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A mother’s smile

My head is absolutely spinning. It’s been two days since the news was delivered yet it feels like an eternity. I’m still waiting to wake up from this nightmare.

When I got home from Dani’s on Saturday I was a wreck. I told Aaron – my husband – the news. The next natural person for me to tell? My mom.

After her initial shock she went into full-on mother-mode doing her best to console her sobbing daughter. She listened and responded rationally. She reminded me of Dani’s strength and that I needed to be strong for her – even when I felt weak. 

An hour and a half later we said “I love you” and hung up the phone. I was emotionally exhausted. I was to go shopping with my mother-in-law Saturday afternoon for a dress to wear to the JUNO Awards that were taking place in Ottawa this past weekend. My father-in-law is the Chairman of Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) so we were to attend a number of events. 

Needless to say I didn’t feel like shopping much less celebrating. I lay in bed and cried, feeling helpless. How could this be happening? How could my best friend have cancer?  She is the healthiest out of all of us. She has two beautiful babes. This is not right. Why her and not me?

A couple of hours later I dragged myself out of bed knowing I still didn’t have an outfit for the show. At the mall I wandered aimlessly. My head was still spinning. I not only went home with a dress but a new pair of running shoes. Didn’t realize it at the time but they’re half pink – I think subconsciously that’s why I bought them.
breast cancer blog
Ironically my treadmill is a LIVESTRONG.

I went to bed Saturday night with the same questions racing. Unfortunately there were no answers.

Sunday morning I woke up wondering if the last 24 hours had really happened. By the look of my eyes, they had. I do my best to pull myself together. We were late for the first event of the weekend: the JUNOS Songwriters’ Circle.

Walking into the show my mother-in-law asks me what is wrong with Danielle. “She has breast cancer.”

The music finally breaks our silence. Songwriters’ Circles bring together musicians who share songs and stories on stage. I was in no way prepared for what I was about to hear. 

Almost two years to the day Terri Clark lost her mother to cancer. Hearing the word “cancer” is raw. Tears stream down my face. She recounts being in the hospital room after her mom courageously declined chemotherapy to preserve her quality of life. Terri’s mom caught her crying, turned to her and said, “I want you to smile.” 

While not the Ottawa performance, here’s the story of how Terri’s mom inspired her song Smile

While a celebration seemed untimely, I went to the JUNOS to support my father-in-law. He joined us at the pre-reception where I tell him the news. I remain emotionless then change the subject. I couldn’t talk about it anymore.

Through the show I question whether I was doing the right thing – being out. Should I be with Danielle? Should I be at home? I am overcome with guilt. 

I finally got lost in the music. When it was all over, my head started spinning again.


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