In three days, my mom and I will be hitting the road for a long-awaited adventure together. We'd originally planned to go to England - a place she's never been and always wanted to visit, but with the flooding there and her doctors' concerns about the long plane ride and her being so far away, we decided to make it New England instead. Neither of us have ever spent much time in that part of the country, and the beginnings of autumn seem the perfect time to go (I'm hoping for some of that famous color). We're leaving Thursday to fly into Portland, Maine, then renting a car and driving around through Maine, New Hampshire, and down into Massachusetts, spending a few days in Boston before taking the train back to D.C next Friday. We're planning to go hiking, eat good food, explore the coastline and countryside, shop (or at least window shop), maybe see a show, take lots of pictures and talk even more.

My mom has been my best friend my whole life. Even in the midst of teenage angst and drama, she was my sounding board, my touch stone, and my confidante. I'm not sure if it's because I'm the oldest (and therefore the closest thing to adult companionship she had while at home with all of us), or if it's because her own mom lost her battle with breast cancer when Mom was 16, or if it's just how well our personalities seem to mesh and compliment each other, but our relationship has always been something special. In high school, she became a speech and debate judge when I was competing, so we'd travel together to and from meets all across the state - it got to the point where the entire team called her "Mom" and looked for her encouragement and support, but I was the one who would quietly make my way up to her seat at the front of the bus on the way home to lean my head on her shoulder and talk about the day. When our interest in sign language and interpreting grew, she and I decided to begin an associate's degree program in interpreter preparation at the local community college, attending evening classes during my senior year of high school and then moving to full-time the next year. The rest of the students in the class nick-named us "twin" (me) and "twin-mom" (her) because of how much we were together. The hardest thing for me about growing up and flying away from home has been being far away from her. Especially now.

For the last three years, my mother has been battling ovarian cancer. She's just completing her second round of chemotherapy (after a period of remission) and the doctors are optimistic about "controlling" it for the near future - but there's an aspect of uncertainty about the future in these post-diagnosis days that may have always been there, but is now undeniable, constant, forceful. It's such a strange thing... even when I'm not consciously thinking about the disease, or what's happening, or what may lie ahead, it's still there somehow in the back of my thoughts. This shouldn't have been such a drastic change for me - really, we never know what the future has for us, what God has planned, how things will work out or when or why - all we can do is hold on to Him and believe in His love. But nothing had smashed into my world before this to make me so aware of that. The blessing this cancer has given me is a consciousness about what is valuable and precious, and a sense of gratitude for every day we have. It's forced me to trust God more, to hold on even tighter to those promises. And it's shown me just how dear my mother is to me.

These next two weeks are about making memories, about talking and sharing and spending time with each other. About affirmation and love, family and friendship. And about hope.

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