Tahoe HouseLake Tahoe: On the border between California and Nevada lies a large, peaceful lake named Tahoe. The fondest memories I have of growing up in Northern California are the family vacations we would take there every few months. We would stay in a big, green, lakefront house and spend our Summers lying on the dock and boating around the lake. Even in the Winter, when it snowed, we would find excuses to spend Christmas or New Years at our Tahoe home. For me, there was no greater escape than taking the four-hour drive into the Sierra Nevada mountains and spending a couple days by the lake.

You’re Giving Me a Headache: When I was six years old, my mom took me and my little brother to Tahoe to spend the weekend skiing. My dad, burdened by some unforeseen matter at the office, could not make the trip. The drive from our house to Lake Tahoe takes about a half-day, but to a kid it feels like an eternity. My brother and I always found it impossible to make it through the car ride without getting in some sort of argument. This ride was no different. At one point, irritated by the incessant bickering in the back seat, my mom cried out, “Cut it out back there, you’re giving me a headache.” My brother and I never quit arguing after the first request, but something in my moms voice shut us up in an instant. My brother asked my mom what she meant and I listened passively to her explanation as we continued up the mountain.

From the moment we arrived in Tahoe, I could tell something was wrong. My mom, normally eager and energetic, wanted to take a nap as soon as we got to the house. After settling in and eating dinner, she put on a movie for me and my brother and went straight to bed. We woke up late in the morning, surprised that we had not been woken by our mom to go ski. The house was silent. I looked around the house for my mom, calling her name and hearing no response. I went to check my parents room and found it completely dark; the drapes were drawn and my mom was lying in bed under a heaping pile of blankets. I asked what was wrong, and in a hushed tone she replied, “My head hurts. Dad will be here soon.” My mind raced with questions about what was happening and whether my mom would be okay. She wanted to be alone, so I made lunch for my little brother and we waited for my dad. When he finally arrived, my dad explained to us that Mom needed to see a doctor; a brain tumor roughly the size of a baseball had developed in her head. We drove home, speaking only in whispers about what was happening as my mom slept in the passenger seat.

After Tahoe: My mom spent the next few months in the hospital and underwent brain surgery to have the tumor removed. After almost a year of bed rest and physical therapy, my mom was able to come home. While my mom was being treated and my dad worked, my brothers and I learned to take care of each other and ourselves. The experience forced me to mature, as I assumed responsibilities that were not common for someone my age. Even after my mom came home, she was in constant need of help. I spent the majority of my time over the next few years helping take care of her and my little brother while she continued to recover. I think every day about how grateful I am that my mom was okay and that our family can still go on vacations to Tahoe together.

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