It is true that time heals all wounds. But there are certain wounds that never truly heal all the way. There are a few that remain and every so often they re open. Losing my mom is one of those wounds for me. While I smile most days when I think about her there are certain times of year where that wound feels a little more open and a little more painful. This is one of those times of year for me. She passed away on November 21st, 1996 and I always seem to find myself being pulled back to that time and it makes me really sad.
When I was 12 my mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She was in her early 40's. Being so young I don't think I fully understood what was wrong with her. I knew she was going to have surgery and that she was going to be sick for a little while as she went through chemo. A month after her diagnosis she underwent a partial mastectomy and before we knew it she was back to her old self and her and she was declared cancer free. And back to normal life went. She of course from then on needed regular doctor visits and checkups to make sure
her health was on track. As I got older and started to understand just exactly what she had gone through it scared me. I lived with the fear that her cancer would return. I think that this fear bonded me with her even more than we already were. Even though I went through your typical rebellious teenager stage her and I always stayed close. Maybe that was because we were more alike than I realized at the time. She had my back no matter what i was going through, she always had the right thing to say and she made sure that I always
knew how proud she was of me. Eventually I stopped worrying about cancer and her getting sick again. I think maybe just when I stopped thinking about it was when it snuck in and slapped me square across the face.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was July 15th 1996. I was working at our church camp for the summer. Before I had left for camp she had gotten an infection in a cut on the bottom of her foot and it wasn't healing. So naturally as time passed the doctors decided to run some tests. It didn't cross my mind that it could be anything more than a stubborn infection. I woke up July 15th and set
about my day like any other day. I was happy. My boyfriend had shown up that morning after driving 3 hours to surprise me. It was a GOOD day. I was standing in the dining hall when my boss came up to me and said they needed to see me up in the camp office. I thought I was in trouble. So, I walked up there with her and when I walked in the office my heart dropped. There waiting for me was my brother and his wife and the pastor of my church and his wife. I KNEW that what was about to come out of their mouths was going to change my life. I sat down beside my brother and immediately I started crying. A whole bunch of stuff was said but the only words I heard was "the doctors have found a tumors in her spine and the base of her brain and it is terminal." Those words hit me like a thousand mack trucks. I couldn't catch my breath and I knew in that moment that my life would never be the same. People always wonder what life changing news like that will be like. I can honestly say it is not something you can ever truly fathom unless it is you in that moment. I went home that day with my brother and just as I expected after a few days my mom encouraged me to go back to camp and enjoy my summer. The last thing she wanted was for us to stop living our lives just because she was sick. I did go back to camp that summer. I called her everyday and I drove the 2 hours home every weekend to spend time with her. Looking back on it I think had I known how quickly she would go I never would have gone back to camp that summer. We got the devastating news in July and she was gone just 4 short months later on November 21st at 49 years old.
I definitely have regrets about that time and how I spent it. It was a struggle for me. I was only 18 and I felt like everything I knew in my life was changing. I didn't know how to prepare myself for the day she died. I spent a lot of time with her in September and October. I knew that those moments we spent together where precious and we all were coming to terms with the fact that these were the last months we would spend together as a family. At the end of October when she became too sick to be at home anymore she was admitted to the Palliative Care Unit of the hospital. That was hard for me and it has always been hard for me knowing I didn't spend the time with her in those last few weeks that I should have. Even before she got sick I hated hospitals, the smells, the sounds the never ending walls and floors of white. But now it was her laying in a hospital bed walking through those front doors felt like defeat. I felt like going there was my way of saying "ok cancer, you win." So I started making excuses. I had to work, I wasn't feeling well. I did spend some time there and those are moments I cherish but there are times I feel and know it wasn't enough. There will always be a part of me that has those regrets but I also know without a shadow of a doubt that she knew I loved her.
She was a wonderful lady. My life is better for having had her as my mom and I will never forget her. The lessons that she taught me are things I carry with me
everyday. I miss her more than I ever imagined I would and I cannot believe that 14 years have passed. There are times I have struggled to understand why she had to go through what she did. But then I am reminded that not all things in this life are for us to understand. God has a greater plan than anything I could ever come up with. Watching her go through what she did changed me. At the time it changed me in ways that I am not proud of. But now sitting here and thinking back over the last 14 years and where I have been and how far I have come there is one thing I realize. She has been with me through all of it. No matter how far I have gone the wrong way she has ALWAYS been there, that voice in the back of my mind reminding me of what's important.
So as I sit here today feeling sad and really missing her and wishing she was here I know this will pass and that wound will close back up and I can go back to remembering her with a smile on my face. At her funeral we played a song by a band called Guardian. The lead singer wrote it after he lost his mother. The song is called See You In Heaven
it's hard to say goodbye, my friend,
but this waiting can't last forever;
sooner or later the sun must set
ending this time together.
i wish that i had one more chance
to spend another day with you,
and even though i know i can
i'll see you in heaven.
the only thing that hurts more than losing you
are all of the years of living without you.
i wanna run back to you
and show you the life i've lived without you,
'cause living without you is the only thing that hurts
more than you.
i see a picture of a little child,
standing alone, wondering where you are.
i can't believe how this child has grown,
living this life, sometimes so alone.
wishing i had one more chance
to have you hold me once again,
now even though i know you can
you'll hold me in heaven.
i've let so many years of life go by
thinking it's all worked out.
now i realize i do now
to say that it's over and let you go for now.
still, i wish that i had one more chance
to say i love you one more time,
and even though i know i can
i'll say it in heaven.
i'll see you in heaven . . .
As much as I miss her, knowing that I WILL see her again makes me really really happy.
Ok there you have it. A lot of ramble I realize, but it is just what is on my heart these days.