A Hoot We Needed

I haven’t updated in a while and it’s because so much has changed in the last couple of weeks.

I resigned from my position at work to achieve my dream of becoming a nurse; to fulfill a promise I made to my mom in the last few days of her life. Although taking care of her was the hardest thing I ever had to do, 13124513_10156928387720077_1334661829735087786_nmentally and physically, it was the most rewarding thing in my life. It taught me patience, acceptance, empathy, sympathy and it made me a stronger person inside and out. I started nursing school and it’s difficult – but it’s supposed to be, especially when your mom passed away just shy of two months ago. But my focus on my dream is stronger than ever, reminding myself each day that I want to help patients and their families during the hard times in their lives; just as others did for us.

We celebrated the first Mother’s Day without my mom, and it was the most difficult day of my life, second to saying goodbye to her. The days that followed brought emotions that I didn’t know existed, the day itself gave me lasting exhaustion. I was tired, irritable, sad, angry and experienced feelings I can’t even begin to put into words. 13124733_10156928387605077_2966671819641217940_n

Mother’s Day is supposed to be about spending time with the woman who gave you everything, who taught you all you needed to know and more, who wiped your tears when you cried, hugged you when you were wrong and loved you no matter what. Except this Mother’s Day, it wasn’t that. She was not there to wipe my tear soaked eyes, she wasn’t there to have a glass or two of Pino Grigio with me, she wasn’t there to laugh with me or open up presents that I put so much thought into. She wasn’t there to go to a vineyard with. She wasn’t there physically and that was the hardest part.

People can tell me continuously until they are blue in the face that she is always with us, but that doesn’t change the fact that she isn’t tangible. She isn’t in front of my telling me, “Ashley, stop being a baby.” She may be with us, but physically she is not and that is something I just can’t fathom.

On Mother’s Day we tried to make the best of the day, remembering my mom in the best ways possible. We started off at church and prayed to God that she would give us some kind of sign that day. We followed it with a trip to the cemetery. It was raining and the rain fell down my face, just as my tears did. We placed an angel and flowers at her grave – two things we would never get her. First, because she hated flowers. Second, because she preferred her nails getting done more than a knickknack.

13124967_10156928387425077_2427183647542871906_nWe stood there in the pouring rain and I begged her that this was a dream that we still didn’t wake up from. I stood there until I could not stand there anymore. Visiting your mom at her grave is something you shouldn’t have to do. It’s not something I should have to do. I never expected this day to come this early and I always thought she’d be around forever, making it to her mid 90s, because that is the personality she had. I never thought that I would bury my mom so early in my life.

We continued with our day and had lunch with my husband’s family. At first, I wasn’t going to attend because 1) I was too emotional 2) because it felt as if I was replacing my mom with something else and finally 3) I was worried I would break down and cry because I couldn’t have lunch with my mom.

We came home from brunch and planted a tree in memory of my mom. My in-laws bought us this tree to help keep the memory of my mom alive. We dug out a garden and planted a Flowering Dogwood. Again, she doesn’t like flowers, but seriously, the tree is beautiful. We also decorated the garden with an owl stepping stone in honor of the first sign we ever received from her and another stepping stone in her memory – “If love alone could have spared you, you would have lived forever…”

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And as the days pass, it gets harder, not easier. My praying that it is a bad dream is frequent and all I can think of is how this happened. How did this happen to the women that was so strong, so resilient? We’re approaching two months without my mom and it feels like time is going so slow. Each day drags on and its one more day without her.

Between the stress, our busy schedules, and my mom not being here it seems some days it’s unmanageable. So as I struggle for answers, for support from her and for a sign – she pulls through just in time – just before I break.

Yesterday morning, I went outside and saw that our garbage was torn a part. The garbage can didn’t look messed up, and only the top bag was torn. I called my husband and told him I thought a raccoon got into it for a midnight snack. Well, to my surprise, last night my husband was outside with the dogs when he saw what in fact was eating our garbage. It was a big, beautiful white owl. (If this is the first time you have read my blog, the first sign the night my mom passed away was an owl hooting outside of our window – and days that followed we saw more owls and heard them hoot.)

