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 19, 2006

A Year Later--And A New Locale

Ok, so I really legitimately needed to have a breakdown. I'm not sure if I legitimately needed to blog it, but I did, so... I guess it will stay.

This is the post I wanted to write from the beginning.

Today marks the one year mark of my Mom's death.

I can't believe that it's been one year. It is inconceivable to me that she has missed one full year of Carolyn's life. When she died, Carolyn was a little blob of baby--not crawling--just rolling over. She gave winning smiles, and had quite a personality, but she was so far away from the little person that she is now. Mom missed her crawling, her walking, her first words. She missed hearing about her saying, "Butt Boost," barking at every dog she sees, and all of her adorable dancing.

She has missed a year in my life as well. I survived my first deployment. I moved into a new house that she has never seen. I traveled 7000 miles or so. And I made a decision to begin moving in a new 'vocational direction.'

I miss her. How can it have been a full year already? The most painful thing about today is that it makes her feel so far away. All year long I've known that at least her life was just last year. Now I don't have that. Now all I have is distance. A year is a long time.... 365 days. One whole trip around the sun.

The thing is, a good part of me doesn't think that the world should have travelled around the sun again... A part of me wishes that the world had stopped... Because I want the world to take notice that an AMAZING woman ISN'T HERE anymore.

I said in another post that this day doesn't make her any more gone than she was yesterday or she will be tomorrow, but this day makes the finality hit home. Mom is not on deployment like Andy was. She is not coming back. The missing doesn't stop.

I have decided, for the record, that I hate the word "acceptance." That is supposed to be the phase of grief that you aspire to. I am an overachiever, you know, so logically I should want to get to that stage. I refuse. I will not contentedly accept the fact that my Mom died a horrible death due to a horrible disease.

I will however allow for integration. That is what I want my 'final stage of grief' to look like. I want to allow the grief and the missing and the hurt to be as big as it is. As big as it needs to be. And that is very, very big. But I want to be able to coexist with that. I think I am moving into "integration." I still hurt. I still miss her every day. But my every waking thought isn't tied up with Mom and missing her. I will never be one of those people who can look back at this experience and say, "I'm really thankful that this happened because I learned so much and gained all of these new insights." If I could have traded the lessons and still had my Mom--healthy and free of pain, I would in a heartbeat. But... The grief and the missing are only a part of Val now. They are no longer the black hole-like vortex sucking all of me in and leaving me no light.

My Mom was one hell of a woman. She would have understood my meltdown today. She would have understood my tears. Days like today were hard for her too. But she would have wanted me to smile today, and to celebrate her and the life that she led instead of just focusing on her death, and so I did.

Mom was tough, and strong, and no-nonsense, but she was also incredibly compassionate. She loved nurturing people, giving to folks in small ways. So today, I wanted to honor her by doing the same. I wanted to allow her to continue giving. So... I brought Yellow Roses and buttons that said, "Cancer Sucks" to a nearby cancer center. I left them at the front desk of the infusion center with instructions to give them to anyone who came in for a treatment today. And I hope in some small way, they will be tangible tokens of encouragement to the folks who recieved them.

Mom would have loved the sentiment "Cancer Sucks." She didn't mince words. If she felt like hammered dog shit, she told you that she felt like hammered dog shit. I think she'd get a kick out of the buttons.

So it's been a year... And I miss my Mom. I will always miss my Mom. I wish she had never had to hear the word, "cancer" and I wish she was still here to drive me nuts with unsolicited advice regarding my raising of Carolyn. I wish she was here to teach Carolyn to flip people off, and to say the words, "Male Dominant Stupid Gene." I wish she was here to personally infuse Carolyn with her grit and her love of life. And I wish she was here so I could hug her, call her to process through the craziness of people and to remind me that the democrats are always right.

I miss her. And that will always be part of me. And that is as it should be.

And that, my blogfriends, may well be the last of the posts here at New Way. I want to leave it here in it's blogspace so that perhaps someone else will find it and know that it's ok to admit that Cancer Sucks, and Grief does too. From now on, though, you can find me at my new blog, Dig Your Toes In .

I love you Mom.


  • At 2:21 PM, Blogger Beverly said…

    Dear Valerie,
    You are so brave to write how you really feel, and I hope that people do find this blog and read it, and that they themselves can grow through what you have lived and written about.

  • At 9:48 PM, Blogger [disenchanted princess] said…

    Hi - I'm new to your blog, and do regret that I didn't find it earlier. I plan to spend some time with your archives, but at least for now wanted to say Thank You, for writing and sharing this experience.

    If I could have a moment of your time, I wanted to share my story with you. My boyfriend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about four months ago, and they gave him 6-8 months to live. He's 38 . . . He initially had responded very well to the chemo, but just this week we learned that the cancer has developed resistence to the drugs and has started to grow again.

    I try to put on the 'good' face for him, so that I don't add my fear to his. Your blog is a nice outlet to give the fear a voice, to hear it said out loud.

  • At 10:06 AM, Blogger Susan said…

    Thank you.

  • At 6:07 PM, Blogger Lynne said…

    yes, cancer sucks

    big time

  • At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I have just come accross this blog and have been looking for something to read like this for ages. You see My Dad was diagnosed with NSCLC in August of 2005 and passed away on 21/8/2006. I am struggling I feel to come to terms with loosing him. My Mum doesn't like to talk about it, she copes better by not speaking about it and my partner misses him dearly but also finds it difficult to talk. I have good days and bad days. I feel alot of guilt and anger at the moment but so people keep telling me it is early days. Most days I am fine I guess, just normal, going to work and stuff but Dad is never far from my thoughts. I have not yet found the courage to read your blog in it's entirity, but I will. I am hoping by reading your words I will find it easier to cope. So thank you so much for doing what I cannot.

  • At 4:06 PM, Blogger Lisa Marie said…

    my mom died of lung cancer seven months ago. it's still so new to me. I found this blog via TL's blog and I'm so glad I did. I'll be reading it for a while. Bless you, Valerie. I hope your babies bring you much joy.


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