My Mom was the most amazing woman that I have ever met. She had a hard life while she was in Thailand, so hard that she rarely spoke of it once she’d left it behind. She fell in love with an American soldier who brought her back to the states with him. She didn’t know English, and his family was suspicious of their marriage and her motives.
She had a pure heart and determination. She won them over. Every single person who met her loved her. She taught herself English, and she gave birth to a girl. Her daughter became the most important thing in her life. Her family was everything to her. She was so happy and so full of life.
She was beautiful and had an incredible laugh. She was amazing and full of life.
She had wanted to have another child. She wanted to give her husband a son. She wanted to give me younger siblings.
When she was only 35 years old, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I remember her hysterectomy… the long surgery… waiting with my entire family, clutching my one rhinestone covered Michael Jackson glove.
She was a fighter.
She underwent chemotherapy that made her horribly sick. She lost her hair. She had a Hickman catheter inserted directly into her aortic arch. This is how medications were given at home. Living in a small town, home nurses weren’t always available, so she sometimes had to give the meds to herself. She also taught me how to administer them, just in case she got too sick. I was terrified. I remember wanting to not disappoint my Mom, but I was so scared. I knew that if there were any air bubbles in that syringe, they could kill her. I trembled and cried inside every single time she asked me to help her.
My Dad worked nights so that he could be with her during the day, and I was with her during the night, we did have family that lived up the street who could help if need be.
I felt like such an outcast… I was the only kids who had a hospital bed in my living room, and a sharps container in the bathroom. We had meds and syringes in the cabinets. I was ashamed… not of my mother, but of her illness. I was more ashamed of my feelings, after all, she didn’t ask for any of that.
Our alone time at night wasn’t all that bad, we would curl up together and she would tell me things that she felt I should know, different stories, like about the night that I was born. It was a special time, and I will forever treasure those memories.
Her cancer did go into remission and life was good again. We were a happy family until shortly after I turned 11. Her cancer came back and it was obstructing her bowels. They wanted to put in a colostomy bag. I was mortified. Those were for old people, not my mom.
While she was in the hospital having that and other procedures done, she had a stroke. Half of her body was paralyzed. It broke my heart into a million pieces to visit her lying in the hospital bed, unable to talk, a prisoner in her own body.
We held out hope that she would recover, especially after one night when she threw her paralyzed arm over my Grammie and said “Mom”. We all gleefully talked about how she would, with rehab, recover and beat the cancer again.
One night while I was home alone, my dad called me from work. He was frantic. He told me to get dressed now. The hospital had called him and my mom was not expected to make it through the night. My aunt would pick me up and bring me to the hospital and he would meet us there.
A lot of this night is a blur to me. It is, even now, painful for me to recount.
I was in a panic on the ride to the hospital which I’m estimating to be about 20 minutes away. I was filled with terror at the thought of what would become of me without my mother. Who would raise me? How would I survive without her? About 5 minutes from the hospital, a calm fell over me, and I knew that no matter what happened I would be okay. I cannot describe it, or explain it, it was just an overwhelming feeling.
We arrived at the hospital and we were met by a family friend. She told us that she was sorry, but my mother had passed away three minutes earlier.
I fell apart. I didn’t know what I would do without her in my life. I was so frightened and felt alone. My mother was gone and all the strong people in my life were also falling apart and crying.
Years later, I found out that she was told she wouldn’t survive; the cancer had spread throughout her entire body. She was given the option to spend her last days at home, and she refused. I think that she was afraid that I would be home alone with her when she passed, and she feared what that might do to me.
She was only 37 years old.
It has been 25 years. My heart still hurts, and I think of her daily. I wish she was here to see her grandchildren. I wish I could talk to her and ask her for advice. I wish I could feel her arms around me again.