When I was eleven the most pressing concern I had regarding my mother was that she was turning forty and all her friends were making fun of her for it. I wasn’t a very lighthearted child and the Over the Hill jokes seemed cruel. Try as she might to explain the humor of it, I ultimately just had to cry it out. How lucky was I.
Ericka’s oldest daughters are twelve and ten. And for a big chunk of this year they’ve been worried they could lose her.
Motherhood comes so naturally to Ericka. She is incredibly intuitive and lovingly engrosses herself in all the ins and outs of parenting. With a firm grasp of child psychology she has been diligently working with each of her children, according to their scope of understanding, to be OK with her bald head, her sick days and all her medicines. Constantly reassuring them that she will be just fine.
Even so, Ericka has said that telling her twelve year old daughter she had cancer was the hardest conversation she’s ever had. Regardless of our best attempts to make a bad situation seem less scary, we all know young children pick up on what’s really going on whether they can fully express it or not.
During chemo Emma voluntarily took a mature stab at keeping the little ones busy to give mom downtime when she clearly couldn’t see straight. For days after Eri’s double mastectomy Gabby insisted we prop pillows under her arms at bedtime so she could sleep in the exact same position she saw her mother rest in at the hospital.
Tomorrow I ride to Mystic, CT for the girls to honor a yearly tradition they had to miss this summer because of mom’s chemo regimen.
I ride for the youngest, Miss Sloaney Bones, who hopefully has processed very little of this past year’s reality at the tender age of five going on six, but who knew enough to be very concerned about who would sleep next to mommy when she was at the hospital. Thank goodness she nodded in agreement, seeming satisfied with the answer of “Me and Aunt Melissa, right next to her bed, all night. I promise.”
Tomorrow I ride for every daughter who has witnessed a parent battle for their life against cancer.
I ride for Samantha Contorno who lost her incredibly kind hearted and beloved dad Frank this past January at the way-too-young age of 50.
I ride for Sue Tortolani who recently found herself cross country and back home once again accompanying her father to his throat lesion MRI’s.
I ride for my cousin Christina who lost my Uncle Bill to lung cancer in 1996.
I ride for Ericka and her sisters, Crystal and Melissa, who, as daughters, endured their first run-in with breast cancer five years ago when their mother Jeanne was diagnosed and underwent radiation and a successful lumpectomy.
I ride for Wendy’s daughter Ruby, for Jan’s daughter Karen, for Teddy’s daughters MJ, Kim and Janine.
Tomorrow I ride for all the daughters who have grappled with the incomprehensible fear and stress of losing their guiding spirit. Sending love and light. Danbury to Mystic is for you.