It’s Just A Bomb

I was watching a movie today.

What a mundane and worthless sentence to start anything with. But I was watching a movie today.

It was a quiet afternoon. I had seen a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while. We spoke about our lives. We didn’t talk about politics. I drank minted lemonade. She drank coffee. The time passed.

But yes, I was watching a movie today. And it was a theatre full of people who were watching the movie with me. And less than five minutes from where the movie was taking place, part of my country was getting blown up to pieces, people were getting blown up to bits.

And there I was, watching a movie.

The theatre doors closed behind us as we made our way out of the complex. Look, an explosion happened nearby, my friend told me. Make sure you make your way out calmly. I looked around and people had no other care in the world. Those who were shopping were still going about their chores meticulously. The people hoarding the escalators were still doing so extravagantly.

And there I was, pissed beyond fury, trying to see if my other friend was home and if anything had happened to her.

She is 23. In statistical terms, her life is well ahead of her. In real terms, she is terrified by a window slamming, fireworks going off or anything that reminds her of the bombs she has endured for years. I was relieved to know she hadn’t gone home today. I was glad she was okay. What a fucked up country, I told her. Yes, she replied. Is there anything more redundant to say?

I checked the news on my way to my car. Many were dead. Many more were injured. No officials were targeted. It was an attack simply against people like me who decided to spend their afternoon off, courtesy of the Virgin Mary’s ascension, to shop with their kids, with their mothers, with their families or friends, just like me.

The drive home was uneventful. People were still going around their afternoon business like it was nobody’s business. Life was sluggishly going on. It was bound to pick up its pace tomorrow. I was sure all would be forgotten by next week. This is our span. I guess that’s how it rolls.

As I neared residential areas of my country’s torn capital, I could hear the news blasting off balconies as people huddled next to their TV sets. Tripoli was joining the game as well because that city doesn’t like to be left out of the big celebrations. Politicians were salivating over their upcoming TV opportunities to express their condemnation while secretly insinuating that this party’s interference here and there led to this or that other party’s condemnation of some party’s actions has led to this, while people’s flesh still burns on the asphalt and cement. But don’t you be mistaken, sympathy supersedes policy.

The people were expressing sympathy. There was a tinge of unity as so happens in the face of true national tragedies. I figure it would only be a matter of time before someone parades this. Those who wanted to express sympathy figured stating their sect at the start of their sentence would give it some credibility. Others were more worried about the potential day off tomorrow. It was, after all, a day of national mourning. Aren’t those getting way too many and springing up way too often? But what would a day do to the mother who will mourn all her life?

It’s just a bomb. We tell it to ourselves like it’s nothing. A bomb. An explosion. Destruction, rubble, death. We’re getting way too used to it. We’re getting too comfortable with the way we live around it. We’re getting too subdued in the way we just take it, brush it off and long for the day when we forget. It’s just a bomb.

The Story Of Owning a Pet in Lebanon

The journey of a thousand miles starts with the inception of the idea… with your mother. “I’m getting a cat” was what I said. A stern look that breathed of “no” was how she replied. Message received. My dad automatically referred me back to my mother. No luck on that front. I had my work cut out for me.

Soon enough, I got the pet. My mom will cave in under the pressure, I figured. I entered the house with that white ball of fur in my arms. I had already decided to name her “Katniss.” And I probably hadn’t seen something cuter in my life. Katniss, however, was absolutely terrified. So the first thing she did when I stepped over the threshold was to go and hide beneath the sofa. No amount of food or trickery could get her out of there. It could have been that the house was brimming with people wanting to see what this creature was.

An hour or so later, once strangers and distant relatives in this little town got bored and left, Katniss decided to venture out into her new territory. She didn’t like me at that point but I was the only familiar face so she stuck around. Despite being minuscule, she managed to jump on the couch. The spot looked absolutely perfect for her. So she nested her head beneath her paw and slept.

