My mom was my best friend, for the better portion of my life, there were times when she made me want to run away, when I thought I hated her, and when I just wanted her to leave me alone. Funny how things work out because now I want to run away to her, know I love her more than words could say, and wish she would bother me just one more time. My mom was a good mom, she had her faults just like we all do, but overall I always knew my mom loved me. She taught me how to be strong, and she gave me the wisdom to face this world in case she one day wouldn’t be there to face it with me. I can only hope that I do that for my children too. My mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 non small cell lung cancer in 2005. I was living in Maryland at the time and she was living in New York. She came to visit and gave me the news. I remember feeling lost, and at a loss for words, and I did what you should never do when someone gives you that news, I googled. Googling was bad, it was worse than bad. Statistics showed that most people didn’t live longer than 2 years and only 5% of people made it past 5. My heart was breaking. My mom and I had always been close, after the birth of my son she became my absolute best friend. We shared everything and she was my rock, what would I do without her? Throughout her battle with cancer she taught me more than I could have imagined. She was so brave, so strong and so concerned with everyone else. A month after I got the news my mom went in for surgery to hopefully remove the cancer and to find out if it had spread. If the cancer had spread they would not be able to remove it and would just sew her back up. My father, sister and I waited for what felt like an eternity for the doctor to come give us news, and we prayed that it would be good news, but it wasn’t. The cancer had spread and they needed to do radiation and chemo. My mom went through bouts of radiation and chemo for years, she ended up having brain tumors and had 2 separate surgeries to remove them, she had a heart attack and again had to have surgery, but she never gave up. She would get treatments and go to work, she worked at a school and she loved her job. She would comfort us, when we all knew it should be her that needed comforting. The biggest heartache for her throughout chemo was losing her hair, she would cry about it and she felt ugly, and this made me hurt so bad. I would have done anything to give it back to her, people think that this would be trivial, but it wasn’t, Cancer is a nasty disease it takes everything from you, and you will never understand until you go in public and people stare at you like you are a monster. I would get so angry at people, I would want to scream at them, want them to know what they were doing and how it was affecting my mom, but she would never let me. I wanted to shave my head with her but she said she would be angry if I did that, I would sometimes put a scarf around my head so you couldn’t tell I had hair when we went out, I just wanted her to know that I was there for her. When her hair grew back between treatments I would take her to get it done real pretty, the smile on her face worth every single penny. The last time that I had her hair done was in 2010 roughly 4 years after she had been diagnosed , it had finally grown out enough and she was so happy. I was so happy for her! About 2 months later she had a doctors appointment just to check how things were going, I will absolutely never forget that day, I was sitting in my room at her house, I had been staying there while my husband was in Iraq. She returned from her appointment and came in crying, I asked her what was wrong and she told me thank you for having her hair done for her, and that she had to have chemo and was going to lose her hair again. I felt so helpless, I held her and I thought about how cruel this world was, how unfair it was. She was a good person, she always helped others, she was kind, and caring, she had faith, and yet this was happening to her, Why? I still do not understand, I don’t think I ever will. She went through more treatments but amazingly didn’t lose her hair, it just thinned out some. That summer I talked her into going on a vacation to Gloucester on the beach, I am so glad I did, it is a memory I will hold onto forever. That was in July 4 years and 3 months after she was diagnosed with cancer. In August I had to go back to El paso because my husband was returning from Iraq. I was in the parking lot getting ready to finally drive home with my husband for the first time in 9 months when my phone rang. She had another brain tumor, coupled with the cancer and the chemo wasn’t working, they had decided there was nothing left that they could do, another surgery on her brain had high chances of killing her and if not causing her to be paralyzed or in a vegetative state for the rest of her life. She didn’t consider that an option and although I wanted to beg her to fight I understood, she had been fighting for so long, it was time to let her rest. In October of 2010 she flew to El paso to visit me, I had asked her if her doctor cleared it and she had told me yes, I had voiced my concerns over what flying could do to her health, she didn’t care, sometimes I think I should have fought harder for her not to come, but she wanted to see her grand babies, and her daughter, and who was I to stop her. The day that I dropped her and my dad off at the airport, I think she knew she would never see me again. I have an image that is burned into my soul of my mother in a pink hoodie, sitting in a wheelchair in an elevator, waving and crying as the doors closed, That was the last time I ever seen my mom. After visiting me her health steadily declined. I would call her everyday and I would talk to her and my dad, I would ask if I should come home, and I was always told not yet. On Thanksgiving my mom was barely talking at all, and again I asked if I should come home, again I was told not yet. On November 26 my father called me and said I should probably be home by next week, I immediately booked tickets for December 4th. The next morning my sister called me and she told me that they didn’t think my mom would live through the night. Once again my heart shattered, I had no idea what to do, but as my sister put the phone to my moms ear, knowing she couldn’t talk back, I did what she would have done for me, I told her it was okay to let go, and