When my husband texted me this, I was in class and tears instantly filled my eyes. She was listening to me. She knew I needed a sign – she knew we all needed her, three days before the two month mark without her.

This one moment, taught me overnight to keep the faith, to keep believing and to know when times are tough, she still will come through, she still will take care of us.

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Visits with Mom

Visiting my mom isn’t going to a rehab facility or going to Smilow Cancer Hospital. It’s not going over her house. It’s not taking her to a doctor appointment.23978caf-e603-49a0-ab61-ab535ee939d4.jpeg

Now, visiting her is at a grave.

It’s talking to the dirt and crying uncontrollably because I would give up anything to take her to just one more doctor appointment or visit her just one more time at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Even though it was exhausting, mentally and physically, I would give anything to just take care of her for a couple more days. I would do anything to have those moments back – to feed her, lift her drink up so she could take a sip, to help her change her clothes, to help her go to the bathroom, to talk with her and cry with her, to not sleep more than 3 hours a night.

People keep telling me you can still talk to her and she’s still here. But, I wish people would stop saying that because I know I can still talk to her – but it’s not the same. She doesn’t talk back. She doesn’t tell me when I’m being a bitch. She doesn’t tell me that it will be okay. She doesn’t tell me that those pair of shoes look better than the other ones or that my necklace is too bulky for that outfit.

Mom and I had such a strong bond. And I’m sure my dad felt as if we ganged up on him quite a bit, but that comes with the territory of being the only man in the house. Once a week mom and I would play tricks on him. We would stuff his dress shoes with toilet paper so when he woke up and tried to put his shoes on at 4:45 in the morning, he struggled. And when he got home from work, we’d laugh. That never did get old. It got him every time. Too easy.

A couple weeks ago, when mom was still with us Dad told me stories about him and mom. One of them being that mom stood him up A LOT during their dating days. Or, when mom got my dad a watch, and to be sentimental, engraved it with his name, except, after a year of dating she still didn’t know how to spell his name right. So she gave it to him, engraved with ALAN. Not right mom, not right.

Or, when dad tried to propose and they sat down for dinner and without saying anything mom said “Allen I know you have something for me. You have something in your pocket, I know it. Aren’t you going to ask me something?” Nothing could be a surprise with mom – and that is when I realized I really am my mother’s daughter. So, when Stephen proposed, I did the same thing. I begged and pleaded for him to give me the ring. I told him “I know you have it. Just do it. Ask me. Do it. Do It.” And, he did do it and we planned a wedding in 22 days, so that my mom’s dream of seeing me marry the man of my dreams come true, and so that our dream of having my mom there would be possible. That’s one week I remember more than any other week. The week that we sat on the couch and planned our wedding.

So, at the perfect timing, we received our wedding video yesterday. And last night, my husband and I sat down and watched the two hour film. I couldn’t wait to see my mom. I couldn’t wait to see her talk, laugh and cry. But, for some reason I find this totally crazy. Because seeing her would obvious make me upset, emotional and angry. And, I know our wedding film is supposed to be about us and be such an amazing thing to look back at. But, right now, for me it’s not. Right now for me it hits too close to home and as I cried my way through the video at every single shot of my mom; I was right back to the beginning of my grieving.

As I watched her in one scene of the video, I left the room, and it was the first time I heard what she said when I wasn’t there. She said, “Allen, she looks absolutely beautiful. So beautiful. I can’t even believe it.” And that hurt even more. I know one day I will look back at our wedding video and watch it with amazement and also watch it with a huge smile on my face, not just because it was the best day of my life, but because I can see my mom. I can watch her and hear her. I can be back in that moment with her.

 

God Gives Us all the Time We Need

Yesterday, we celebrated Easter, but also my Mom’s first birthday in heaven. When we laid mom to rest last week, our priest said, “God gives us all the time we need on Earth, to grant us eternal life. Whether it’s 6 years or 64 years, it’s enough time.” After I thought about it, he’s right; although difficult to say; he’s right.

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Mom had just enough time. When we saw those who came to pay their respects, it was overwhelming, but that was mom – mom talked to everyone, she was nice to everyone and she truly impacted those who were in her life; she impacted them forever.

