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| All Out. |

I just completed my book review blog entry and had every intention of clocking out at 1,350 words. I am tired, utterly exhausted and yet, as I scroll up and down my main homepage I am struck by how impersonal my blog is, how safe my posts are and how disconnected they remain from the thoughts that play like a record inside my head currently, at all hours of the day and night.

I am fully aware that there is a fortress that surrounds my heart and the same hands that built that wall have not been allowed to type and leak the secrets that I currently hold inside.

But what if-

What if the release promised a sense of comfort? What if I could finally get some sleep after letting, perhaps, just one uneasy sentiment escape?

What if, tonight, I could truly find a confidant in this sprawling, blank canvas?

I must admit, its been a while.

I still hear typing keys.

Clack, clack, clack.

It’s a sound that infuriates me, even now, two weeks later.

My mom came out of remission in November of 2017 and although it caused the entire family to hold their breath, we were hopeful for positive outcomes. My mom was a fighter, overcame Stage 1 breast cancer and then Stage 4 ovarian cancer before our very eyes. She was seasoned at beating the odds and everyone felt strongly that this round would be no different- just another mountain to climb. Another marathon to run.

That same holiday season, my father lost his job and the necessary insurance funding to support my mother’s treatment. Compelled to do something, I launched a GoFundMe account in January of 2018 and raised nearly $15,000 to assist my family with stem-cell therapy treatment, healthy grocery options and dietary supplements, doctors appointments. My mom had made the decision take a natural, holistic approach to warding off cancer after chemo drastically diminished her quality of life during prior treatments.

And her alternative lifestyle seemed to keep her tumors from multiplying or increasing in size. She became a vegan, began Vitamin C infusion treatments, worked with a naturopathic doctor and measured her progress with periodic scans and bloodwork. The Spring came and went, my father got a new job, summer was blessed with incredible memories made on the Connecticut shoreline, on my Northern Virginia back patio, under the stars and beneath the roof of my childhood home.

But then, there was pain. And weight loss. And suddenly, my mother was faced with only one option for continued survival: Chemotherapy.

It was something that she did not want to do, but in effort to increase her number of days and the possibility of making it to see my sister’s wedding in June, she bravely committed to giving the harsh treatment another chance.

Clack, clack, clack.

I knew that things were not good. My dad was never one to beckon me up i95 and return to the small town back roads of Connecticut: Hell, our furnace blew a few years ago and he forced me to stay put in Virginia while my family pieced together the soot-saturated disaster they still called home. But the moment I heard hesitation in his voice when I asked about making the drive, I solidified plans to shoot up the East Coast that evening, husband and dogs in tow.

My mom had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon and my dad recorded the session, then called a family meeting when everyone was able to congregate in the living room.

Clack, clack, clack.

I sat with my feet up to my chest on the couch as I listened to the doctor type like she was in some sort of word count contest. “Let me just access your chart,” she began.

No hello. No, “How are you feeling?”

I witnessed, for the first time, the lack of support my mom had been receiving from her doctor and my throat immediately went dry, wondering if there was ever another type of treatment that could have been administered. That could have moved the pendulum in the other direction.

Clack, clack, clack.

“I’m afraid there are no next steps,” the doctor said, matter-of-factly.

My mom’s voice quivered. “I knew that was going to be your diagnoses; You inferred that on your voicemail. We’ve run out- of options?”

My mind started to spin.

No next steps. News in a voicemail. An unknown timeline. Hospice care. Move up the wedding.

Horrified, I stole a glance toward my sister. She cracked and her tears started to fall in a way that broke my heart in two.

I swallowed hard and isolated my pain-

And I tucked it away. Stuffed it inside the retreat that I built for myself as coping mechanism. Assembled a wall while sitting on the living room couch, held back tears so that I could proclaim my strength and be a beacon of light for a family that was quickly losing their way.

I sit here tonight and wonder to myself…

What if this fortress crumbles?

What if the light goes out?

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