Several years ago, on a summer weekend when I was still married, the Wasband asked Max to help me weed the front yard. I was busy pulling weeds and realized he was standing behind me, holding an empty bin and weed puller in his hands. “What’s wrong?” I asked him. “I’m not trying to get out of helping you or anything, Mom,” he said. “But it seems to me that if these plants have taken over the yard then they are a dominant species and it’s really not up to us to stop them.” As usual, my Max was right.
Last August, in fact, on my birthday, my mother moved in with me. I had no idea at that time that it was the best birthday present ever. Or any gift. Ever. When she moved in, I had a graveyard of orchids and houseplants on my kitchen counter. And a barren yard. My mother took one – or maybe two – looks, and set to work bringing them all back to life. And she taught me in the process how to make orchids bloom and almost-dead plants come back to life. There are now flowers blooming in my backyard. In fact, every-fucking-thing is blooming in my house and yard.
In December, my mother began telling me that she was hurting. A lot. She had unremitting pain behind her ear and down her neck. After many visits to Urgent Care and to Emergency Rooms, we finally got a diagnosis. Cancer. We are well into the treatment of pills and radiation therapy and chemo. I am so blessed to have a community of friends and family who clatter in daily to help us, no matter what we need. Fixing the house, driving to appointments, loving words, anything, everything. Keeping it all growing and blooming.
My mama is a badass ninja warrior. She told me from the outset, “I’m going to fight.” And damn. She does fight. She fights the pain. She fights the errors of our medical system. She fights back against the inevitable delays. She fights with and against the cure, which is sometimes worse than the sickness.
For all of you who are fighting. No matter how many hours. No matter how many days. Maybe it looks like weeds. But they are still part of the garden. Just like my mom. You are beautiful and blooming and taking over the garden. Keep going. Nothing compares to you.
“I went to the doctor and guess what he told me?
Guess what he told me?
He said girl you better try to have fun
No matter what you do, but he’s a fool
‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
All the flowers that you planted mama
In the back yard
All died when you went away
I know that living with you baby was sometimes hard
But I’m willing to give it another try
‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you.” – Prince