Ovarian Cancer - Our Journey - Post 11

The second round of chemo started but it didn't take too long to know it wasn't really working.  Mom wasn't feeling any better.  Considering how quickly they had to start her on the next round, she was down a lot more than she was up, too.  She hadn't had a chance to bounce back at all before the next assault on her system happened.

For me, it was so hard at work.  Not because of the extra work, although that was challenging.  What was so hard was trying to adjust to her not being there.  With the benefits plan we have at our work and how old I was when I started and how old Mom was when she started, we always joked that we'd retire at the same time.  It was becoming more and more obvious that plan wasn't going to go as originally designed. 

Days went by, weeks went by.  Summer 2010 happened and I stayed away from a lot of the full family gatherings.  Tension with family stuff kept me away.  My sister gave birth to her 3rd daughter in June and I wasn't a part of any of it.  I was fairly angry and honestly, still am in a lot of ways, that my family allowed her to be the way she is.  The thing that got me was it was she & my brother-in-law who initiated the entire problem and should have taken care of it right away but chose not to.  It took me a long time to admit I had any part in causing the issue.  They started it and they ran from it.  Rather than talking to me, they took the coward's way out.  That's how I saw it and honestly?  That's how it was.  What I didn't do was keep my eyes focused on He who reminds me to be a peacemaker and keeper.  He who reminds me that non-believers don't have the same set of rules I do.  I let my temper flare and I ended up saying things I shouldn't have said.  Justifying it because - well - they started it.  Probably the only thing I can say about it now is I have tried - I have admitted my part in escalating the issue, I have asked for forgiveness.  They choose to hold a grudge and be bitter about it.  That was what made that entire time period so difficult.  That was their choice and my family allowed it.

With that said, I wasn't there for that last 4th of July.  I didn't spend a lot of time with the whole family that last summer.  I would spend time with Mom, at work, etc.  In there, though, and I can't remember exactly when it was, Mom and I had a massive fight about what my sister & brother-in-law had done.  And we had it at work.  I was so absolutely disgusted by all that they had allowed and the straw that broke that camel's back was my mother brought in a picture collage of my new niece and hung it on her desk.  When she was gone, I noticed it and commented on it.  It disappeared immediately.  She told me she had been told I was allowed to know nothing about by new niece.  That did it.  Mom had sided with my sister and I was done. 

It really is hard to talk about now because there are so many facets to this issue and they go back many, many years.  A lot came to a head with that fight and at the end of it I told Mom that while we were at work we had to strictly be co-workers.  We couldn't be mother & daughter.  That family ugliness was totally unprofessional.  She had walked out after that argument without saying a word to me, just walked out the front door and drove off.  I sent her a text asking her if she had quit, telling her that leaving without telling me was incredibly unprofessional and this is where that working together thing was tough.  We had a family fight.  At work.  But there was still work to do and we had to be professional at work.  And she acted unprofessionally because of a family fight...

And I was furious because she used her cancer to try to guilt me into behaving a certain way.

When she came back, that was when I told her we couldn't bring family stuff into the workplace anymore.  That we were strictly co-workers because honestly?  I can't begin to tell you how ripped apart I was that she had chosen my sister.  Actually?  I knew that even if the words were never said, my sister would have taken her girls away from my mother if my mother didn't do what my sister wanted.  My mother was caught between a rock and a hard place and instead of offering her compassion because of that, I chose to behave like a spoiled brat, too.  I wasn't any better than what I said infuriated me about my sister...

It took a couple of weeks but Mom and I did head out, on a Sunday afternoon, to a nearby park and talked through all of it.  We needed that neutral place.  It wasn't just that fight, either.  There was something in our family history that my mother had always said she didn't believe me had happened.  When that subject came up, Mom talked about how hard it was for her - if it had happened, what did that make her for not believing me, not protecting me?  If I had been 20 years younger during that conversation I would have told her it made her a horrible mother.  Instead, we talked about her fear and that what mattered was now.  There wasn't anything to be done about what happened, I just wanted her to believe me.  I asked her - if it wasn't true, why did I hold onto the same story for 30 years?  Why did that particular subject still hurt me so deeply?  If it wasn't true, why wouldn't I just...let it go.  It was me who brought it up - not her.  If it was a lie, why wouldn't I just let it go - you'd think the details would be difficult for me to remember & it would be oh so easy to catch me in an inconsistency but the story NEVER changed.  For just about thirty years I lived with that pain - alone.  Even today, of the people who know the details, the only person who actually believes me is my husband. 

It took that day and a few more conversations for us to be ok.  Or as ok as we were going to get.  It must have gotten through to her and I, though - at the end, she told me she wished she were more like me and I told her I wished I was more like her.  I wish I could tell you the clouds parted and sunbeams danced on daisy petals but it wasn't quite that lovely.  We did clear out tons of eggshells, though and from that day forward we were better, we weren't walking around each other like we were still walking on those eggshells...  I didn't pressure her anymore to confront my sister.  My anger at my sister didn't really dissipate - especially not when Mom would make a comment here and there about how she was still getting treated but I could put it in a different place, if that makes sense.  Mom so desperately wanted a happy family.  She loved her children with an intensity that is hard to describe.  She woke up every day hoping today would be the day we would be the people she dreamed we would be.  She took so much from us, especially her daughters, because she loved us.  I sometimes wonder what our lives would have been like if we had cleared the air years ago instead of trying to beat our position into the other one... 

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