My mom died when I was ten.
For us, it was sudden. Nobody had bothered to tell us she had cancer.
Mom and Dad knew though.
When the doctors told my mom her diagnosis, they said she'd have at least a year before her time came.
Dad told us that Mom had wanted to spend that last year making amazing, untainted memories with Tay, Andrew, and me. That's why she didn't tell us she was dying.
But Mom died two months later.
It was Tay and Andrew who found her. Mom's last day on earth was fittingly dark and stormy, her last moments spent watching the lightning lite the afternoon sky and the thunder respond by shaking the ground. From the kitchen window she could see how the thunder was shaking the grove of oaks trees bordering our back fence, the fiery red and orange leaves falling to the dirt floor with each of the sky's fits of rage.
I was in the shower upstairs, washing off the sweat left on my skin from my grueling soccer practice. The local high school was offering a camp for the kids that would eventually be filling their soccer program a few years down the road, I remember. With the water pounding in my ears, and a Backstreet Boys song blasting from the radio beside the sink, I was completely oblivious to what was occurring downstairs.
When I stepped out of the shower I first heard the sirens, too loud to be coming from the busy road at the end of our drive. I quickly switched off the radio, the sirens even more alarmingly loud. I put on my sweats and threw open the door.
"Mom?" I called, as I pounded down the stairs.
At the base of the stairs I nearly ran into Tay and Andrew, sitting on the bottom step. In front of them several paramedics were dragging what looked like a huge food tray on wheels, with a off-white pillow at the head, inside the front door.
You know that fear you get sometimes, that feels like a rock sitting at the bottom of your stomach? As if there's a huge, fat, cold rock inside you weighing you down. Letting you know something's not right.
That was how we found out my mom had cancer. And she died six hours later, with all of us surrounding her in her hospital bed.
I had always thought that that would be the worst day of my life, that nothing would ever top that feeling of utter despair that just swallowed us as we watched Mom take her last breath.
I was wrong.