Moving forward but not moving on.

by Jenny
(Astoria, NY)

When my Dad passed in 2001, Mom was there to comfort me. Life had changed a bit without Dad, but things still felt somewhat normal. I eventually moved in with Mom to keep her company and to save some money.

Then, in 2008 Mom was diagnosed with cancer, and life went from her and me arguing over what to watch on TV, to me trying to convince her to eat after yet another dose of chemotherapy.

My "rock of stability" may have been sick, yet she still listened to my complaints about work and my stories about my new boyfriend. When my sisters and I found out Mom's cancer had spread, I found myself constantly trying to get the Hospice nurses and doctors to give me some sort of an answer to my need to know how much time my Mom had left. I had been the one dealing with handling Mom's doctor visits and treatments and medications and side effects; so I guess I felt finding out the answer to Mom's mortality was just another piece of information that would help me deal with how best to care for her.

But in my heart I needed to know because I needed a professional to let me know this was either not as serious as I thought, or much worse. Hearing "some people pass within weeks of being on Hospice and some go on for years" did not help my constant state of anxiety. My mind knew there was a limited amount of time left with Mom, but my heart still wasn't registering the impending count down.

Even when Mom slipped into a coma, I didn't think of the conversations we still hadn't had; like who were the people in some of the pictures in her childhood photo album, or what were the exact ingredients and measurements for her Thanksgiving stuffing and Italian Christmas cookies (a “pinch” or “handful” written on an index card is no help).

All I could think I held her hand as she lay in the hospice bed we had in our living room, was "please God, make that terrible gurgling sound stop and stop her suffering."

When Mom passed on October 1, 2011, I did what most adult children do, I went into work mode. My sisters and I began the whirlwind of making funeral arrangements, playing hostess at the funeral, and handling the business of dealing with social security, Medicare, life insurance, home insurance, closing bank accounts, and finally, sending out thank you notes to those who attended the funeral.

And now, my childhood home, where my grandparents raised their children, my parents raised us, and I cared for Mom - is now being sold. I'm still dealing with my grief from Mom's passing, and now it feels like another loss. Rationally I know that this is nothing compared to dealing with Mom's illness and passing, but I can't help these feeling like I'm no longer on solid ground. All I can think of is a quote that keep repeating in my heart "Mom taught me everything, except how to live without her."

Comments for Moving forward but not moving on.

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Nov 22, 2012
A mother teaches us how to love
by: Nina

Jenny, thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Your quote has touched me "Mom taught me everything, except how to live without her." I lost my mother on July 29th, 2012 at 5:30am. She survived cancer for 23 years but died from liver cancer after her breast cancer metastasized to her lungs then liver. She went through chemo for two years and suffered the side effects. But she stayed so positive and strong and always had high spirits. She truly is the strongest woman I know and has given me and my sisters the best gift any child can ask, being an amazing mother. She was in hospice for 1 day before we saw her take her last breath. I thank god for allowing us to be with her when she died, not making her suffer for long and giving me 32 wonderful years full of great memories with her. A mother teaches us how to love and without her we are lost. Mothers are the first people we learn to love. Life has changed forever and there is no moving on, but like you said, we are trying to move forward, one day at a time. The wound is still fresh but in time, I trust that we will find our joy again. I hope you are well and you are finding more strength each day.

Aug 31, 2012
to Jenny Moving forward but not moving on
by: Doreen U.K.

Hi Jenny this is just a follow up to say that I hope life is more stable for you. When you lose parents it matters not how old you are it is still painfull and it does leave a void in our lives for a long time. When you are the carer and having to handle everything yourself it can make you weary and you just carry on doing what you have to do. tiredness does creep upon us on top of grief and wears us down. I hope that you are taking time out for yourself, and perhaps make a special day just for yourself. Perhaps keep a journal of all the memories so that you will always have these to treasure. don't try to move forward too fast. Grief takes it's time and then we get a little stronger each day till it doesn't hurt so much. I guess we will all go on to lose more members of our families and it is this hard reality that keeps us grounded. part of living is dying. Oh I wish we could hold onto our loved one's forever. I don't know if your Mom had any sisters who knew of the family recipies and you could pass them on to you. This would stay in the family and be handed down for the future generations. We all take things for granted and I managed to write down some of my husband Steve's recipes. But it is so painfull for me to read these. I may go and open a book and see his handwriting or some information he left. This is what hurts. You will have days when you move forward and some days you regress. But on the whole you will eventually move on and move forward. This has to be done in stages and not all at once. I just hope that you know that we all care and you can write anytime. You will move forward and move on in time. You will go on and enjoy life again. Best wishes

Aug 30, 2012
Thank you Doreen
by: Jenny

I posted the story about my Mom hoping it would help me heel a little bit. Then seeing your reply and your story just made my day. Thank you for your kind words of sympathy. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband Steve.
And I have done exactly what you wrote about; I think about all those that were in my life - and how many I've lost. Our house that was once filled with so many relatives has dwindled down. But I agree with you, we must appreciate what we had or have, and not wallow in what we don't.
It really gives my heart such a lift to know that "strangers" are kind enough to reach out to me to try and help my pain, even when they have pain of their own. Please know that I will say a prayer for you, your father, and the soul of your husband.

Aug 29, 2012
Moving forward but not moving on.
by: Doreen U.K.

Jenny I am sorry for your loss of you mom. None of us can even imagine what it is like to live without our loved ones. I one day pondered on this when I had 6 at the table for Saturday Lunch. I said. "OH GOD I can't imagine what I would do if I lost my Dad and then there was only 5 of us. Well suddenly my husband was diagnosed with inoperable, incurable, agressive cancer. Steve survived just over 3yrs. My Dad who I thought would leave us through death is still living at 91yrs. I lost everyone at the dinner table. Dad is being cared for by my sister and her husband. My son got married and moved away, Steve died. Maria my daughter works on Saturday. I am ALONE and no one to sit with me at the dinner table. 6 people became 1. Something I always dreaded and was worried about happening. Life is strange how it dishes out cancer and other illnesses that rob us of happiness. I almost feel afraid to be happy in case I lose someone else from my life. Jenny your mom did what mom's do listening and looking after the care of her children. You will miss this as it comes naturally and when it is gone we feel the loss so bad. We just can't go around each day wondering what horrible things is going to happen today. We just carry on living and taking everything including our loved one's for granted as if they will always be there. This is why from now on we should meditate each day on that day and be thankful for our loved ones and the difference they make in our lives. Remembering to tell them how much they mean. I do this more now since I lost Steve. I lost my mom 9 years ago and I have only just put her picture out. I put Steve's out and had to put it away. It is too painfull. Jenny we can only get through our sorrow one day at a time. I find the weekends the worst. I hate being on my own all day. Steve retired and we could have had a good life. If you find it difficult moving on you may be stuck in grief and would benefit from seeing a grief counsellor just to help you move on a little. Grief is a slow healing. I guess we all have to adjust to a new life now. I wish you better days ahead and that life will improve for you.

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