As much as I try to talk to you irl, it feels weird writing you a letter here. But there are so many things I just can’t say to you.
You were diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in the summer of 2012. I had just graduated college. We were not close at all at the time. That seems to be conveniently forgotten now, by both of us, but previously I had moved across the country to get as far away from you as I could. But I still tried to perform the role of doting son, to be there as much as I could for you from thousands of miles away.
You eventually went into remission, but the cancer came back about a year later, this time in your brain. I remember talking to you after that diagnosis. Like it was the last time I would ever speak to you again. You asked me if there was anything I wanted to say to you. That it was better to get everything out in the open before it was too late. You were only being given about a month at that time.
But how could I possibly tell you how I really felt? That I think you were a terrible mother, at least for me. That ever since I became a teenager you’ve left emotional scars on me that I’ve never gotten over. That I literally hated you for much of my adolescence. That I largely blame you for destroying my family. That I believe my relationship with you has poisoned all of my other relationships with women and left me utterly incapable of any true connection with them. That I blame all my loneliness and misery on you.
No, I didn’t say any of that. You’re so broken as it is. It would have killed you. I just did my best to be the best son I could be. To repair whatever relationship we had as much as I could with whatever time I had left. And the only way to do that was just to pretend like nothings ever happened and to never expect anything from you again.
You kept living, kind of. You still haven’t been on a single date since dad left in 2006 and most of your friends were so much older than you that they’re dead now. You never got any hobbies. You never got a job. You did go back to school, for the first 5 years you were on you own, but you have yet to make a single dollar from that effort. You were content to live off of child support and the charity of people who felt sorry for you. It’s so disgusting. I could’ve pulled the “my mom is dying” card so many times to my advantage and I never did. But you? You’ll tell the waitress you have cancer to get a few dollars off the bill.
Things are getting a lot worse. All the chemo and the radiation and the brain surgeries. Sometimes I fear you have some kind of dementia already. But I’ll never know how much you play things up for your advantage. Regardless, you are clearly debilitated, physically and mentally. You’ve been falling down a lot lately. You’ve lost half your vision from the brain surgeries. It scares me to death that you still drive at all. We’ve gotten to the point that your own mother is trying to convince me to put you into a nursing home; meanwhile I’m starting to wonder if I need to convince you to sign power of attorney to me and to change your will while you still have some mental acuity left to avoid a probate fight that could cost my younger siblings the inheritance they deserve.
You know, I’m sorry I wasn’t an easier son to raise. I don’t think I was bad, but we never got along so some of that must my fault. I’m sorry I moved so far away, and haven’t been with you when you need me most. But I had to. I’m sorry that, because of me you will likely never have any grandchildren. I know that would mean a lot to you.
But I think the real reason I’m writing this now, is because you have become so fucking selfish. Maybe you’ve always been like that, I don’t remember, but ever since you got cancer, it’s all about you. I call you 2 or 3 times a week and we talk for hours and it’s always just about how much pain you’re in or how my siblings aren’t helping out or what a scumbag you think my dad is. Sure, you ask how I’m doing. But your feeble mind has already wandered on to your dog or your next medical appointment before I’ve even said “I’m good”.
And you know what mom, I’m not good. I haven’t been for longer than I can remember. I struggle with depression often. I self medicate, coffee by day, alcohol by night. I’ve been so broke for so long. I’ve been single and completely alone for the last 5 or 6 years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I don’t trust women. I feel like I’m just supposed to accept them lying to me, disappointing me, yelling at me, because that’s what I learned from you. I guarantee I’m just as miserable as you are, and I’m 30 years younger. That seems a lot worse to me, but you’re too self-absorbed to notice.
And yet, when my youngest sibling goes off to college next year and you try to move in with me so I can take care of you, I will likely take you in with open arms. Even though I know doing so will likely destroy whatever small chance I have of ever having a ‘normal’ life, for as long as you live. I’ll do this because I hope one day, long from now, I can tell myself that at least I did right by the woman who brought me into the world. But by then I’m afraid I will have completely become you: weak, sad, and pathetic.