We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.
Seeing all these amazing people shaving their heads for St. Baldricks really inspired me to take some time away from the comedy and write a heart-felt piece. This one is another story about my mom’s battle with cancer. I apologize for the difficulty or lack of sense the read may be, it’s incredibly hard for me to reread or proofread this piece.
My mother battled 3 aggressive forms of cancer for 8 long, tough years. She never complained about being poked, prodded, having parts of her body lopped off, or glued together. Unfortunately, through those years my father, siblings and I spent countless nights in the ICU fearing the end was near. We would say a final blessing with the priest, and even invited family from the many different states and countries to come and pay their final respects while my poor mother lay unconscious and intubated. Eventually, out of towners stopped packing funeral suits and dresses when they came because those outfits were unnecessary, the priests no longer came to say the final blessings and would come to just visit and talk with her instead, and my family and I would just sit and reminisce about fond memories until my mom would wake up. Because in the dawn of a new day, my mother always woke up… and usually wanted her hair brush. Her resilience and love of life prohibited her from leaving this earth. Even in September, 2011, when the arteries by her heart exploded from doing all the work her no-longer functioning lungs could perform. She had an emergency surgery and even then, the next morning she woke up. Unfortunately, due to the severity of that complication, she was put on Hospice which left her very uneasy. Let’s face it. Being told you’re going into Hospice, is being told your days are numbered.
My mother decided she was going to make every second of her valuable life count. This was October 3, 2011.
October, 2011 was a very unacceptable time to go according to my mother. There was still Christmas, a baby shower for my sister that needed planning, the triplets’ communion, my niece, Ryen’s many sporting events, my nephew, Richie’s graduation, and just recently my wedding to help plan. My mother knew better than to leave my dad in charge of any of these events. She always liked to make life easier for us and having my dad involved in our event planning usually led to fights, hang-ups, and pity-parties. My dad is an amazing provider but sometimes you forgot about that when his short temper arose!
Christmas, the first hurdle, came and went. Normally, my parents host Christmas but this year my sister Michele and I took a crack at it and I have to say it went well! Maybe the food was a little cold and we may not have had enough seats but I felt the calories burning off as I stood and ate my slightly colder than room temperature turkey.
February, 2012 Michele’s baby, Joseph, was born. My mother was at the hospital waiting for her newest grandson to join us for many hours. He came and she held him and she was so happy to be there for a positive reason instead of surgeries, chemo treatments, and MRI’s. I’ve never seen such a proud nana.
April, 2012 the triplets made their communion. My mother, father and I got to see these 3 little 8 year olds proudly hold up their hands to accept the body of Jesus Christ with ear to ear grins. Their mother, who is my oldest sister Mary Ellen, anxiously sat there hoping they would not say anything disrespectful to the priest about the way the bread tasted but was also beaming with happiness to have my parents witness this amazing milestone in their lives.
All spring of 2012, My brother’s daughter and my rock star of a niece Ryen played and dominated every sport she joined. My mother was able to see her outperform every athlete she came across while still showing the sportsmanship every parent hopes their child will demonstrate.
My nephew Ritchie graduated from 8th grade that May. My mother got to see him take the diploma and had the experience of seeing her son’s protégé begin the steps of becoming an independent and determined young man like her son was and is.
The summer of 2012 was beginning to take a toll on my mother’s health. If you don’t remember the disgustingly hot and swarthy weather, let me just say that we were comparable to Death Valley, California. I believe it was worse here if you factor in the humidity. One day while I was visiting my parents, I told them about how we settled for June 29, 2013 for our wedding day. My mother congratulated me but then mentioned that although she would do everything in her power to help me with my wedding, she did not expect to be around for the actual wedding. I of course cried and told her she would. For goodness sake, I started to believe that she was going to outlive us all. She nodded her head to appease me but I saw the look in her eyes as the sparkly blue iris turned greyish and foggy like she was holding back tears. The rest of that summer was a little tough emotionally on me. My fiancé was awesomely supportive during my many mood swings and breakdowns but it didn’t matter because in the back of my mind I knew I would gain a husband and lose a mother within the year. So one day, let’s say Julyish 20ish, I asked my fiancé if instead of having a large wedding in June, 2013, could we instead have an incredibly intimate wedding in September, 2012? He being that awesomely supportive person said, “No Problem,” and we scratched that original plan and started planning a wedding in the next few weeks. His wonderful parents and my incredible dad created a wedding in about 4 weeks so that my mother would be in attendance. On September 29, 2012, my closest friends and family joined us for a wedding by the lake and dinner afterward. It was a beautiful and special day. What made that day even more important to me was that on September 30, 2012 at 6:30 am, with the dawn of a new day, my mother took her last breath and died peacefully in my father’s arms with thoughts of her children and grandchildren still with her from the night before. We buried her on October 3, 2012 one year to the day she was put into Hospice.