In my family we have a dinnertime tradition. Some people say prayers or gather hands and chorus "Happy family," but in our family we call them high-lights and low-lights.
My family and I sat down for dinner. Dad set the table and we were ready to eat. As soon as we were seated, we started our highlights and lowlights. Mom started to speak.
"I need to tell you two something that is very important, and you need to know." She pointed at me and my brother Liam. She spoke slowly and carefully as if she was telling us something scary and trying not to worry us.
Could this something be that we were going to remodel our house or get a puppy? I would jump to the ceiling with happiness if we actually got a dog.
Very curious, I looked down at my brother. He looked confused as well. Then Mom broke the news. It was something I will never forget.
"I have a little breast cancer in my body." She pointed toward her chest.
She stated it so calmly I didn't realize at first what she had said. I had to play it like a movie clip about five times before I got the full picture. Then I started to get super worried. Mom had begun to explain to us her surgeries and procedures, about chemotherapy, how her hair will fall out, the stinky tea she will have to drink.
I couldn't stand it any longer. I told my parents how worried I was. "Was Mom going to be all right?" Will she be the same afterward? Will she be tired and stressed the whole way through?
I wasn't sure. Liam started giggling at the fact that Mom was going to be bald. I didn't like the idea that Liam thinks Mom's cancer is a laughing matter, even though it put a smile on my face. Today I didn't even mention it. I was too shocked to get mad at Liam.
Dad kept comforting me. "It's going to be all right, perfectly fine." That made me feel a little better but not by much. I looked into my mom's eyes, to see the truth, her real feelings inside. I saw a little fear, but also courage and determination.
Once I saw that, it reassured me. I felt warm and brave inside. I stood up taller in my chair, grasped mom's hand, and felt the hope rise into my heart. I knew it was going to be a long, hard journey, but at least we'll stay together. As a family.
Together we watched the sun disappear on the horizon, and the first star appeared, smiling down on me like a mother or father watching over me from the heavens.
I knew right then and there that I was going to stand by Mom and help her, no matter what. We all were.
Abigail Krenz, age 10, lives in Portola Valley and will be in the fifth grade at Corte Madera School this fall. She is the granddaughter of Marie Wagner Krenz, who occasionally writes a "Woodside Memories" column for the Almanac.
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