My mom is still stronger than cancer, even though it killed her

My mom is still stronger than cancer, even though it killed her

Cancer is an uninvited guest, a dark shadow on a sunny day, a pointedly mean joke without punchline or retribution. It inspires sympathetic head-shakes and hugs from those who might understand or only think they do. Everyone (or-so-it-seems) knows someone who has battled cancer, or knows someone who knows someone who has battled cancer (win-or-lose). Or someone that is currently in the fight. And what is left behind. On life and death  The room is a warm and steady 72 degrees. It doesn’t change much. In the hallway, the bustle of doctors and nurses in scrubs and white coats. We are at Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul. The plants are plastic: living things are harmful. But there is still life here, watching my mother dance around the room in a hospital gown to music I play for her. The windows can’t be opened but sunlight is streaming through the pane with warmth as real as the summer outside. But things are different inside, cut off from the melange of cars and people that cris-cross through the downtown streets. From their lives and stories. This is 2004, a decade before the Light Rail first passed in front of the hospital. She would have been excited about that. It’s hard to write a story like this without coming across as sob (or looking for sympathy). As I write this, my neighbor’s dog is chasing a rabbit from the yard, barking, soon to be covered in dirt and mud, blissfully unaware of the emotional trials of humans. The dog does not offer sympathy, only support; companionship, and so when telling stories...