“Chlo, get your butt in here so I can start the movie!”
“All right, all right. Calm down Mom, I’m just grabbing some popcorn.”
I collect the two bottles of water from the counter and the bowl of popcorn into my arms and make my way out of the kitchen to join my mom on the couch in the living room.
Tossing her one of the bottles of water, I plop down next to her and pull an edge of the blanket she has draped over her lap onto mine as well. “Okay, play it!”
“God, I haven’t seen this movie in so long. Such a classic.” Mom muses as the opening credits of The Breakfast Club begin to roll. It really is a classic.
“I watched it last week,” I admit with a laugh.
“Why didn’t you say so before? We can watch something else?” She offers.
“No, it’s fine Mom.” I tell her sincerely. I don’t know if it’s because I love this movie so much that I could watch it every day and never get sick of it, or because I just want her to enjoy her night, but I really do mean it.
“Okayyy,” she sighs while looking at me waiting to accept her offer.
“Just shut up and watch the movie.” I tease and stick my hand in the bowl of popcorn.
We get half way through the movie when I notice Mom is drifting off. I throw a piece of popcorn at her but she doesn’t budge. I smile to myself when I grab a handful of kernels from the bowl and throw them. Once again, she doesn’t even flinch.
“Mom?” No response.
Damn, she must be passed out.
“You little stinker,” her eyes open abruptly and she grabs the half eaten bowl and dumps it on me. We both start laughing so hard that I can barely see through the tears in my eyes.
“Oh goodness, Chloe.” Mom says through her subsiding laughter and holds her stomach.
“You okay?” I frown when I notice her pale face.
“Yeah, all good. I think I need to hit the hay. Finish this tomorrow?” She nods towards the television.
“Uh yeah… Are you sure you’re okay?” It’s only seven at night… even for her this is early.
“Chloe, I’m fine.” She reassures me. “I’m just exhausted. All of this chemo is starting to catch up to me.”
She offers me a comforting smile while pulling me into a tight, well as tight as she can manage, embrace. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too, kiddo. Sweet dreams.” She kissed the top of my head before heading to her bedroom. “And clean up the popcorn!” She throws over her shoulder.
I will myself not to worry about her as I pick up each kernel of popcorn on the couch and floor. She’s had cancer for almost four months now, and she’s stronger than anyone I know, but that doesn’t stop me from being concerned about her 24/7… She’s all I have left.
After our mess is cleaned up, I decide it was probably for the best that she turned in early. This calculus exam tomorrow is going to kick my ass if I don’t get some studying in.
“Mom! I’m leaving for school, call me if you need anything!” I yell down the hall to her room… No response.
Is she still sleeping? This chemo must really be getting to her. She’s normally up at the crack of dawn. Not that it isn’t normal for someone to be sleeping past seven in the morning, it’s just unlike her.
With her being sick, I can’t help but panic slightly. I take a deep breath as I walk into her room and see her still sleeping on her bed.
“Mom, sorry to wake you, I just wanted to tell you I’m leaving.” I whisper as I lean down to press a kiss to her cheek.
“Okay, have a good day Chloe.” She smiles, but her eyes stay closed. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Mom.” I return the smile. Relief washes over me as I go back to my morning routine. It really is amazing how she can remain so strong and composed through all that’s going on. She’s had a lot of shit thrown her way, but she never let’s it break her down. She always says I have her strength, but I don’t think she realizes that she is my strength.
“Babe, Connor’s having people over tonight. You’re coming right?” Grant asks just as I’m about to get out of his car.
“Shit, I forgot about that…”
“Chloe, it’s Friday. C’mon.” He sighs.
“I know, I know, it’s just, my mom has an early appointment tomorrow and I don’t want her to be home alone all night. Im sorry babe, rain check?”
He groans and runs his hands through his wonderfully thick, dirty blonde hair. “Only because I love you,” He smiles.
“I love you too. Please be careful tonight.” I lean over to kiss him and he gives me a swift nod. He’s been my boyfriend for almost one year, but he’s still a seventeen year old guy… you can never be too sure.
Once he pulls away from my house, I walk up the sidewalk excited that it’s finally the weekend. For the last few months my weekends have basically consisted of doctor’s appointments and quality time with my mom, but I’ve come to prefer those more than my old party-going self.
“Mom, I’m home. Do you want something to eat?” I yell as I search through the fridge for anything to satisfy my own hunger.
“Mom?” I yell again. She’s probably out back gardening or something. Ever since she got sick, she had to quit her job because she was getting so weak and couldn’t keep taking time off, so she usually spends her days hanging out here, tending to her beloved home.
I grab a bottle of Vitamin Water from the fridge and walk through the house in search for Mom. I pass the living room… not there. I pass the bathroom… not there. I pass the glass door leading to our backyard… not there. Then I notice her bedroom door is still shut. Damn, if she is napping then I need to ask Dr. Wells if it’s normal for her to be so tired all of a sudden.
“Mom, I was just going to make a sandwich or something, do you want me to make you—“ Oh no.
No. This can’t be happening.
“Mom!” I scream and force my wobbling legs to run over to her bed where she’s laying face down with a small pool of blood surrounding her head.
“Mom, please wake up,” I cry. “Mom please,” I shake her cold body.
I press my ear to her chest to search for any heart beat… any sign of hope. Nothing. I press my fingers to the pulse point on her neck. Nothing.
“No, please… God, no.” I sob and wrap my arms around her hoping she’ll wake up.
I knew this day was coming, but it wasn’t supposed to come this fast. This isn’t happening, I keep telling myself. This is all just a nightmare, I’ll wake up and my mom will be here still.