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Daniela Bustamante Daniela Bustamante
Recommendations: 10

I see her as I go.

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She had a friend.

A vague version of what I went through dealing with my mother having cancer.

The tension is powerful, I hold back from pushing everyone out of the way, running out in the street, and letting a car destroy me. The conversations of those who are surrounding me are just a blur… no one knows how I feel.

(5 months earlier)

“Wow! What in the world is that?’’ I asked my mom.

‘’Blood clots’’ my mom says. ‘’Call the ambulance will you?’’

Now these things aren’t normal right? I mean she’s throwing up blood clots… what can possibly be going wrong. My mom is getting rushed to the hospital while I have no idea what the hell to do… I mean, someone explain to me what’s going on please?!

With the ambulance in front of us, my brother and I rush to the hospital. We have skipped about every red light we can encounter, I’m guessing that at this point not even a ticket matters.

As I sit in the hospital room with my mom, I can see the pain in her eyes and I wonder why does she make it seem like nothing is wrong? I look at her and she looks at me and smiles… I justflash a fake smile at her.

I don’t like hospitals, well I actually never have but now I have to suck it up for my mom. The doctor opens the curtain that’s to my left and I see in his hands a long white tube. Now you can only imagine what’s going through my mind. My main question is ‘’what in the world are they going to do with that?’’

The Doctor explains to my mom what the tube is for and everything becomes a blur… the only words I hear are tube, throat, swallow, blood clots… I am asked to please step out of the room or at least outside the curtain. I sit there and wait… wait for what? I have no clue myself.

I hear my mom scream off in the distance and all she keeps saying is that she can’t do it! The tube was put through her nose and down her throat in order to remove the blood clots.

Screaming after screaming… all this screaming is driving me insane! I squirm in my seat, looking for an escape because at this point I want to burst out into tears but I AM NOT WEAK! I cannot show any signs of weakness, I need to remain strong not only for myself but for my mother. In my mind, I run over to my mom, rip the curtain that is separating us and relieve any pain she is in and then… I snap back into reality and see myself just sitting there with a blank expression with tears in my eyes that are being held back for no reason.

The process was over with and we were just waiting for my mom to be released.

The days continue normal peaceful if you will say. The routines continue, my mom takes me to work with her early in the morning and then later on drops me off at school. We eat breakfast together sometimes but everything is rushed. Church, we still go… everything is the same yet I feel like someone isn’t telling me something… someone isn’t telling what’s going. It’s like they’re all robots around me and they all put a smile… like if I don’t know... please I’m the master of smiles that hide the truth. I know my mom is sick, I just don’t know exactly what it is… I wake up again to another one of those rushes to the hospital. My mom isn’t throwing up this time though; she says she feels sick, stomach pains to be exact. Once we get to the hospital, they put her in an emergency room. I stand there with her along with my brother’s mother-in-law and we wait. I grab my mom’s hand and just rub it down because her hands are cold; she turns and gives me a smile. As soon as she turns back, I see her eyes roll back and she turns pale; white. It’s like if someone had switched the color on her skin, it was all in a matter of seconds. I let go of her hand and step back and watch as thenurses rush in, it’s like my world had turned into slow motion; I just see everything in slow motion and my mother is rushed out. The room is empty and I stand there like a zombie, the same scene replaying itself in my head over and over…

They said my mom needs some blood in her so I guess they’re going to put some in her. That’s a scary thought, I mean would she have died without that blood; this could’ve been the end, thank God it wasn’t. I sit in the waiting room, looking around to find something interesting and nothing. I get called back into the room and there is my mom again with her huge smile…

School… school is nothing for me anymore. I don’t go to school that often now. I try to help as much as I can. She’s been very weak lately and I feel that I need to put my part in. I’ve washed the clothes and picked up for her. Little details count, especially when you’re an eleven year old girl that just found out that her mother has cancer… I honestly don’t know what to think, yeah I’m sad but I hope that she will be healed.

