I hate coming back here with my tail between my legs. I feel like I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I know I haven’t been posting recently, so I wanted to shed some light on the situation.
You never think you’re going to be the person who leaves. There’s always that someone, discussed in whispered questions and theories, who stops what they’re doing without an explanation. They drop out of school, quit their job, leave the group, or stop showing up to where they’ve always been. Eyebrows are raised, people talk, but then life moves on and we move with it.
But what happens to the ones who leave? Are they lost? Are they missed?
I’m a senior at one of the top five high schools in the county. I work late nights, early mornings, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve made the best friends, I have phenomenal teachers, and I’m on track to fulfill my lifelong dream of going to a top rated school (which I’ll call Bob University for the sake of this post).
Is this what it’s like for everyone? No. Do people drop out? Sure. Sure, it’s challenging to manage all the extra essays and ACT prep on top of four AP classes while running a food blog and being an opera singer. But I can do it! I’m going to Bob University!
Someone won’t show up for a few days, then a few weeks. Rumors begin quietly, ranging from strange to ridiculous, but fade out as unceremoniously as their subject. Maybe it’s because this wasn’t for them. Maybe it’s because they couldn’t handle it and were tired of sticking it out in some place they don’t belong. But I can handle it. I’m going to Bob University.
This unraveled quickly.
I started off my senior year strong, making it a whole day without getting sick. I spent the next eight days in bed with a high fever, mummified in a pile of blankets as I hunched over my calculus textbook, blinking through my fevered watery eyes to see the problems. My hands trembled so my numbers were shaky at best, but I would do whatever it took to keep up.
About a week into my fever, my mother went to a doctor’s appointment at about 7pm. She was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer when I was 13, and was given a 95% chance of a cure. She was re-diagnosed as stage IV when I was 15 when it metastasized to a bone at the base of her spine.
I was feeling better, so I cheerfully insisted she shouldn’t worry about me. I’d make dinner while she was gone, like I do everyday, and we’d eat when she came back. She’s given me so much. We have no family nearby, and she’s my everything. I’m happy I have the opportunity to give back to her, and I have no basis to resent being a caregiver because I’ve never known anything else.
My fever skyrocketed while she was gone, and I somehow lost consciousness on my bedroom floor. When I came to, my mother was nervously standing over me.
She was clearly panicked and, seeing that I was alright, had no qualms about expressing it. I made a pointless quip about her not being there when I was sick, when I needed her, and then the arguing started.
She told me to wait there, and returned with a pastel colored box. She pulled out papers with a familiar format. Blood tests. Pet scan results. She said she was going to wait until after college apps, but that it’s better if I knew now.
They found more tumors.
Thankfully small, but devastatingly real. One in her hip, one in a lymph node in her neck. I collapsed into a weepy heap on my bed, and really haven’t gotten up since.
My immediate reaction was the overwhelming guilt of my selfishness. Of course I couldn’t expect her to take care of me. I couldn’t handle being sick for one week, but what if my mom feels like this all the time? How does she constantly handle so much pain? How has she been so brave?
After the guilt subsided, I knew I had to take action. I couldn’t leave my mother. I would just stay in California or only go to college where I know she could come with me and have world class healthcare.
The future used to be so bright. I used to have such a clear idea of where I would be and what I wanted to do, but my perspective has changed so radically in the span of only a month. When I think of the future, my hope is now replaced by an empty dread. The brightness of my accomplishments, what I’ve counted on all my life, is gone. I wouldn’t say it’s completely dark, but it’s hazy.
I’ve had to face the improbability of going to Bob University. I’ve seen the campus and it’s stunning. I’ve met the students and they’re phenomenal. I’ve studied the curriculum and it’s perfect for me. It’s my dream, and I’ve worked my whole life for it. But it’s so uncertain, just like everything else.
This month has been unbearably painful. Pain that I’ve faced in long dark nights. Pain that’s forced me to face a possibility that I’ve conspicuously, deliberately ignored since I was thirteen. Words that I would never consider let alone say or type. Three words that now daunt my days and haunt my nights and burn in my chest all the time, sometimes quietly, sometimes unbearably, but always there. She could die. The question is when.
Everyone has a guardian angel, my mother says on dark days. But you have two, she says. Because you’re extra special, Kelly. And I love you so much.
And then I cry. Because I’m so utterly crushed by the unfairness of it all. How something so horrible could happen to a woman so extraordinary in every way. Who I love more than I love myself. How I desperately want to move every mountain in sight so I can help her, but realize how limited I am. So I stopped what I was doing. I took a little time off from everything, coping with this news along with the fact that I’d inevitably hit the wall.
So there I was, the someone who left without an explanation. And I never thought it would happen to me. But I’m back now, and I’ve learned to appreciate every day.
There are bad days. There are really bad days. But there are also good days, and there are more of them as time goes on. I’m so grateful to have the most incredible people in my life (friends, teachers, and most importantly my mom) who have been nothing short of amazing.
But my biggest regret out of this time is how I’ve handled Foodie Fiasco. I had such high hopes, and no one is more disappointed than me that they couldn’t come though. Or at least right now.
This blog, these opportunities, YOU guys have been such a source of joy in my life. I cannot come close to expressing my gratitude to you. Just for being here. Just for finding this corner of the world and staying for a bit. For making this a community. I love you all from the very bottom of my heart.
And I love this blog. So naturally I would like to say that we’ll be back next week. Better than ever. Posting my signature love-filled but crazy time intensive recipes, responding to everyone’s comments and emails immediately, filing taxes correctly (okay maybe this one is a bit of a stretch). But I’m done making public goals I can’t keep.
I’m in no place to make any promises about where I’ll be tomorrow, let alone next month or year. Sharing my most beloved recipes with you brings me too much joy to leave behind, so I’ll pop in here and there. No contributors. Just me.
And there is more good news! My extraordinarily talented, kind, hard-working, beautiful friend Christine is now running Foodie Fiasco’s new sister site, Fiasco Flair. Christine is creating posts with stunning photography and really helpful fashion advice.
I could not be more proud of this, so it would mean the world if you checked it out. Flair will remain active and I’ll definitely show up there from time to time.
If I’ve learned something from this, it’s the power of friendship and community. I would never get through this without my loved ones. If I know you in the real world, I want to thank you for being a positive influence in my life. Even if I don’t know you offline, you have my eternal gratitude for being here and for being a member of this community. Please know I’m here if you need a friend/shoulder, so always always always feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m grateful that others have done the same for me.
The whisk, the camera, and the dream live on.
All my love,