Each day I expected to grieve a little less, be a little more used to my mom not being here. Not being a phone call or hug away. But as I continue my grieving journey I’ve realized that it’s just always going to be here because as life continues new moments will inflict their own feelings.
My mom’s health began to significantly decline when my life was beginning to grow. This was hard for my twenty-four year old self to be okay with. How do I find out who I am without leaving her behind? She passed away two weeks after I started my first full-time job in a new state. I’ll never forget her face and our tears as I hugged her good-bye at my aunts wedding reception. She was reclined in her chair, so frail and sad…so unlike her. I remember walking out in tears because I knew that the mom I grew up with was really never going to be that way again. And looking back, I can still see her eyes and thinking this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.
Why didn’t we get the normal life of weekend visits to my apartment and seeing me live a grown up life? Watching me marry the love of my life, talking me through pregnancy concerns, reminding me to think before I speak and to take care of my self. But we don’t get to pick and this was the hand we were dealt. I know she was angry at the end. She was an extremely positive person but she was angry. She didn’t deserve that ending to her story.
And I think that is why I’m so committed to carrying on her memory every day. Because she deserves that. She deserves Grandkids who understand why we love Bald Eagles, and a memory garden filled with her favorite flowers. She more than deserves to feel our love all the way to heaven.
This rambling post is really because each new memory in life brings up those new feelings. We are expecting our third child and I’m met with a whole new set of emotions wishing she was here. Wanting to ask her how she handled three kids, if she had anxiety or depression during and after pregnancy…and how she did it all?
So ask your mom, or dad or whoever is super special to you these questions because you just never know. I’m left with this sweet card my dad found when he was cleaning out their house. We can’t remember why or when she wrote it, but I love that it’s so simple that a quick look can bring both tears and love.
“Your mom just has cancer. Not you.” I’ll never forget those words. When my mom was diagnosed someone told me this after I explained how my life had changed, my values and priorities had shifted and I’d grown. The comment stopped in me in my tracks.
And while I can’t remember how I responded, I catch myself thinking back to that moment every once in a while. “Your mom has cancer, not you.”
True, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer, the kind that is past the point of easily being cured – I was by all accounts healthy. But anyone who has lost or seen someone suffer a loss knows that while the patient does carry the heaviest burden – family and loved ones have their own struggles. How do you keep it together when your world is falling apart? You just do the best you can. And some days you have it together and others you don’t, but both are ok.
Some days will be fighting through the fears of the unknown, the questions of whether or not your recent phone call will be the last. Will they feel up to talking with you or having you visit that day? Who is going to talk to your siblings guidance counselors and make sure they don’t miss athletic events they simply cannot miss? How will you give the play-by-play of athletic games you don’t understand? Smiling when you can because you know that’s how they want to see you. Making the hospital or chemo/doctor visits your new place to visit and going for that hour run when you’re way out of shape because they just killed their chemo treatment and want to run.
And that is “just cancer.” It’s your dad sitting at your wedding by himself in a pew that he should be sharing with his fourth grade sweetheart. That is grief, that is loss and that is heartbreak – a different kind of heartbreak. It’s having your world flipped upside down. It’s bittersweet memories…always. It’s being afraid but smiling. It’s crying harder than you’ve ever cried and it’s realizing that you don’t have to keep it together. Things can fall and you can change. There will be good days and there will be hard days. And that is ok.
How do you cope with a the loss or fear of losing a loved one?
When my mom was diagnosed, it brought on so many emotions. I was in the middle of a quarter-life crisis (it’s a real thing), graduating college, ending a relationship, moving out for the first time, applying for jobs and THEN my best-friend mom was diagnosed with cancer. I needed advice. I wanted someone to tell me it was ok, that she would be alright, I would be alright, my family would be alright and life wouldn’t end.
To cope with the fear of the unknown, I found myself gravitating towards quotes and poems. Whether it was on strength, love, grief or friendship I started saving these in a homemade journal I received from my cousin. I still have it and will write down new quotes whenever I find them. You can find a lot of them on my Pinterest board. Continue reading →
As promised I’m sharing how we celebrated Hayden Keith turning 1 and how I made sure my mom was a part of the day!! It was a bittersweet day for me on a couple levels. My firstborn / little baby boy was no longer a baby. He had turned into a walking, laughing, loud BOY. And, I wish my mom was there to celebrate.
Growing up with two sisters and no brothers we had to find something that was our own and it was birthdays. Basically your birthday was a national holiday. I blame this solely on my mom. She went above and beyond to make sure our birthday was our day and that didn’t change, as we got older. I was fortunate enough to live at home for all my birthdays with my mom, and every year I came down to a present on the table, her signature eggcake breakfast, a homemade cake (if she hadn’t ordered DQ) or flowers, something that showed me it was my day. I will cherish this forever. Continue reading →