Every day is something new; I live my life like any other kid. What can I really do? I see my mom as the days go by, weaker, and yet stronger. Stomach cancer is exactly what she has… you know my mother has always been very stubborn. She may be in pain but she rather take it like a man than go to the doctors. Every time I see her in pain, it kills me; I know that it has to be some extreme pain whenever she just curls up. Her screams kill me… she cries out for help, ‘’Lord please help me, take away this pain!’’

My mom has always been a good person; I really don’t understand why this is happening to her. She’s so generous; she opens up her home to anyone. She’s just so loving and humble; I really don’t know how she can be so nice. You know what sucks the most? She found out she was sick around the time of her 50thbirthday, may 30th. We were supposed to throw a huge party for her and then all this happens. My mom really doesn’t deserve to get sick… I don’t deserve to see her like this!

My mom and I have always been together, no one can separate us. Seriously, there’s not a minute in the day when we are not together… I totally take that back, of course only when I go to school. I try to cherish every moment. No one has really sat down to talk to me about my mom. I mean she does have cancer, don’t they usually die? I really hope my mom doesn’t die because… that… that… would tear me into pieces; I’m only eleven and I still need her. I pray every day and so does everyone else; we all know she will be healed. My momma is strong!

The days go by and things seem to only get worse. My mom just keeps losing weight, she can hardly eat anymore, if she does eat then her stomach can only handle it for so long before she throws it up. The pain continues as always, she tries not to show it in front of me but I know she’s in pain. I honestly praise her for being strong. This time when she goes to the doctors, she gets a feeding tube.

It’s July and guess what time it is, Time for me to go to Kid’s Camp. All the way in Indio… it’s a little far and I’m sad that I’m going to be separated from my mom but she’ll be fine. I can’t stop thinking of my mom. There’s not a minute of the daywhere I don’t think of her. I told my camp counselors what was going on and they said they’re there by my side for support. That really helps me a lot! I’ve cried just about every night that I’m here and I seriously can’t wait to go back home.

I hitch a ride with some of my friends from church and we head towards the lake for a barbeque. I get off the car and immediately frown because I don’t see my mother anywhere. I am sad but I know later on I’ll see her.

I wait patiently and finally we leave the lake and of course my mom was waiting for me as soon as we got to the church. I run towards her and hug her and she carefully pulls me away and reminds me about her feeding tube; I step back and realize that what I thought was all a dream is actually reality and there’s no escaping it.

Things seem to be getting worse, not even one bit better. My mom’s stomach now fills up with liquid… I know that sounds ironic but the Doctor says that all the liquid she drinks goes down the wrong tubes and it causes her stomach to blow up… literally. Her stomach gets all big and round like if she were pregnant. I’m sure you’re wondering what happens after that… well they drain her stomach out… just liters and liters of liquid come out. It’s depressing to see all this happening.

My mom is losing weight rapidly… I mean she’s skinny. She’s skinny and weak, she can’t really eat. She always drinks those Ensure drinks; they pretty much substitute a meal. She’s like a total different person on the outside but yet on the inside she fights with all the strength she has.

So today my mom is planning to sing a song at church;Agradecimiento, gratefulness.  She has practiced it so many times that it’s seriously stuck in my head now. I hope my mom does a good job because she’s been practicing forever. My dad drops us off at church and of course we would be late. We get off the car and I try to rush in so we can get some seats but that’s when the unexpected happened. I turn around and see my mom on the floor; she fell and hit her head on the concrete. In that moment my heart sank and tears ran down my cheeks as I ran towards her. In that moment I realized that my mom’s strength was gone…

We had some ushers come and help us and we made our way into the church. Everyone stares at us as I go to sit down and my mom walks up to the front and announces that she wants to sing. As she starts to sing, I become deaf and I don’t hear a word she says. I’m in too much shock to pay attention to anything that’s going on. The scene of my mother falling replayed itself in my head over and over… I have nothing to say… my mom gets carried out of the church since she is too weak to walk… the rest goes downhill.

Days ago my mom was admitted into Pomona Valley Hospital. I am with her most of the day. When she’s asleep, I simply sit there and just stare at her… just me and her in the room. When she wakes up, she smiles at me and I just flash a fake smile back. How can I smile back genuinely? How can I even have one ounce of happiness inside of me? She’s a total different person; she’s weak.

