So I can now make public something that has been going on in my life since late summer 2012 and came to an end on January 20th, 2013 at 3:02 pm. My beautiful, amazing, adorable, thoughtful, generous mother passed away in her home as I held her hand and sang to her. She had been struggling with an illness called Leiomyosarcoma, an unusual form of cancer affecting less than 1% of all cancer patients, and since it wasn’t an option for her to talk about or face the option of death, I honored her wishes and never talked about it either, to her or on the internet, even if I knew where it was headed already in November. I put on a brave face and stayed strong for her until her very last breath, which was a challenge I can tell you, but the experience has taught me just how strong I have the ability to be when push comes to shove.
The last few days of her life, my dad and I were with her every minute of the day attending to all of her needs, and although I know it’s what I had to do, it has been so hard to watch a person that you idolize and adore become weaker and weaker to the point where they can’t swallow food correctly. Leiomyosarcoma is the devils work. I don’t know if I will ever get those images out of my head; I’m so furious right now at whoever/whatever did this to her that I could scream my lungs out. She only lived to be 59, despite being a really healthy person… just so unfair. SO unfair.
The time since I’ve been keeping busy planning her funeral with my dad and sister, and my mind has been consumed with thoughts about my dad’s pain. It’s like I’ve put my own pain aside in order to feel his. Luckily for me, my dad has a very positive outlook on life and has already begun talking about what this next chapter of his life will look like, and it’s so comforting to hear that he does not intend on drinking away his sorrows which was my main worry. It’s just so hard to see your dad grieving when you’ve never seen that side of him before… it tends to affect you. Right now I am sitting alone in my apartment, giving him and myself some space to grieve on our own. I haven’t cried yet today, in fact I feel like I could even go to work, but my logic tells me it’s too soon for that. Crying spurts come when you least expect it.
So many thoughts going through my mind… Why did she get ill? Could the treatment plan have gone differently? Did I do/say enough for/to her while she was alive? Should I have cried in her arms at some point and told her how much I don’t want her to die? Should I have brought up death at some point or would that have upset her? Was she in any pain/discomfort during her last hours of life? Was she sad/fearful/angry towards the end, or did she feel at peace? Should I have told my sister to come sooner? Where is she now, is she ok? Did she get to do everything she wanted to do? Could we have made her last days more fun for her somehow? Was that really her ghost that I felt hugging me yesterday morning, or was it just a really vivid dream? Can she hear me when I talk to her? How am I gonna get used to not texting with her on a daily basis?
Despite all the pain I am feeling I also feel a great deal of comfort. When I’m ready to let go of the anger, I will convince myself that she had to die so early because her amazing soul is needed elsewhere. Although she didn’t know it, she was actually some sort of angel put on earth to spread love and lessons to the people around her. I can’t even begin to count all the different lessons I’ve learned from her, she has always been my biggest role model in life. I find comfort in knowing that at least here on earth her spirit will live on through my actions. I have felt her presence in so many ways already, like when the funeral director came over and my dad offered him some bakery. I heard her in my head telling me I needed to go up and get a nice plate to put the bakery on – dad was gonna serve it from the bag, such a no no! Or when we were gonna pick up my sister at the airport and I heard her voice in my head saying “Bring an orange for her, she’s probably hungry!”.
My mom was the kindest, most patient and adorable person you could ever meet. I often wondered what I did to deserve to have such an amazing woman as my mother. Watching her dance to Zumba was like taking ecstacy; she was so cute you couldn’t help but watch and laugh hysterically. She put others’ needs before her own and invested everything she had in her family. My idea of ‘me-time’ is to get a pedicure or go shopping – hers was to make family recipee books to give to the family for Christmas or to make iMovie films from our many many family videos. She was a project planner and was really good at planning the future, at the same time as she managed to squeeze the most life she could out of today. She cooked up great meals daily, saw pleasure in the little things and whenever there were social get togethers she knew exactly how to get the party going with her various creative ideas. These are all qualities that I intend on embracing in my own life, as I tend to think too much about the past or the future, and not enough about today.
It fills me with comfort to hear so many people that were so touched by how amazing she was, not that I am surprised, but it just feels good to know that she will not be forgotten. I don’t know how you can forget someone who’s left so many tracks behind, and who’s qualities and values you’ve inherited. My biggest regret is that I never celebrated her enough – I thought many times that I wanted to do something really really special for her for Christmas or her birthday, but I either couldn’t afford it or was too self absorbed with my own stress. I will never get to do anything grand for her and that makes me so incredibly sad because she really would have deserved it. So I ask of you reading this, if you can do me this favor. My mom does not deserve to be forgotten. Please don’t forget her. Time will pass, life will go on and you will get distance to everything, but please don’t forget to feel what you have felt towards her over the years. Pull out pictures of her and think about her still 50 years from now, and carry on her legend in any way that you can. That will have to be my grand present to her, to remind people not to forget.