Through the eyes of a six-year-old: when mom dies

Warning: Possibly depressing as fuck.

When I remember my mom I remember dress up clothes, lace, crafts, and hands in clay, buttons, glitter and bright colours. I felt comfortable in my own home. Not scared, or on edge. Life was good, life was make believe.

She was short with dark eyes. She had dark hair, a round face and a plump smile. She was drawn to big earrings, and I would try to make her the loveliest ones possible whenever I had the chance. She got very involved with aerobics toward the end of her life and dreamed of becoming an aerobics instructor. When she was at a decent weight, and should have been as healthy as ever, she was dying. She found out after she donated blood and the nurses asked her if she was tired. She said of course, she had two young children, yet they advised her to see a doctor to be safe.

My mom was always in and out of the hospital. I grew accustomed to her having me run to Dad to tell him she was going to faint. I used to get so flustered I’d forget the simple request and have to run back to her repeatedly to ask what it was I was getting him for. I just wanted to eat hot dogs and watch Sesame Street. She told me she had cancer, but I remembered the history of Terry Fox and I knew that when the cancer got to his leg, they made him a prosthetic one. We were sitting on her bed, and she told me the cancer had moved to her liver. I informed her she could just get a new liver like Terry Fox’s new leg. She smiled and said, “Maybe”.

I let a balloon go once, on the way into the hospital. Enraged my dad looked me straight in the eyes and told me that that was the balloon I was going to give to her and now I had no balloon to give to my dying mother. I lived in fear of him, but I knew once I was in those hospital doors I’d be with her and I’d be safe. In due course, the hospital room couldn’t continue protecting me. My dad pulled me into his lap and told me, between tears, “God is going to take your mommy from us.”  I cried watching people file into the hospital room. My me against the world attitude took form: no one truly understood the graveness of the situation. I even believed that some people were there to mock my mommy and me. I couldn’t understand how everyone knew that night would be the night. The nurses told my nonna that when someone is about to die, their fingernails turn blue. I didn’t know of marital problems and my dad’s infidelities. The more people in the room, the more it wasn’t just me and Mommy anymore. It was never going to be just her and me again. Fed up with the people around me, I left the room to follow the nurses around and soon lost myself in the excitement over the importance and newness of the situation.

I once asked my mother why people weren’t naturally smiling all the time and not just when they wanted to express happiness — youthful optimism.

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