I have debated for several days on whether to write this post. Part of me is screaming “No!” (and loudly, I might add). The rest of me is whispering “Yes, you should.”. It’s funny how a whisper can outweigh a scream.
I tend to keep this blog a happy place. I have written about sad and scary subjects in the past, but those posts are few and far between. But this is something I have to do. It’s a huge part of my life and I need to record it while it’s still fresh in my mind. Although, I really don’t see the details fading anytime soon, they will, eventually.
On May 1st, 2012, I lost my Mother to cancer.
The last 11 years of her 57 on earth where shadowed by cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and underwent chemotherapy and several surgeries. We thought she was in the clear. Many years went by and she was in great health. Or so we thought.
At some point in time, the cancer returned, but this time in her bones. By the time it was discovered in March of 2011, it had spread a great deal. She found out while me and my family were in Florida. I’ll never forget the day she told me (she waited until we were home).
In the matter of weeks our mother, who had always been a strong and vibrant woman, had to start using a cane to walk. During the summer, she was able to still do a lot. She had stopped working after her diagnosis, so she had lots of time to spend with family and friends. She also spent a lot of time antiquing…it seems like she was telling me daily of her latest finds. I have to admit I was a wee bit jealous…she found the coolest stuff! (I am a horrible antiquer.)
I started to notice around Thanksgiving that she was having more trouble with the pain. I thought that the colder weather was probably not helping any. We (as in me and my siblings) were all aware by that time that her illness was terminal, but she had been doing so well that we were optimistic that we still had many more months (or even a year) with her.
Winter passed and spring began. March, which was 1 year since her diagnosis, came and went. I really started to notice a decline in her health in April. The last time my children saw their Grammy was on April 22nd, when we took them over to visit for the afternoon. I will treasure that day for the rest of my life.
My Aunt (and my mom’s only sibling) came from her home in the Upper Peninsula to be with Mom later that week. On Sunday, April 29th, Mom went to the hospital.
I’m going to spare you the major details of her time there. It’s a little (okay, a lot) too personal to be posting all over the internets. My sister and brothers (plus Doug and my sister’s husband and my brother’s girlfriend) were all there with her the next day. My Aunt was also there. She never left Mom’s side. (Side note: My Aunt is truly an amazing person and we are forever grateful for all she’s done for Mom and for us.)
Mom passed away the next morning. When she did, heaven gained an angel. I truly believe that. But her passing also left a hole in the hearts of her family and her friends. She was loved so much. My only comfort (and it’s just a small one) is that at least I know she’s not in any pain anymore.
We held a Memorial Service for her last Friday (May 4th). I wrote and delivered a eulogy. Writing the eulogy was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I have no idea how I was able to read it without crying, but I did it. I wanted to do it for my mom. I wanted to be as strong in that moment as she had been her whole life.
This is what I wrote:
Live, Laugh, Love
I’ve seen this phrase numerous times on wall plaques, signs and picture frames, but I don’t think I ever actually thought about the true meaning of this phrase until I sat down to write about my Mom.
My Mom (Well at least Mom to me. Kathi to some, Kat to others.) embodied this phrase. She lived it every day.
Live~ My Mom lived her life the way she wanted to. She set goals for herself and worked tremendously hard to fulfill them. She stumbled along the way, like many do, but stumbling only hardened her focus and made the rewards sweeter.
Laugh~ Anybody that knew Mom knew she had a sense of humor coupled with an infectious laugh. We would often trade funny stories, sometimes laughing so hard that we brought tears to our eyes. Many of her friends have expressed that they could just sit and talk with Mom and have so much fun. She really was a fun person to be around , it’s no wonder that she had so many friends.
Love~ Mom LOVED. Loved her family. Loved her friends. Loved her fur babies Nacho and Teddy.
But this love was not one sided.
Mom was loved. She touched so many lives during her own. It’s evident. You are here because she loved you. And you loved her.
She would be so humbled to know what an impact she had on the people she knew. She was an amazing person and I am so blessed to have had her as my Mom.
I miss my Mom so much. Going forward with my “normal life” seems so strange. But I know that I must and that it’s also what Mom would want me to do. I am happy she’s in a place without pain, but it doesn’t make my pain or the pain of anyone else that is coping with her loss any easier to bear.
I love you, Mom.