Telling the story about my son’s brain tumor is the easy part of writing my memoir.
I first wrote most of the dramatic scenes over fifteen years ago, within a few years of his diagnosis at age 11. Had I not written them, I would still remember. The trauma created new neural pathways in my brain, and the memories travel them frequently.
I’ve shed so many tears over the years as I scribbled and typed away, there are fewer left now. It helps that Matthew is about to turn 32, and he manages his minor deficits so well, you’d never know anything had ever been wrong.
A mother knows. But that’s what mothers do–they know, when others do not.
During the three years that Matthew’s slow deterioration remained a medical mystery, I knew, deep inside, that something was wrong. But I didn’t listen to my gut. I didn’t stand up for what I believed to be true.
The hard part of this memoir is to tell that story: that motherhood exposed my flaws, and those flaws jeopardized my child.
At this point in my writing, I’m struggling to understand who I was as a mother, as a woman, as a person. I’m struggling with forgiveness.
Today, as I stepped out of the shower, an insight hit me like a blast of cold water, and I ran around in my towel, dripping on the floor, trying to find paper and a pencil. I scribbled my thoughts down; here’s what I’ve written:
I was a flawed mother, but I didn’t give up and I didn’t fail. I pulled my family through our ordeal, and we survived, not unscathed, but stronger and wiser. And by grappling now to understand who I was then, when my children were little, I’m coming to peace with my flaws, and realizing my strengths. What better example can a mother set for her children, even though they are now grown?
I looked in the mirror, and for years, all I noticed was the jagged crack running through the middle. Shards of glass occasionally splintered off, drawing tears and blood. Now, I have sealed the crack. It left a scar. There are some chips in the beveled edges, and the antique glass is wavy. Black splotches show through where the quicksilver backing has worn away. I see character. As an antique, the mirror is more valuable with its flaws intact. The cheap frame, however is moldy, and needs to go. I put a new one on, and it changes my reflection. I love what I see now, flaws and all.
If you are on a quest of forgiveness, for yourself or others, can you reframe what you see?