Six months. It has been six whole months since the worst day of our lives took place, the tragic day when we lost the most precious and pure thing in our lives—our mom. It only dawned me that a whole half year had passed when I walked into our local church and sat down to pray before right before Mass started.
Over the past six months I’ve kept going through the events of that week over and over, as well as going through the past three torturous years that spanned her fight against cancer. She fought with all of her might and will against a Leiomyosarcoma, one of the rarest forms of cancer.
It was an uphill battle with many cards stacked against her: From the initial Leiomyoma misdiagnose in mid-2015, the lack of access to proper treatment due to the dire state of Venezuela’s health system, the eventual lack of proper CT scans and other tests, shortages in post-chemo meds (even the simplest things such as antacids), and so many other shortcomings and obstacles that she had to face.
I suppose that it wouldn’t have been a fair fight otherwise because she was a strong woman that always gave her best. She saved so many lives, and gave her two sons everything she could. She wasn’t rich or anything, but she left us with invaluable treasures; our education, a set of morals, our faith, and most importantly, the privilege of having one hell of a woman as our mother, we couldn’t have asked for a better one.
This upcoming October 20th would’ve been the third year anniversary of her first chemo. That first week of chemotherapy was a rough one, as our oldest aunt passed away on the fourth day of her first round. She attended her sister’s funeral but could not attend her burial, as it was ill-advised to do so given her weakened immune system. Being unable to bid her sister one last farewell was tough for her, now their bodies are buried next to each other thanks to our cousin who let us bury her in that lot.
For the next two and a half years she had to undergo the displeasure of weekly blood tests that, alongside all those rounds of chemo, obliterated her veins; not to mention the almost weekly shots of Filgrastim, Erythropoietin, and other post-chemo meds that weren’t without their own fair share of side effects. The inoperable cancerous tumor on her liver and the chemotherapy itself ravaged her once healthy body, as evidenced by the photos that span those difficult years. She lost her hair, her skin had some dark blots that stemmed from the chemo itself—but her fighting spirit, that’s something she never lost. She never lost her smile either, there she was, days before her tragic passing, smiling with us because I managed to crack a joke that elicited a brief laughter from her amidst the pain she was suffering through.
While she had an amazing fighting spirit there were nights when she was rightfully tired of it all. She always yearned for that day when she no longer needed chemo, weekly blood tests, and a mountainload of meds. I always yearned for that day too; to see her healthy once more. A day where us three would leave this country together, that day never came.
When we took her to the hospital that night we had to supply our own bed sheets for the bed she was using, because the hospital doesn’t even have sheets of their own anymore. When she died, they used that sheet to cover her body because they don’t have anything else to wrap the corpses with.
They had a large row in the morgue, when I was asked to identify her body I already knew which one it was because of that green and white bed sheet…
Cancer is not something that I would wish to anyone, not even to my worst enemy. To see someone you love slowly wither away, to have a growing mass of organic matter destroy their lives little by little, and the utter feeling of powerlessness that you feel when you realize that there’s nothing you can do to stop it—it’s too much, just too much.
To say that I miss her is an understatement, my brother does as well; while he’s not a very talkative person given his mental condition, his sadness shows at times. I’ve done my best in trying to make him smile as much as I can, with some success here and there. But nothing will fill the void of losing her mother at such an early age. My younger cousins have also been able to make him smile and laugh from time to time, and when he does, my spirits are lifted as well.
A psychiatrist friend of my mother who worked with her for more than a decade was seeing my brother; his mood had improved after a few sessions, but alas, she left the country back in July. (Remember, according to our glorious government everything is fine here and no one is fleeing at all).
It hasn’t been easy for the two of us. We’re both socially inept and he’s a very shut-in fella, nonetheless, I’ve stepped forth to fight not just for me, but for him as well. He’s the last pure thing in my life—the most precious gift my mother ever gave me.
We’ve slowly adjusted to this new reality of ours, but the past months have been quite the tale.
A few days after her burial I got hit by chickenpox (yeah, yeah, chickenpox at 30 years lol). It wasn’t a pleasant experience, the disease knocked me down for nearly a month, leaving me a few small scars in my face that didn’t healed properly. Not like I’m an attractive guy, but still.
I have no qualms in admitting that the past months have been filled with depression, dread, and now anxiety. I’m trying to work this out to the best of my ability, I can’t let these things wear me down because I cannot give up no matter what.
