Prom night. It is such a significant moment for young women and their mothers. It is like a right of passage. For me, it was a bitter sweet day. I’m so proud of the woman my daughter has become. It was not an easy road for either of us. We didn’t even know what we were up against before our dual diagnosis. Perhaps that is what brought us closer.
I remember writing a blog about what this night was going to be like for her. That was four years ago, after she started treatment. We were both doing treatment. Damn it was awful. My misery was compounded by seeing her misery. It was indescribable torture to be in my skin on many many days. Fortunately, she improved after a couple rounds of some heavy duty cocktails. So did I. But I quickly relapsed. She didn’t. Until this spring. I saw it coming. We made an appointment. She was positive for Borellia Burdorferi. It wasn’t a new infection. It was a resurgence of the infection that never quite went away. Fortunately her Babesia WA1 and Mycoplasma were negative. So right before prom and graduation, she resumed treatment for the chronic infection the CDC and IDSA insist isn’t real. BASTARDS.
I watched as she applied her makeup with amazingly professional skill and natural looking end result. I didn’t teach her that. She learned it on her own. Make up was not within my capacity during her blossoming teen years.
Staying upright and functioning was my maximum. I look back on when she was a toddler and bursting with energy. She would ask me to play outside with her. I wanted to cry from exhaustion and the thought of playing outside was torture. Even though it was a struggle, I would force myself to play with her. And every moment is a memory I cherish so deeply. I just wish it hadn’t been a herculean effort to play kickball. We played a lot of kickball. And badminton. We’d draw on the driveway with chalk and eat popsicles. Now she’s fixing my eyebrows and giving private figure skating lessons.
After I waved her and Fran off in the BlueBerry (Fran’s ford) I returned to my spot on the patio and melted down. Sometimes I stop my thoughts from racing off in 50 different directions at once long enough to take in reality. My daughter inspires me. I want to do everything within my realm of capability to contribute in any way to finding a cure for this insidious disease. I don’t want her to become me. She has so much to offer the world.
I took dozens of pictures and drank in every moment of this day with her. That is the sweet part. The bitter part is that my mother has no interest in being in this moment, actually her life in general – just like she didn’t really want me. She stopped engaging with my daughter some time ago. I tell my mother all the great things going on– like when Olivia received her United States Figure Skating Gold Medal designation. I don’t recall a congratulations phone call or card. When she was accepted to Rutgers, TCNJ, University of New Hampshire, University of Delaware, University of Rhode Island and Syracuse, she just couldn’t have cared less. Last time I called my mother I told her Olivia selected UD – Home of the Fighting Blue Hens. Nada. It was like I said, “There is a napkin on the floor.”
It isn’t like Olivia hasn’t tried to be a good granddaughter. My mother just really doesn’t care. The last time I attempted to engage her with Olivia, I took both Olivia and Fran with me to see “Grandma”. She was in a nasty mood and totally disagreeable about any and all activities I suggested we attempt in effort to soak up the tension flooding the floor like water from a busted pipe. It went from bad to worse after my mother told my daughter she was a spoiled brat. That put a quick close to the festivities as Fran and I picked my daughter’s body parts up off the floor and tossed them into the car for the ride home. As I fastened my seatbelt to drive us home I looked over at Olivia riding shotgun. Her eyes were wet. It reminded me of how often a cried as a young woman left out to dry on the clothesline of life in a windstorm by my own mother.
I went to a couple proms. I don’t have any recollection of great mother daughter moments. Probably because I knew she was thinking exactly what she said to Olivia. I was just a spoiled brat. I wasn’t. Nor is my daughter. Does she have everything she needs? Yes. She’s earned all of it. I don’t know any child that put forth more energy into her personal development. There are many that put in as much. Very few that have worked harder.
So as I celebrate these amazing moments with my daughter, deep inside I mourn what I never had. I keep the smile on and hold off on crumbling into tears alone wishing so many things could have been different.
Prom Night – brought to you by Martina McBride.