It has been a while since I have written a blog. I can lie to myself and say it is because I am so busy and life has just been nonstop; but I don’t think that would be true – the last couple of weeks, they have been hard and I have been hurting. It is something I didn’t want people to know, because I have been so strong through the entire process of watching my mom deteriorate, through watching her become unconscious, to watching her pass.
But, it has caught up with me.
And, just like my reason for starting this blog was to help others, while ultimately helping myself. I’m ready to talk about it, again.
Four months ago, I lost something so special to me. I lost my best friend, my person and the one woman that I could truly share my moments of weakness with. Without her, I feel lonely. I feel as if I lost a piece of myself. Some days I struggle with understanding why it happened – why I lost her; and other days I understand it – I understand why she couldn’t fight any more.
I have these nightmares that wake me up multiple times during the week. They are of her dying – dying different ways, but I always watch. I always saw her die. Those images flood my mind and my heart races and I wake up with tears rolling down my cheeks. It is sick. It is emotionally draining and it takes a toll not only on my emotional state, but my physical state.
Today, I started to see a grief counselor. For the longest time, I didn’t think I needed one – until I started experiencing these nightmares. I’ve stayed busy, I’ve tried to keep my mind off of my mom – I’ve stayed strong. But recently, something clicked. Is my idea of strong intangible? Is my strong something that isn’t in reach? Am I trying to achieve this strength that doesn’t exist? Is the meaning of strong in my mind distorted?
Quite possibly the answer to those questions is yes. All of my life I’ve had this image in my mind of what strong is. And that image is my mom. She cried in private, she dealt with her emotions separately, she held the household together through all of her battles with breast cancer, she kept up with all that went on my life. She was magical.
These days my idea of strong is my mom on steroids. My idea of strong is not grieving. My idea of strong is pretending I am fine. My idea of strong is never admitting your weaknesses. My idea of strong is bottling up my anger. My idea of strong is bullshit and I am tired of pretending it is something that my mom would have wanted from me.
Of course, she wants me to show strength, but she wants me to show compassion and more than anything, she wants me to be happy.
The night my mom passed away, I can remember it like I was in the moment now. The time came at 2:30 AM when she was about to take her last breath. We surrounded her side, she inhaled and exhaled and opened her eyes. She had passed. In that moment, I didn’t cry, I didn’t even want to be in the room. I immediately went into the “get things done mode”. Who did I need to call? Who did I need to tell? What did I need to do?
The day of her wake and her funeral, I barely shed tears. Instead, I calmly stood there reading her eulogy, I stood there as my mom was wheeled down the church in a casket. I stood there as she was put into the car to be driven to her grave. I stood there as we said our final goodbyes. Not a single tear. For the days that followed, I wasn’t grieving. I was being this idea of strong that doesn’t make sense.
Today, and every other day before this day, I’ve had the worst time. I’ve had the hardest time fathoming the loss of my mother. I’ve had the hardest time understanding why in 2016, breast cancer is STILL killing women. I’ve had a tough time going to visit my mother at her grave.
Her grave is the only place I can talk to her, the only place I can cry my eyes out. It is the only place I feel safe with her. When I am there, I think of nothing else but of how much I miss her. I think of what I would do to get her back. I think of what I would do if I saw her. I think of what she has been saying about my decisions. I think of how much is going on in my life, that I would LOVE to pick up the phone and tell her about.
See, I can’t do that. I can’t pick up the phone and call her. I can’t hug her or cry on her shoulder. I can’t drive to her house and go shopping with her. I can’t go out to dinner with her.
I know I am not the only daughter to loose a mother. I know I am not the first person to write a blog about it. I know I am not the first person to tell their story. I know I am not the first person to beg for a cure.
But, I am a person with hope. I am a person with a story to share. I am a person, that with the support of others, will be okay. I am a person that will be able to remember my mom in the way she would have wanted me to. I am a person that will be able to talk about her with my kids someday.