Today, I deleted my mother's phone numbers in my Bluetooth display in my car. Every time I pulled up my "Quick Dial" list, it was a painful reminder that I used to call my mother multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times in one day. Part of me still has a fantasy that if I dialed one of these numbers, she would be there on the other end of the line, her usual self, delighted to hear from me. I actually hit send yesterday, and then cut it off before it went to the recorded message saying the line had been disconnected.
Last night, I pictured myself unlocking the door to her house, and hearing her excited voice from the second floor welcoming me. For a just a moment, when I woke up, I decided that maybe I should go there and see if she was really there.
But the reality is that a new version of my mother is in my living room, just steps away from my bedroom. At night, she calls me quietly to her bedside when she needs me. "Amanda, Amanda, Amanda ..." She is never loud, or anxious, just saying my name until I appear in her room ready to assist her with whatever she needs. It is a new relationship tinged with some sadness for me but with tremendous appreciation and devotion from her. A new equilibrium, a new balance of power between mother and daughter, a reversal of roles.
Today, Madeline had her second round of chemotherapy and radiation. She also got a new low-maintenance haircut to stave off the likely hair loss that is to come. She cut her nails to a sensible length and took off the polish. Who is this new laid back person? I hardly recognize her, but she is actually very relaxed and a whole lot of fun. As we hit a bump in the wheelchair today, she said, "It's okay. Feeling the bumps lets me know that I'm alive."
When Madeline gets radiation, they move her to the radiation table in a sling attached to a large crane-like machine called a Maxi Mover. Today, as I watched her flying through the air in this contraption, she said, "Welcome to Disney World!"
More proof that a brain tumor make take the life out of your legs, but it can't take the life out of the girl.
"Feeling the Bumps" is an excerpt from Amanda Lamb's journal chronicling her mother Madeline's 2012 battle with brain cancer. To read more entries, visit Madeline's CaringBridge site, or find out more about Amanda's book, "The Living Room."