Saturday, February 19, 2011

Living Without


Today marks the tenth anniversary of losing my mom to ovarian cancer.  She's been gone for a third of my life at this point.  I had her for a brief, but sweet, twenty years of my life.  She never got to see my graduate from college, she never saw me get married (twice), she never met DH, she never saw me complete my teaching credential and take charge of my own classroom, she never saw me get my master's degree, she never saw pictures of my enlistment, and she will never know my children.

My mom was first diagnosed when she discovered a tumor in her uterus (the size of a grapefruit).  She tried pushing down on her bloated lower abdomen, and it wouldn't move the way it would if it were just fat.  She was given a 20% chance of living past five years, which is something we weren't told as children (I was in high school at the time).  She underwent a complete hysterectomy, chemo, radiation, and was deemed in the clear for a while.  After some concerning behaviors, we found that it had spread through her spinal fluid up into her brain.  She had a port installed in her head, so they could give her shots directly into her brain to fight the cancer up there.  Forgive me for my lack of proper medical terminology.  

I remember weeping when I realized she would never be the same again.  She would never be able to do the things that she enjoyed - teach, go shopping at the Nordstrom anniversary sale, sew, etc.  Students and coworkers would stop by to see her, and she'd always assert that she was coming back to work, but she wasn't.  Despite her years of battling cancer, her life came to an end rather quickly, in what I call the snowball period.  It took two months for her to go downhill - quickly.  At that point we had really switched roles.  She had become more child-like, and I was having to help out and parent her.  That was hard, and it was hard not to get frustrated, as she wasn't able to swallow her food or do other seemingly simple things.  Eventually she stayed in bed most of the time, and she never got back out.

My mom was a well-loved science teacher at my high school.  She began working at that school when it first opened, and everyone passed through her doors.  She taught 8th grade science, which included sex education and her own lesson of etiquette.  As my mom said, if you're ever going to have sex, you're probably going to have to go on a nice date first!  :)  I keep her memory going on Facebook, where I have a tribute page for her.

I've always tried to do something special and uplifting to mark this day.  I used to be able to take the day off during work, go antiquing, go out to lunch, etc.  Last year I made a makeup purchase, and I think this may be that kind of year too.  Chantecaille Turtles, come to mama!  I try to remember that my mom would want me to be happy, and make this a day of celebration and not of sorrow.

In memory of my mom, I set out for a day of fun with Noelle!  We're going to be taking in the beauty of the local area, after I get out of the house and hit the pavement for my run!

I love you mom, and I miss you immensely - today, and every day.

4 comments:

Jessica said...

You are in my thoughts today! Have a great day in honor of your mom!

Natalia said...

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman. Enjoy your day!

Sarah said...

Your Mom sounds like she was one amazing woman.

Erin said...

Thank you everyone! I really appreciate your love and support!