May 2, 1937 – November 20, 2009
These last few weeks have been the hardest in my entire life...actually I take that back, this year has been the hardest in my entire life. I don’t even know where to begin with this. All I can say is there is a sadness and pain in my heart that I know will never totally go away.
My mother left us on Friday, November 20, 2009. She went in to see her doctor (my boss) for a check up in December 2008 and through his thoroughness, he found a spot that needed further investigation. I then arranged for testing ASAP and that was done just before Christmas. Our worst fears happened in January, she was diagnosed with cancer. Things were looking positive by end of spring. Mama had gone through radiation treatments with no major side effects and her scan showed that the tumor had shrunk. She was to relax, heal through the summer and come back for follow up in September. Unfortunately when fall came, we found out that the tumor increased in size and mama was immediately lined up for chemotherapy. Without going into too much detail, mama spent the last 2 weeks of her life in the hospital and continued to fight until she passed away peacefully while holding papa’s hand. The crazy thing is mama said that was the way she wanted to go even before she was sick. My parents were kinda playfully arguing about who wanted to go first and papa said he wanted to because he was older. Mama said, “No, I’m going first and I want to go by going to sleep with you by my side.” Just typing that sends chills down my spine because that is exactly how it happened.
Mama was an amazing woman. Oh gosh, it gets me teary saying “was”. Mama IS an amazing woman. I didn’t know all she had been through in her life but I know she had some hardships especially growing up…this made her as strong as she IS. During her hospital stay, she did manage to tease us and smile. I remember one time I was alone in the room with her and I was sitting at the foot of her bed, reading while she was sleeping. All of a sudden, she put her foot on my book, right in front of my face! Lol! When I looked up, she raised her eyebrows at me and smiled through her oxygen mask. I used to massage her legs and feet every day so I laughed saying, “What? You want me to massage you now?” and she nodded. That is one of my favorite last memories of her.
Through this difficult time, I’ve learned and discovered a few things:
- There is such a thing as true love. My parents were married for 48 years. They had their struggles and fights but when it comes down to it, their love for each other was so deep and so real that papa has said that what they had was “beyond love”. I mean, their names even match, Oliver & Olivia! How crazy it that! While mom was in hospital, I’d peek into their room before going to bed to find papa sleeping but unconsciously caressing her pillow. When he was saying his last goodbye to her, I remember overhearing papa say, “I have no regrets”. While I am hurting myself, my heart hurts the most for him. I cannot even imagine what he is going through and I would do anything to take the hurt away from him.
- It is just as important to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Perhaps it’s my bad that I hold a lot in me, it’s what I always do. I may talk about it a bit to a select few but never fully open up. Because of that, I stress myself out to the point where I’d go without sleep for days sometimes, get sick to my stomach etc. I experienced my 1st ever full blown panic attack about a month ago as well. This year, I found comfort in traveling. I went on 3 trips: Chicago in January, North Carolina in April and New York in October. Before each trip, I felt unbelievably guilty to the point where I almost canceled. I also was at the brink of a breakdown before each trip as well, totally stressed with crying spells etc. Every time I felt the guilt, I was encouraged by folks closest to me to go saying that I NEEDED to go for myself, for my sanity. I’d always try to brush it off and was still torn whether to go or not. The crazy thing is that every time I got on a plane, I felt a release come over me. While I was away, I didn’t have to think of this, that or the other. I had fun going to new places and spending time with friends. When I came back, I felt renewed, like I can face the world again.
- Only through your hardest times will your true friends be revealed. Plain and simple, point blank. Instead of going on about who added to my hurt or disappointed me in some way or another, I will go on about the 3 key people who are there for me. Don’t get me wrong, there were others (including but not limited to Jojo, Kam, Yahzarah, 9th and Amanda) but these 3 are on the top of my list…if I had to make one:
- Rica, All I can say is this: when I felt I didn’t have anyone here, you were there. Thank you for being you
- Ann Marie, we share so many things in common it’s unreal. Losing a parent is one thing I wish we didn’t share or have to go through. No one understands the way I’ve been feeling but you. I’ll be forever grateful to have you as my friend.
- Darien…wow, what can I say about you. Even though you’re far away, you were with me every step of the way. No one has been there for me like you have, supported me the way you do. I dunno what I did to deserve you but I’m sure glad I did it. I thank God every day for your love &friendship.
I wanted this entry to be a tribute to her but I am at a loss for words. I feel that what I write here is not enough. I’m glad that she’s no longer suffering and in pain. I’m glad she passed peacefully with the love of her life by her side but there is a huge selfish side of me that just wants her here. When I was at her bedside saying my last goodbye to her, I kept saying, “Wake up, mama. Please wake up” practically to the point of screaming. Another part of me still can’t believe she’s gone. Out of habit when I get home, I still go straight to the room to say hi to her like I would normally do and it kills me every time. I constantly have a vision of her in my head of when I came home from my trip to New York, I left my bags at the door and went straight to her room. She was napping so I slowly crawled in beside her and cuddled up to her. As soon as she opened her eyes and saw me, her face lit up and she said, “Oh, I missed you!” Well, guess what, mama? I suppose it’s now my turn to miss you and I will for the rest of my life. I love you….forever always.