Although, mom may have had just enough time to be granted eternal life, or just enough time to make a difference in the lives of those who loved her, I can’t help but feel that I lost out. I can’t help but feel that there wasn’t enough time. I can’t help but feel that just a couple more days or weeks would have mattered.

When mom took her last breath, I was numb. My heart was racing and I couldn’t feel anything. It wasn’t real. Not yet at least. Then, I sat there alone with her for a couple minutes. I had trouble saying what I wanted to say, because there was just so much. But as I sat there and looked at her, she was back to being healthy. She was free from the cancer. And I was thankful for that; but I was angry that to be free from the cancer she had to leave us. And for the days that followed, I had more anger, than heartbreak. I was mad that she was gone. I was mad that I couldn’t call her (even though I almost tried). I was mad that God let this happen. And, I was mad that no one could save her.

Then, that anger turned to sadness. And each day I cry a little more than the day before. Each day, it’s a little harder and each day I miss my mom a little bit more.

But somehow, the day of my mom’s funeral – I was strong; just like her. And people around me said, your mom gave you her strength today. I didn’t believe them at first, at first I thought it was just because I find it too difficult to cry in front of people and I am too proud to show my tears; but as I read my mom’s eulogy I remained calm, strong and stable. And, I asked myself, how is that even possible? My answer was the answer a lot of people gave me – it was my mom.

Now, five days after burying my mom, life is hard without her. In the last five days I’ve grieved more, I’ve found it more difficult to be alone. I’ve found it more difficult to sit and do nothing. I have dreams about her every night and wake up crying. I cry during the day. I cry at night before I go to sleep. I cry when the thought of her pops in my mind. And, I cry because I haven’t had a sign from her, besides an owl the night she passed away. I cry because no one can understand what I am going through. I cry because people think they can. I cry just because.

And when people ask me how I am doing, I say fine, just like my mom always did. Because if I really said how I felt, it would be something like this – I feel like my world is crashing and sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. I’m jealous of people who have their moms and I’m jealous of people who can call their moms. I’m angry at what people say to me. I’m angry that sometimes I’m forgotten about and people only ask me how my dad is doing. I’m angry that people forget that I am 24 years old and motherless. I’m sad that I can’t call my mom. I’m sad that my mom can’t be here. I’m sad that four days after laying her to rest, we had to celebrate our first holiday without her and also her first birthday in heaven.

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So as I end this blog entry, I leave you with the poem that Father Domenic Valla read at my mom’s funeral, The Dash by Linda Ellis:

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
​the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

​So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

Strong Sue – Sue Strong

We’re home. We’re trying to enjoy as many minutes as possible with her. She’s tired. She’s exhausted. She’s ready to stop suffering, but she’s not ready to leave her family and friends.

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Making memories – laughs, tears and a lot of hand holding with family and friends. We celebrated her first night home, her first night in a long time – home. [Marianne, Alan, Jonathon, Whitney, Christi, Stephen, Dana, Sue, Me (Ashley), Allen and Dave.]

I said this was going to be the hardest thing we’ve ever had to go through, or do; but what I didn’t realize was how scary this would be. I didn’t realize that my eyes would constantly go to her chest, making sure it was moving up and down, and she was breathing. Or, when she labors her breath and her chest doesn’t move for a few seconds, my heart begins to pound outside of my chest. This is our reality.

Yesterday was a bad day. She didn’t eat or drink anything and it took more than a couple of people to move her. She was uncomfortable and she had difficulty breathing. There was not much we could do to make her comfortable. She was scared to close her eyes because she was scared it was the time. She said, “I’m ready. I want to let go.” And when I asked her when, when are you ready; she responded, “Tonight. I can’t do this anymore.” IMG_0087.JPG

She made it through the night and she’s still with us. Our friends, I mean family, were here all day and night. Some slept here and we watched her. Some came around midnight just to say hi and give her a kiss.

And, we watched her relax and go to sleep. But, she only slept on and off – scared to go into a deep sleep.

This morning, we woke up, and moved her into a chair. She drank and ate more than yesterday. She’s tired. And, it’s okay to go to sleep. Her breathing is a little better, she’s relaxed. We’re here, next to her, and this is where we will stay – all day, every day.

