PS ... Cancer, The Word That Started The Downfall
~ Chapter 14 In Her Life
I did my best to try and relax the next day as me and Bodde continued to bond. I fed him, bathed him, put him down for naps and then attempted to clean the little apartment as best I could. My mind would wander from how happy I was to be a mom to how much pain my mother was in lying in that hospital. I tried to call her room several times, but when my cousins would answer she would tell them that she was too tired to talk to me. I knew she was avoiding me. I was hurt but completely understood that she was not in the mood to talk. I was sure she was scared out of her mind, lying there wondering what was going on inside her body.
It was a leap year and the date was 2-29-2000. I had long waited for this day because I was sure that Bodde was going to be born on it. Just like the feelings I was having for months before he was born, I was convinced that the date was sticking in my mind because he would be born. Well, he wasn't born on that day, he was born two weeks earlier and now I was not sure why the date was sticking with me so much. It was around 3 pm when the phone rang and I just about broke my neck getting to it because for one, Bodde was sleeping and two, I was sure it was my mother finally calling me. I grabbed it and ran out onto the patio so I could talk louder than a whisper, which is how I had become accustomed to answering the phone as to not disturb Bodde's sleep. My happiness to hear my mom's voice was evident in how I answered.
"Kelsey, it's Renee." I held my breath. Why was it her and not my mother.
"Hello, what is going on?" I asked, not at all concerned with the usual small talk that happens with the beginning of every other phone conversation in the world. She knew I was worried so she did not beat around the bush.
"Well, honey," ... never a good thing to hear when you want good news. "Your mom is going to be in the hospital for a few more days."
"What? Why? What is the doctor saying?" I was pacing the tiles on my patio, making a pattern with my steps on the funky squares ... step on this one, then skip three and step on that one.
"Well, she was very bloated. I mean, unusually bloated. Her stomach was so disdained that she was having trouble breathing this morning so the doctor ordered them to drain the fluid out of her abdomen." Fluid in her abdomen? What? Was this the sprain that she was talking about not only three weeks ago? I was now very confused. "So ... they went in and did what the doctor ordered and it turns out that they drained 6 liters of fluid." WOW, that sounds like a lot. Does she mean like liters of soda?
"You mean like 6 liters of soda? They drained that much fluid out of her belly?" Things were beginning to go hay wire in my head. Why so much fluid? Where could it be coming from? This is not at all normal. This is a very bad sign. I really wanted to turn the voice off in my head so I could really comprehend what my cousin was telling me, but no matter how I tried the words kept repeating themselves in my head. Drained. Fluid. Disdained. Doctor.
"Yeah, that is what I mean. They do not have the results back yet, so until those come through from the lab we cannot really proceed with anything else right now. She is resting and boy does she need it. She is exhausted. You know her, she has asked every single person she sees what is going on and what they are doing." This told me that indeed my mother was scared out of her mind. My mother was a very patient person and she had the ability to make any situation fun, or at least bearable.
"What do you think is going on Renee? Do I need to come out there? What is your impression as to what is going on?" I asked knowing that she had not too long ago watched as her mother, my aunt, became ill and eventually passed away from colon cancer. A very long, long battle with colon cancer that taxed everyone that was around her. I knew that she would be honest with me and not try to sugar coat anything because it drove HER nuts when doctors and nurses would not tell Renee what was happening to her mother in the hospital.
"I don't think you need to come just yet..." she said. This told me that I was going to have to go home sometime soon, that this was reaching the serious stage I was dreading. "Let's see what the doctors say when the test results come back. We should know something by 4 or 5." There was a pause. I could not talk out of fear of breaking down and crying like a baby. "How is Bodde doing? I bet he is just as cute as you were." I talked to her for a few more minutes about how the baby was and how I was feeling pretty good, but tired. God bless her heart. She was trying so hard to be strong for me, knowing that I was sick with worry but needed to take care of myself and the baby first and foremost.
"Thanks for calling me, and please let me know as soon as you hear something." I was close to loosing it. "And hey, I really appreciate you and Susie taking the time to be with her. I know it should be me that is there and I am not."
"Don't even mention it. Do you know how much your mom did for me when MY mom was sick? You don't even worry about it, I will not leave her until we know what is going on and she is at home, where she belongs."
"Thanks Renee, I sure do love you." That was all I could say. The tears were falling and I was unable to control my voice any longer. She told me goodbye and I hung up the phone. My world was turning upside down and there was nothing I could do about it. I went into my bedroom, picked up Bodde from his crib and laid him on the bed. I put two pillows next to him and then I laid down beside him. With my head on my pillow I just looked at his sweet little cheeks sleeping so peacefully. The tears would not stop and my face and head hurt from trying not to cry, you know that kind of hurt. That slow, dull ache that stays when you try your hardest NOT to cry, but your emotions get the better of you and make it impossible to do anything else? I had not cried like that since I had my other children. I had not felt that helpless since the adoptions. I am not sure when I fell asleep, but I did and for just a moment, I felt peaceful just watching Bodde sleep his little baby sleep.
The phone rang. I woke up immediately knowing it was Renee again. Bo was still in slumber land so I stepped outside my bedroom with the receiver.
"Hello honey, did you get some rest?"
"Yes, just a little. I was just lying next to Bodde. What is going on?" I can't believe I asked that so quickly.
"Well, they got the results back from the fluids and the cancer cells are abundant, they want to..." I cut her off.
"Cancer cells? Did you say cancer cells?" In my head I was screaming OH MY GOD!! NO! NO! NO!The line was silent. It seemed like an eternity before I could even hear Renee breath on the line. My body was shaking. I stared at the ceiling, as if looking up would keep the water in my eyes from falling out of my lids.
"Yes, I said cancer. The doctor said that there is cause for alarm because her cell count is so high. He does not know where the cancer is, or how far advanced it is, but he is concerned about the amount of fluid that they drained from her and why it has been storing up in her abdomen. I asked him if you should come home, and he said not yet. He knows that you just had a baby and he said that there is no reason to be alarmed just yet. He would like to do an MRI, maybe some blood tests to get a better look as to what or where the cancer is."
She said cancer three times. A word that I had not heard for at least 5 years had just been injected in my ear three times in one sentence. I was devastated. I knew, deep down I knew that there was nothing they could do for her. I am not a doctor, but I know a little about medical terms from working in a doctor's office some years ago. Once that word is mentioned, there is no going back. My mind began to scream again ... OH MY GOD!! NO! NO! NO!
"I'm sorry. I really had a hard time calling you because this is the worst news to hear when you have a beautiful baby to love and take care of. And you have waited so long, you both have waited so long to have this baby to call your own. I cannot tell you how sorry I am Kelsey," she said in a soft, low voice. She was right. The timing could not be worse, and the situation could not be worse. I was 2,000 miles away from the most important person in my life at a time when she needed me the most, yet I was just 10 feet away from the newest most important person in my life and everything he needed depended on me. What an awful predicament to be in. Such joy, such sorrow. So much to be happy about and thankful for, yet so much to worry about and be devistated to my core. I don't even remember the rest of the conversation after her apology. All I could think about was how this beautiful baby that both my mother and I had longed for would never have the chance to know just how amazing his grandmother was. To say that my heart was broken is not even close to how it felt.
That is enough for today because just writing that last paragraph has left me, well, not looking pretty to say the least. Next week I will tell you a little more, revealing how one can begin a journey that will only lead to the longest goodbye.