called cancer, and we were going to have to guide her through the trenches as best we could.
For years we would talk with her about her health challenges, and she refused to deal with them. Aside from a nasty cold or bronchitis, she wouldn't charge into a doctor's office seeking help. When we tried to convince her that she could be more comfortable, have less pain, discomfort, breathe easier with the right doctors and the right care, she would simply tell us "I'm 70!", as if that age marker meant it's all over - 70 - the end.
As it was, we were too late. The doctor's tried. She tried. We all joined in the fight. But there was no way out, and the demon, cancer, won. And yet, she was so brave and calm, and accepting. She walked through it all with such grace. Forever changed. And now, forever gone.
Our lives are different now. Her absence always with us. Yes, her memories always with us, too. But there is no doubt about it. Nothing will ever be the same.