She sat next to me on that gray and blue upholstered couch, the one that pulled out into a bed whenever guests stayed overnight. She sat next to me and stroked my hair, my hair wet with sweat from a fever that revved to 103º and was still pouring on steam. It was a Sunday night, strange those hazy memories: 60 Minutes flickering on the screen, heat, fuzzy, dizzy. I felt like I was trapped in a kaleidoscope.
But my mom sat next to me. I don’t remember anything she said. But she sat there, and she fought the fever with me. She fought it for me. She loved me. Because I’m a father now, I know that she was fighting harder than me, that she felt a kind of pain my little, feverish body couldn’t yet know.
With the fever still climbing, my mom put me in the bathtub with cold water and ice. I shivered and ached while she poured all her love and energy and fierceness into that fight. And she won. The fever cried uncle.
Today, my mom battles cancer. She’s tenacious and strong; but she’s got a real brawl on her hands. I wish I could sit with her on the couch and hold her hand and let her rest while I fought for her. I wish I could do more than pray to God, more than text a line of love or plan a visit a few months away. I wish I could say more to my dad than I love you, and you’re not alone. I wish I could get my hands around that cancer’s neck and squeeze the very life out of it. I wish I could make that bastard cry uncle.