I wasn’t going to blog about this, because I don’t want to sound like a broken record about how much I miss my mom. That’s a worn-out, overplayed, scratchy, non-Top-40 hit, for sure. It’s a sad song about gut-wrenching loss and about life going on despite the hole in my heart. You know that one person you always want to invite to the party, because they can talk to anyone, they bring a light & an energy into the room, and they become the most fun person there, regardless of the guest list?And because they come early to help set up, bring food, and stay late to clean up? That was her.
So I wasn’t going to write about her this year on my most-dreaded holiday. But then I remembered that blogging isn’t exactly a customer-service driven business. At least my little blog isn’t. It’s neither a business nor does it have customers. It’s my blog and I can write what I want to. So there. If I want to bitch & moan about missing my mom and hating Mother’s Day, I can and by golly I will.
For the first year since my mom died, I wasn’t dreading Mother’s Day as much as I usually do. Usually, I feel a terrible tug between wanting to savor my kids and their homemade, heartfelt gifts yet feeling more inclined toward wishing the day would just end already. I despise the advertising blitz that leads up to Mother’s Day and think genuinely unkind thoughts about the merchants that hawk their wares in an effort to extract the maximum dollar amount from adult children filled with guilt about not doing enough to honor Mom. I’m usually envious of my friends who have to juggle their mom’s wishes for the day with their own. Even thought my day can be whatever I want it to be with no juggling required, I never feel that excitement that comes from being treasured, being pampered. The day always, always, always ends in crushing disappointment.
But this year, I had resolved to do better. I was going to be better. I read several blogs written by members of the pink-ribbon sisterhood who also lost their sweet mamas to cancer. My blog buddy Lauren’s Mother’s Day entry in particular spoke to me. Her blog has led the way and shed much light for me as she is four years ahead of me in the “cancer journey” and the happily-ever-after life of a survivor with no mom of her own and 2 kids to raise. Reading this first thing on Mother’s Day this year reaffirmed my goal (stupid as it was) to enjoy the day. This line especially made me want to make it a good day:
“I am so thankful that I had her for a mom, however short a time it was. For how she loved and nurtured me to the tips of my toes, and for whose warmth I still feel surround me, especially when it is dark and it seems everyone else is gone.”
Yes, I still feel my mama’s warmth surround me, especially during the really rough times. Thanks, Lauren, for the reality check; you know I needed that, girl.
My decision to make it a good day, despite the hole in my heart, was affirmed by the supremely wonderful and true friends I have who know it’s a shitty day for me that never fails to disappoint. No less than 11 friends texted me Sunday morning, some to say “have a great day, I love you” and some to say “I know this is a hard day and I’m thinking of you,” and a few to remind me how lucky I am to be here, after waging an uncertain battle against not 1 but 2 vicious beasts. And a couple tried to make me cry (which is not easy to do) by telling me that my mom is proud of me and is thanking God, in person, for my triumph over cancer and mycobacterium.
Another blogger friend, also named Nancy, wrote poignantly about spending Mother’s Day without Mother. Like me, she spent last Mother’s Day trying to pretend everything was normal while staring down an uncertain future filled with tests, scans, surgery, and pathology reports. She writes:
“Even now, she would know things to say to make me feel better. She would be calling to see how I am doing. She would feel my pain and understand my fears, even if she had not had breast cancer herself. My mother would have understood about the ache I sometimes felt deep within and about the terror of facing life without breasts, or hair, or worse. She would have understood what it felt like to be a woman living on the edge unable to stop thoughts about dying from simmering during the wee hours of the night. She would have understood why I cried sometimes without even knowing the reason for my tears. She would not have cared if I was irritable, blotchy-faced or just plain unpleasant to be around. She would not have thought such things were even odd. She would have loved me and understood because that’s what mothers do.”
Yes, indeed that is what mothers do.
Marie writes a super-informative blog called Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer. Her mum is still on this Earth, but suffering from dementia, so Marie understands how hard Mother’s Day is. Her beautifully written entryabout the painful topic resonated with me and reminded me that our mums don’t have to be gone to leave us feeling empty. Marie’s quoting of Persian poet Rumi made me smile: “Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
I’m trying, Rumi, I’m really trying.
Another blog I love, “dear mom can you get letters in heaven?” is written by a young woman who lost her mom to ovarian cancer. Her take on Mother’s Day is so sweet and so heartfelt that it’s almost painful to read, but her outlook save it from being too sad to bear. Like me, she usually hates every minute of Mother’s Day, but this year came to the realization that her mom is happy, and that sustains her. Sami writes something that I feel so deeply, and I’m grateful to her for putting it into words. The weird dichotomy of feeling grateful to have had an awesome mom while still feeling so very, very sad that she’s gone:
“It’s just so bittersweet. I feel lucky to have known you, and I always will, but there’s that part of me that will just remain sad. I’m sad that I will never buy you another sappy Mother’s Day card or cheesy gift; I’m sad that I will slowly forget exactly how your voice sounded; I’m sad that you never got the chance to be one of those cool moms on Facebook, or own an iPhone, or watch the season finale of Survivor (and the new season too– you would love it!)”
I too fear that I will forget the sound of my mom’s voice. It’s easy to recall her “sick voice” and the way she sounded while being ravaged by uterine cancer, but I really have to work hard to remember her regular voice. And that’s a shame because she had a great, big laugh that made the world a better place, just by hearing it. I love but also hate that Sami mourns her mom missing out on Facebook, an iPhone, and Survivor. I could make a long list of similar, everyday things that I hate having my mom miss out on.
One last blog round-up, and this one breaks my heart into a million pieces. It’s the Carcinista, a blogger I just recently “met” and got to know via our blogs. She was smart and snarky and brutally honest about how she felt going through the ups & downs of ovarian cancer. All the things I aspire to be in my little blog, she was. And I say “was” because smart, snarky, honest Sarah died last week after deciding to stop her treatment.
She chose quality time with her husband and 2 boys over the certainty of feeling awful and the uncertainty of whether treatment was working, and I admire her for that terribly difficult decision. Even toward the end, when she saw the writing on the wall, she didn’t lose her sense of humor, and she faced the most-unhappy ending with courage and her trademark mission to “wear something cute and make each day count.” She referred to Dana Farber as The Cancer Factory, and I remember laughing out loud at her recounting a terrible visit to TCF in which she was so sick she vomited up her blueberry yogurt, but said “I’m pleased to notice that I’ve not only managed to keep fuchsia barf off floor and out of hair but also off pristine white tee-shirt. Rockstar.” RIP, Sarah. Your humor and balls-out approach to cancer will be greatly missed.
This year, I tried. I tried to not hate Mother’s Day. I tried to enjoy it, for my sake, my mom’s sake, my kids’ sake. We spent a nice day by the pool with lots of champagne and yummy food, in the presence of 2 of my dearest friends, 2 of my all-time favorite people. I had such high hopes, such great expectations. But in the end, I should have just given up and worn this t-shirt: