Monday, September 22, 2014

Interviewing My Mother

What was it like dying?
As the cancer seared through your body
            Did you still find time to smile?
As your lungs became the battle ground
            Between healthy and mutated cells
Did life still have meaning?

Radiation turned my skin red
My beautiful hair, my source of pride,
Finally came out, falling onto my pillow
As if my body itself was weeping
Your aunt came over and shaved my head
                        It was time for wigs

But I had a smile on my face
when you got off the bus that day,
An unexpected surprised that
wasn’t unexpected, after all

There were five of you, three of blood, two of love,
my beacons of life
You were only newly ripped from the womb,
But in so little time, you learned the lesson of death
            One I taught you
But my life had meaning, how could it not?
I had all I wanted in life.
After all, I had you.
            It just wasn’t enough to live for
Dying wasn’t so bad, once you got past the grief
            My body, it ached. Walking became difficult
How could I fight it any longer? My brain turned to mush
            Fleeting memories of better times,
And my body…oh how heavy it felt
            Even after losing my breast
It still felt heavy, as if my bones turned to stone
            But we had fun, despite the war
Raging inside of me. Your grandmother,
            She would stand beside me, inappropriately grabbing my breast
The one that was no longer there
But we all laughed. It was funny, it was naughty
And if we couldn’t poke fun at my situation
I’d be dying in a different way

For two years I fought, and then I was cleared
            I wasn’t dying anymore.
The cells were gone and it was time to recover
            Time to move on
I made jokes, talking about how my new breasts
            Would be bigger than yours
But it wasn’t in my cards. My cancer came back
            Or it never did leave
Only this time it perforated my lungs
            My liver, my brain
I would have been on chemo for life
            And radiation for sure
A red, shell of a person is what I would have been
            But I didn’t have it in me, not anymore
The battle became to fierce
            I withered away before your eyes
A rose fighting for life in the warmth of Summer
            With their insides turned to ice
I wish I could say I had a glorious end
            One filled with trumpets and singers
A real menagerie, but it wasn’t
            It was in the living room
Surrounded by my family, but confined to my bed
            Where I found out what it truly was like
To finally be dying
            It was where you found out

What it felt like to die