“Don’t tell your mom,” my dad said as he watched TV and gently ran his hand over her white mane.

The following days were all about learning. I asked my friends who already had pets what kind of food and litter they bought. I had trouble potty-training her but she got the hang of it… eventually. And I found out she loves to eat and play in the garden outside my house even though she came back with little twigs stuck on her every time.

She started following me around the house wherever I went: to my room, to the bathroom, to the car. She used to look at me sadly as I pulled out of the drive to go to class and I couldn’t help but smile as I saw her growingly fat behind go back disappointingly inside when she found out she won’t be going anywhere with me.

Her first visit to the vet was strange to me but downright terrifying for her. As I held her in my arms while the vet readied the table where he was going to examine her, I could feel her getting more anxious. Once he gave her the vaccine and those deworming pills and that frontline for flees, she was downright shaking as I tried to comfort her that all will be okay.

Needless to say, her future visits to the vet were far less smooth as she started refusing to take the pills no matter what he does. “You have a feisty cat,” he said. I just nodded. There was nothing I could do. She was so feisty in fact that she had managed to hunt down a mouse, which she brought back home only to brag about in front of my mom. She wasn’t going to eat that, obviously.

The first hurdle came around when my mom was diagnosed with cancer and some people told her she can’t be around the cat. We started worrying about what we’d do with Katniss. No one we knew was equipped to take care of her. We tried to move her to my grandparents’ house but she kept coming back despite our efforts. It was a relieving moment when the oncologist told her mother to worry.

Once December rolled around and cats around the neighborhood started getting ready to get busy, it was time for Katniss to hit early menopause. So I took her to the vet again and several hours later, I got her back in her cage sleeping. Back home, she was so drowsy because of anesthesia and in obvious pain that my mom’s heart was almost torn out of her chest. She got all better a few days later and went back to her regular routines of eating, sleeping, playing and chasing away the cats off our porch.

On a Saturday night in April, as we had dinner with a few guests who gushed over a shaven-Katniss as she circled their feet, which she normally does, while they ate, Katniss decided to go outside, which was normal. Slightly past midnight, I decided to call it quits and went to bed. The following day, I found out from my little brother that Katniss hadn’t slept in. I wasn’t worried as she had done that before and our maid had seen her around the house early that morning.

The day starting passing, however, and Katniss didn’t come back. As we sat down for lunch, nothing was startling my aunt by bumping into her foot. There was nothing looking at my mom with pleading eyes for some human food. “She’s just around,” they all said. “She’ll come back in a bit.”

But Katniss didn’t. Not that Sunday. Not the following Monday. Not the Tuesday after that. Two scenarios were plausible: either someone stole her or one of the hunters around my town decided to test his chops by aiming at a cat who was obviously owned by someone, which is entirely possible given how hunters in this country think: it doesn’t matter what they shoot at as long as it’s an animal moving and they get to brag about it to their friends later on.

 

As the days passed, I realized this tiny creature that started as even tinier white ball of fur had taken up a huge place in our house. We had gotten so used to her collar’s bell ringing whenever she moved that the silence in the house felt eerie. We had gotten so used to her just being around that not stumbling by her everywhere we went made our home feel less welcoming.

“I never thought I’d love her as much,” was what my mom said as she held her food basket and called around for her name around the neighborhood, shaking the basket to draw her attention. There was a tear in her eye. “Don’t tell your little brother,” she then said. “He’ll be devastated if he knew I’m this upset.”

We were all upset. Katniss had spent slightly more than a year in our midst but we had all grown to absolutely love her, even the family members who complained about her walking around them when they ate. Now, two weeks later, I’m not hopeful that I’ll find Katniss anymore. My little cat is gone.

I don’t think I’d get another pet. This isn’t the town nor the country to own a pet and be relieved that your neighbors won’t poison it or the hunters around your town won’t be shooting it or even someone stealing it for a few quick dollars or because they don’t want to get their own.