Father Dom, from our church, St. Thomas the Apostle, in Oxford, Conn. is coming today. He’s coming to help give her some peace, help give us all some comfort. And we will pray. We will pray that when she’s really ready, she will let go, and she’ll be comfortable – and it will be easy.

I am so proud of her. She has fought this battle for too many years. A lot of people would have given up a long time ago. She’s never cried, she’s never gotten mad, she’s never said enough is enough. This is why she is my hero, and why so many people admire her. Her strength and will to live is beyond anything any of us can understand.

So as I sit here next to her and write this blog, I can speak for her and say she is grateful and thankful for every well wish wished, every prayer said, every piece of love shared. During this time, the hardest time in our lives, we are humbled by the support we have from our friends and family.

Home.

She made her decision. 

No more hospitals, no more doctor visits, no more infusion centers, no more rehab centers. No more picking and prying.

She’s coming home. We’re all coming home – to the home I grew up in. The home our family made countless memories in. And as my husband and I moved our bed, clothes, dogs and as the hospice company delivered the bed, wheelchair, walker, and oxygen – it was real. This is real. 

  

We will take care of her in her final weeks. We will make more memories in the house that holds our secrets, dreams and hopes. It’s going to be hard, really hard – the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do; but it’s her decision and she is in control this time. 

So, just like we have been – we will cry, laugh, get mad and love with everything we have.

And when I think about it – I’m mad, I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I’m overwhelmed. A miracle doesn’t exist. Instead, this cancer exists and it’s taking something away from all of us. I’m struggling to find my faith, I’m struggling to understand why and how this has happened to our family.

And the worst part is as I think about what’s to come – my future kids will never meet the woman who I call my hero. My mom won’t be there to tell me I’m swaddling wrong. My mom won’t be there to babysit and spoil our children. 

I know, life isn’t fair. Life isn’t perfect. But it should be. Bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. And there should be a cure for this disease. 

While I watch my mom process this, this new reality, she’s hurting. She doesn’t want to let go. She doesn’t want to miss what’s to come. She doesn’t want to die. She’s not ready. And we’re not ready. 

So, today we sit in silence waiting to be told when she can come home. We’re ready for her to come home, but we’re not ready for what’s to come.

This is changing me. This is changing all of us. And I’m scared. I’m scared I’m not going to take care of her the right way. I’m scared of being without her. 

I love you, Mom and I am so proud of your strength and perseverance. You’ve been through more than anyone can imagine. You will always be my best friend. 

It’s time to come home. 

Live. Laugh. Love.

When I was 18 years old I got a tattoo on my ribs saying “Live. Laugh. Love”. It is a sentiment that I believe will guide me through life. It will help to remind me to live in the moment and live for the reasons that truly matter.

But at 18 years old it meant something totally different. It meant to enjoy life by hanging with my friends, to laugh at jokes and to love a cute boy. Shallow, it may have been, but I was young and naive. Life wasn’t real. It wasn’t hard.

As I grew up and matured, and life got hard, I realized my tattoo was something that meant a lot more. It was there to guide me. To keep me on the right track. And when it all clicked, it helped me.

So, what does Live. Laugh. Love. mean? Now, as my family and I are going through the hardest trial of our lives, that $100 dollar tattoo has a voice in my head. It keeps me grounded and it keeps me pushing forward.

Live.

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To me living is about having no regrets. Making sure I spend as much time with my mom as possible. Making sure I keep making memories with her. Every day is different, there are good days and bad days, but each day is a blessing.

When the doctors said, time is limited and to be ready for the next step whenever that may be – I didn’t believe them at first. To me, I was still 13 years old giving my parents a run for their money as my teen years started. To me, I was 16 and still laid with my mom in bed at night watching our favorite shows. To me, I was 18, in college and wanting to come home. To me, I was 20, waiting for one more year to be able to enjoy a glass of wine with my mom. (I know I talk A LOT about wine, but how could you not?) To me, I was still a baby who needed her mom to rock her, tell her it would be okay and to kiss her before she fell asleep.

