The author, right, with her mother Devorah Lang.
The florescent lights glared on the tile floors, and the gray walls of the waiting room surrounded me and my mom. I glanced at my mother — or at least she looked like my mother. It all seemed so casual, I was sitting next to my mom waiting for her to be called for her daily radiation treatment. Realizing where I was and who I was with, I leaned over and gave her a small hug. I hoped that even though her memory was fading, she would still remember I loved her. While in the waiting room something inside me had changed. I had a new perspective on life.
Rewind to two weeks before this, I was sitting in class checking my phone, just like any other day. However, this time it was different. I looked down and I saw that my oldest sister had texted me — an odd and rare occurrence. The text was extremely long and had been sent to everyone in my family. I began to read and the words seemed to slip off the screen and started to circle around my head. I could not quite grasp what was going on, nor did I want to. All I wanted was to delete the text like it never was sent. I did not want to comprehend what was written. I ran out of the classroom holding back my tears as I began to make sense of what I had just been told.
Cancer — my mom (Devorah bas Chana) had brain cancer. That little devil that you watch movies about and seems to be everywhere, yet no one thinks that it will ever affect them personally. But it was affecting me personally, and it was happening right then. It was all happening so fast. My oldest brother had spoken to me and told me that there was no cure. Treatment could only slow down the evil disease. Thoughts kept pouring in. My mind went to my little brothers who were asking me, “Why is Mommy saying funny things?” I did not want all of this to happen; I did not ask for this. Things so simple like my Mom remembering what I had told her the day before became a rarity. What did this mean for the future? I could not fathom what could happen a few years down the road. Emotions and worries took over my life; I just wanted to escape from it all. I wanted someone to wake me up from this horrible nightmare.
While I was gripping onto my mom’s arm in the waiting room — I realized how lucky I was. I had this special time with her in the hospital. It was a gift to feel her arm grasp onto mine as we walked down the hall and to hear her sweet voice speak to the nurse. Seeing her smile as she walked out of the procedure room reminded me that she was still my mother, after all. Little things, like watching her sleep next to me on the car ride home, seemed like bonding time.
I realized that I was lucky enough to get a chance to change my perspective on life before it was too late. Horrible things happen to people all the time, I knew this. My problem was not being blind, it was being naïve — like most teenagers. I was ignorant to the fact that a tragedy like this could affect me so directly. Looking at what I had in the present and appreciating it before it all disappeared was something I never thought I would be doing. I had my whole life planned out and nothing was going to interfere with my future — until cancer happened.
My mom getting sick is not something I am happy about; I am devastated and still coping with the situation. However, I am proud to say that I have taken a tragedy and changed myself for the better because of it. I have learned to accept what I cannot control. Now, when I talk to my mom or any of my loved ones, it means more to me. Small-talk became precious to me — I realized I am lucky to be able to speak to those who I care about.
Like most teenagers, I do not treasure every detail of my life, but I have changed that just a bit. The little things in life make me smile, and I try to appreciate all that I have today. I now understand that those things I had once underappreciated could be gone in a second.