The rest of that time has been majorly spent in dealing with the utterly nonsensical bureaucracy of this country, not even the dead know respite from it. I have to present a successional tax statement as soon as possible, stating what assets my mother had in life (namely, this apartment), but the public office that holds the records of this place was dissolved and merged with other authorities. I’ve obtained most of the stuff now but I’m still missing some crucial documents.
Besides that, finding out a destination that my brother and I can migrate legally to has proven more difficult than I thought. While it is a fact that I take care of my brother because he cannot fend for himself, I’m not his legal guardian, he’s also over 21, so this presents quite the consular nightmare case—even for someone who spent three years working on this area.
Obtaining my brother’s disability status is a whole other mess. Our laws state that he has to pay taxes for at least three years before he can qualify, and I sure as hell ain’t gonna wait three years here for that. So the alternative is obtaining a survivor’s pension based on his condition and my mother’s death, while not a straightforward disability status, it’s close enough.
His file is currently under review, I may have to submit more documents depending on their answer.
I’ve neglected my own health these past years, a mistake that I shouldn’t had done; I’m trying to fix that as well. Most of my work clothes are now too big for me but I’ve only lost a little over 20 pounds. A friend of my mom said that I’ve lost more mass than weight, which is why I need to get in shape and get healthier overall.
I’m not sleeping well, and neither is my brother. I got some real dark circles around my eyes courtesy of insomnia, getting more than three hours of sleep is hella difficult for me even though I barely drink caffeine these days. The nights when my brother can’t sleep I keep him company, he plays video games in my room and we watch Kamen Rider together (our mutual guilty pleasure).
Half a whole year man, half a whole year without her, half a year of me dealing with the bullshit bureaucracy of this country whilst trying to find a way to legally escape this country and build a good future for my brother, one where I can be a force of good in this world and help people just like she did in her life.
I still wonder, had this decadent socialist regime stepped off their high horses and admit that they fucked up, had they allowed international help in the country, would my mom still be with us? Would I still be cooking my somewhat acceptable food for her? Would I still be tucking her in bed, giving her a good night kiss, and checking up on her as soon as I wake up every morning?
The times when I dream about her are filled with joy. Being able to talk to her in my dreams, to see her smiling and healthy—then the crashing reality kicks in when I wake up, and I feel like utter shit.
When I took my first steps into building my novel project’s universe and took some free online grammar courses I told her that I was working on writing a fiction novel (in English). She seemed thrilled at the idea and shared one of her own. She wanted to write a book about misdiagnose cases like hers and many others.
“I’ll do it once we get over this and we’re on a new country.” She said to me when we were in her vehicle. Everytime I drive past that hole-plagued street in Bello Monte I remember that conversation.
I wish she could’ve seen my novel published, I always dreamed of the day when I’d get to publish Sword of the Nation and I could present her with a finished copy; suffice to say, the book will be dedicated to her and my brother, but the acknowledgment will go to each and every person that reads my posts, to my friends and each and every person that has helped me survive this socialist tragedy, to each person who reads my shitposts and serious tweets—to you as well, I’ll have a whole page with something heartfelt and wholesome.
Perhaps the three of us were never meant to have a “normal” life. Neither of us has had an idyllic one so far but it’s alright. All I can do is follow her steps and be a force of good in this world. The best is yet to come, I will build the foundations to that future that I dream of, a good future not just for me, but for my brother, and everyone I can help with.
I will finish Sword of the Nation’s first draft soon. I’m almost there, just half a chapter and an epilogue to go. Then I’ll polish that first draft and work on figuring out how to publish it. Once that’s out there I’ll work on the second and third chapters of this lifelong project.
I will also escape legally with my brother towards new horizons. If you have any suggestions or ideas as to how can I accomplish this then please let me know, I’m a bit desperate. Don’t forget that I’m at constant risk of getting jailed by this regime for 20 years under the “hate speech” excuse, the arrests have begun.
A new start in a new land where I can work towards building a good future for him, and at the same time use whatever fame I get from my novel to be a force of good in this world, perhaps help people achieve their dreams and potential somehow—that’d be a good way to start helping people.
One thing is for sure, I do not wish to be a pretentious writer like Rowling or King; my mother never raised me to be that kind of person.
Thanks to A Sentient JDAM for helping me with my broken grammar <3