My mother is the blue of a sun kissed sky after a passing storm.
A cooling blue to soothe a burn. To calm. To heal.
A feather pillow I often leaned upon.
In my childhood, my mother was almost never sick. She was steady in body and mind, a figure of constancy amid the chaos of the day to day. She kept everything straight. She cooked, made appointments, did the bills, and most of all, cared for my sister, father and I holding us together in times of crisis and celebrating us on our happiest occasions. She was a beam of energy, a perpetual player and a strong soul.
My mother went to William and Mary to study acting, so from a very young age I was encouraged to explore my creativity, to imagine and to play. My sister and I would dance around the house in mismatched costumes (we have an attic full of collected gowns, suits and other get-ups, along with boxes and boxes of wigs, gloves, hats, shoes; needless to say my sister and I were always disguised in some way) my mother watching all the while laughing and jumping along. She kept her youthfulness alive, swinging on shopping carts in the grocery store, singing as she hammered away at our clunky old piano and directing us in homemade mini movies where my sister and I would, unknowingly, embarrass ourselves in later years.
It was a real shock when she was called in on the first of September. She had seemed fine that morning, other than the continual tired spell that had been dragging her down slowly for months. For my mother fatigue was just a sign of getting older and I guess I overlooked it since my mom is not one to complain. Nothing could have prepared me for how serious things were about to turn.
The phone rang twice, my dad answered. His face froze and I could feel his body weaken from the inside out. He rushed up stairs shouting to my mother,
“Julie, you need to go to the hospital now.”
She was checking her email.
“Ok, just a second.”
“No,” My dad said, “Now. Your Dr. just called. She got your blood work. You are severely anemic and may need a transfusion.”
I was listening from the hall upstairs. I listen in a lot. It’s a skill I developed as a kid, I really honed my ability to seem like I just passed by and happened to hear something.
I burst into the upstairs office where my parents were. Confused and upset I just stood there as they began to get my Mom’s things together to go to the hospital.
I don’t remember what I said, if I said anything. I just remember feeling hollow, nervous and alone. I stayed at home with our new puppy waiting anxiously to hear any news. There has been a lot more waiting lately.
My mom spent the next four days in the hospital. A time of multiple transfusions, tests, retests, theories, pacing, new theories and finally an answer.
Last month my mom was diagnosed multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
She rests more often now.
Blue is for my mother.