All I have are the memories of when Katniss was mine and around, the memories of when she slept next to me in bed and looked annoyed because I changed sleeping positions and woke her up, the memories of her running after me because I was heading to the kitchen which she normally associated with eating, the memories of her chasing away the neighborhood’s cats off her turf because this was, after all, her home.

I hope it’s nice wherever you are, little one.

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The Perks of Being Lebanese

Back in December, I hosted a photographer who wanted to visit Lebanon in order to experience our on-the-edge diverse lifestyle. I showed him around as much as I could given the short time I had, taking myself to Tyre for the first time in my life. I had never been that far South before. I left him there in order for him to see life in that Southern city firsthand. A couple of days later, we met up in Beirut and somehow he started contrasting and comparing my country with his. He comes from one of the world’s biggest superpowers so it’s understandable that my country is lacking in comparison.

But I couldn’t take it. Snarkiness started to ooze out of every word I uttered like the sharp blade of a knife. Jabs here and there about how his country could never – ever – have the history that my country has started flowing. I even surprised myself when it comes to political declarations which would probably get any Lebanese who knows me turn his head in disbelief. Imagine me proclaiming support for Hezbollah and you’ll get the drift.

I felt it was necessary. It’s not about being politically correct. It’s this built in sensor inside my brain to defend Lebanon whenever I can to whoever I can. And it goes off at random times, despite the logical part of me telling me that I should probably stop. I can’t help it. My relationship with my country is that of some serious love-hate. And I can’t escape it.

Bref, I nag too much sometimes and I know it. I know some of you hate it – but living in Lebanon leaves you constantly angry, constantly furious, constantly edgy. We all deal with it with the best way we can and considering what we’re dealt with every day, I daresay we handle it really well. Most of the time at least.

To those who thought I’m being quite negative, you’re probably right. This one’s for you. Now smile and take it in because such articles will only come rarely. Let it sink in because you won’t hear me saying this very often – not that it matters since it’s now online for everyone to see – but here it goes: I probably wouldn’t trade growing up in Lebanon for anything else in the whole world.

It’s not about the copious amount of money I could have had. It’s not about super kickass passports I often wish I possessed. I think growing up here, witnessing the struggles of here, dealing with the hardships that here represents have gotten me to grow as a person in ways that any other place probably wouldn’t have provided.

In a way, growing up here has made me a person who is capable of standing on his feet wherever you throw him. It might sound cliche – positive vibes always go around clicheville – but it’s something that the past year has truly reinforced in me.

When I was in France, the French were shocked I could juggle three languages fluently without a hitch, something that was completely normal to me but seemed very odd to them. It is there that I came to appreciate exactly how thankful I am for the decent education I got here. The fact that I was able to keep up with more knowledgeable physicians at the hospital where I did my clerkship doesn’t only reflect on my mental capacities but on the way education in Lebanon shapes you up without you even knowing it. It is no wonder that with all the preparation we subtly get in school and later on in higher education institutes, we are able to excel when given room and opportunity.

That month I spent in France opened up my eyes to something else that I hadn’t really thought of: life in Lebanon does not go on in a protective bubble that separates you from everything else happening around you.
The aforementioned idea started to get formulated in my mind back in 2011 when I wrote a small article about 9/11 and some members of American family stopped talking to me as a result. I still don’t see anything wrong with my article. If anything, I stand by it more than before. But it’s the perception of the article which differentiates my American kin from yours truly. For them, I am being harsh and insensitive because I haven’t lived it and I am not American. To me, they are being very concentric and limited. But it’s no one’s fault really: my perception as a Lebanese of the world is and will always be of people whose fate isn’t in their hand, of a country which is always a part in a chessgame of bigger fish.
And while we nag about that as is our right, I think the premise of the life this sets is healthy: to know that there’s always another story taking place somewhere, to know that there is another side to us, to know that there is life form outside of the bubble that we love to live inside and to know that everything has a reference point to put things in perspective.

