New Way to be Human

Nov. 18 2004, my Mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. I started this blog to chronicle her journey. July 19, 2005 she gave her life in the battle. This blog is my place to process through the journey I walked along with her, and now my journey through grief. It's also a place to discuss the effects cancer has on the lives it touches--survivors and caregivers alike. I'm a Navy wife, a Mom, and my mother's daughter now and forever.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

H-word Anniversary--(Do not read if you don't want to hear about Grief, or if end-of-life discussion will hurt or discourage you.)

These July days aren't easy when it comes to the grief stuff. Please don't get me wrong I'm fully functioning, out and about, and doing the Mommy bit. (It seems like people read here and think, "Oh Val just sits around crying in her cheerios." I DON'T!). But, these are days of strong, strong memories of a year ago. These are the last days that are in the first year without Mom, and in a few short days I will have to say, "I lost my Mom over a year ago." It won't make her any more gone than she was a month after she died, but it will be a shift in language that I am not looking forward to. I have a very difficult relationship with time right now.

Today, has been an especially hard day. When I look back a year I find the day that the doctor said, "time for Hospice." The week or so before the 12th it was becoming more and more evident that Mom's body was winding down, and I knew that those words would likely come soon, but I wasn't ready to hear them.

In fact, Mom heard the words on a day when she'd gone to the doctor to find out about the clinical trial she was waiting on. She'd been waiting since the end of May. Wonder what would have happened if all the red-tape could have been waded through more quickly? I know--forget the what-ifs.

I wasn't able to go to the doctor with her that day. Carolyn had gotten her 4 month shots the previous day, and was sick and fussy and clingy. She had a fever and I didn't want to risk her actually having a contagious infection of some sort, and having her around chemo patients with weakend immune systems. I sat in the house and tried not to panic (I knew the day would be pivotal), and cried over not being able to be with my Mom to hear words that I knew would be heavy no matter which way they swung.

Until the day of the appointment we were all still geared up to fight. That day, she left the house in her wheelchair with the word, "EXTREME" painted on the back in hot pink--unable to walk even a few feet. Her lack of mobility was the telling point that made the doctor realize she wasn't strong enough to fight any longer. The next day, my Uncle Jerry would come to build a wheel-chair ramp in front of our house that Mom would never use.

She came home that day and my aunt told me what the doctor said. I can remember what Carolyn was wearing--It was an adorable little onesie with a bear embroidered on the rear end. We called it the "Bear Butt" outfit--and since Mom loved plays on words, she always laughed. To cheer her up when she got home, I pointed out Carolyn's "Bear butt" and actually got a grin... a mixed grin that told me that she looked at Carolyn and knew she wouldn't be able to be with her much longer and it hurt.

When she saw the doctor and he said the "H-word" he told her she had maybe 3 months. From the accounts I heard the word was, "Probably not six months, maybe three." So that day I remember trying to wrap my mind around the thought of only having my Mom on earth for three months.

I had no idea that a week later I would wake up and she would be gone.

Today marks a day when I want to demand from God and the universe--why didn't we get more time? (Don't anyone dare lecture me about that either). I know that no amount of time would have been "enough," but I desperately wanted more Mom time. The way things that progressed in the following week were terrible. The end bore down on us like a freight-train. None of us knew what had hit us.

It ocurred to me today that perhaps the reason these days are hard right now has more to do with finally processing the impact of the dying process and the privelege of bearing witness to the last two months of her illness.... and ALL that came with that. Those were weeks I wouldn't trade for anything in the world, but they left their mark. The illness and decline of a person you love so much are, in themselves, enough to pack a pretty hefty emotional wallop--even without the grief that comes with death. So I look back today and feel the impact, and again wish desperately that we could have had just a few more weeks... and that we could have been afforded just a few good, pain-controlled, quality time days.

Today will always be it's own anniversary.


  • At 2:00 PM, Blogger tmcroat said…

    (((Val))) love you lots!

  • At 12:51 PM, Blogger samurai said…

    My mother never told me about the verdict. She was in Atlanta looking to get a lung transplant when she got the word. "Six months"... that was in July... she passed in December.

    It has been a little over 5 1/2 years for me.

    May the Lord grant you peace during these times.


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