“… And I’m getting it back on the road now, but I’m taking the long way around.” (From Taking the Long Way by the Dixie Chicks)

Today marks two years since my world turned upside down.

It’s been two years since my mother couldn’t feel a part of her face for a few minutes and went to the hospital.

It’s been two years since I found out who my friends are. Or, rather, who isn’t.

It’s been two years since my sister called me at 5:30 am when I was in Palo Alto for work to tell me I needed to come back, it’s cancer, and surgery was in a week.

It’s been two years since the term glioblastoma became so familiar.

It’s been two years since I have learned to sound like an episode of ER.

It’s been two years since I started having to hide myself even more than before.

It’s been two years since I became Talia 2.0.

It’s been two years since we celebrated my mother’s 55th birthday at the hospital. What are you supposed to say? Happy birthday?

Speaking of, tomorrow would have been her 57th birthday. Are we supposed to celebrate? Mourn? Ignore? Will April 22 ever look the same again?

Two years ago tonight, I was at dinner with 5 friends (3 of whom I am longer in touch with, and their absence is not felt in the least) when my dad called to say they were in the ER, but that everything was OK. I figured my mom had issues with her hand again – she had just had carpel tunnel surgery, and was having issues, so I figured it was related.

It was related, all right. She just didn’t have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, but a brain tumor. She had been misdiagnosed (shocker).

I won’t write out the whole process since it is detailed in the background post, and, for now, I won’t be “releasing” any more information. But it got me thinking that the top of my world has come crashing down six times in the past two years.

The first time was with tumor #1, first discovery of the disease, where we were still very optomistic.

The second time was tumor #2, when we thought things were going well, and almost a year to the day after the initial tumor, another one popped up.

The third time was just a few weeks later, with tumor #3 that paralyzed my mother’s right side.

The fourth time was in December when she lost the ability to talk altogether.

The fifth time was at the end of January or the beginning of February (can’t remember) when she could no longer recognize us or understand what was going on around her.

The sixth and final time was March 3, when she died.

(Comic relief: Every time I typed “six” I accidentally typed “sux” – Freudian slip?)

These were also the six times I lost my mother.

The first time was when we found out she had terminal cancer.

The second time was when it came back a year later, so quickly. We knew, at this point, that it was aggressive, and longevity wasn’t so much an option anymore.

The third time was when she was paralyzed. Whatever hope she still possessed with tumor #2 was completely taken away by tumor #3, The Paralyzer. This is when depression really set in. And if you knew my mom, you knew she wasn’t a depressed person at all. So we had taken her lead. At least I did. This was also the beginning of the loss of her personal dignity, since she needed us to assist her in basic functions that most of us perform on our own. I don’t think I ever told anyone this, but I think it was harder on me than it was on her.

The fourth time was when she could no longer talk and could barely move. At this point, the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do and they were taking her off chemo. They said it was a matter of days to weeks. While devastating, this was actually a relief of sorts. I had spent so long dreading hearing those words, that when they finally came, the relief of not having to wait for them anymore spread over me, but not for very long. These were really hard days. I spent them at her apartment (I had just been laid off, so the timing was great), and seeing her not remember our names – and be completely aware of it – was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with.

The fifth time was when my mom didn’t know who I was anymore.

The sixth time was when my mom was no more.

I no longer feel the stress and anxiety that I felt before she died. I was feeling so heavy for so long, and I didn’t even know it until she had died and suddenly the weight had been lifted. Now that weight has been replaced with sadness.

Sadness is easier to deal with, I think, because you just cry and move on. I haven’t had a big cry since she died – I haven’t felt the need to. That’s not to say I haven’t cried, because I have.

A wise person was able to put my feelings into words a few days ago: I want the sadness to be over, but, on the other hand, I feel it’s too soon for it to go away.

I feel the same about these six anniversaries. Will I be “celebrating” them for long? Will I forget them? Or will they just stay with me forever?

Happy would-be 57th birthday, Mom.

I miss writing mom with a capital M.

P.S. If you haven’t yet answered my short poll, please let me know how you found out about Daughter of Cancer and how you keep updated. Thanks!