This is one of those blog posts that makes me want to say, “I’m fine. I don’t really need for you to offer sympathy or anything.” Just a heads up.
Today marks the anniversary of my Mom’s death from metastatic breast cancer, and unlike the previous Death Days, today marks the moment I’ve lived longer without a mother than with one. Ugh.
And yet I’m lucky I had her for 32 years. I’m lucky to have had a mom into my young adulthood, and a really stellar one at that, when much of the world doesn’t get that random life benefit.
Today is the 16th of September and tomorrow will the 17th.
34 years ago on September 17 – and pre-HIPAA – Mom’s doctor (and a family friend) told me on the phone while I was in the kitchen of the manse of my first congregation in rural NY that her cancer had spread. “It’s in her lungs and bones. It’s even spread to her toe bones,” he said.
I asked him if I should quit my job and come home and – of course – he said he couldn’t tell me that. But he did offer this, “I don’t think she’ll be alive a year from now and there’s no way she’ll be alive two years from now.”
He was trying to give me a general time table.
- That afternoon, on September 17, 1986 I met HH on a blind date.
- We were married in 1987 and Mom was there.
- And on September 16, 1988 she died.
So today’s the 16th of September and I remember those last hours with Mom in a morphine coma until she finally stopped breathing while I held her hand and told her she was the Best Mom Ever.
And tomorrow will be the 17th when I’ll remember the first time I saw HH’s face. Terrible things happen and then – if we are very fortunate – healing things happen. And we thank God for that.
The world is literally and figuratively on fire today and yet there is hope for healing. We all need to be healed and God knows that. And I’m so grateful.
Jan, your mom was such a wonderful lady much like her own mother. They live on, as you continue their legacy of love and compassion.
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Thank you Jan.
Love you. Thank you for the reminder of how beauty and grief are neighbors.
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Amen my friend.
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Thank you for this beautiful post. I needed it today.
There is everything in this piece: life, death, love, gratitude, grief, hope. To be where you are now, I’ll have to be 109. Highly doubtful, and that oddly gives me comfort of a sort. I may make it to being older than my father was when he died (82), and that also will be quite odd (for me). One of the strangest things about loss is how you don’t ever stop missing the person. Oh, the type of missing and the degree of missing can and should change, but the absence is always felt. Couple that with the randomness of life events and you have things like your meeting with HH. I’m thinking in trite metaphors of doors closing and windows opening, but one reason they’re trite is because they are so often true…
My I-outlived-my-mom day was April Fools Day that year. 55 years and 19 days. I am kind of obsessed with these types of anniversaries.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I lost my mom to breast cancer just before I turned 5. I sometimes wonder what life would have been like if she had lived for longer, and I could have made memories with her and actually remember her. Prayers for you as you grieve and celebrate.
Thanks for sharing difficult and joyful transitions. We can all relate to this. I still want to talk to my Mom on my most difficult days. She was an amazing woman whose life was never easy. Always missed after 25 years.