There is only so long you can turn a blind eye to the things happening around you. You will bury your feelings deeper than a dog with a bone and insist you are doing well. Unfortunately, that bone will be dug up one way or another. When it does, be prepared for a hurricane of emotion.
Right now you are in the calm before the storm. You are aware of the possibilities and damage that may force itself on your home but you stay positive. You donít cower in the basement waiting for destruction; instead you walk outside with an umbrella and pretend itís not raining on you. If this point in your life could be embodied in a phrase it would be Ďignorance is blissí Ė and it is. You should enjoy it while you can because in four years time, you wonít be able to ignore the things youíve been through.
Itís been six years since your Mother was diagnosed with Cancer. It isnít a well-known Cancer either which only added to your confusion at such a young age. Mothers are immortal though. As much as youíve tried to picture your life without her you canít. The fact the Cancer has returned numerous times with increased degrees of seriousness only to be beaten by her again solidifies the fact she will be okay. You have spent a lot of hours in the hospital but you donít feel sorry for yourself or your family. It is second nature to you, something that has to be done. It almost feels like an annual tradition. Things wouldnít be normal if you didnít smell the overbearing disinfectant only hospitals yield at least once a year. It becomes strangely comforting almost like family bonding. Another thing you tell yourself as you bury the bone a few more inches.
Be thankful for your parents everyday. In a few years youíll realise they noticed things about yourself you couldnít. You will realise that the direction you go in life isnít a coincidence, your parents put into action changes that allow you to become your own person without the stress you donít even know you have yet.
Your parents did something great for you. They sent you away for university. They noticed you had been immersed in an environment that dealt with your Motherís illness from such a young age; and that you were subjected to witnessing the affect it had on her with no escape. They gave you the ability to only worry about yourself for a few years. Take advantage of that.
Your bond with one of your brothers became so strong over the years because of this. You supported each other and had a connection that only grew because you went through everything together. He really shielded you from a lot of pain and confusion. Itís no surprise you were utterly heartbroken when he was committed for psychosis with schizophrenic episodes.
Once again you were too young to grasp what was happening. It is just another thing you will skim over with the words ďItís fineĒ. He will constantly tell you, ďYou think you are fine, but you donít know how much everything is affecting youĒ. You shrug it off like you do everything.
So youíre 18 now, a few years have passed since your brotherís illness, you are on your own and enjoying college life, but you have just experienced the first sign things are being dug up. Your brother was right. You will start to feel different. Less secure, more emotional. Youíll find it more difficult to be in charge of your anger. It will be the first time you experience anxiety, and unfortunately it wont be the last.
The anxiety doesnít get better for a long while. You keep it to yourself for as long as you can because you are terrified of worrying your family. You donít want to add to anything already going on. You have a lot questions for your brother but are scared any pressure could result in him regressing to his illness. Itís not until you start missing class and failing subjects you realise the blind eye you turned wont work forever.
Fast-forward a few years, some more operations, some more Chemotherapy and more emotions that will add to the wrath of the oncoming hurricane. You will eventually move back home. It will take its toll on you emotionally. Itís difficult to bury feelings when youíre confronted daily with the raw fact that your motherís physical and mental health is declining.
A few more hospital stays and years of frustration, you will feel like youíre stuck on a rollercoaster with no way off. Your mood goes down just as fast as it went up and sometimes you simply spiral out of control.
2013 is when that hurricane, full of ten years of emotion, comes crashing through your front door. The Cancer is back, her organs are shutting down but you still have hope. History repeats itself and Mum hasnít lost yet. The door blows off its hinges and the walls are destroyed when you actually hear from your Dad what is going on. His medical background is a blessing as you are always given facts but this time is different. The hope is not there like it usually is. Everything you are told this time is said with acceptance. It is confronting. I would say prepare yourself but nothing can ready you for it.
24 July 2013. You will have spent what feels like months in the hospital watching your Mother slowly deteriorate into a peaceful sleeping beauty. Sleep Ė something you wonít have properly in too long. You will spend all day every day in that room waiting for her last breath. Donít be scared. Itís not a sad time. That room becomes your home and you all end up laughing and joking with each other while your Mother inhales her familyís love for the last time. Itís a beautiful way to go. And just what she wanted. How perfect life would be if all our emotions floated away with her.
You walk down the hall of the hospital in which youíve spent so many times. Itís sombre but strangely calm. Youíre in the eye of the storm now. In the centre of chaos that has consumed your life for so long. You are numb, but most of all you a tired. Exhausted both physically and mentally. You can finally exhale deeply and drift off to sleep where you forget the past 11 years. When you are awake you feel like a Polaroid that hasnít been developed properly. You are a blur, a snapshot in time, and you canít quite figure out whatís going on. The numbness will be there for a while. You still have the second hurricane wall to get through. Which you will.
You will be 23 soon. You will go back on medication to help you cope and there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you need the type of help people just canít provide. You are still on this pothole filled road. Iím waiting on a letter from the five-year elder me but until it comes I will continue to smile everyday and live for those who canít. You should do the same and remember:
Death is nothing at all. They have only slipped away to the next room. Whatever you were to each other, that, you still are. Life means all that it ever meant.