When I was a kid, my mother built a barn, trained quarter horses, maintained miles of fence, and did all the other countless things required for the maintenance of a working farm. She’s in her late sixties now, and is still managing major home renovations, raising border collies, and running a business with five employees.

Three days before Thanksgiving, I got word from my stepfather that she was in the hospital with chest pains, and was being checked out to see if she’d had a heart attack. She hadn’t; her heart is in great condition. What she does have  is a shadow on the chest x-ray and a diagnosis of cancer. The hospital scheduled her for a biopsy first thing Wednesday morning, with plans to begin treatment immediately.

My mother, however, isn’t easily pushed around. It took a day of wrangling, but she walked out of the hospital Tuesday night to spend the holiday at home. There will eventually be a biopsy, but first, she’s going to try to build up her immune system and get second and third opinions.

When we left New York on Tuesday, we didn’t know if we’d be flying back Monday as we’d planned months ago, or if I’d be staying for days or weeks. She seems almost normal today, and even though I know that’s not the case, based on her apparent condition and the formidable medical team (orthodox and otherwise) that she’s assembling, I am hopeful–that her pain will be manageable, that her extraordinary bravery and optimism will help her through the coming struggles, and above all, that she and her doctors will find a way to restore her health.

I can’t even guess at the shape of our lives in the next weeks and months and years. Of course, that’s always true–it’s just more obvious now. Flailing and grieving will only subtract from the time I have with my mother and the rest of my family, so I’m going to do everything I can to follow my mom’s example and keep myself focused and in the moment.

I generally tend to keep personal stuff relatively quiet, but I’m already finding it difficult to talk about the situation and keep people updated individually, so I’ll be updating here. Love to peeps everywhere. We’re all going to be OK.