I remember, it was warm and sunny, there were expensive desserts that made the adults shiver whenever the bill came around, there were lovely wine and delicious cheese. Am I here to tell you about my holiday? Oh no, no, it gets darker than this. Way darker. Imagine a parasitic monster, born from your own blood without you even realising it. It emerges suddenly from deep within and proceeds to eat you alive from inside out. It then spreads further, grows larger and there is no cure. You may think this is all fiction but this is not the case. This is indeed a living nightmare for some, a battle for survival even. Holidays and disease do not even match but somehow in this story the two linked together. The nightmare started as the paradise ended.

A week after a lovely holiday has ended, it is time to return to the usual daily routine. Studies, university and work for most people. It was in the evening, I just returned home from uni. Sitting inside a damp, silent room where time stopped for me in that moment when I heard those words. “Your mother has cancer…”. My cousin was the first to inform me, she said it happened so quickly during the morning. First came a sharp pain in the chest then followed by vomiting and passing of blood, as black as tar. Mother was rushed to hospital, all that occurred when I was at uni. I didn’t want to believe it at first, I wished it was all a lie, I really do. Time stopped and everything froze as your heart sinks to the depths of the abyss. It was indeed suffocating, compressed and the feeling of being trapped within your own rib cage.

The next day, everyone was acting normally, doing their daily routine or I thought they were doing so. It was surreal, like the big news didn’t faze anyone and they continued working like machines. I did notice their emotions, lifeless and soulless without a cause or motivation. It felt different despite them doing their usual activities, it had no life in each action they performed. I guess they wanted to erase the harsh reality, to believe it was a lie but it kept crawling back into their minds. My mother was distressed, a very different person with every memory and emotion going through her head. This is the consequence of hearing such news and it was only the beginning. Treatment haven’t even started and the family is carrying tons of emotional weight in their heart and soul. It was a silent scream that no one could hear, it doesn’t destroy a person’s ability to hear but it destroys their mind.

During treatment, my mother lost the strength to even stand up, strands of hair flaked off her head from the intense medication. The rough bumps and grooves of her skull is visible. All this hardship and pain she had to endure yet the cancer cells just seem unfazed. It’s depressing to see, how our biological system of pure complexity and awe. A network of interconnected systems falls down on their knees to something so small, a betrayal of their kind, a rebel. This is before surgery have even begun. The plan is to cut a 40 centimeter long opening down along her torso. To remove the whole stomach and form a newer one using the small intestines. The process itself is estimated to take 8–10 hours. That thought, is unimaginable, when fear threatens to rip out your mental sanctuary and feast on your last lingering hope. It then throws it back up and hands it back to you in its cold bare hands. You can do nothing but stare, wait and wait…. continue to wait. Beg for time to listen, wish for the endless infinite illusion that is time to pause as you cradle onto the dying hope. Whatever it is, we all want this faint hope to linger. We don’t want time to go on, we want to slow it down as we dream on past memories.

The machines support the flesh, the pillar that have been carrying the burden and hardship collapses. The new blossom grows to become an iron keep, to shelter and guard the broken column. I waited but I dearly wished to visit mother, the hospital haven’t rung us and yet we waited until the evening. Enough is enough, we must go, we must see her. My father, the supporting pillar of the family let out a roar, the cries of a broken soul. The roles have reversed, we kids are now the strength that shall calm the fury and to build a stronger foundation. He can’t handle the sight of my mum hooked to machines and left the room, I placed my hands on his shoulder in silence. I too understand the feelings brought up, I try my best to comfort. My mother’s first words were, “where are the kids?” Despite being in a weakened state, she does not care about herself, all she wants is to see her children. To see me, whatever it is and wherever she is, she will wait to see me.

A simple sight of hope is all a that a person needs to cleanse their fears and demolish loneliness. I never knew that a presence can mean so much, that we young, useless, little, baby fish is important to the battle scarred sharks of the oceans. Weeks, days and hours passed. Step by step, slowly and steadily, we wait for the monster to fade. This isn’t all about surviving a battle but a test of endurance, to be calm and be in control. Yet those that are climbing the jagged mountains gain motivation simply from you being there, to see them succeed and to let them know, all that is not in vain. My mother recovered through her journey, she was given another chance. Her journey may not end and she may have a long way to go but I’ll be there. We all will be there and that is the most important thing. Through unity and communication, hope is an endless beam of light.

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