Hello world. I’m not sure if anyone will read these words since it has been months since I have posted anything. It has actually been months since I have sat down at my computer and typed more than a handful of words collectively. My fingers are cramping as I type this; they are rusty and have forgotten how this works.
I never intended to take such a long break from this blog, this space of mine on the internet where I have been posted random ramblings since 2011. I have been attempting to write some version of this blog post for months but the words never made their way to my fingers. Or rather, finding time to sit down and actually pause to think about how I was feeling has been impossible.
My last blog post was in January, and shortly after, we had planned on moving. I was busy with packing and of course just day to day stuff with my daughter. We were supposed to move in April but at the end of March something happened that changed my world.
At the end of March, after an emergency visit to the hospital, my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Writing these words is something I never imagined I would do. It has been several months since the fact but the wound is still so raw. Putting this truth, a truth that I have been living with for the past few months, out into the world feels both right and wrong. It is something I have kept to myself since it happened, letting only a handful of friends know. It felt too huge to share with strangers.
I will never forget that moment in the hospital when the doctor, a polite but caring young Middle Eastern doctor, came in to deliver the news. We had been joking only moments before, my brothers and I, making light of the situation, dealing with the fact that he was in the hospital for a headache, with the only way we knew how: humour. I still remember my brother saying that he had Voldemort growing out of the back of his head, as joke about his headaches, the symptom that brought him to the hospital in the first place.
But there weren’t many jokes or laughter after that moment. Instead, there were tears. Tears that were sometimes shed in front of him, but more often than not, in private so as not to scare him. But it was hard. We were so scared. He must have been petrified.
The days after his emergency surgery were the most difficult ones I have lived through. I tried so hard to be a pillar of support for my parents and brother, but inside I was crumbling, bit by bit. I left childhood behind many years ago, but at this time, all I wanted was to be a kid again, to return to the comfort of my mother’s lap, when she would make everything okay. But she couldn’t make this okay. None of us could.
I never envisioned what his road to recovery would look like. In my mind, the surgery would fix things and he would be home to recover, but then be back to normal. But normal never happened.
I never imagined that we would get another shock. A few weeks after we got home and he was starting to slowly get up and about, another doctor uttered the C word with such casual elegance, a word that strikes fear in the hearts with many. Four years ago, in this same month, it took my uncle and then a month later my grandfather. The former spent several years fighting in, while the latter received his diagnosis on a Monday and was gone by Friday.
Four years later, it was back in my family, but in someone who was so young, proving that this disease does not discriminate: old or young, all are fair game.
This began a furious round of treatments in which my brother became all too familiar with the hospital. But despite how careful we tried to be with him, he caught an infection and was back in the hospital on course for another brain surgery.
In total, my brother ended up having three brain surgeries since his initial diagnosis, two of which were basically a few weeks apart. The time we spent out of the hospital between these two surgeries was like a dream. It felt like we spent the entire summer in the hospital; if he wasn’t having surgery, he was suffering from complications from the surgeries or an infection. We all became familiar with the many nurses and doctors who took care of him.
But by the end of August, he was released from hospital and hasn’t been back since then, alhamdulilah. He is still undergoing treatment for the tumour, but is much more mobile than he was before.
There has been little light in this dark period that my family and I have been going through. As a wife and mother myself, I had to try and retain some sort of normalcy for my own family, especially since my daughter is still so young. In these few months, we ended up moving to a new apartment and a new city. This has been the most challenging thing for me, since it meant being away from my brother.
Before, we were living in the basement of my parents’ house. Being close to him during this turbulent time was so comforting, but when we moved, things became so difficult. Most days all I ever wanted was to be near him; it felt like an invisible string was pulling me to him but I couldn’t go. I had to take care of my daughter.
I still went when I could but it wasn’t the same as living in the same house and having that peace of mind of seeing him. Instead, I became the annoying sister who called and texted constantly, always worrying.
In some sense, life went on. The days became weeks and the weeks became months. The seasons changed and the days became longer before they became shorter again. Things continued to happen around me but I couldn’t see them. I was stuck in a bubble.
The bubble sucked all the life out of me. Inside, there was a barren desert where nothing grew.
In these past few months, I have thought so often about putting my feelings into words, but it seemed impossible. The feelings were still too raw and ugly and painful and huge to even begin to understand and to translate into mere letters on a small page. I couldn’t do it.
Instead, I continued to give and give to my family, even though most days it felt like I had nothing to give. I became a zombie who just ate, slept, and took care of my daughter. Taking care of her is so all-encompassing that by the end of the day, I didn’t have the time or energy to do anything else. I drowned myself in thriller novels, plots that were so far-fetched and terrifying that they lulled me to sleep instantly. I ate my weight in pasta, cookies, and cake, using the extra fat as a shield to protect me from the scary world. I stalked the Internet like a madwoman, scrolling and liking and staring, but not putting up much of myself out there. I didn’t know what to share.
It’s now, that the year is almost over, that I am slowly trying to force myself out of the cocoon of my own making. Some days, it’s easier. While other days, I still want to hide, exhausted from fighting my own demons.
Before, I used to pray that we could go back to that moment in the hospital when our lives changed forever. But I now know that that’s a silly prayer. Since it was that moment in the hospital, where we first discovered my brother’s tumour, that began the journey of his treatment. Any moment later and we would have lost precious time, and time is something we so desperately need.
So today, I don’t pray to go back. Instead, I pray that he goes forward, that he regains his health and gets stronger, strong enough that he slays this cursed dragon, this beast which is attacking his body, specifically his brain. I pray for strength for my family, for us to keep our faith in God as He leads us through this turbulent time. The smoke is thick and blinding, but there is a path. Only He can see it.
Thank you for all of those who have reached out during this difficult time. And thank you, as always, for reading.