One of my aunts decided to come down and visit my mom. My mom hasn’t seen her in years and the moment my aunt walks in the room, my mom’s face lightens up. There is this joy that fills up the room… I swear the room seemed to have gotten brighter. My aunt spends about 4 hours there and then it is time to leave. This  sadness once again fills the room as my aunt begins to cry thinking this will be the last time she sees her sister. ‘’I’ll be alright, don’t worry,’’ my mom says to her.

I try to help my mom as much as possible but at times she just pushes me away. I know that she doesn’t want me to see her like that and she wants to show that she is strong but honestly she needs help right now… unfortunately she is weak.

My mom…. is now in Intensive Care and this situation is only getting worse. She can hardly speak or move and that really worries me. I’m still there by her side at all moments waiting forher to just open up her eyes and start talking and laughing just like the good times we had before. I feel like holding her hand and never letting go because no one… and I mean no one can separate us… except God unfortunately. I grab her hand as it is time for me to leave and say ‘’Mommy can you hear me? Can you? Move your hand if you can… mommy I love you.’’ Nothing for 5 minutes and then she barely moves her hand… my eyes fill up with tears as I tell her ‘’Mommy I love you, I’ll see you tomorrow.’’

September 29th was my first day going back to school… of course it is a little weird for me but I adjust immediately. I stare at the clock the whole day waiting for it to hit 3:15 so I can go to the hospital and see my mom. I walk around the school like a zombie not knowing what to do… I haven’t been here for some time now. The hours pass by so slow and then finally 3:13 on the dot. Our teachers escort us out to the gate and we wait for the bell. My friend Derek comes up to me and says…

‘’Hey! Your mom has been looking for you like crazy, she’s here to pick you up,’’

I look at him and say…

‘’It can’t be my mom, my mom is in the hospital smart one!’’

He takes a step back and becomes speechless. I turn around only to see my sister pop out of nowhere running towards me. She grabs my hand and says, ‘’let’s go.’’

The first person that pops in my head is my mom and my heart sinks to my stomach…

My sister and I don’t say a single word to each other… she drops me off at her mom’s house and then leaves. I can hear her mom crying in the kitchen and honestly at this point there is so many thoughts running through my mind…

5 minutes later I see my dad, my sister, our pastors Jose and Jackie, and my brother’s mother-in-law… they all fill up the living room and tell me to have seat. I have a seat; I look down at my black converse (which by the way I believe I need some new ones), and then look up… all eyes on me… I’m shaking; I really don’t like people starring at me.

My brother’s mother-in-law- begins to talk and says…

‘’ I know this is going to be extremely hard for you to deal withbut your mom passed away at 2:10pm today.’’

I honestly don’t know what to do or show… Am I supposed to fall on my knees and scream like I’m the one that’s dying? Walk to the restroom and cry alone? Do a group hug/crying session? What do I do?!

A smile… a simple smile… to hide all emotions, as always. A smile followed along with tears…

I didn’t even get to say bye to her! This isn’t fair! Life isn’t fair! She’s my mother! I need her in my life! Why couldn’t I have died instead?! Someone might as well have ripped out a piece of my heart!

I cry in my dad’s arms for about 2 minutes and then everyone gives me a hug and say that she’s in a better place. I guess my mother is in a better place.

Every night as I go to sleep, I hope that one day I will wake up as an eleven year old again and that my mother will be alive again and that this so called life of mine is all a dream.

I have learned to see all of this in a positive way…

My mother was always my most faithful friend and always will be. I know that maybe she’s not here in the physical sense but she’s always in my heart. I learn to grow along with my mom. I live my life for her… the strength within me is from her. She’s a friend that I can always count on and now that I am eighteen and about to graduate, it hits me that I don’t have my mother here by my side. I think to the future and imagine the day when I am going to get married and have my first child and how it will only get worse… and then I think on how she’s always watching me and always by my side… and that I have nothing to fear in life. I’m sure my mother is smiling down at me right now thinking ‘’Daniela, I’m so proud of you.’’

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