I remember sitting at my parents dinning room table in Texas across from my Dad and younger brother on July 2, 2015 thinking "December is really going to be tough." With it not only being my Mom's birthday month but also Christmas being her favorite holiday, I mentally prepared myself for five months down the road.
December was going to be tough.
My Mom died on July 1, 2015 of sigmoid colon carcinosacoma that had metastasized to her liver one year and three months after diagnosis.
It didn't hit me that my Mom was really gone until October 28, 2015, when I found myself lying on the MRI table getting my left knee scanned. As I stared up at the drop ceiling tiles that had been re-done to look like a calming sky scene I realized that my Mom was dead. My reliable source for all things medical related was gone. I couldn't call her after my scan and send her the files via email for her to review to get her opinion. And, I felt alone in that moment. Utterly alone.
The MRI was just a drop in the bucket of the other medical procedures I had had done in the previous three months. From my yearly pap to two internal ultrasounds to a mammogram to a laparoscopy, hysteroscopy with myosure novasure ablation with a polyp being removed that ultimately diagnosed my stage 4 endometriosis, to a colonscopy and urodynmics exam, to the suggestion of treating my stage 4 endometriosis with the chemotherapy drug Lupron, and taking two months to digest that information and search for alternatives, it was baptism by fire for me as I tried to navigate the medical world without my Mom to bounce all of it off of.
And, after every procedure and treatment I just kept telling myself that everything was going to be fine. Because if I didn't, I knew I would loose it.
I lost it last night.
I didn't expect to. Like I said, December, that was going to be tough. Not May. Not Mother's Day weekend. But, I'm realizing again, as I arch this weekend, how alone I feel.
My Mom and I didn't have a typical Mother-Daughter relationship. My Mom was not the typical Mom. But, she was there and she did her best. She was supportive and loving and tough. And all of it made me who I am today, and I'm so grateful for that. Even with a decade long gap of estrangement between us, the last few years that I got the spend with her where nothing unlike the years previous to our estrangement. She was my Mom, and I loved her. She was supportive and loving and tough.
It started last night with the third track of the 2015 Chicago Listen to Your Mother soundtrack. I know, you're thinking "vague much?"
It's "I Lived" by One Republic -
Dude, I can belt out that song like it's no ones business. Except...except for the line
Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
That's when my throat catches. You know, in that way where it triggers your face to cool and then the tears come and you can't breath because your throat is still caught and the words won't come out. Because I know that the next line is
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And then, I was a mess. As I'm driving home, way past my bedtime, emotional, crying and a snotty mess. Because, I miss my Mom. Because she gave all that she had.
My Mom did do it all. She came to the US not knowing how to speak English and learned my watching TV. She put herself through beauty school and opened her own salon years prior to have me and my brother. She earned her GED and went to college to become an XRay tech. She hustled, she made my life better by bettering hers.
And she lived life
She surfed in Hawaii
She floated down a river
And so, so much more. She gave zero f*@%s what you thought about any of it. She was going to do what she was going to do and enjoy it, thankyouverymuch!
And she loved her family fiercely.
So, when, on July 2, 2015, we were tasked with finding a photo that best illustrated her, as much as my brother, Dad and myself like this photo. We couldn't use it for her obituary.
This was the very last photo to be taken of my Mom on June 25, 2015. She's surrounded by my family and my brother's family. We are in Florida enjoying a vacation that she planned, that she literally lived out her last days for. That woman in the center, she's not my Mom. That's not how I want to remember her (though I cherish that photo) and that's not how I wanted our family and her friends to remember her.
This is my Mom
That photo, with that crazy, wild, genuine smile. That, that's my Mom. That's the photo my brother and I convinced our Dad should be used. That's a photo of a woman enjoying life to its fullest.
She was one hell of a woman. And she knew "How to Live"