My mother is one of the most selfless, caring people I know. But there’s no argument – she’s not a sentimental lady. Our family nickname for her is “The Little General” because she runs a tight ship, even at five feet tall. That’s why when she sent us all an email with a very sentimental message a couple of weeks ago, we all listened.
My mom has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer for almost a year now. This is definitely the most vulnerable I’ve seen her, and rightfully so. Don’t get me wrong – my mother isn’t one for pity parties or tears. But there has been a shift in her demeanor over this past year, although almost imperceptible to most.
I’ll just cut straight to the present, though, for her sake and yours. The email that my mom sent us featured an unusual subject line: Climbing Mountains. The body of the message went on to say that she had been having a very good day, and it had culminated in her taking a walk outside with her iPod on. The device started playing “The Climb,” an oldie-but-goodie by Miley Cyrus (who, mind you, my mother strongly dislikes). The words had made an impact on her, and she shared them with us. I’ll give you the most important snippets:
“There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb”
I was so thrilled to hear that my mom was feeling so positive. After all, the woman who has been there through all of our darkest times deserves to feel hopeful herself. Admittedly, though, the lyrics themselves didn’t fully impact me until just days ago.
I had been feeling the winter blues for a while. Between my parents spending the winter in Florida, the dreary weather, and my lack of a social life here in suburbia, I was just feeling “blah.” There’s no better way to put it. But this past weekend, it started to feel like much more than seasonal sadness. I had a very rough weekend diabetes-wise. My blood sugar was up and down, to put it mildly. I was up at all hours of the night, testing my blood and forcing down food. Then I would run high because of said food, leaving me with intense headaches. Then back again. The constant wave was not only physically tiring, but it was mentally exhausting. Sunday night, the levee finally broke and I cried on the phone to my mom. Believe it or not, crying is not something I do regularly.
Between that night and the next day, I received several texts and phone calls checking in on me. My neighbor/’winter mother’ (hi Jonelle!) texted me for updates while my friend Kate tried to use her nursing talents to get to the bottom of it. My mom assured me that being a shoulder to cry on is why she is here…until I get a husband, she noted. My dad called me Monday morning to remind me that no matter how far away he may be, he is always “in my corner” and we will always fight through it together. My grandmother cooked up a storm so that she could make sure I’m eating enough.
Suddenly, my mom’s email just clicked. While I had originally taken it to mean simply that better days are ahead, my tumultuous weekend had shed new light on it. I read the lyrics more carefully. Life isn’t necessarily about getting over hurdles so that you can enjoy the good parts. Life is the struggle. And no, that’s not as depressing as it sounds. It’s about getting through the hard times with the help of the people you love. After all, it’s the hard times that make you appreciate what you have – and who you have.
One of my favorite stories from this past year is when my mom pointed out to my dad that her bald head made her ears look ginormous. A little while later, he called her “Dumbo” in passing. Silly story, I know – but it’s about the cute little laugh that emanates from my mom and the loving look that my dad gives her when she tells it.
Or last week, when my mom texted me late at night to tell me that a segment on Jimmy Kimmel had been the highlight of her day. It involved Channing Tatum feeding conversation hearts to a random woman on the street, when Kimmel stopped and said “wait – you’re not diabetic are you?” The woman looked at Tatum and replied, “who cares?” My mom explained that she doesn’t make light of comments like that because she knows what I go through every single day, but that she thought I might let my blood sugar slide if Channing was feeding me, as well.
Whether our personal situation is health-related, financial, mental, or something else entirely, there is always going to be another obstacle in our way. Yes, it’s nice to picture what lies on the other side of the mountain. It’s nice to picture reaching the summit and feeling the sun’s rays warm us from the peak. But we shouldn’t be so quick to get the journey over with. If we stop to appreciate it every once in a while, the climb can be the best part.
“I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most
Just gotta keep going” –MC