My mother is what they call a fighter. I've always wondered what that means for people whose parents are Ronda Rousey or the Rock; do they have to carry ID to prove their parents are literally heavyweight champs? Do they get tired of the cliché "he was such a fighter" statements people throw around at their children's second grade softball tournaments? (Maybe they don't, but I sure do.)
Manny Pacquiao willing, I'll just say that my mother is a fighter. She doesn't belong to the UFC or even the WWA, but she comes close. I, on the other hand, inherited close to none of this fight that professionals would sell their first borns for. I cry at even the thought of a body piercing, and my last google search was "are you sure you can't be sedated while getting tattooed?" Present in this type of pain, of course, is the choice to undergo such struggle, for the promise of some aesthetic improvement. Don't let that fool you into assuming that if the pain is medically related I wouldn't be just as much of a wuss. I assure you, I would.
My mother, however, doesn't even entertain such thoughts. She's endured childbirth, a couple eye surgeries, (my entire bratty existence), and soon, she'll tackle chemotherapy and radiation. I have no doubt she'll make it out of this diagnosis with breast cancer with a stronger resolve, a happier mind, and a healthier body. I, on the other hand, am a crumbly mess.
I often think about how people are designated health versus disease. If there really is a God, I guess he knows my mom can handle anything, and that's why he gave this to her. I wish it wasn't true sometimes, though, I wish she was a little weaker so that whatever karmic being decided she could handle it would be forced to reconsider. I constantly flit between being confident in my mother's strength and terrified at the reality of what the c-word means, and what it now means to my family.
I think about the first time I accidentally sliced my finger and the loud yell that startled out of me, the tears and the outpour of blood. I think about how unprepared I was for that moment because my mother was always so calm when her body was put through worse. I think about how my children will one day witness the expression on my mom's face--pain over some accidental injury--and not realize the magnitude of her strength until they experience that same pain themselves. I think about how I hope I'll never have to physically feel the pain she will, but how I'll never truly understand what she's capable of until I do. And then I think about how guilty that makes me feel. Recently, I've been thinking a lot of things.
I do not truly have the words or understanding to convey what any of this means. I don't have a message for you. I'm not trying to teach you any kind of lesson. There is no call to action here. I'm just being honest. This isn't really supposed to relate to you or help you gain insight into my soul, or whatever. It's just the truth. Not every piece of writing serves the same purpose, I'm realizing. Not every piece of writing even has a purpose. But I'm glad to have written this one.
It'd be disingenuous for me to spout all that for the last six paragraphs and leave you with some pithy, perfectly placed one liner, but I'll try anyway.
Love your family (chosen or not), please. Give them the appreciation you might feel too jaded or broken or apathetic or cool to give them. It's worth it to care when nothing's wrong. It's worth it to be available to the people who love you. It's always worth it.