My mom died at the beginning of September. She valiantly battled cancer for three years, but cancer finally won. Though she was 81 years old, I’m still feeling the pain of losing my mother too soon. It is never easy losing your mom.
My Mom was a Survivor
Some day soon I will tell my mom’s whole story. It’s a story that needs to be told and I may be the only one left who knows it. Today, I just want to give you glimpse of who she was.
My mom was a survivor, plain and simple. She survived a very rough childhood. She survived a dangerous childbirth that almost killed her and the baby. She survived cancer twice.
In the middle of raising five kids, she tended to the affairs of her mother who had emergency brain tumor surgery. Her mother’s life expectancy? 5 years. She lived for over 30. My mom made sure in those 30 years she never wanted for anything.
Family was Everything to Her
After the age of 9, her parents divorced. It wasn’t long before her brother joined the army and moved away. It was just her and her mom. Maybe this is why family was so important to her.
It was because of my mom that we enjoyed wonderful Christmas and birthdays despite my parents scraping to get by on two salaries (5 children are pretty expensive!)
We went through many trials and tribulations during my childhood, but we always stuck together. My mom impressed that upon us.
My Mom was a Human Being
She wasn’t perfect. No one is. She had her flaws. I hope to remember her as she was not any worse or any better.
Some of the things I will remember about her are that she had strong opinions and she let you know them.
She had an annoying habit of washing cooking utensils and putting them away while you were still using them.
She would swear at us in Portuguese which taught us all how to swear in Portuguese.
She could fill a room with laughter over the silliest things.
She could be frustrating at times when she got stuck on something. She could drive a person nuts.
But, she was incredibly generous. We were raised to think about those less fortunate than us…and our table always had room for another person though we might not have had enough chairs!
Damn Cancer Again
My mom beat cervical cancer. 5 years later it was cancer again. Melanoma in her leg. They removed it.
Then, in 2015 it returned. She was told that she had less than 6 months to live. Two and a half years later she was still alive and enjoying life.
We were so fortunate to get that extra time. Then, little health issues starting popping up. Anemia, low blood pressure, leg pain.
She only started taking pain killers in July, refusing them until she couldn’t sleep at night. From there she seemed to need my help more and more to get around the house.
When You Know It’s The End
One Wednesday morning in August she told me that she felt nauseous and wanted to go to bed. I helped her down the hall. I didn’t realize that was the last time she’d leave her bedroom. Then, she became completely dependent on me.
Her children and grandchildren came for visit. Everyone sat with her sharing stories and trying to make her laugh.
10 days went by. Our day started as usual. I went to see if she was awake and I helped her to get up. Then, she collapsed in my arms. The paramedics came. They said the word stroke.
She went from ER to ICU. Her doctor was very kind enough to gently break the news that her cancer had spread to her brain and she had a blood clot in her lung.
She understood what was happening and she made her final medical decisions. She chose comfort care.
Her children, grandchildren, and spouses surrounded her bedside with love. We shed tears and laughter. There was nothing we could do except support her and support each other.
She made us all leave in the evening. We didn’t want to leave, but we respected her wishes. My sister got the phone call at 5 am. Our mom had passed away in her sleep.
No, It’s Never Easy Losing Your Mom
It doesn’t matter if you are 10 or 50. It is never easy losing your mom. Some day we will feel blessed that our mom was able to be in her home with her family caring for her until the very last day. Today, it is too painful to be reasonable.
Someone sent me a quote that rung true for me “Grief is love that has nowhere to go”.
Right now, I feel like a heavy sigh that has no end. I know this grief will take its course. It will meander and roam until it is spent. One day, a flower will look more brilliant and the sky will seem a richer blue. A memory will bring a smile.
Until then, it will just have to play out. My mom was 81 and we knew she would die eventually–hoping later than sooner. We weren’t ready to let you go, Mom. It was just too soon.