She went to sleep with the dawn. Moonglow had become her sunshine, evening her sunrise, darkness her domain. No vampire here. There would be no teenagers waiting to hear of her next literary exploits. Her existence was too real, too inane to elicit such devotion.
Six am the numbers glowed in the early morning hush of the room. Time to get to bed. She’d only have four hours until she had to get up and fix her mother’s breakfast, make sure all was well, begin another day.
There were no doctor’s appointments today, so she might have time to get some work done, finally watch that Netflix video she’d meant to watch for the last two months, and perhaps even take a much-needed nap. It didn’t happen. It never happened.
After going outside to get the mail and smelling the ozone in the air, she flicked through the mail to see if there were any bills or get well cards, and placed it on the table. Then she checked to see if her mother needed anything and after having tended to that, sank into the soft comfort of the chair that held her supplying the only comfort to be had from the pressure of constant care.
The ill wind had blown into their lives months ago and with each day came another southbound train roaring through the dust of forgotten objects, trampled hopes and the fear that seeped and spread across the floor like grease. It was no one’s fault. Cancer is the ultimate boogieman. It came out of the shadows one afternoon in a doctor’s office and had revisited them through cancer treatments and conversations. They’d been overwhelmed by a carousel of doctors, appointments and information all riding up and down without letup, shining behind overly friendly smiles that seemed painted or tainted or something false and foolish.
She wondered if those smiles had been handed out to them, along with their diplomas from various medical colleges and universities. “But perhaps I’m being unkind,” she thought. “They do seem to care. They seem genuinely concerned in helping us find a happy…”
The words trailed off into vapor, along with all the other lost words, plans and dreams that faded away and dispersed inside her exhausted mind. She exhaled deeply unaware of any of this. Her mother needed lunch and a fresh diaper. Diapers had become a much-needed necessity due to the side effects of her third chemo infusion.
After throwing it and its contents away, washing off the remnants of feces from her mother’s bottom and the back of her legs, and emptying and cleaning the potty chair, she washed her hands for the seventh time that day. This had become so commonplace that it had made her a liar to her former self who had never believed she could or would ever do such things without retching or running away in revulsion. But there was no place to run away to. Besides her mother needed her and there was no one else who had made themselves available to help.
True, she could have gotten a nurse or a nurse’s aide, but she still felt able to manage all that was expected her. Even as thoughts of her mother’s death plagued her despite the doctor’s assurance that she was not terminal and was expected to make it, she remained resolved in her duties.
They were champions, the two of them, each struggling to win the same battle, each battle scarred and bruised. They would never be the same again. Cancer had changed them, their relationship, everything. Cancer would always be looming in the darkness like a thief waiting for an opportunity to strike. It had taught them a new language. One in which every word, no matter the subject was grayed in shadow.
Normal would never be the same, even if all was well and the cancer was eradicated. They would have to find a new normal, though new normals were born every day as they made their journey from sickness to recovery.
“This was the true horror show,” she thought. “If only it was as easy as being a vampire.”