Confessions of a Single Mom With Cancer Entry #17


It’s Valentine’s Day.

The day dreaded by so many single women. I probably used to be one of them. Then I had kids and it became about school parties, red shirts and class Valentine’s. When I think about it now, I think it’s nice to have a day that forces the expression of love because so many people have a hard time doing that every other day. But maybe that’s because a lot more people are like me, even at my age I have to confess:

#17. I didn’t understand love.

The expression of love not love itself I think is what I didn’t understand until now.

I was released from the hospital two days ago after my major reconstructive surgery- a year, a double mastectomy, 4 chemo treatments, 33 radiation sessions and a lot of sleepless nights in the making. They wheeled me into surgery at 7am and I woke up asking the tech when I saw the clock, was it really almost 8pm?? That’s when the blurred memories start. I spent 2 days in ICU in a similar blurred, in and out state. My blood level and oxygen were low. My blood pressure was maintaining at 78/46. The nurses were working on me constantly, different doctors were in and out. They gave me oxygen as they started discussing with my family the potential need to ‘give me a little blood’. I was actually ‘asleep’ during most of this or at least that’s what it felt like. I was so groggy. I just kept making sure my sister was in the room. Because she loves me more than I love me and it’s her expression that told me, I’d never really understood love.

We want people smiling at us, showering us with gifts. Valentine’s loving us. But my sister’s expression was tired, stressed, intense, concerned. Zero smiles. In my flashes in those days when our eyes would meet, that’s what I would see. But what I was really seeing was her expression of love for me. Deep, soul connected, can’t live without her, going to do anything for her love.

I’ve been blessed through crisis to discover true love. Expressed in so many ways big and small. People who truly love you can’t help but express it and not with a box of chocolates but by:

Coming to the hospital at 5am just to see you for 5 minutes before they wheel you back.

Keeping your kids even when one is an impossible tween who loves her mom so much it hurts her and her fear translates into attitude

No less than 100 text messages between your girlfriends. Sending well wishes, begging for updates, lifting you up in prayer.

Your mom leaning over in the middle of the night to touch your hand to make sure it’s still warm.

Your sister never ever acting like doing even one thing is a burden to her. From emptying your blood drains to doing all the grocery shopping to taking forever just to pick the perfect Valentine’s Day cards for you to give your kids.

Pushing the nurse aside who’s asking you questions like do you know where you are, who’s the POTUS to make sure you’re still with it and asking who was your favorite character when you were little who always wore purple – to make sure YOU were still with HER.

That’s the kind of love I wish upon each and everyone of you this Valentine’s Day. It supersedes romantic love. But I pray the one you’re romantic with loves you that way and vice verse.

I’ve always said if I could just find a man who loves me like my sisters and that was before all this, so I know it’s a tall order. But I also know it’s not impossible and after all this, I finally know it’s not only what I desire. It’s what I deserve. That’s love. I get it now.