The photographer who came here back in December was more than interested in something that I not only took for granted but thought was beyond normal. My hometown coexists quite peacefully with a neighboring Shiite town. My best friends happen to be either Shiite or atheists or Sunni or Maronites. We differ politically, we argue more often than not. We come from severely different backgrounds in our own country. But we still find ourselves at one table having dinner as often as we argue about the backgrounds from which we come. The experience itself is one that we ignore because it’s never in the forefront of our thoughts. But to an outsider, the interactions we have and the friendships we strike are things that are beyond interesting. When that photographer pointed out how odd to him that dinner table setting was, I started to think about it more and I realized that I am what I am today because of those people that have come into my life from all those different backgrounds. And despite some eccentric bearded men from all sides wanting to tell us that our friendships are abnormal, our relationships still exist and they keep flourishing. The majority of us as Lebanese have friends who come from backgrounds that had, until quite recently in historical terms, been fighting against each other. Yet that’s never an issue. It’s not even something we think about. But imagine how bland our lives would be if the only people we knew shared our thoughts, our views and barely differed from us in the things that count.

And as I go back home every day from class or from those dinners with friends, another thing I take for granted is my family. The fact that the family unit is still very cohesive in this country is a treasure in itself. Child psychology tells you how important a tightly-knit family is for the development of a human being. But this isn’t about psychological theories. How often do we think about the warm meal awaiting us back home which our grandmother or mother more than willingly cooked for us, along with a warm hug because even though they had last seen us a few hours prior they miss us terribly?
And I don’t meant this in a sexist manner for those feminists gearing up for international women’s day. How often do we think about that awesome person we call grandpa who, as he grows up, becomes more kind hearted than a five year old boy? Or how about those siblings of ours that we love to hate but can’t imagine living without? Or those cousins we keep bickering with and the aunts and uncles who raised them? How about our fathers who, despite their strong facade, love us to the moon and back?
The family unit in Lebanon is not restricted to the parents and siblings. It transcends them to anyone who shares your family name. And we pretend that it aggravates us off when families gather in certain occasions. But the truth is that our family, including those extended members we don’t like to think about, act as a firm ground for us to stand in troubled times. And they do that without us asking for it.

Life in Lebanon sets you up to be a great individual when given the framework to allow such greatness to unfold. It makes you more aware of the world. It gives you a rich cultural experience to start from. It gives you a strong educational package to build a life upon and gives you a sense of belonging that makes you prone to find anchor wherever you’re thrown. It saddens me to say that I will probably leave this place someday because the future might be bleak. And I lose hope in it sometimes and I rekindle it at other times despite my better judgement. But it remains that being Lebanese is something that makes me proud. It is something that I believe has offered me the essential that makes human beings shine and make a life for themselves. That life probably won’t happen here. But that life will forever owe itself to here.

Cheers to all those Lebanese perks we keep taking for granted.

The Bravest Person I Know

As she ran her fingers through her hair on that cold December night and was sad to see that the chemicals had started to sink in, she knew it wouldn’t be long before she would have to make a decision she never thought she’d have to make.

To let the hair go on its own? Or to take it all off?

We told her what the right decision should be. But it’s always easier to preach when you’re not the one cringing as you look at yourself in the mirror.

She decided that she wanted to cling to it more. It kept her warm, she said. She felt safer with it, she said.

So the hair kept falling. And she kept trying to hide it.

I remember the day well. I got back home from class to see her wearing a wig. I smiled. I knew she had taken the plunge. I was proud of her. I was strengthened by her courage. I was happy by her resilience.

As she took the razor to what was left of the hair on her head, she also took the decision to strengthen her fighting of those few cells that threatened to take her life away. Today, as I see her smile, I smile as well. And I see her radiating despite something being missing.

We keep her feeling good about it. But I realized we don’t need to. We joke about how my brothers and I are sure to lose our hair now that both our parents are bald. She’d smile and give us the “I’m not impressed” face. For the first time since she started chemotherapy, I can see her really happy. I can see her relieved.

