Some people get huge families. I got a small one.
Some people get four grandparents. Some people get two. I got one. She died when I was 7.
Some people get lots of siblings. Some people just get one. I got none.
Some people get two parents. I got one. She has stage 4 lung cancer.
When my mom called me last year to tell me her life expectancy was cut in half from the original five years they gave her, I was in my dorm. She told me as if she were just speaking a normal sentence–as if the linguistics and structure of that sentence did not introduce an unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and alarming tone. I couldn’t tell at first if I was disturbed or amazed how shockingly positive she was (it turns out, I was amazed).
I had to ask myself, “Am I going to be alone?” It appeared my world was caving in, suppressing itself. I watched as my boyfriend’s grandparents came to town for dinner. I saw photos of my friends with their siblings. I listened to them call their fathers and ask for money and tell silly stories about their parents–plural. Most of the time it didn’t bother me. Well, at least it didn’t before. But seeing everyone with so much love and support around them, it’s… discouraging. And I don’t want to be discouraged by other people’s happiness, especially family. But.. I was scared. The only person I had left or more accurately the only person I had to begin with in fact-well, I didn’t know how much longer I’d have her. And I wanted to be hopeful because my mom radiates confidence and strength when it comes to things that might make another person crushed.. I just…wanted to believe that it was forever. That she was forever. That she would watch over her grandchildren when I was at work, and she would walk me down the aisle. But sometimes during treatment, she could hardly make it up a flight of stairs. And sometimes, she couldn’t even short distances. It was heartbreaking to see her this way. I worried, who is going to teach me how to buy a house? Or how to pay insurance? Or what insurance I even need? Or how to clean my carpet or start a garden? Who is going to show me how to be a mom? Who is going to sit on the other end of the phone and listen to me cry? Who is going to give me life advice and stop me from giving up?
No one really tells you how hard it is to have a single parent with terminal cancer as an only child. It puts everything into perspective.It forces you to grow up and it makes you vulnerable. I know that no matter what, everyone will always tell you that you are not alone. They will always tell you they are here for you. They will always say, “I love you.” And I get it. I do. But how someone actually makes you feel, will always override what they say they feel about you. For others, on top of parents and family they also get masses of friends and people who stick their neck out for them. That was not the case for me. Everything in my life is compact. My small family. My small friend group. The small amount of people who check up on me. And don’t get me wrong, a lot of times, the simplicity is wonderful. It’s just what I need. I was blessed with the best family in the entire world the same way I was blessed with the most amazing friends and the most amazing partner. But sometimes, when you’re feeling vulnerable, despite all you have, none of those people feel like the right people to go to. Despite all you have, sometimes it can feel like you have very little. Sometimes you go through that strange period in your life where best friends turn into friends and friends turn into acquaintances and acquaintances slip away. Maybe it’s because they haven’t reached out or maybe it’s your own fault for not reaching out. Or maybe, it’s nobody fault and time is just running its course until the right people swoop you up from your valley and take you to the top of the mountain where you can overlook your problems and touch the sky. Or maybe it’s all in your head and your constant stress and overwhelming confusion and frustration are in the way of really there.
Anxiety and loneliness seems to be a common theme among our generation. It’s almost more normal to be anxious and depressed than it is to not be. It’s hard to feel big sometimes. It’s hard to love yourself when it feels like the world doesn’t. When you feel like you’re left to fend for yourself, grow by yourself, entertain yourself, and talk to yourself. I kept asking myself and still do to this day, why would an Earth so loving take away everyone that made me feel loved? It’s hard to make people understand or to care for that matter. Even when I explain, it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the facts. It doesn’t make my mom not have cancer. It doesn’t give me grandparents. It doesn’t give me someone else to help me with money and answer my life questions and more besties to spend the night with you’re pms-ing. It doesn’t make me feel any more loved than before. Because when I do pour my heart out, that’s all it is– a moment in time. A moment that will only remain just that– as a moment. No one will remember it once I go home. My name won’t come up in their thoughts. My presence–my heart, won’t be missed beyond that moment. It’s like.. you’re easily forgotten. You’re replaceable.
Being alone is amazing when you choose it for yourself. It’s damaging when it’s not what you asked for.
I’ve never been one to need attention let alone crave it. But sometimes you have to be honest with yourself. Sometimes you need people to walk in your life and make you feel big. Sometimes you need people to ask how you’re doing– to not just tell you they love you but why they love, and to hug you even when you didn’t ask. People who share with you what you don’t have. To help you when you can no longer help yourself.To see your tears coming before they even fall from your eyes. People whose eyes light up when you’re around.
I don’t have a million family members or a million friends. I don’t have any grandparents. I don’t have any siblings. I don’t have a dad. But I do have a mom. A mom that continues to bless me each and every day. A mom that has given me life advice, who has taught me how to be strong and allowed me to be vulnerable. A mom who has taught me that online shopping doesn’t pay the bills. A mom who has showed up to every dance recital, every piano recital, every band and choir concert and major event. A mom who has cooked me breakfast, lunch and dinner. A mom who has seen the best of me and the worst of me. A mom has kept my writings and drawings. A mom who has driven me to and from school. A mom who was there for me for every unpredictable moment in my life. A mom who has went out of her way to scrape her own cash so I could go out with my friends. A mom who volunteered for every thing.
My mom is my support system. My mom is my coach. My mom is my critic. And my mom is my best friend. And although sometimes it may feel like I don’t have anyone besides my mom, I know that the world is watching out for me. I know that people come and go from my life for reasons I have not yet determined. I know that people may care for me more than they let show. I know that I am loved even when it feels like I’m not. And I also know that my mom has helped mold me into a woman that will turn out just fine. A woman that can be independent. A woman that can be both soft and strong. And a woman that other people will seek to enter their lives. Lately, I’ve a few blessings come into my life and people who I never would have guessed be a real outlet and support for me and for that I can not be more appreciative and grateful. The world works in mysterious ways. I’ve found myself smiling and laughing and bringing out my inner child in front of people who I’ve never been too close with. So when people visit their siblings for spring break and talk about their grandparents leaving them a twenty in their birthday cards or share photos of their group of 25 friends from high school, I will remember that I am not alone. I have my mom. I have my boyfriend. I have my friends. And I’m still just patiently waiting to see who will turn out to be my life’s companion and confidante. I may feel lonely time to time, but I am not alone.