Late September 2005, Christi Morris, my mother was flying along the open road with Mike, her husband of 2 1/2 years. Wracking pain stole over her body, causing her to seek immediate medical attention; not unprecedented, as mom had been diagnosed with diverticulitis twice within the previous year.
The graveyard shift is exhausting. One afternoon, as I was attempting to capture much-needed sleep, unexpected pounding on the door awakened me. Upon arriving at the door, I found my coworker, who was a police officer. The officer informed me that my mother had attempted to reach me many times. He told me my mom had tried to call my home phone multiple times and that I needed to call her. I thanked him, closed the door and then called her. She told me her husband had taken her to the hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Her voice cracked when she said “I have cancer.” She explained to me that it was in her stomach and that she would know more when she got home.
A few weeks later, I was awakened again by beating on the door. This time my friend. Kendall stood outside my door, who urged me to call my mother immediately. That phone call was the hardest of my life. Mom shared that she had stage four Leiomyosarcoma cancer and that it was terminal. The doctor told her she had eight months to live. I felt my heart breaking inside of my chest. What do you say in a moment like that? I can’t remember what I said. A couple hours later, Kendall and I sat outside for many hours. She asked how I was doing. I responded “I don’t know how I’m doing; I can’t fathom my life without her.” She cried with me, she laughed with me. We talked about God and heaven. We marveled at the stars.
Mitchell came home from work that night. We didn’t talk about it at all. He wrapped his arms around me and held me. He loved her too.
The next time I reported to work I walked into my boss’s office. He was sitting at his desk working on reports. I looked at him with teary eyes and said “My mom has terminal cancer, and she’s been given eight months to live, she’s going to die.” He said “I am so sorry, let us know if there’s anything we can do. This whole department is behind you.”
I felt broken in the middle of a terrible nightmare. I wish I would wake up. Mitchell was devastated too. We didn’t speak of it. We were both dealing with the facts in our own ways.
Mitchell and I began to argue more frequently toward the end of November. We were both under an incredible amount of stress. He was a pathological liar. He often took what little money we had and spent it on alcohol. He was degrading to me in a sexual way. I did not have the experience he wanted. He felt that I didn’t know how to treat a man. I wasn’t the greatest housekeeper. He felt unappreciated.
One afternoon in early December 2005 Mitchell and I were arguing. He left to go to his sister’s house to cool off. I walked out to her house later in the day. Mitchell and I were okay. He was drinking beer very heavily. I went to his sister privately and told her I did not feel comfortable riding home with him. I told Mitchell I was very tired, and that his teenage nephew was going to drop me off at home. I told him to take his time and I would be there when he got home. Mitchell’s nephew T.J. dropped me off at home. I changed my clothes, lay down in bed and pulled the blanket up to my chest. I had only been lying in the bed about 5 minutes when I heard running up the metal stairs, and then open handed pounding on the door. I opened the door to see T.J. standing there he had blood on his arm. He said “Uncle Mitchell has been a wreck!” I asked “Is EMS on the way?” T.J. said “He’s OK, he’s at the house.” I gathered myself quickly, waked down the apartment stairs and got in the passenger seat of his Eclipse. As he drove, I asked why he was bleeding. He explained that Mitchell rolled the truck multiple times, a metal fence post went through the passenger side, and he couldn’t get the door open for Mitchell to get out. He broke the window to free him. I knew immediately why I had an overwhelming feeling that I shouldn’t ride with him that night. I would have been impaled by the metal fence post if I were in the truck.
Mitchell lost his job because he didn’t have transportation to work. I walked to work or sometimes officers would pick me up or bring me home. Mitchell went to work at a convenience store, which was walking distance from our apartment. We were both working the graveyard shift at our jobs. Money was tight, times were hard but, we got to spend more time together. My grandparents helped us get a vehicle the second week of December. The car was a white 2002 Chevrolet cavalier. My mom told me doctors had given her the option to take chemo. She said the chemotherapy would not save her life but, might prolong it. She decided she would do it. Mitchell turned 36 that month, and I turned 21. During a family gathering at Christmas time, my mother told Mitchell and me that her dying wish was to have a grandchild.