My mother was beautiful before. My mother is gorgeous today. And I want to show you how brave she is. Because hair doesn’t matter.

Mother Cancer Chemotherapy

Amour [2012] – Review

Amour 2012 Movie Poster

In an old Parisian apartment, with its yellowing books, rusty sinks and creaky tables, Georges and his wife Anne, two eighty year old former music teachers live. They go about their lives normally, attending concerts of former students, going through family albums that remind them of their younger days and caring for each other after all the time they’ve spent together. “C’est belle, la vie,” Anne says.

One day, as they’re having breakfast, Anne stops responding to Georges’ talk. He looks into his wife’s eyes and sees nothing there – she remains transfixed, unresponsive, a shell of the woman she was a few minutes earlier. He damps up a towel with water and tries to wipe her face but to no avail. As Georges gathers his things to call an ambulance, his wife comes back – but Anne has had a stroke. A carotid-stent operation going wrong later, Anne needs Georges to take care of her all the time, which he’s more than willing to do. A second stroke leaves her with right side hemiparesis, her right hand curled up in a fist. But Georges keeps taking care of his wife. He brings her a nurse three days a week, tries to sing with her “Sur Le Pont D’Avignon” when she can’t speak anymore, tries to get her to drink water when, in the rare lucid moments she gets later on, the only thing she makes him know she wants is to die.

Boasting beyond brilliant performances by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as Georges and Anne respectively, Amour is a heartbreaking, stunning and chilling portrayal of life in old age. Georges, the husband giving his all to care his dying wife, reaches a point where he knows what he’s doing is not enough but he keeps going anyway. The husband’s resiliency facing his wife’s forced surrender is a contrast that transcends the confines of the previously described Parisian apartment they both live in, which is the movie’s only setting though never feeling claustrophobic. The clash between the wife who wants to die and the husband who wants nothing but for her to live boasts an intense aspect of humanity that many movies fail to grasp even if they tried to. The nuances in the actors’ performances are striking. The way they look at each other through their wire-rimmed glasses, the adoration that radiates off Anne’s cheeks towards her husband… those are things you come across very rarely and you can’t but appreciate them when you do.

One of the main reasons Amour is this brilliant is Michael Haneke, the Austrian director, who has also written this great screenplay of life, love and death. The visual style he gives the movie is masterful. The pace he sets is poignant, never faltering. The movie he made draws you in, grasps and doesn’t let go. His style is shocking at time such as in Georges’ last act of love towards his wife, a stunning scene that will leave you haunted.

At a certain point in Amour, Georges tries to give Anne water, and she lets it roll angrily down her chin with a look of violent denial of life. Georges unwillingly slaps her, then apologizes like the exasperated caregiver he had become. Later on, he tells her stories of a time when he went to camp he didn’t like. He had agreed with his mother to write her daily. If he had liked his day, he’d draw flowers. If not, he’d draw stars. Amour shows us that life is a mix of flowers and stars. The love this old couple has to each other is the true embodiment of in sickness and in health. Amour is so intimate that watching it feels like you’re prying on these people’s private lives. It is so heartfelt that you can’t but feel touched by what you see. Amour shows you love. And it shows it spectacularly.

10/10

22.

As my friends sat around me singing happy birthday to you on that cold Saturday night which wasn’t even technically my birthday, I felt happy. The rain glistened off the window in front of me, it was cold outside but I felt the warmth of the party that was celebrating me turning 22.

I wish I knew in that moment that some of those friends were not there to stay. I wish I knew in that moment what year awaited me as I blew off those candles and people applauded.

/Trust.

