Monday, March 23, 2015

Sometimes, You Just Know.

This has been a blog post I've been avoiding. I know it's a necessity for a multitude of reasons, mostly to be therapeutic -- but I also realize that in upcoming months I'm going to need all the support I can get. And since "book friends are the best friends", I'm sharing this chapter in my life with y'all.

3 weeks ago, my mom went to the ER for back pain. Not a little back pain, like she was popping Vicodin like breath mints (in their allowed time frame), and couldn't straighten to a standing position kind of back pain.

A little back story on my mom: she's not really one to complain, and she's terrible at taking care of herself. She's a go go go type of person, that has never really rested as much as she probably should, and like everyone else in the world has a tendency to Band-aid the problem and move on. Like, oh, I have a headache -- Advil will fix it, I've got too much to do.

Well, in her case, that has proved to be catastrophic. We don't know, and probably will never be able to pinpoint the exact moment that things should've been taken more seriously, when her aches and pains were actually a problem rather than a nuisance. Just heed my words when I say: if your body hurts, there's a reason. Go get it checked out.

3 weeks ago, she has a CAT scan, and they found a few "spots" but were seemingly unconcerned. They were actually going to release her and send her home. Thank God there was a doctor with some sense, who took a second look and listened to his gut and said, no -- I'm admitting you.

By Tuesday, there were more tests. The spots became classified as lesions that were located on various vertebrae, and a 3.5 cm mass was identified in her lung. By Wednesday and Thursday, more tests were performed including an MRI, and a biopsy to determine what they thought they were dealing with. But we all knew. It was unspoken, a tense current underlying every unsaid word, every space between texts, every amount of silence that passed.

By Friday, they had started radiation, and I now know that she was classified as crisis. An emergency. An exception to the no radiation on weekends rule. Attendants were called in to perform this procedure Friday, Saturday, and Sunday because there was no other option. It was that necessary.

Y'all, this was a heavy week for me. For my family. Because at this point, even though there was no official diagnosis because the test results that mattered wouldn't be confirmed until sometime the next week. But you just know. You know when they tell you that there's a mass in the lung, and lesions on vertebrae and her pelvic bones, and words like metastasized and such are thrown around like normal vocabulary. You know.

Before we ever knew that things were so serious, I'd made plans to go to Austin Book Fest. Hubby and I needed a weekend away, I had friends and fellow authors I wanted to meet, and I knew this was a great opportunity to network. My in-laws were going to be keeping both kids, including our sweet daughter who copes with food allergies for the first time in the 17 months she's been around. I wrestled with guilt of still wanting to follow through, but I was encouraged by my mother-in-law that I needed this time to prepare for what was coming. My husband and I needed time to fuel and charge ourselves and be ready for whatever the future holds because we knew that no matter what, it wouldn't be easy. So we went. We left early Saturday morning (and I ended up being 2 hours early since I wasn't in the best headspace in the world), and I spent most of the drive there in a complete funk, trying to wrap my brain around what was going on, what was coming, and most of all, not feeling like the worst daughter in the world. Because I didn't tell anyone but my in-laws that I was going. I needed this weekend to be about us and about me, and I needed to be selfish. It's not something I do often, but I needed it then.

I'm so glad that I did. So glad. I met wonderful blogger friends (Abby O'Shea and Ana O'Rylee of Not Your Mama's Romance) I'd met a few months ago online, and they kept my brain busy. They pulled me around the signing and to authors when I'm sure I was completely blank-faced, and overwhelmed, and they just smiled and kept me afloat. I'm sure that they don't even realize how much they helped, but they did. I got to meet several other people in person that I'd met online and went out to Downtown Austin with a sweet author friend (Ashley Christin) and my hubby, and got to party with Le Freak. It's amazing how easily online friends can translate to real-life friends so seamlessly. I branched crazy far outside my comfort zone, and it paid off tenfold. I made new friends that unknowingly helped me through what had the potential to be a nightmare of a weekend, and kept my mind off my problems.  I'll be forever grateful.

It's amazing how all these little things added up to what is my best memory of 2015 so far, and is this wonderful little reminder of hope and joy in a time where things are so uncertain, so terrifying, so life-altering.

The journey home was a long one -- not necessarily because we had too much fun (we did), we didn't miss our kids (we did), we didn't want to come home (we didn't... not really), but mostly because all of this was looming on the horizon. God knew what He was doing when he shoved ABF in front of my face, because on Tuesday, we got the official confirmation that she has stage 4 lung cancer. Stage 4. And, she's also got two teeny tiny lesions on her brain. Excuse my French, but this shit is everywhere.

It's almost two weeks to the day later, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around this news. My mom will be 54 in August. She's still young. My kids are 3.5 and 1.5, and they're still making memories with their Gigi. We aren't done expanding our family yet. There are so many things left in life to experience, and in the span of a week... my life will never, ever be the same.

Somedays, I think the only thing keeping me sane is writing. Reading amazing books put out by author friends of mine. Writing some more. Focusing on my plans for future books. Searching out covers. Making teasers. Researching bloggers and promotional companies, author signings. Making plans.

I'm editing this (which I'll probably do a couple of more times as things come to me) to include how incredibly thankful I am for Kishan Paul and her friendship. I'm so blessed that God saw that I needed not only a friend throughout my writing journey, but one to make me feel less crazy on this journey called motherhood, and even more so during this new chapter of my life. She's been the most amazing, non-judgement, encouraging sounding board throughout this, and I can't not include her in this post. I can't even count how many times she's messaged me to make sure I'm doing ok, to just drop a line to say "I'm thinking of you", and words can't even express how much it means to me. I'm so thankful for the people in my life right now.

Please keep me, my mother, my husband and kids, my sister... my whole family in your thoughts, in your prayers... Don't hesitate to send me funny anecdotes, silly messages, words of encouragement, anything because y'all, this is going to be a battle and I need all the funny and positive and love I can get, and then some.

Thank y'all!