Mum said, “I don’t want to die”

When Mum called to tell me she had cancer I didn’t answer. I looked up from my eggs on toast, registered her name flashing on my phone, and decided that whatever Mum wanted could wait.

It waited until after I’d showered, watched an episode of Orange is the New Black, painted my nails a lurid green, and taken the polish off after discovering it looked foul. By the time I called her back I was late for work.

Mum told me that she had some odd test results and that the doctors might have “found something”. She told me she was frightened and that she didn’t want to die.

I put aside my sense of dread and told her she was being silly. “People get odd test results all the time. And even if there is something they’ll just remove it. Easy.”

I went to work. I sat in a meeting. I realised with some detachment that the hatred I felt for the guy next to me clicking his pen was irrational.

My sister called. “They have the scan back. There’s something in her liver.”

I stared at the computer screen, trying to remember what the liver did. It sounded important.

I have an intense aversion to crying in public, and emailed my boss to let her know I needed to leave.

I explained that if she came over to talk to me about it or even glanced in my direction then I’d make the most horrible scene.

The smiley face at the end of my email was intended somewhere between a “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine!” and “Sorry for the inconvenience”. Continue reading.

Louise Burston is an author, living in Wellington.

Source: The Wireless

Image: The Wireless

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