One foot in the grave

Published by pam on Tue, 02/28/2012 - 10:03am

Three years ago, my mother died of pancreatic cancer.  I am an only child.  My mother and I were very close.  Watching her die was  the hardest thing I've ever done.  I can't imagine putting my kids through the same thing.  At 15 and 17, they are at an age where they are scared of life, yet they look upon the future as a land of infinite possibility.  Mostly, those possibilities are good.  They imagine themselves working side by side with Daniel Radcliffe or mounting a Broadway show Smash-style.  With a little luck, they could be admitted early to Stanford Medical School or change the world by pioneering a ground-breaking surgical technique.  On a good day, their world is full of bright shiny objects.  On a bad day, their dreams sour in self-doubt.  They wonder if they-can-ever-get-into-college-stay-on-the-beam-find-someone-who-loves-them-find-a-way-to-not-bomb-their-SATs-get-the-floor-score-they-need-to-qualify-for-state-all-while-navigating-the-social-minefield-that-is-high-school.  How will they manage it all while watching their mother struggle to survive?    I'm going to make them suffer.  I'm going to change them forever.  This disease might knock my kids right out of their safe, cushioned little world into a dark and dangerous and lonely place where impossibly bad things happen to good people and they may very well find themselves doing whatever they can to dull the pain.  How can I do this to them?
I don't want them to know what it's like to lose their mother.  I don't want them to look at the mantel on Christmas and hate the fact that it doesn't look the same as it did when mom assembled all the little houses and trees.  I don't want them to wonder why the food doesn't  taste the same.  Or to they feel alone while struggling for a big test with no one there to leave a box of snacks or quietly clear away the piles of dirty clothes and dishes.   I don't want them to know what it's like not to have a mom, someone who loves you no matter what.  Someone who's got your back no matter what.  Someone who tries to listen, really listen no matter what.  I miss my mother every day.  I think about my mom every day.  Images of her - ashen, hairless, weak -  are burned into my brain.  I don't want my children to know what that's like.  
Please.  Please don't make it happen to them.