Teri and I have worried, over the past couple of years, and more so in the past few months, telling Mom about Teri's prognosis. Teri has prodded her slightly, explaining matter-of-factly that she would one day die of cancer, but that it was not to be focused on now. We have discussed and contemplated what and when to say. I have made myself sick, lately, with the prospect of being handed this particular responsibility.
I have been surprised to realize, in the last few weeks then, that Mom knows. Her conversation, agitation, and line of questioning have made it quite clear that she knows. She is talking about death constantly. Her father died. Her husband died, she still misses him.
Since the last time we visited Teri, she begins talking about her as if we have already been talking about her for hours. The conversations go as such:
"Hi, Mom."I brought her to the house yesterday, to hang out while I prepared food for a small cookout for Brian and a few friends & family. Mom approached me with an obvious question at her lips, but didn't say anything. I pushed a little: "You looked like you were going to say something." She finally blurted out, "I was going to say something! I want to KNOW something. I want to know: Is Teri going to be all right?"
"She loves feeding the squirrels. She bought peanuts for them. I love her so much."
"I love her too. It's ok to cry."
And I looked into my mother's eyes, and I told her "No."
I can count the toughest days of my life on one hand. Arriving in the emergency room to find my then-5-year-old son strapped to a backboard after falling 2 stories out of the waterslide. Walking out of a courtroom with custody of my best friend's daughter. Picking out my father's casket. Sending my kid to war.
And now, informing a woman that she is about to lose a child.
This shaking will stop, someday, I know.