11 years ago today the greatest woman to ever touch my life passed away. My mother.
She was no saint, in fact while growing up I couldn't stand her. She was the every problem in my life. Both my parents were alcoholics and both suffered desperately with the disease, low self esteem, the need to keep up with the Jones'. Even though we traveled to every tropical place known to man, lived in a nice house, and had good cars neither of them was ever really happy. When my dad was sentenced to 4 years prison for drunk driving my mom slipped into a depression. On the exterior she seemed happy, but behind closed doors she was a hollow shell. I was left to fin for myself from the time I was 12 until she met and married my step dad at 16. And even after that her need to drink outweighed her need to mother every time. My senior year with God's strength she quit drinking. While out partying with friends that summer, she called me to come home immediatly, when I got there she gave me the news...stage 4 breast cancer. Several months earlier she had gone in to have her annual mammogram and there was nothing there. In just a few short months a tumor that felt to me like her chest bone had grown. They said because of her drinking, tanning and smoking her tumor growth was accelerated. As I sat in her lap crying, knowing deep inside the outcome, she comforted me and told me she was going to be fine. She was going to beat this disease too. They did chemo, 6 rounds of it I think, maybe more. She started loosing her hair, and to avoid drawing the process out to long she called our hair dresser and had her come over and shave her head. I wanted to shave mine too to show support, but she wouldn't let me, so I cut 9 inches of long blond locks off and donated it to Wigs for Kids. I can honestly say I never saw my mom feel sorry for herself or shed a tear because she didn't understand God's plan for her life. When she quit drinking she found the Lord and dedicated her life to him. During her illness she found a love for life that I had never seen her have. She took the treatments and sickness and went on and loved life in spite of the hand she had been dealt. After the chemo was done they removed the shrunken tumor gave radiation and told us to wait, hopefully she was in remission. They tested the lymph nodes from her armpit and were relieved that the cancer was not present in them. No spreading! Even though she was diagnosed with Stage 4, it was not going to be terminal! Unfortunately, soon after the lymph node removal she got Lymphnodia. With out the lymph nodes present there was no filter to clean out the blood and toxins, so her arm and hand swelled. She went through exercises to keep the swelling at a minimum and was very fortunate that it was not to bad. And still, if there were roses she would stop to smell them and praise God for them. She took every moment in as though it were her last. Deep down I'm sure she knew it would be. We went to Nebraska to visit family for the holidays and half way into our trip her breast started swelling with pain and redness, so she went to the hospital up there. They ran tests and had her doctor send her records up there (at 19 you sure are naive, I refused to see what was happening), we cut our trip short, I was just glad to get back to my friends and Texas before the New Year. I had no clue the severity of what was going on, nor did I really want to know. Even though I didn't get along with my mom when I was younger, after my dad went away she was my world. My home was not a house it was where ever my mom was. So when I got the news that the cancer was back devastation set in. I dealt with it in all the wrong ways, going completely off the deep end. But even then she kept her head up. She had a mastectomy right away and was excited because she was going to get a tummy tuck once she recovered to give her the breast back. Amazing, a woman with such faith. She battled wearing the prosthetic breast much like she battled wearing her wig. It wasn't her, and with her confidence in the Lord she shed them both and let the world know her just as she was. She was proud, happy and filled. The confidence she had she could have only found in the Lord. And she continued to smell the roses every chance she got. She under went more chemo and radiation just to make sure it was gone. All was well, she was recovered! But then the back pain started. Horrible, uncontrollable back pain. It's just the chemo in your system hurting your joints, that's a side effect the doctors said. It will pass they said. It didn't pass and all I know is I was told they wanted to run tests on her and it would be easier if she just stayed in the hospital for a few days to avoid the going back and forth. She went into the hospital on a Wednesday, I went out of town with some friends on that Friday, again I had no idea and didn't want to see what was right in front of me. Our trip got cut short, so I headed back Saturday and she was fine. Normal mom. Family started coming in town, every one was paying their visits. Still I didn't see it. Everyone else knew my mom was dying right before my eyes but no one told me. They all played it off like they were just there to support her. She didn't want me to know and told them not to tell me anything. She sat in her hospital bed and planned her entire funeral. What a woman with such strength and faith in the Lord. On that Monday she took a turn for the worse. By that night she was on oxygen, she would not make it through the night they told me. This was the first time any one told me she was dying. Talk about a blow. She did make it, by Tuesday she was hallucinating due to lack of oxygen getting to her brain, she couldn't move or talk she just laid there on her side so helpless. And again they said she wouldn't make it through the night. But she did. Family paid their final visits and said good bye. And as I was standing by her side holding her hand she mustered up what must have been every ounce of strength to tell me "I love you". I read her a poem I found about being a great mom, and told her I would be OK she could let go. I was strong and had seen her strength she need not worry about me any more. My mom died in the middle of the night that night. Once week to the day after she was admitted into the hospital the Lord called his child home. And in her place He left a memory of a loving wife, amazing mother and strong confident Christian woman. It was evident at her funeral how many lives she touched and impacted. The church was so full people were standing. Flowers piled high her grave plot for weeks.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about her and wonder if I have made her proud. I know I have. She taught me life doesn't matter if you cant love it with every fiber of your being. She taught me faith and trust in the Lord. She taught me to take off all the fake and show the world exactly who I am and be proud of it, because it is exactly how God designed me.
My mother was the greatest woman to ever have a place in my life. We didn't always get along but after it all I can look back and see that my mom always always always had my back.
This is for you mom, may your memory never be forgotten in the lives it touched.