I’m floating effortlessly in the bathtub. In the distance I can hear the uncomfortable cries of my daughter. I’m hiding out. Escaping my guilt and my mental torment. I have filled the tub with just enough water that for the time being living is effortless. The forces of the universe have little control over me as I float in water. Gravity has very little pull here and the toxicity and side effects from my cancer treatment has quieted down to a slow murmur.
I look down at myself and breath in deeply letting the humid air fill my lungs. At this moment its hard to comprehend that cancer is now a permanent part of my life. How can this be when floating in the tub is so effortless? In the tub there are no decisions to be made and no prognosis to process. At this moment I have even been able to release part of the grasp I have on my fleeting independence that has been stolen by cancer.
My nine month old daughter has had a fever for 3 days. This is a heart breaking time for any parent. You are powerless. This is one of the hardest parts of my cancer journey as cancer has stolen this aspect of motherhood. My weakened immune system requires that I distance myself from people who are ill. This includes my children and husband. A minor fever will send me to emergency. If the fever doesn’t clear up by my next round of chemo, I will have to stop treatment until my immune system recovers.
In the background I can hear my husband trying to comfort my daughter as she cries. I escape further into the water. I desperately want to kiss my daughter’s head to see how hot she is. To cuddle her and strokes her hair as I tell her I love her and that she’s going to be okay. I thought this was integral to motherhood. As the losses compile this one is particular is devastating. It cuts deep and right to the core. It challenges my sense of self which is further complicated by the layers of the guilt I feel.
This is why, in this moment the bath tub is my sanctuary. A place where I don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable truths of my illness. For now forced confinement is the only thing I can to do to be a good mother. I must sacrifice one aspect of motherhood to ensure another. To be with her when she is well for as long as I possibly can. To allow myself more time to make memories verses the hours I would have to spend at the emergency department. Knowing this I focus on relaxing as I float in the bath. Struggling with my desperate need to be free, I try to let go of torment and guilt and just float. Focusing on the weightlessness, on the silence, on the effortlessness of the moment.