9 years later and still struggling

by Jessica
(Richmond, VA, USA)

I was 12 when my mother passed away. She had been fighting breast cancer most of my life starting from the third grade on. I visited my mother numerous times in hospital beds after surgery after surgery.I saw my once strong and radiant mother struggle through radiation, chemo, brain surgery, and a mastectomy. Since I was so young, my parents did the best they could at minimizing any stress in my life but I have always been sensitive and felt the anxiety in them. She went into remission for awhile but the cancer came back when I was in 5th grade. This time it was nodules in her lungs. The doctors thought she would be fine since they were growing extremely slowly, if at all. But in one short week, everything changed. My mother couldn't walk, could barely breath, or even get dressed. So my father took her to the emergency room while I was at school one day. We went to visit her once or twice that week, my memory is a little blurry. I remember going on a wednesday with my father and brother. My mother was in her hospital bed smiling as much as she could. We were watching TV, and finally a contestant we hated was cast off haha. Then things took a turn. She started coughing up blood in front of us. My dad called for a nurse while my brother and I stood back to give them space. I remember "going to the bathroom" in her hospital room, a simple space divided by a curtain, and getting a moment alone to cry. I just stared at myself in the mirror and told myself to suck it up, that I had to be strong for her, for all of us. When I walked out, I saw my brother, only 3 years my senior, walking in the bathroom to do the same. I saw it in his eyes. Everything was so overwhelming. She had been our rock of love and light for so long. After one or two days at home, I was in gym class. Had just changed into my 6th grade gym uniform when I was told I had an early dismissal and someone was waiting for me in the office. I was thinking it was my mother's parents coming to surprise me. I knew they had been planning on coming up with the recent changes in my mothers health. Instead it was a family friend. She told me my mother was in the ICU and we had to go pick up my brother. I could sense the fear. At the hospital, my brother and I weren't allowed into my mothers room. Just allowed to walk by from a distance. She looked so depleted... lying there arms open, oxygen mask on, her short hair from all of her chemo. That wasn't my mother, but a ghost. They escorted us to a waiting room where I found about 20 family members and close friends. As the day progressed, more people showed up. My father would come in and out to tell us updates. It was like a roller coaster. "Oh they think she is doing better" "Her breathe is slowing down and they are unsure why" "She's holding in there". It was scary. I remember walking out of the waiting room where someone stopped to give me a hug. As I peered over their shoulder, I saw my church's preacher. He had just come from her hospital room. I can't express to you the pain I felt when I saw him mouth "She's dying." I ran through past multiple family and friends booking it for her room. My brother saw me panic and followed after. But we were stopped in the hallway by my mothers siblings.In a huddle we cried and cried. We couldn't see her yet. I suppose our emotions were too distressful for others, because a nurse escorted my brother and I and my aunts and uncle into a separate room. We sat at a round table waiting for them to let us see her. tissue after tissue after tissue. I know I used boxes on boxes. I guess hospitals are use to that though. So finally we were taken to my moms room, where my father stood beside her crumbling in tears. My brother and I followed suite and clung to her cold hand with him. Tears streaming down our faces we told her how amazing of a mother she was and that we loved her very much. I pleaded for her to stay. When she was gone, a nurse escorted me to yet another room. Have you ever heard someone cry from their soul? That gut wrenching cry, where you know their heart is broken. That's all I could do. I went into the room and sat down with family. Then my dad walked in. He fell to his knees crying that it was his fault. That he should have done more.I had never seen him so frail. He loved her, to the end of the world and back. The lengths he had gone to during her sickness were more then enough. Can a heart broken like that ever really mend? Everything is so vividly engrained in my memory, the viewing, the funeral, her burial. I could go on and on. The point is I miss her so much. My brother and dad don't really want to talk about it with me and "have moved on." Personally, I don't feel like they've really grieved just compartmentalized the issue cause it was too much pain. I fear the bad memories have already trumped the good ones. I don't remember her. I miss her and that will never change. She should be here with me. It's not fair. I miss her emotional support. Her comfort and love. I wish I had the chance to get to know her as an imperfect being- as a friend. She was amazing and all I can hope is that she is watching and proud. It really hurts to sit with the pain and I hope I am on the right track to dealing with my grief after pushing it off for so long. Just another layer I guess. Another way to incorporate my loss, another way to grow in her honor. It hasn't been easy but I give into the struggle. "The best way out is always through."

Comments for 9 years later and still struggling

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Mar 26, 2014
9 years later and still struggling
by: Doreen UK

Jessica I am sorry for your loss of your Mom to cancer. It is so distressful for young children to have to witness cancer in the family. Cancer is a destructive disease and few get remission from it. It is a slow disease and it prolongs the agony for the family. My husband had a tumour growing for 40yrs due to working with asbestos and he must have felt so ill for a long time. This cancer does not show up in the lungs till it is too far gone. My husband would not have survived. His cancer was terminal the day he inhaled the first fibres of this asbestos dust. The fibres cling to the lung like hooks and is in the lining of the lung. It is inoperable, incurable, and aggressive and I nursed my husband for 3yrs. 39days and he died 22 months ago. This is the very worst disease to witness the suffering of the loved one. Because you postponed your grief it will feel harder, and more painful. You can go and see a grief counsellor for support. Often when we repress our grief it gets set so hard we can't deal with it and often need help, when it is deep down inside of us. I have done this grief work with a counsellor so I know it works if you get the right counsellor. Many men are able to move on quicker. You were young and still needed nurturing. You can also get this nurturing from a counsellor. It is a very clever type of therapy and helps one recover better to resolve the raw pain of loss. Cancer is what it is. Such a disease that one can't do more than they can for their loved one. You will eventually recover from grief. But as you rightly say it is going THROUGH it that one is able to move forward.

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