Posted on August 20, 2016



I have heard that word all my life.

If.  If. If.

Recently those two single letters have gained in such significance that their weight has become both daunting and  receptive, like  a hopeful optimism before a coming storm.  And yet the storm that is approaching is not one I will truly be able to experience.  An outsider looking in; I am but a son willing the universe to right it’s course so my mother can be healthy.

She is a fighter, my mother.  In all my literary journeys, in all my life experiences abroad, my mother has proven to have the intestinal fortitude that many can only hope for.  You wouldn’t know it just by looking at her, of course.  Mother, Martha, Maria, Ms. Rodriguez, Great Aunt Martha, whatever name you hear her answer to, she will always respond with that slight tilt of the head and big smile.  She always smiles.  She always laughs.  It is in her nature to love, it is in her nature to give.  She gives to those she loves.  She gives to those she doesn’t even know.  She even gives to those who speak ill of her.  So, to hear the news that cancer was once again a prominent force in her life hit hard.  The selfish little boy inside didn’t think it fair, “Momma doesn’t deserve this.”  But I learned a long time ago, 6 years and a few weeks, to be exact, that it is not about fairness or those least and most deserving.  Life is how we handle what we are dealt.  It’s not about being fair and just.  I will truly never know how tough it is to beat cancer and then be told you have to go one more round with it.  But I do know that the love for my mother endless and that while I can’t tag-in and take a few of the punches, I can be in her corner.  I can take the road trips to Dallas as needed and stop and buy an ungodly amount of donuts while pretending not to get lost in parts of Denton we had never been.  I can be her proverbial rock and at the same time be her youngest son, the one she gets on to when I say words like sh*t and hell.  Over the past week I’ve said, “It’s not about the ‘me’, it’s about the ‘we’,” not knowing what was in store.  And over the past two days I’ve come to realize the extent of my mother’s love in the lives of the people she has touched.  So many have given, so many have prayed and so many more are waiting in the wings to offer their help.  The family she has is more than blood and I am in awe.  The life she has lived has been one of deep love and this diagnosis is a manageable set back that will only make her stronger.  She is a fighter.

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