When your mother has always been sick, it means you learn to appreciate every milestone you share together. It means you hug her like she is the best friend you’ll ever know. Because she is. And you know eventually, when the two of you can no longer talk on the phone about stupid celebrity gossip, when she is a picture on the mantel you can no longer touch, she will still be the best friend you’ve ever known. You will hug her memory every night before you sleep.
When your mother has always been sick, it means you get to know hospital corridors like they are high school hallways. You walk on autopilot through pristine white buildings and don’t even think twice. It means this feels normal. It means this is routine.
When your mother has always been sick, it means you listen in the other room when she speaks to her doctor. You know how to detect subtle changes in tone, what it might mean when she lowers her voice. You Nancy Drew every situation and wish you didn’t have to. But you always do.
When your mother has always been sick, it means you get into fights with people about medical care. It means your entire body hurts when people look you straight in the eyes and disagree that health care is a right. After enough times, you bite your tongue. But you still taste blood each time.
When your mother has always been sick, it means you understand good health is something to celebrate. The way you will occasionally feel mad at your peers, how often they introduce toxins into their bodies and never think twice. You will do the same, drink your weight and wonder why you still aren’t sick like she is. You’ll hate yourself after these nights. You’ll decide you don’t deserve a functioning body, how you barely hurt even when you try to. But you will see her face. And you will get back up. You’ll remember life is worth choosing.
When your mother has always been sick, it means you choose life for her. It means you choose life for yourself. It means you do it for both of you.