Life as an Extreme Sport

the weight of time

As I may or may not have mentioned, I’m back in Portland for a few weeks. This is a scheduled trip – no catastrophic issues have come up.

Time is one of those things that we exist with and in, and it’s hard to step back and see just how much it controls. Not something so simple as what time a meeting is, but the big things. I’ve seen this lately, as I watch Mom struggle with one appointment after the next, new tests, waiting for results. Everything is a waiting game – waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for the results of the tests on the fluid, waiting for tests on the lumps, waiting for the interpretation of the CT scan, even waiting for the effects of chemo to hit. After every hurdle cleared comes the next, and each one has this guillotine above it, just waiting.

She’s trying so hard to be brave, to be strong, to fight and remain optimistic. But this upcoming CT scan is looming large. They’ll compare the results to the baseline, and have empirical data on the progression, or cessation, of the cancer. She wants, she hopes, for good news, but is terrified of bad. And I keep trying to remind her that there’s also holding steady, which would be better than bad.

And I feel guilty, because when my mother is leaning against me, crying and clutching my hand, I give her the hope she’s looking for. I tell her that she hasn’t had her lungs tapped and drained since December, that she hasn’t been complaining of as much pain or discomfort, that she has more energy, she’s been feeling better, has more colour in her face. I do my best to hand her every shred of hope I can find, as I wipe away her tears, and bite the inside of my lip and wonder “what if we’re wrong? What happens if we do get bad news after the CT scan, after I – we all – have spent this time reassuring her as best we can? What then?”

What then?