Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October is hard

"Hold on. Hold on to yourself. 'Cause this is gonna hurt like Hell."
Mom and I were chatting the other day about hard things. Life. Cancer. Death.  We got into the topic of what would you do if you found out you were terminal? Why this society has a fixation with denial, and fighting, pushing away death--often times to the point of unnecessary suffering for our selfish desires.   You can't know until you're there.   You can't know how you would react until then. Life is precious.        But this I know from hard experience:Cancer always wins. 

 Mom: And it doesn't have to be horrible.....
  it is just so hard....
  I guess I'll figure it out some day. 
me: cancer always wins
  and yet we have to try and fight it-because death is something to fight in this society
 I don't know how I would be if I got a diagnosis of metastatic cancer. 
 Mom: I think I would say, Okay....see ya later!
 me: would you want to try to do everything you could?
  to stall? 
 Mom: and be sick 
 me: and be sick
  and weak
  and bald? 
 Mom: and lose my hair and have mouth sores and diarrhea and be weak.... 
 me: or--not? 
Mom: and still die
 me: RIGHT!
  Dancing for the Ghosts of Dead Mountains, 2000, Brian Kershisnik
Mom: I think I would say....let's go on a trip.
  and then have a great time.
  and sleep
  and eat
  and sing
  and listen to great music
  and be around my family
  and laugh 
  and then diewith everyone there who could take it. 
 Halo Repair, 2006, Brian Kershisnik
   me: I love you mom!
  Mom:I love you baby!
 I think if I had breast cancer and it was operable, I would do it.
  If I had to have radiation I would do it.
  If I had to have chemo....and they said it would be cured I would do it...
  If it was a pretty good chance...... or, if they said it will buy you time...
  I don't think I would. 
 me: We've seen it too many times 
Mom: so we can talk all about it, like we know....
  but really we don't...
  I THINK that is what I would do.
 me: but i like this option better
  even in the hypothetical 
 Mom: Kind of like deciding what you will do for your birth
 ...you have to go with what works at the time...and hope for the best..
 you can't really "decide" what you are going to do beforehand...until you are in that situation... 
 me: right
  there are factors
  that you don't see or feel until you're there *************************************************************    And it's true--my own ideas and preferences can't minimize anyone's journey with this--past or present.  No matter what, it's still hard.    And I'm still hurting inside for all my moms, aunties, sisters who are gone. 


MandB said...


Elaine said...

this is beautiful. and i love you both.

Emma J said...

A friend sent me the link to this post thinking I would lie it. And I do. Lovely intimacy of these mother-daughter conversations. And Kershisnik! - whose work is somehow perfect for these kinds of quiet, loving, difficult conversations.