“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory
that no one can steal”. Unknown
This post is incredibly hard for me to write. If you follow my Instagram (lovegfreelife), you have heard the news of my mother’s passing. It was extremely quick (two weeks) from the time of her diagnosis until she passed. We only had a few days as a family where she was able to speak simple sentences before she was in a coma like state. My mother was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Carcinoma. It affects 8,000 people a year so researchers do not study it like they study other cancers. It is so rare and aggressive that people, who get this cancer, don’t typically survive. Within days of her diagnosis, it had taken over her entire liver and all her lymph nodes. She did an aggressive form of Chemotherapy and antibiotics but eventually after a couple days, my stepfather and I decided that Hospice Care was the peaceful way to go.
If you ever had the amazing opportunity to meet my mother, she was the most beautiful person in the world. She didn’t have an easy life raising me as a single mother with my non-existent “Father”, who caused more problems than not (anyway, this post is about my magnificent mother). She eventually married a wonderful man, my stepfather, who stepped right up. My mom always tried to seek out the positive in life and encouraged me to do the same, as well as the others around her. I feel that the struggles she went through shaped her into the positive and loving person she was. My mom loved children and spent her life helping them through being an educator and director. This is where I found my passion of helping others, eventually following in her footsteps. I truly do not believe my mother knew how many peoples lives she touched. She always did everything for everyone else, never taking the time for her. That is how she liked to live. I mean I am sure she would have liked some more down time but given the opportunity for it, she often would find something else to do. Her persistence and perseverance through difficult tasks or life obstacles helped me when I was facing my own personal roadblocks. She would answer the phone at three in the morning when I needed her or if she needed me. She was my person.
One thing that immediately stuck out to me when we were making service arrangements was that I wanted it to be personal and uplifting. I did not want it to be a sad occasion (although it was), but more of a celebration of her life. That is the way she would have wanted it to be. The only song that I requested was Amazing Grace because as a child she would sing that to me at bedtime. It was our song. The turnout at her service was breath taking. When I said she did not realize how many people she touched, it was standing room only. The Pastor said they have never seen the church that crowded ever, even when a town politician passed away. It is a true testament to the amazing person my mother was. How her light touched the lives of many people and how in her passing, it will continue to touch others.
My momma was more than a mother, even more than a best friend. It is hard to explain the special bond that we shared but it was beyond any words. You just had to hang out with us to see it. What I will miss most is her beautiful smile and spirit. She radiated loving energy wherever she was, even when she was mad or using her “deli voice”. There is a forever bond that we will share whether she is physically here or not. It is just that I wish she was physically here but for whatever reason, she is not. The one thing that I try to find comfort in is that she would always tell me, “When it is your time to go, it is your time to go. We might not know why, but when it is your time, it is your time.” Maybe she was subconsciously trying to prepare me for this day but I try to find solace in it. We don’t always know why things happen to us in our lives and we might never know. It is hard to think that when my brother graduates college this year, she won’t be there or when my youngest brother graduates high school in two years. The hardest for me, is when I get married or have children. That is when you need your mom the most. I know she will be there in spirit but it is not the same. The emotions I am feeling are like a roller coaster. I have stuffed all my feelings about her death deep down. I am an expert at that. I am able to disassociate myself from traumatic events. I am a caretaker and immediately went right into that role when everything happened. Taking care of everyone else and not necessarily myself. I think that is the hardest thing, taking care of you. I would rather take care of everyone else. It finally hit me today that she is gone. Honestly, I haven’t cried since she passed. I have remained strong for everyone else. I cried today. I had a dream last night where in it I saw my mom for two seconds and I actually felt such heartwarming joy that she was alive. That this was not real and she was here. My conscious woke me up and I immediately felt that gut-wrenching feeling that I felt when I found out she had cancer and was going to die. I felt that pain all over again. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sleep, I felt like my world was crashing down all over again.
Life is a journey and we cannot predict what is going to happen. This was a complete shock. I hope to think that there will be an “ah ha” moment one day where her death might make some sense. I am glad she did not have to suffer because people who get this cancer and get diagnosed even a week earlier than she did, might be living for two more months in horrific pain while dying slowly. Even though one more lucid day with her would have been amazing, I am glad she did not have to suffer like other people do. What I encourage all of you is to hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them even if you do not feel so lovey towards them in the moment. Life is short. My last conversation with my mother was about how she was so excited to eat a hamburger and macaroni and cheese that they ordered out from the hospital. If I had known that this was the last time I would get to speak to her, I would have said so much more. I know she knows how I feel about her but it is not the same as being able to express it to her. To hear her say I love you one more time. That is all I want. So try to be more forgiving. Call up a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Try not to hold grudges. You never know when it will be the last time you see that person. My mom would not want us to wallow in our own self-pity or not go on with our lives. She encouraged me all the time to live my life and enjoy myself. So I am trying to. Everyday will be different and life will never be the same. I just want to express to all of you how thankful I am for you. I love each and every one of you; whether I know you or you follow my journey. You are each special and should love yourself and the lives you live. That is what my mom would want, so I want it for you too!
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.”