Six Months to Live
by Brett Milanese

At last school had let out and I could finally take advantage of my summer vacation. Unfortunately that was not the case for me. It was but a year ago my mother was diagnosed with melanoma, a serious skin cancer. This wasn’t an ordinary case due to the location of the tumor. The tumor was found on the bottom of her foot. My family and I  didn’t think anything of it at the time, so my mom scheduled a normal doctor visit to have it removed. The findings would change our lives forever.
My life fluctuated throughout my seventh grade year of school. My mother was in and out of the hospital several times. The most crucial visits was the time she had her lymph nods removed from her right leg. The timing of this couldn’t be anymore horrible. I was not in town for the operation. My mom insisted that I attend my basketball tournament in Charlotte that week. I couldn’t have been anymore distraught, being away from my family. My mind never settled after that, I was in constant distress. My mind  was clouded with emotion because I wasn’t there to support my mother with the rest of my family. As the weekend rolled, on my emotions controlled my every action. I wasn’t able to focus my attention on what I had to do to help my teammates. Until I heard from  my father that the surgery was a success, my worries wouldn’t escape my mind.
The next months passed quickly, and before I realized it summer had come and my mother's condition had started to change. As the month of June, proceeded my time became more devoted towards my mom and her health. Since I was the only child still living at home, I spent most of my time by  her side. The dog days of summer rolled on, and my daily lifestyle remained constant. I would wake up and greet my mom, who was sitting in the carport in her reclinable lawn chair. Either my Aunt Carol would be there next to her or one of her close friends. She would sit there and watch the day go by, taking in every breath of life.
This is where the day was spent rain or shine. Looking out at the world in front of her, seemed to rest her mind. This seemed to be the only place she felt comfortable. Watching me shoot baskets, or practice my golf swing this would divert her attention away from the nagging pain. Her favorite meals were a tomato and mayo sandwich with salt and pepper, or a slab of country ham cooked in the microwave. Even these brought a small amount of pleasure to her diminishing spirit. I did these chores with pride knowing that I was going to nurse my mother back to health, and to a normal life.
On a sunny day in July my mom requested that my father, sisters and I meet her doctor, about her condition. My father and I rode together in his white Pontiac, which still had the new car smell. As we pulled in we saw my sisters Ryan and Lara had already arrived and were waiting for us in front of the building. Spirits were high with anticipation that good news was on its way. We entered the building my father checked us in, and we waited patiently watching TV. Minutes later, it was finally the time for us to see the doctor. The nurse escorted us to the doctors office. As I sat there listening to the doctor  my stomach began to knot. Emotion clouded my mind once again. The sense of fear and helplessness filled the room. Deep in thought I could hear the monotone voices, but  couldn’t decipher the language.
I didn’t regain reality until we returned home. She was in her usual spot waiting for us to arrive. My sisters and I gathered around her. Tears flowing down our faces there were so many questions that needed to be answered. I knelled down and grasped her around the waist. She rubbed her hand through my hair telling me to calm down. Her heartbeat never wavered, a stone to ease my hysteria. She had been planning this day for several weeks. Only telling people that needed to know, but the time had come for my sisters and I to face the fear of an unknown life. An itinerary of life was set for our mother, three to six months. Doubt and confusion filled my every breath. The sand had begun to fall.
Throughout the rest of the summer I became closer to my mother. Spending each and every moment possible with her. She had become a shell of what she once was. Her body was frail and slender. Her eyes clouded with doubt, and her spirit hanging in the balance. She started to become disoriented with life around her. Names, places, and thoughts she had once garnered started to slip away. Then on September 9th the cancer stole her mind. She couldn’t find her comfort zone. Inside and outside not knowing where she wanted to be. Her eyes became more translucent and lost. Her face was filled with confusion and fear. Finally my father called the nurse for advice. The nurse arrived as quickly as possible. She said she would be more comfortable at the hospital. My mother stared blankly at me an my family, as the car backed out of the driveway. She must have known that this would be the last time she would see her home.
             Memories and experiences disappeared throughout the next few days. She was regressing through life. I was starting to understand my path throughout the rest of my life. But I am only twelve and was not supposed to grow up yet. But the change was inevitable, and it came true on September 11th when the will of the strongest human I have ever known gave in, to the inevitable. I saw the life leave her vacant eyes. Her hand relaxed and became limp in mine. Her breathing slowed until the last gasp of a tortured body was released. 
The room stayed quiet only the occasional sniffle or cough was heard. I was at a loss for words or thought. I had just seen light dim in my mother eyes. I couldn’t find solace in my thoughts. It was then I realized that I was okay with my mother giving up the fight that she had so valiantly fought. I didn’t understand why at the time, but I was sure it would find this out as I lived my life in my mother image.