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I always take today off. I didn't this year because I opted to do something next week with friends instead. It's not a decision I regret, but that doesn't make today suck any less.

Thirteen years ago today - depending on how to you go by things - the date or the day, today's the date, Sunday - three days ago - was the day, my mother passed away from kidney cancer. At that time, only 2 percent of the people in the world ever got the kind of cancer she had. When she discovered her cancer, it was already stage 4, terminal. She opted for quality of life over quantity, and decided to use natural medicines vs the chemicals that destroyed her body. When she was diagnosed, she was only given 3 months to live. She lived well over a year. I both dreaded and treasured every moment I had with her.

We found out the summer before my senior year in college. I was 21 at the time. It was the day of the Spring Horse show. We had a "family" meeting, which is not something we've ever had, so that in and of itself was scary. My sister Susan and my mother were not talking at the time - they'd had a falling out - so they were not at this meeting. I remember mom and dad gathered us around the kitchen table, told us about the day that they had been hit by chemicals from the farmers, how sick mom had got, and what they found as a result of mom's sickness, why she wasn't getting any better. I was in shock, numb when I found out. I remember hugging my mother tight, and volunteering to go to the 4-H Park to tell Susan. She had taken the kids to the show.

I held it together as much as I could while in front of my parents, and then broke down in the car, crying all the way to the park. I found Susan, let her know, and broke down crying again. The rest of that day was a blur.

In fact, that whole year, my Senior year in college, was a blur. Somehow, I managed to get through the year of classes. I remember that I blew off some pretty important projects, but somehow I managed to pass those classes. I have to wonder if the professors took pity, having somehow found out about my predicament. The entire year I was faced with wondering if that day would be the last day that I saw my mother. I pushed away my friends because... well... they could never understand what I was going through, and any attempts to make things better just made things worse. They couldn't know; and they didn't know how to deal with me any more than I knew how to deal with them and lean on them. I tried my best to cope, though my best was not always the best. She couldn't even make it to my graduation because she was too sick to do so. I lived that year in fear that I would be losing my best friend forever, and eventually I did.

She got very sick on July 4th, 1996 - and couldn't keep anything down. Eventually, that stopped but then a week later things got worse, so we took her to the hospital. I skipped out on work so I could go, and we had a long, harrowing day in the Emergency Room before they would even see her. The doctors came out and told us there was nothing more they could do but make her comfortable. So, she was given a room, and made as comfortable as possible. I remember being very angry at this because they really didn't even try to do anything. She was there for a long, harrowing week - which, coupled the way her own doctors treated her throughout the course of her cancer, and how they handled her in the hospital - has shattered my faith in the medical profession entirely. At best, they were unprofessional. At worst, they were jackasses to her.

Regardless of that, she had a week full of family and friends who came to visit her, including some very, very old friends who she hadn't seen in ages. They all paid their respects, and helped her with her last week. More importantly, they made her laugh and feel like a person again, not just someone who was sick. This is something she sorely missed during her year of terminal illness, something she'd confessed to me; no one talked to her anymore, and she was quite upset by that.

Eventually, on Sunday, July 21, 1996 my mother passed away, sometime in the evening. I had visited her from work earlier that day, but I did not stay very long. I stayed long enough to have a salad for dinner, tell her I loved her, kissed her on her forehead, and then went home. I remember I was in my room, online, I think on Tales of Ta'veren, when my father got the call. He asked me if I wanted to go. I didn't. I couldn't. So, I let him go on his own. I didn't want to see her that way. I wanted to remember her as my mother, not some shell of herself laying in a hospital bed. I don't regret that choice, but I do regret not spending more time with her during her final days.

I miss her dearly, even today. No one can, or will, ever understand the pain of losing a parent until they have lost one themselves. No one should ever have to understand that pain at such an early age. But, life happens.

Today is the day that I remember my mother, my best friend, and the person I confided in most. She was a wonderful person, and I will never forget her.

Now, can July be over with already?

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
adamdray
Jul. 21st, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
This is a lovely tribute to her. Live the life she would have wanted for you, is all I can say. That and *hugs*.
bludiscus
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
You're in my thoughts, sweetie.
nynrose
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks, both of you.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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