• Ali Noble

The Day I Discovered My Mom was Dying

This time of year, I always end up thinking a lot about my mom. She died on December 13th, 1987. Wow, just writing that seems so surreal. I was nineteen when she died. How could that have been in 1987? That was forever ago.


Mom had her first cancer removed when I was thirteen. She never really recovered and eventually we found out that she had liver cancer. I had to work that day, right after school, so I wasn't able to go to Mom's doctor appointment for the results of a liver biopsy. I called and called her, so anxious to hear her prognosis. Eventually I reached her and she said, "I'm okay, baby. I'll see you when you get home."


I was so relieved. Just...so happy she was okay.


Her live-in boyfriend, Bosco, picked me up, which he often did when I had to work past eleven and the busses had stopped running. I hated Bosco with a passion so profound, that I can still recall how being near him made me feel. I sat squished against my door, putting in as much distance between us as possible.


Almost as soon as I got in the car, Bosco started in. Going on about how they said she was dying but he thought it was bull and on and on and on.


All while I was dying inside because Mom told me she was okay! But now Bosco was saying she might only have three months to live?


I couldn't talk to Bosco about it, so I gripped the door handle and wished he'd drive faster.


When we finally made it home, I rushed to Mom--only to discover she wasn't home alone. Two of her friends were there, haranguing her about how cancer was all in her head, and if she allowed it to take over her life, then it would kill her. Instead, she should get healthy, think healthy, and she could cure herself of it.


I hated them for being there, for being mean to her, for...Well, I was just angry.


Mom finally came into the kitchen and pulled me into her arms. I asked her why she lied to me. That I would have come home right away. That I should have been there for her. She said she hadn't wanted to worry me.


But, yes. She had terminal liver cancer, and would die in three to six months.


I didn't want to hang out with her friends while they were blaming her for her cancer, so I went upstairs to my room, with promises that Mom would come talk to me. I ended up falling asleep without seeing her.


I don't remember virtually anything else from my senior year in high school after that.


Mom died almost exactly six months after that.


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