A Chapter from my life that explains my attitude toward my cancer. For me, life changing events are part of living and to successfully navigate our existence, I must always find the glass half full. I have always searched for normalcy, and I have finally discovered the path to joy. Love yourself and others. Notice the beautiful things along the journey. Be selfish and feel the way you want to feel. Own it. Talk about it. Change it if it is causing you to lose focus! Be happy, and during times of grief, tell yourself it okay to feel sad, but there is a light in the future where the pain will fade, and a memory will replace it.
They both sat quietly in the sleek, steel-gray fastback waiting on the light at S.E. 27th and Osage. Silence enveloped the space between them like a heavy quilt blocking the sunlight as it hangs over a window. There hadn’t been any hint of light in their thoughts for months. Rachel looked over at Mama and noticed the wisps of gray hair stringing down her face as it danced in the breeze. The hair showed how Mama had aged. She felt sorry for Mama, but at the same time she was so mad! Life was not fair, and the way Mama smothered her and yet, ignored her was just wrong!
Indifferently, she began to tell Mama about her day at school when she heard the roaring rev of the car next to them. Her eyes moved from Mama’s face to the car next to them. Two taunting high school boys laughed as they playfully revved the engine once again as they sat in a little blue Pontiac.
Anger swelled within Rachel from some deep place she didn’t know. Eyes flashing she nodded her head at the boys, as if waving off their childish dares. She figured they were laughing at her because her Mama was driving her home from school in a car that was faster than any “old lady” should drive. Rachel was jealous of them. They were young, carefree, and driving. She thought she was the only 15-year-old at High School who wasn’t learning to drive!
Seeing Rachel’s storming reaction, Mama turned toward the boys as well. She thought Rachel wanted to drive, but her heart just couldn’t risk the lose of another child. She wanted to protect her last child from everything, and it was her opinion that when a child has wheels, it is freedom…too much freedom. She also feared that if she kept too tight of a grip on Rachel, she would bolt; straight out of the safety zone Mama had built for her.
Mama saw the blazing eyes, and felt that something had to change. Had Rachel been behind the wheel, she would have burned the rubber off the tires to show those boys something! Mama wouldn’t be driving this car if she had but one wish…to have her son back. Was the safety zone the best decision for Rachel? Mama’s pain overshadowed logic. She would not risk losing Rachel, but she would drive that car the way it should be driven!
Mama checked the light. Still glowed red. She winked at those laughing boys. She revved the 351 Cleveland with her foot on the brake. They squawked laughter and rolled their eyes. Revving their engine and laughing hysterically put them at a huge disadvantage.
Green light. Smell of burning rubber. Vvvrrrooommm!
In the next moment, Rachel realized they were a mile down the road in front of Llano Cemetery. Mama burst out laughing and Rachel joined in with genuine emotion. They drove into the cemetery around the east circular road to the huge tree with limbs draping almost to the street. Heavy steps led them to the headstone proclaiming the final resting place of their loved one. Rachel gazed over the green grass wondering if the “thing” inside her would ever go away.
“It won’t, you know.” Mama said aloud as if she read Rachel’s mind.
Trying to sound stoic and 15, Rachel stiffly replied, “What are you talking about?”
“The pain, child. It will never go away.” Mama hung on to her pain like a newborn child. “We will always miss him. There will always be an empty space where your brother should be.”
“But Mama.” Rachel thought, “You don’t understand. I don’t miss him like you do. I miss YOU. I need YOU right now, and you cannot think of anyone or anything else but him!”
Rachel was jealous of her brother because after he had died, Mama didn’t really see or hear Rachel anymore. Also because Rachel had loved her brother, the jealousy made her feel ugly. She didn’t understand these feelings, and each day pain gripped her heart harder. She just wanted her Mama back. Too embarrassed by guilt, she chose not to explain her thoughts. Instead she replied, “I know Mama. I loved him too.
Mama and Rachel hugged as their misunderstood pain of loss made them more distant. They knelt beside the flowers Mama had lovingly put there last Friday, and replaced them with new ones from the back seat of the Fastback. They had come every week for eight months; although, Rachel wished they could make it just once a month now that some time had passed. She felt so selfish, but she just wanted to be normal again.