that I would miss her, that we would be okay, and I would be there soon. I got off the phone and I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore, I couldn’t stop the hurt, I just didn’t know how, and when I finally had no more tears to cry, I waited, I waited for the call that would tell me of my mom’s death, the call that would let me know for sure I would never see her again, and that evening the call came. Everyone was with her except for me, I felt so alone and so far away, but I couldn’t cry, it was like the tears just weren’t there, I felt hollow. I talked to my family everyday and I counted the days until I could be with them, they pushed her memorial service back until I could be there. When I came home I was greeted by Christmas lights and decorations. My mom had always loved Christmas and in the beginning of the month she had fussed at my dad to get the decorations out so she could see them, he did but she was never well enough to go out, I truly believe she knew he wouldn’t do it if she had died first and she knew her time was running out. I’m glad she had thought of that because it made me feel happy for just a few minutes. It was so her to make sure that we would have them even though she was going through hell. That night I finally cried again, I took a shower and just melted to the ground and sobbed, big sobs like I had never sobbed before, for hours, I wanted to go with her, I wanted her back and I was MAD. I was Mad that she had left me, I was Mad that she had died so young, I was just Mad at everything. The day of the memorial I had that numb feeling again, it was a concession line of I’m sorry’s and she was a great woman, I didn’t know what to say or how I should act, but I felt like I should keep it together, after all she kept it together for 5 years and 2 1/2 months, I owed it to her to do the same for 1 day. The hardest day for me was the day we buried her, I have never been one to feel like we are at our gravestones, so I am not sure why it bothered me so bad but I felt like I was abandoning her there. I have heard countless times from my dad over the last couple years that I was lucky I wasn’t here when she died and that I wouldn’t have been able to handle it, the funny thing is I know I would have been able to handle it, and what he doesn’t know is how it felt to not be here. I still feel like she was always there for me and I wasn’t there when she needed me the most, I never got to say goodbye, not in the way I wanted to, and that had always been my biggest fear, especially since we move around so much. I wrote my mothers Eulogy and I read it at her memorial which was packed, everyone had came. I did it without falling apart, I helped pick out her tombstone, and I took care of my dad for a month before I had to go back home, I didn’t lose it and I didn’t give up, I did it all for the woman that showed me what it meant to have strength. This is the Eulogy I wrote for her:
Today we not only mourn the death of my mom, but we also celebrate her life. She was an amazing woman, A wife, a Mother, a Mema, and a Friend. She had her faults as everyone does, we all know she could tell quite the story and could be pretty blunt, but the good heavily out-weighed the bad. She went through so much in her life, but was still somehow the positive one in our family, The glass half full in a a crowd of half empty ones. She truly had a good heart. Throughout her life their were many times when our home became the home of others as well. She would help anyone any way she could. Looking around at the faces here today it is difficult to find one that can say she did not have a positive impact on their life. She saw the good in people because she chose to look for it. She believed in forgiveness even when we couldn’t understand why. Her strength and courage were monumental. Some could say that a little over a week ago she lost her battle with cancer. As for me I do not look at it that way. She fought long and hard, she stayed positive never allowing the horrific disease to bring her down mentally no matter what it did to her physically. She rallied past the statistics and expectations. Not once did she give up and because of that we were blessed with her in our lives for 5 1/2 years longer than the cancer intended her to be. For those years my family is eternally grateful. On November 27 2010 she died on her terms in her home surrounded by the people she loved and her cancer died with her…It did not win! I know that she is at peace now in a place where she is no longer in pain watching over us, Right after she passed my niece/her granddaughter shared some words on facebook. When Jenni was little she named each of our family members after a winnie the pooh character In my mothers final months she worried about us and how we would all cope, These words were perfect and need to be shared again today
Tigger we know you are listening and we want you to know that all of us in the 100 acre woods will be okay, We love and miss you!
Today I can only hope that the life I live is one that makes her proud, I can only hope that she knew how much she was loved. My Mom was very afraid that my daughter who was 2 at the time wouldn’t remember her, and I refused to let that happen, so I talk about her often and I share pictures, videos and stories, My daughter knows who her mema is and while my heart is heavy knowing she will not get the joy of having her in her life, I am so grateful that my mom fought hard enough and long enough to meet my little girl and my husband. I could never thank her enough for that. There is never a day that goes by that she doesn’t have a place in my thoughts. When she left this world she took a piece of my heart with her and she will always have it. It does not get easier, and it does not get better, but you do learn to live with it one day at a time.
I also want to take sometime to tell people to let go of the little things that bother you, hold your tongue and think before you speak in anger, or hurt. Some things can never be taken back. I have lived with guilt since the day she died for every mean thing I had said to my mother over the years, even though I know she knew I loved her. You remember the good memories but you also remember the bad, especially if the bad was your fault. One day the person may not be there to show them how much you love them, so do it now and do it well.
Mommy I love you to the moon and back!