"We all have to stop pretending."
Three hours ago it was three.
"... in her brain".
See I've been saying "Mum has cancer" on and off for the better part of the last four years, and in fact rewind seventeen years and I could say it then too. And sometimes it hits me and it means a lot, and other times it's just how I explain my inability to empathise with some petty drama.
My excuse for feeling like other people's problems are a bit trivial.
I think to myself she's dying as often as I can bear to. Like that'll prepare me.
So when I texted my friend - Mum has cancer in her brain - I cried for forty-five minutes, listening to Hallelujah on repeat. The drive was blurry, but I stayed on the road. I wondered if I was being dramatic.
'In her brain' kept coming back to me.
The liver and the lungs weren't enough.
And now the idea of her getting the all clear and being healthy has become a fantasy. Out of reach.
Another three words.
I find myself unreasonable and impatient with the concern of others. I don't think they care how she is, they just want me to say 'she's fine'. And she's not fine. Fine would be not falling down the stairs. Fine would be able to walk to the supermarket from the car without feeling exhausted. Fine would be chemo and cancer free, prancing through meadows singing about life.
She said to me "I hate that I'll never feel normal again."
I said, "What's normal?"
But she's right to hate it.
Tonight I was singing while cooking pasta, and I made her laugh, and I thought, how much am I going to miss being able to make her laugh like that? And who am I going to call when I get lost? When I forget how to make baked potatoes? When I'm mad at all my friends and just want to talk to someone?
There's no beautiful way to end this. In a few days I'll get used to the idea that there's something on her mind, trying to kill her.
Until the next round of words come along to knock me off my feet again.