Not a Perfect World

Last Tuesday, my dad and I went to the Oncologist. This time without mama. We had to show the doctor mom’s lab results and  tell him my mom’s decision not to undergo chemo. My dad and I expected bad news, but before going there, I prayed (which I don’t usually do anymore) and asked for a little good news.Just a tiny one.

I honestly did not pray for healing anymore, but I asked for strength to take it all in and to take it gracefully. That’s also mom’s wish. Mom knows what is happening, too. She’s strong enough to go with us, but she decided not to. And the environment of the Oncologist department won’t help. The doctor told us that chemo is risky at this point. And then he told us to give what mama wants and tick the boxes off her bucket list. My dad cried. The doctor was also speechless. Mom is one of his success stories. He would tell us that mom is jolly and bubbly and to see her like that is also hearbreaking for him. I know doctors should be strong and firm, but I cant blame this one. He then recommended us for palliative care. It’s like a scene from a movie. 

On the other hand, I felt relieved. Now, we can finally get the chance to face the reality and to trust the process. You see, hope is sometimes crippling. Hope allows us to to hold on to people even though we should let them go. Hope allows us to make stories in our mind which will soon frustrates us. 

In the evening, I went out with my friends, you know to breath and to move. I believe that idleness wont do me any good. I have to move. I have to walk. I have to laugh with them. I wanted to eat Thai food so they took me to a Thai restaurant. We then had coffee at Mcdonalds. While this is happening, my cousin told me that my mom’s siblings are in the house, having a meeting. I told him that I am not comfortable to attend it and I asked to be excused because I just need to breath. He said that I should not worry and people understand why I am outside. My Dad told them that I am strong like my mother. I’m surprised that they see me as a strong person. That means a lot. 

Anyway, I am not comfortable with the stigma of death and dying. I just want to think of it as something normal like travelling or eating or giving birth. 

The following day, I finally had the chance to talk to my mom. We were on her room and we were just talking what to do next. And then I started crying because this is so surreal, talking about her final days, plans, and shit. She told me not to cry because she hates drama and she wanted everyone to just accept this. I told her that I am strong like her, that I am going to be fine and that I am smart enough to know what is going to happen to her, but I told her that it sucks to lose a mom. How can you actually live in this motherfucking crazy world without a mother? She would tell us that all of us will have to face death at some point, and she knows that this time, it’s her turn.  

The next day, I have been receiving calls and messages from cousins around the world. I only answered one call. It was from my cousin from Singapore, who lost both her brother and father in 2019. I wanted to talk to her because she knows the feeling of losing a parent. She told me that I have to accept things as they are and how lucky I am that I can prepare for this. She told me that mom did not quit the battle but this is her way of winning the battle. We were both crying. It’s weird to do this in front of the camera. 

Yesterday, I went home and all the furniture were piled up at one corner. My uncle told me that they are making a room for mom downstairs because she doesnt have the energy to go upstairs anymore. She would feel dizzy going up and down. Again, it felt weird. It got worst when they brought in this hospital bed frame and this green mattress. This is going to be her deathbed. I had to go in my room to cry, because this is quickly sinking in. Mom then told me that I can sleep in their room now while they’ll be sleeping downstairs. My mom, being a very OC mom wont even allow me to use their bed because for the longest time, I am a dirtball in her eyes. It sucks to hear her say that I can sleep in their bed. 

My aunts and I had this heart to heart talk last night. I told them that when mom was diagnosed in 2018, I started to detach myself. Not that I stopped loving her, but I slowly trained myself and prepared myself for this day and the days to come. The preparation was hard. In those 2 years when mom has no evidence of the disease, I still wake up in the middle of the night, with sweaty palms, with nightmares and with panic attacks. i still space out even if I’m with friends. 

Recently, my mantra is “we dont live in a perfect world”. It’s been on repeat since our visit to the Oncologist last Tuesday. We dont live in a perfect world where parents and the people you love are immortal. We dont live in a perfect world where we can walk in the streets without face shields and masks.  We dont live in a perfect world where we get to live all our dreams. This is a broken world and its brokenness is really the reason why it is good to be alive. 

On Mom’s Cancer

This journal entry was originally written last March 7, 2021.

She lost a lot of weight since we went to the oncologist 4 days ago. Her cheekbones were already visible. Her eyes were so deep. She’s so dark and her hair was oily because she does not have enough strength to take a bath. It sucks to see mom like that, especially for a person who takes a bath for more than an hour. 

I told her to be stronger because she will take her chemo in a couple of days. Then she dropped it. She does not want to take medications anymore. She told us that she’s not stopping the fight but for her to undergo chemo again given that Liver Cancer is hard to treat is no longer practical. 

I did not expect that. I was hopeful for the chemo treatment and the shrinking of her tumors for a potential liver resection. But that’s her body. That’s her journey. That’s her fight, not ours. This is the decision which is difficult to fathom and digest. And it’s not even anyone’s decision to make. It’s hers. 

After that, my dad and I had this heart to heart talk. He cried. It feels like 2018 again, when mom was first diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer, which she survived for 2 years. My dad accepted mom’s fate except the suffering that goes along with this fucking disease. He is the caregiver. He can see mom’s pain all the time, while I just have nightmares about it. Dad is super strong. 

That’s what I don’t want to see. Her suffering. In 2018, I prayed that if God will take my mom, let it be quick. Like a heart attack. Or death while sleeping. I know fucking cancer. It’s hideous. It’s horrible. It will literally eat you from the inside out til your are just bones, sores and skin. It will take your jolly good life away. But again, there’s no easy way to die. But the body knows how to. 

People would say “spend time with her”. I have a different relationship with my mom. I am generally an awkward person and opening up to her, being sweet is just unnatural. I usually have deep convos with my dad. Mom and I would often shout at each other on the phone, but that’s a normal thing to do. That’s how we talk. Mom knows I don’t want to see her like that. I don’t even need to tell her. Or anyone. My cousin told me that the last time she had a convo with mom, she told him that Darby doesnt want to see me like this. I never even told her that. But that’s maternal instinct. 

Earlier, before I left the house, I said goodbye to my grandma. She was 80 something. I stopped counting because she’s a badass and she’s ageless. She was a survivor too. Stage 3B Cervical Cancer. She survived the 5-year mark. She’s strong as fuck! She told me that she’s praying for my mom, that I don’t have to worry about her and that everything is going to be ok. It was a comforting situation, but in all honesty, it’s not going to be alright. And it’s fine. It’s fine that way.  Who says things should always be alright? Nothing is alright in this world right now but it’s ok. And that is comforting. That all of us are suffering right now. And ironically, that’s beautiful. Suffering and pain allows us to grow. It allows us to be alive and experience this beautiful human experience. I am more alive now more than ever. Life is ironic. 

Whatever you are feeling right now, wherever you are, whatever problems you are facing, you are not alone.