Cancer did force my Mom to take her very last breath seven months ago but it also took the last five years of her life, slowly robbing and quarantining aspects of her natural life. My Mom passed away August 17, 2015, but I feel like I started losing her October 2010, eight days after I gave birth to my son. And that day was the day of her diagnosis. A day burned in my mind. Walking into her home, into her bedroom, that Fall afternoon, hand in hand with my sister, me slightly bent over from my caesarian, to see my Mom’s fear and her medical experience and knowledge of what she knew she was about to embark upon swimming in her tears. The beginning of it all.
Chemotherapy is tragic yet it allowed my Mom to see, hold, talk and coo over all her grandchildren. She lived for our children. Life with cancer is not benign and at times forces you to question everything. How can one sustain themselves with such an evil disease and equally potent remedy raging through the body simultaneously? Trying to force feed herself with liquid nourishment hoping the speed of downing it would allow it to slip past her cramped intestines, abdominal discomfort, and pain. All to build strength and increase her blood counts so that she would be given her next chemotherapy. My Mom went through it all, the physical impediments as well as all the mental and emotional maladies. She hit bottom so many times throughout her years with cancer and more importantly she got the EFF up too. That core power, that strength was so brilliant and inspiring. Seeing it all unfold day by day was mind altering for me. And now to not be able to tell her how amazing she’s done makes me crazy, weep and frustrated because her brave gait through this nasty disease was so treacherous and cycled viciously.
I still talk to her. It’s just that it’s hard retraining my physical/body memory to reset and not rely on her actual voice over the phone, eye contact, touch. To watch your beloved Mom in such agony and then paired with all her shining moments beaming through the mess of cancer is awe inspiring and life changing. The way she quickly set aside her physical pain the moment any of her grandchildren would walk through her door was always so exhilarating. Especially the last time she made her final acknowledgment of each grandchild before she began the process of passing. She gathered up all her remaining strength and bared through her pain to show each of our children a smile and called out their names as her last goodbye. Just amazing. And in that moment, her dying days, she performed her last lesson to always show true love and give strength to those in need.
To be gentle with the cancer patient is a given and may that always be. The story of those helplessly on the sidelines finding themselves not knowing how to be forgiving to themselves can be left unheard. There’s still a weakness and I am trying to reclaim my stability. My Mom’s ultimate caretaker, my Dad, who I always hold close to my silence, to my prayers, because for him now helplessness is in his forefront and allowing himself a true reprieve is difficult. May light and love embrace all the caretakers.
To have been on the sidelines of cancer :: I will never be the same.