I was standing alone in a crowded room on a cold February night and I was just realizing I knew absolutely no one there even those people whom I thought I knew all too well. And they’re not speaking to me, pretending like they didn’t know me. The fake smiles, the fake truths, the fake nods, the contest of who’s acting like they could care less… I had gotten tired of them all. The amount of insecurity that people had was way too unacceptable for me to handle anymore. And as everyone smiled and hugged each other, I started wondering: what did I do wrong not to be the one being welcomed like this?

It took some time for me to realize that I had done nothing wrong at all. It took some time for me to realize that keeping your guard up is a necessity. Trusting people easily should never be a possibility because the amount of assholes in this world is way too high. I realized I shouldn’t be surprised to have been let down because your expectations out of others towards you are very rarely met. So you do your best because you hope that this would somehow return good upon you. But you expect nothing.

Even people whom you thought would never ever disappoint you end up doing so. And they throw around lame excuses to justify doing so but you would have reached a point where you couldn’t care less anymore.

The theory is easy. The practical aspect of it is still a work in progress.

The saddest part though is that for a while after that I had to fight the urge to pick up the phone and call.

Foreign Home.

Your home away from home where you are foreigner and yet you fit like a glove to your hand. The lack of complexity with people. The lack of the need to be two-faced in order to get ahead. I remember the great people I met all too well. I remember the good times I shared with them. I remember the places I went through. I remember standing in front of that Royal Palace and feeling infinitely happy. I remember sitting under the Eiffel Tower on a warm Paris night. I remember walking through a cemetery where people I could only dream of approaching were laid to rest. I remember being at the place where the world’s major decisions are taken. I remember Porte des Postes. I remember Cormontaigne. I remember the grey August clouds overcast on the city as I saw it from the ICU of the hospital where I had spent most of my time being treated like a colleague. I remember those walks I took just to be alone amid the greatness of the place whose air I breathed. And I remember her with her blond hair and red lips and that rainy night in the streets of Lille.

So Small.

It’s easy to get lost inside your own problems which always seem so big at the time they’re happening. It’s very easy to make them seem like they are the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. It’s very easy to over dramatize them: why me?

But on a Monday, in a waiting room at a hospital in France, I realized how pitiful it is of me to dwell on the friends that were no longer there, on the grades that weren’t that good, on the things that I could’ve done. I saw people trying to convince that twenty year old boy of the need to cling to life as much as possible as his body rejected the heart transplant he had spent the previous year undergoing. And I realized then, as I tried to get him to feel better, that my problems are just so small.

Diagnosed.

She’s not invincible. She’s not going to be here forever. She’s weak. Her own body is killing her. As you look upon the worried face of the woman who gave birth to you, it can’t but kill you inside to see her hurting and to know her thoughts are about the potentiality of her not being there for you anymore. And you go in with her to her surgery because you know that being there for her will make all the difference. And it almost kills you to see her there, a shell of the person that she is, because of the drugs they injected into her veins. But you know it’s all for the best. And your senses perk up when the surgeon is stunned to find the procedure he had thought would be fairly straightforward was not. And your worry increases when you find out that the cancer was not as localized as they thought it was. Then when she wakes up from the anesthesia and the first faint word upon her lips when she sees your face is “habibi,” and despite the severity of it all, your worries in the world subside for just one minute.

Even thought she might lose her hair. And even though she might lose her weight. You’d still do anything for her to be there for you. And it may be selfish but it’s really not because you know that there’s nothing more she’d want as well.

Life/

Despite your guard being up, some people roll Into your life who end up surprising you. And you feel happy about them being there. things end up getting better for you and you remember the good times you spent and you realize that you regret nothing at all. You find the family which you had taken for granted will always be there for you. You meet new family members who were taken away from you by life and and time space and you find more in common with them than you’ve thought possible. You grow, you become more critical, you stand up for what you believe in. You take things in and hope that your life isn’t going to waste.

At least now you know where the 13 in State of Mind comes from. And right now, I’m felling 22 one last time, one last day. And thank God for that. Hello November 13th. Hello year 23.

