Nearly five years ago, I got the call from my brother that would forever change my life…
“Mom’s in the hospital…no, no don’t worry, Liv. They think it’s just hormonal imbalance. You’ll see her tomorrow. Poppy is coming to pick you up now.”
I hear my 13-year-old brother say on the phone. Stunned, my third-grade brain tries to make sense of the situation. My heart sinks, knowing that I’ll have to bear a night without my mother, the rock of our family.
Rewind to the day before, and there I am, an innocent 8-year-old, excited for the weekend to begin and heading to my mom’s car. I open the car door, surprised to see that not only is my mom in the car but my dad too.
“Dad, aren’t you supposed to be at work?” I question.
“Uhh..well tonight you’re going to have a sleepover with your friends,” I’m told by my very obviously, nervous dad.
But that was all I needed to hear to make me happy. A sleepover, what could be better! Trying to figure out why my parents weren’t as excited as me, I noticed that my mom seemed a bit…anxious. I just brushed that observation off because I was way too excited to think about anything other than the night to come.
After saying goodbye to my parents, I get out of the car. I wish I knew what I was leaving behind me after I closed that car door. I wish I knew that saying a simple, bye mommy, see you tomorrow, would not suffice. I wish I knew that no, I would not see her tomorrow. Or the next day. Or ever. Well, I would never see my mom ever again. After that car door shut, she was never the same person. And neither was I.
Now we’re back, the moment after my brother’s phone call and I’m waiting patiently for my grandfather to come pick me up from my friend’s house. The words my brother said begin to slowly sink in. Hormonal Imbalance?!? What the heck is hormonal imbalance? My mind had no clue what was going on, but all I could think about was that my best friend would be alone in a hospital bed without me. And for a whole night! How would I take care of myself for a whole night? If I could go back in time and let myself know the things that I know now, I would. That I’d be in for a lot more than just one night alone. That I would soon learn my mom did not have hormonal imbalance, but the disease that affects about 15,000,000 Americans per year: Cancer.
One night goes by. Sunday morning rolls around and I wait patiently for someone to tell me: “Your mom will be here soon!” or “Let’s go pick up mom!” But no one did.
By the time Sunday night came, I finally worked up the courage to ask when my mom would come home. Friday. Now she wouldn’t be home till Friday. I have one very clear memory from that Sunday night. There I was, a heartbroken third grader crying about the fact that I would be without my mom for a little while, when I started to whimper. My cousin asked me what was wrong.
“I’m not gonna see my mom till Friday. Friday! Five days is a long time.” For some reason, I remember repeating that word to myself. Friday. Friday. Maybe it was a way to remind myself that I’d see her soon.
But that day was one of the most agonizing days of my life. If only I knew that it was just the beginning. The beginning of a long and torturous two-year process. One that changed me as a person in every way possible. One that would continue to impact me for the rest of my life.