12063394_10156174812760077_4511922669924497089_n.jpgBut, here I am, 24 years old, the roles have reversed and I am taking care of my mom. I am spending every day talking with her, because we never truly know when our time is up. I look at my mom’s diagnosis as a blessing in disguise – a puzzling disguise. Many people have no idea when their loved one’s time is up. But, we, we get to make the most out of every day. I have spent more time by my mom’s side than ever before. I have learned more about her each day – I have learned more about her strength, pride, dignity and love. And most importantly I have watched my parents fall more in love. My dad doesn’t leave my mom’s side and he takes care of her as much as he can. He goes home to eat, sleep and does it all over again.

So, we’re living to the best of our ability. Some days are harder than others, but we have each other. And when I go home at night, I thank God for the day.

Laugh.

We laugh, a lot. We laugh about the changes we’re experiencing.

11223308_10155593826685077_4444846249177362675_n.jpgWe laugh about my dad learning how to do things on his own – except for dressing himself and knowing what size he is. He’s still not very good at that. We laugh about the food my mom is served at the rehab facility. Is it dog or cat food? We laugh about the “friends” she’s making – some may be nuts, but it keeps it interesting. We laugh about the crazy things that happen. But the best part is we laugh together.

In my last post, I talked about my mom’s infectious personality. She has always been outgoing and the loudest in the room. I always envied her ability to walk into a room and command attention. She could talk to a wall and laugh with a rock. She could make light out of a serious situation. She would crack a joke in the middle of an argument and I no longer could be mad at her. She would blow her nose and everybody would turn, look and just laugh. Because really, you HAVE never heard anything like it. I promise.

But I think that’s what has kept me strong 75% of the time is the ability to laugh. When I look at her I see the person who has taught me to laugh at my mistakes, the person who has showed me that life is too short to be anything less than happy, and the person who has told me over and over again to stop being so god damn up tight.

So as we go through these changes, we turn to laughter as a drug to cure our hurt, sadness and fear.

Love.

Love is strong. The love I have for my mom is indescribable. The love I have for my family could never be explained. So love is one of our drugs of choice.

When our worst nightmare became a reality two months ago, all I could say was that I wasn’t ready. My mom is supposed to be there for everything. I call her a gazillion times a day, asking her every question under the sun. I just love her so much. Our phone calls used to be lengthy and we would talk, now they’re short and there isn’t really anything said, but one thing you can hear is the love we have for each other. Things may be different, but our love has only grown.12742494_10156563961110077_5734276570640593030_n.jpg

About a month ago, we were sitting in her hospital room at Yale – Smilow Cancer Center and my dad and I were sobbing. My mom sat there composed and starred at the wall. We were begging her not to leave us any time soon. We were begging God to not let any of this happen. And I stopped crying for a minute. In that moment I realized, as hard as it is for us, it’s even harder for her. The one thing that could bring us through this was love.

I am the luckiest daughter in the world because my parents have inspired me every day. Growing up, I love you’s were said as many times a day as possible. Love was something that flooded through our house. And today, love is something that sweeps my mom’s rehab room. And every day when we talk and when I see her, I say I love you.

Our Story – The Beginning

My name is Ashley Dayton and my mother has Stage IV Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I started this blog as a way to share our story in hopes to help others – but more importantly as a way to release my hurt, anger, frustration and fear.

11902274_10207384678680982_5450240017172485055_nAt 40 years young, my mom’s dream of having a child came true. She gave birth to a beautiful (I may be bias!) little girl, who was a spitting image of her father. I had the best childhood as an only child. Hugs were always there to heal my hurts and her words always encouraged me to try again. She cheered me on at every sporting event and never missed one. She taught me life lessons when I made mistakes. Most importantly though, she always made sure I had fun. People always ask me, did you like being an only child? My answer is ALWAYS yes, because I didn’t have to share all the love my parents gave me with anyone else.

Because of her, I know that I can always love more and strive more. She raised me better than anyone could have raised me, loved me unconditionally, let me learn on my own but always caught me when I was about to fall. She has seen me through the good times and the bad and always has been there when I needed her the most. Like when I would call her at 2 AM saying I wanted to come home because my bed was more comfortable than the floor OR when she bought plane tickets for me once a month for a year so that it would make my homesickness a little easier.

