Death. It’s something I haven’t really had to deal with until recently. Of course I’ve had grandparents pass away after living long and happy lives and have had acquaintances pass away over the years. Then in the early months of 2012 my mother was diagnosed with liver bile duct cancer and given a pretty grim outlook. This is not a story most people know in detail. Every one of these memories haunts me daily, and they especially get to me when I’m driving home from work at night after a long day. I remember the day she came over to help move a new refrigerator into my house. She went into the bathroom and asked me if I thought her eyes looked yellow. My answer was yes and after days of begging her, I got her to go to the doctor. I remember being at her house the day they came home from the doctor appointment where they heard the news. We had gotten there a little early and I let myself in through the key pad on the garage. She came in only a few minutes later and I could tell she had been crying. She came into the living room and sat me down holding my hands and told me. 6 months to a year. The shock of it was overwhelming and I cried like I’ve never cried before. Everyone gave us positive thoughts. “Oh they are wrong about these things ALL the time.” “I’ve known someone they told 6 months and 5 years later they’re still here”. And still, I had a gut wrenching feeling the doctor was right. After refusing to take only one doctor’s opinion into consideration, eventually she was accepted at the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Philly where she would fly out for one night a week to receive her treatment. They gave us hope. They don’t give timelines. The chemo she initially had seemed to be working. She even found a doctor in Ohio that worked with the treatment center so she could receive her chemo here. After a few months, it started making her sick so she took breaks inbetween treatments. They also started radiation on the inoperable tumor which led to longer bouts between chemo. She ended up with a blood infection from her line in which she received the treatment. While in the hospital, they found a small mass in her breast which was removed. I went to see her and something was wrong. I thought maybe it was just the pain meds they had her on making her spacey and tired. A couple days later while walking in Home Depot with Matt and Evan I got the phone call from my brother. There was nothing else they could do, it had spread too far and she was too weak to handle further treatments. I was faced with choosing Hospice options and handed manuals on “dealing” and “what to look for near the end”. About my mother who was always so strong. About my mother who only months prior was babysitting Evan and attending my brother’s wedding looking as if nothing was wrong. All the while this is going on my brother is also receiving chemo for colon cancer and being diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, a genetic condition that I have talked about in prior posts. I don’t know why I feel the need to share all of this. I don’t think people see this side. I try not to think about it while doing every day activities. It hits me the hardest when I’m alone. I think of how terrified SHE must have been. How badly she wanted to be around to watch Evan and any future grandkids grow up. How she cried when forcing me to take money from her to buy Evan clothes because she just couldn’t do it anymore. When she said “Why can’t I just have a new body? I don’t want this one anymore”.
I get so angry. Angry to the point that I scream at the top of my lungs in my car when no one can see or hear me. I assume this is normal when dealing with the loss of someone close. I recently got a new phone and when putting in the contacts, skipping her was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Not because it’s a phone or a number, but because it symbolized moving on…without her. I can cry and whine all I want because it isn’t fair when there are children dying everywhere and people much younger dealing with cancer. But really, it isn’t fair. Not when I see the shitty people that get to live out their lives in full and a beautiful person such as my mother gets the short end of the stick and Evan has to grow up without her. I worry that he wont remember her. Someone who did everything she could for him and loved him so goddamn much and he might not even remember.
I was going to make this post partially about Lynch Syndrome, gut health, and fermented foods but I think I’ll save that for a later day. This is for her. I miss her each and every second of every day.
Here is a photo from Mother’s Day 2012, only a couple months after her diagnosis.