Mom didn't want to die.

She found the energy


To get to the clinic

For another appointment.

Only to find out

Her blood work was too low.

No chemotherapy.

The disappointment

I saw in her face

Broke my heart. 


It happened twice in a row.


Mom knew what it meant.

We all did. 

The chemo was killing her. 

Mom was still willing

But her body was not. 


Mom never complained. 

She didn’t want

Anyone to make a fuss.

She didn’t want us to worry.


One day she asked me what ‘chemo brain’ meant.

I thought she was joking.

I was immediately ashamed.

She was reading an article

About the correlation

Between chemo and brain function.

Mom had chemo brain. 

But she didn’t know until that moment.


Eventually, she became simply exhausted.

Her conversation left. 

Her hair lost its shine, colour and life.

Her eyes watered constantly.

Her lips were thin.

Her skin became transparent.

The chemo was erasing her.


She walked slightly crouched over.

Her arms always crossed in front of her body

As if trying to hold herself together.

She took daily pain medication

She slept a lot. 


The chemo sessions drained her.

More than once

She was put in the private room

As she required oxygen

Or some other medical intervention

During the treatment.


I started picking her up at the door.

She just didn’t have enough energy

To walk to the car.


I started helping her into the car. 

She just didn’t have enough energy

To open the door.


I started helping her with her seatbelt.

She just didn’t have the energy

To do it up.


I started crying on the drive home.

She just didn’t have enough energy

To stay awake.


When she was strong

I was strong for her

Now she was weak

And I needed to be stronger for her.

I told her she could stop the chemo

I told her she didn’t have to do it anymore

I told her we would understand if she wanted to stop.

She looked at me

Her eyes full of tears

And said, “Then what?  I am not ready to die”

It broke my heart.

Because she was willing

To do anything she had to

In order to live.


But it wouldn’t matter.


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