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But in September 2012, our world changed. My best friend, the strongest woman I know; my mom was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer and opted for a double mastectomy. After a surgery that seemed like a lifetime she was on the road to recovery. She went through rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. She laid in a hyperbaric chamber weekly – hoping and believing that this would cure her. This would cure our family. And it did, for a year, or we thought it did.

In January 2014, we embarked on what we thought would be her final surgery. A way to close the hurt we felt. She underwent a 22 hour reconstruction surgery. Physically and mentally exhausted we were thankful it was over. I thought, my mom is back. She is going to drink wine with me, instigate my shopping habit and be cancer-free. But a couple days later, it all changed… once again. The next chapter was being written and we weren’t ready.

mom.JPGThe doctor said – “I’m sorry, but I found something that just didn’t look right during the surgery. I sent it out to be biopsied and it hurts me to tell you this, but it’s cancer.” I sat there with my mom next to me, in awe. Tears started rolling down my face. I started sobbing. This was truly the first time I was scared. I was scared for my mom and my family. How could we go through this again? We had a plan. We would take a family vacation, we would drink wine, we would laugh.

It turns out there were two tumors, one behind her breast bone and one on the left side of where her breast used to be. It was once again Triple Negative Breast Cancer, and a different form. Each tumor reacted differently to treatments. At this point we asked not to know the stage, for fear it would only feed our mind with ammunition. Instead, we were going to beat this, just like we had so many times 11903717_10207384678760984_2761102080749342473_n.jpgbefore. (Note: My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 46 and had a lumpectomy – but this story is not about the first time, it’s about the last time.)

Breathe. I remember telling myself every time there was a doctor appointment. Breathe. Every time there was a scan. Breathe. Every time there was a test. Breathe. Breathe.

I would tell my parents, I hate your doctor. He isn’t doing enough. He isn’t giving us options. He isn’t giving us support and he sure as hell is not fighting with us. And then, when the tumors kept growing and the treatments kept not working – we arrived at Yale – Smilow Cancer Hospital – looking for help. Chemotherapy was the answer, but there were options. There were trials. There were different forms of chemotherapy – an injection, a pill, etc.

12654232_10156552752850077_3149228218305345566_nBut we still had hope. There had to be a cure, because any one who knows my mom knows she’s a fighter, she has a personality that cannot be copied and a laugh that is infectious. She is a positive person, that always believes there is something to be thankful for.

As 2015 came to an end, I prayed that 2016 would be different. A cure would be found and we would put this behind us, again. We would move on.

2016 began and the only piece of my prayer that was answered was that 2016 would be different. Different is an understatement. Hard is a better statement. In January 2016, we found out this year would be the hardest of our lives. My mom’s cancer was Stage IV Triple Negative Breast Cancer and there was no cure. There were options for treatment that could help keep the tumors at bay, buying us time. But we had to understand that our life would be different from that moment in January.

10308119_10154178703710077_3425491599274794678_n.jpgIn and out of Yale Smilow Cancer Center, my mom would say her name was Susan “Yale” Trabka. Giving us a laugh, or two… But the reality was my mom was sick. The funny thing is I never thought of her as sick before this. Before this, she didn’t even have cancer (in my mind) it was just a couple tumors that needed attention. I was in denial. We were all in denial. We were blinded.

We were told our time was limited. And all I could do was cry. We all cried until there were no tears left. My mom, the matriarch of our family, the glue that holds us together, was really sick and there was nothing we could do.

But there was something we could do. We could enjoy our life with her. We could laugh, we could cry and we could sit in silence. We could create memories that would last forever. And so we did. My boyfriend at the time, now husband, proposed and we planned a wedding in 26 days. My dream, my mom’s dream, my dad’s dream and my husband’s dream came true – having my mom see me marry the man of my dreams. The man that would take care of me. The man that would take care of all of us.

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This is where my blog begins.

Mom, you’ve been through more than anyone can understand, but through it all you’ve kept a smile on your face. Through surgery after surgery and treatment after treatment you’ve somehow always found a way to laugh. You’ve taught me life isn’t always as bad as we think it is, instead it teaches us to be stronger.

Mom, thank you for being my best friend. I couldn’t begin to express everything you have done for dad and me. You have been a solid rock for me during every hard time – always willing to listen and do whatever you can to help.