It was months after my mother’s brain cancer was diagnosed that I got a school assignment during my Dutch language class. It was a writing assignment and it had to start with ‘I am afraid of..’ Everyone had to finish this sentence and write a paper about it. The average kid in this class was 12 years old, so it was not surprising that most of them wrote about spiders, snakes or ghosts. I went home thinking of what I wanted to write. My mother already had brain surgery and we had been on this cancer roller coaster for a while. When I looked at my mom I saw her still smiling, but there was something in her eyes. I discovered a certain emptiness that I haven’t seen before. That was the moment I realized what I was afraid of more than anything in the world, I was afraid of death. Not my own death, but I couldn’t live with the idea of losing my mother. I decided not to tell my family about my school assignment and started writing it in all silence. Every single member in my family tried to protect me, not telling me that the probability of losing this battle was increasing everyday. A couple of weeks went by while my teacher was grading all papers. When the day finally came that I got my paper back I was thrilled! I scored 90% and I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my parents about it. When I walked through the door and I saw my mom being awake there was a slight hesitation to show her my work. I mean I wrote about being afraid of me losing her, how would she respond?! I decided to show it to my father first, so he could help me decide whether or not to show it to my mom. Anxious for his response I kept staring at him. Finally my father looked up with tears in his eyes. Oh Oh.. My dad is a very strong charismatic man and I rarely saw him having tears in his eyes. I couldn’t quite tell if he was sad or proud of me, but we decided that my mother should read it too. Waiting for her to read it seemed to take hours, I was listening to the clock ticking as minutes were passing. She finished reading, looked up, and turned her head towards me. I was holding my breath when she broke the silence, “Why would you be afraid of that?” There it was again, that emptiness in her eyes. She wasn’t protecting me, she honestly didn’t understand why I was afraid of such a thing. My thoughts drifted away, while I hear my father say in the background, “Aren’t you proud of what our daughter wrote?”

There are everlasting loves that continue to exist after death do us part. I lost my always-loving mother when I was 12 years old to brain cancer. A battle we could not win. This is my voice, my story from a child’s perspective.

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2 thoughts on “‘I am Afraid of Death’

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