Today is a different kind of post. While I try to keep my life filled with happy, positive thoughts, my wonderful family and lots of crafts, there are a few times a year that are hard. The hardest is today.
Let's start at the begininning July 1, 2003. The day my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. This day is a blur and crystal clear in my memory at the same time. My mom thought she had pulled a muscle in her shoulder. She had seen a doctor, who scheduled an MRI, who scheduled other tests. One thing led to another and her pulled muscled turned out to be an inoperable tumor in her lung. My mom, who had never smoked a day in her life had lung cancer. To this day, I don't know how this is possible. Her dad smoked, her sister smoked...and they both died of lung cancer. But how did my mom get it? Was the second hand smoke exposure that bad? Bad luck? Bad genes?
The following month was my sister's wedding. The last truly happy event we had as a family of four. Mom looked great, even though she had already gone through a round of radiation and chemo. We were able to enjoy the day, dance the night away and forget, for a few hours, about reality.
By the time my sister got back from her honeymoon, mom's hair had fallen out and she was wearing a wig. It looked just like her real hair, which I know was a relief to my mom.
The months went by, with mom doing more chemo, more radiation, and being in and out of the hospital for various things. From the beginning, the outlook was not good. I think I was in a denial...who wouldn't be? Her birthday was spent in the hospital. I remember lying with her in her hospital bed, watching thanksgiving specials on Food Network. She was out for Thanksgiving, but couldn't eat. Her nausea was terrible, at all times, so a port was put in to give her the nutrients she needed.
About two weeks after Thanksgiving, her port got infected. I was at school that day. It was the week before Christmas break and I was working a basketball game after school. I knew mom was going in for surgery that day to replace the port and get help for the infection. It was suppose to be a simple surgery--in and out and back home. But something went wrong. While the doctors were operating, one nicked an artery. Because of the blood thinners she had been on, this was a diasterous event. She was put in a medical coma, to hopefully allow her body to heal and recover. She never woke up.
For 2 weeks, we went to the hospital every day. My sister and I stayed at our parents house, b/c it was closer to the hospital. We'd wake up, shower, eat and go to the hospital, where we would wait in the ICU waiting room all day, hoping she would wake up. Friends and relatives brought us lunches and dinners. My dad hardly ever left. We could force him to go home every few day to shower and sleep. But for the better part of 2 weeks he was camped out in her room or the waiting room.
My dad eventually had a talk with us about mom. Test had been done for days, but they were all negative for any brain activity. They suggested doing hospice care and just making her comfortable until the end, which is what we did. We spent Christmas in the hospital, waiting. Friends of my dad's brought us a Christmas dinner, including a card table to eat at, chairs, plates, napkins...everything. To this day, I think it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for us. They left it all for us to eat when we wanted, as a family.
There were a few other bright spots during those hellacious weeks. The kindness of friends, family and strangers. Spending time with my sister and dad. But mostly, I remember the heartache. My grandmother telling me that she'd been begging God to take her instead of my mom. Sitting with my mom, alone. At first begging for her to wake up, and then finally telling her it was ok to go. That I would be ok...I would make sure dad and Joanna were ok. That if she needed to let go, I wouldn't be mad.
And then, in the early morning of December 29, around 2:00 am, my dad came into my room and told me she had died. He had been with her when she did, and held her hand. I still don't know all the details of that night, and I'm not sure my dad is ready to talk about it.
Since that Christmas, I bought a house, got married, had a little boy, moved to a bigger house, had a second boy and basically have gone on with my life. But during every life event, big or small...I miss her. Every Christmas, birthday, anniversary and Mother's Day, I long for just ONE more day to talk with my healthy, happy mother. It feels like just yesterday she was here. But at the same time, it seems like forever since she's been gone.
I know that a lot of what I wrote might be rambling and not make much sense. I just wanted to write out what I remember about the last months of her life. I haven't talked about it much, and I just wanted to get it all out.
Thanks for listening.