She is going to tell you about her future plans, and she’s going to make promises she’s not going to be able to keep. She is going to tell you about the future trips you two are going to take, and she’s going to map out every last detail. Plan it with her. Encourage her wildest dreams, and reassure her that you will board a plane with her as soon as she gets better. Tell her she’s going to get better even if you know it’s not true. Don’t cry.
Accept the good days and the bad
There will be days when she will feel like she can conquer the world, and days when she feels like a grain of sand. Remind her that she is your sun, moon, and your stars. There will be days when she reminisces about the beauty she once held before her illness stole it from her like a thief in the night. Do not stand for this. Tell her she’s beautiful, and mean it. Remind her that her beauty remains in her still beating heart and her weakened bones. Don’t cry.
Meet her requests
As time progresses, you will become her caretaker, and she will absolutely hate it. Asking you for a cup of tea will burn her throat with guilt and embarrassment as she realizes she is too weak to do it for herself. She will tell you about the apple cinnamon tea she used to make you when you were sick. Listen to her. Tell her how much you loved it, even if the smell of cinnamon still turns your stomach. She will ask you to watch that one movie with her.
Watch it. Climb under the covers of your mother’s bed and become 5 again. Remember what lines of the movie make her laugh, and laugh with her. When you watch the movie again after she’s gone, laugh again. Memorize what her sheets smell like, as you will be searching for that scent in every laundry detergent you try. Don’t cry.
Be patient with her
There are going to be days when she will snap at you, and there will be days when you snap back. Do not take this personally. Apologize, profusely and genuinely. There will be days when she cries for what seems like no reason, do not lose your patience with her. Remember that your worry for her does not compare to the worry she carries for you on her weak shoulders. Rub her back and offer to make her a cup of apple cinnamon tea. Don’t cry.
Above all else, love her. When she is too weak to get out of the bathtub by herself, love her. When the illness takes over her brain and she slurs her words and can’t remember your name, love her. When you sit next to her hospital bed, holding onto her weak hand for both of your lives, love her. When she becomes unrecognizable from the mom you used to know, love her. Tell her it over and over again. I love you. I love you. Never let her go a precious day without hearing it. I love you. When you tell her goodbye, mean it. You can cry now.