My laptop sits perched warming my legs, and I pray my written words will calm my racing heart. I fear the impending doom of my 3-mile drive to work like the plague. I fear it like the disease I have just watched my mom fight with some unknown super power that I didn’t even know she had. I fear it and begin to tremble as I think of starting the car, putting on my seat warmer, backing into the driveway and connecting my blue tooth. I fear the thought of reaching for my phone to dial mom’s cell number before I have even left the driveway, and not hearing the sound of her comforting voice. I fear the three miles without her eloquent quotes, creating new perspectives for the day and my steady reminder to her that today was all any of us had. I fear that short car ride without my own voice hiding my real fears about her Pancreatic Cancer and the feeling that we were all on the same sinking ship. And yet I wonder, for only a moment, how it will be to not reassure her like I had for the 2.5 years of her continuous miracle that she was the lucky one and was going to beat this cancer.
A lump forms in my throat as my eyes quickly dart to notice the time again. More time. How I needed more time. More time to write. More time to assure myself that I could do this. That I could get in the car alone, without her voice on the other side. That I could face my colleagues at work with her strength tucked inside her soft blue satin shirt I had chosen to wear today. More time to convince myself that today would be the day my mascara would stay in place, rather than leaking beneath my eyes. More time to assure myself that she wasn’t really gone at all, except for that vessel (or so the Rabbi says), that she once arrived in some 74 years ago.
How I just needed some more time. With her.
I can hear my inner voice criticizing me for being weak, for allowing the absence of her body to make me feel so empty. Reminding me that I promised her in the depths of the darkness that she could go…that I was ready. That everything she had wanted to give me, I had already gotten. That everything I needed from her, I already had down deep. That we would be okay. All of us. And that I would make sure we took care of each other. I could hear the confidence in my own voice that day as I held her hand and looked at her face that had grown pale in the last few hours. She had become so weak after 18 days in the hospital yet in that moment I had become her strength. The strength she had given me. Strength that I wasn’t even sure I had. I reminded her of the love all around; the love she had created, the mark she had left on this world.
My mind raced for that strength as the clock whispered it is time to go. Time to gather myself for a short ride to work. To channel her energy in a way that didn’t need the phone, or that fair-weathered blue tooth. With her wedding band on my finger, the watch she wore each day, and the heart she had given me inside the warmth of my chest…she was here.
‘This will be the ultimate life challenge of being present,’ I said to her as I held her delicate hand in mine just a few short days ago.
Now that challenge had become mine and I could hear her tiny voice say, “Play. Because like it or not, it’s the only game in town.”