A Pink October Diagnosis

She was sitting in the doctor’s clinic waiting. Who knew it’d take that long… and who knew anyone could be that nervous. She was transfixed by the tiles in front of her. She never thought she’d be in this situation. It had been three years.

The doctor called her name and she slowly walked the few steps to the door where she knew her life might change in a heartbeat. She sat down with her husband by her side. She grabbed his hand. She had never been this afraid. Not when her brother was killed. Not when she got the news that her father had died, back when she was a new nineteen year old bride.

She remembered that day two weeks prior when her sons nagged her head off to go to a hospital and do a test she was putting off for three years now. She remembered how she nervously received the results that said further examinations need to take place. She remembered how she had booked a biopsy appointment and how afraid she was when she went inside those surgery halls and waited for something she never thought she’d do.

The doctor approached her then and administered an anesthetic. He asked her to look away. But it was too late. She had seen that gun and that needle and they were going to go in there and she was going to suffer like she never did before. The pain was tolerable. The idea of it was horrible. But she survived. What she didn’t know however was that the ten days she was going to go through in order to get the results were going to be worse.

She didn’t eat. She didn’t drink. She didn’t sleep. She’d wake up early on some days and sit in the living room to cry. She didn’t think anyone would know. But her son did because he’s as light a sleeper as she is. She wasn’t convinced that the reassuring words the doctor had given her were genuine. She wasn’t convinced by the pep talks her family was giving her. The only thing that would give her a peaceful state of mind was a piece of paper which held that sentence she longed for: Negative. And she was never happier about the prospect of hearing the word no.

The doctor spoke and she was unwillingly tuning him out. She had known it wasn’t good news when her husband called a couple of hours earlier and shouted at the secretary in order to get through to him after he had seen his wife go to hell and back waiting for the results that they both knew were available, only to see the look upon his face change for a fraction of a second before he regained composure and tell her that they need to go see the doctor. Why would the doctor want to see them if it weren’t bad?

And she cried without wanting to. Tears streamed down her face and she couldn’t stop them. The doctor uttered those two words. “Breast cancer.” And she felt her whole world tumbling around her. Her husband, her three boys, her mother, her sister…. They would all lose her. But then the doctor asked her to regain composure because it wasn’t all bad. The cancer was still in a very early stage and perfectly treatable. The few cells that threatened her life had a treatment course to them that could be easily planned out. She needed to stay strong in order to beat them.

So she decided that being afraid and weak wouldn’t get her anywhere. She decided she wasn’t going anywhere and she was sure as hell not letting a capsule containing a few malignant cells stand in her way.

I’m not sure where my mother would have been if I hadn’t convinced her to do a mammography this year. I’m not sure what would have happened if she had waited one more year. Odds are I wouldn’t have had a mother that wanted to hug me whenever she saw me, despite my efforts not to let her, if that had happened. Odds are I wouldn’t have had a mother constantly worrying about anything and everything every single waking moment of every day. Odds are I wouldn’t have had a mother who loved me unconditionally and never saw anything wrong in me. Odds are I wouldn’t have one of the few people in this world that mean more to me than this world itself.

I will not bore you with science that you will never care about. Knowing that women over the age of 30 have an increased risk of breast cancer especially if they had never had children is irrelevant. People fall through statistical cracks all the time and they’re gone before you know it. You never think that something like this would happen to you until it does. You hear those stories about other families having family members getting these cancer diagnoses but you always have the idea that you live behind a protective capsule that will never be broken by those deadly cells. Until it does. And that’s what I’m sure my mother thought long before she was diagnosed.

The only thing I ask of you is to get your mother and loved ones to see a doctor this time of year. Getting a mammography is an examination which would be uncomfortable for only a few minutes but it may save their lives.

Here’s to our mothers being there and staying next to us – despite their ungodly stubbornness and their resiliency to never take care of themselves the way they’d do of us. But we love them anyway because there’s no one else in the whole world who will love you like your mother does.