It seems like another life, but really it was just three years ago that my mom was diagnosed with stage IV Cancer. And, in case you don’t know what the stages are, 4 is the worst, outside of death. Whatever the stage, though, as soon as you hear those six little letters (cancer), you think death. This was the day my world changed forever.
From the get go, our Kaiser Doctors pounded it in to us that my mom was terminal. Our first Oncologist shrugged and said, “I’ll be lucky to get two more years from you.” I wondered if the Doctor had Aspergers, a form of autism because she didn’t even blink or acknowledge my mom’s horrified blanched face. She just kept rattling away.
Whenever we asked about options, our Kaiser Doctors spoke down to us like children; to them, hope was a pipedream- Funny, how people can have this incredible resource of intellect and yet be emotionally defunct. My mom, a Psychologist, being smarter than us all, foresaw the effects and knew she needed to shed her helplessness and hopelessness. After all, despair was the shortest distance to death.
We were a problem solving type of family so my mother and I traveled to Stanford for a second opinion. The difference was night and day. For example, the Kaiser Oncologist spent 10 minutes with us upon diagnosis versus our Stanford Oncologist who spent hours; Stanford refuted the belief in “terminal” because all humans were technically terminal. They felt more comfortable with the word chronic especially since cancer research was in a constant state of advancement. Armed with fact based solutions, we found the hope that our family desperately needed, allowing us to enjoy our moments without living in a state of perpetual fear.
Although Kaiser’s ineptness and cynicism challenged us as a family and as individuals, we rose up to the challenge and found inner resources that we never knew were there. My mom continued to defy Kaiser’s grim expectations over the next several years and despite her positive results, Kaiser’s negativity never ceased. It was a constant stream of pessimism. I pretty much wanted to bang my head against the wall because their negativity felt like a bigger obstacle than the cancer. However, this was where our relentless hope stepped in. We never allowed Kaiser to dictate our focus and our dreams.
Of course, death was inevitable. We knew that and fought it valiantly for two and a half years. In our final days, I watched the cancer finally steal what vibrancy remained of my mother, leaving insurmountable pain in its wake. I was by her side when she finally ascended from her war-torn body at 3:30 am. Once contorted in pain, my mother’s face smoothed into what appeared to be a peaceful sleep.
There was a glow around her as I hugged her for the last time. In the last synaptic firings of her brain, I whispered how much I loved her; how I would miss her and how lucky God was to have her as I did. As she was there at my birth, I was there at her death. We had come full circle.
It’s been eight months since her passing and the pain is still fresh. I feel lost at times because she was my “go to” person; you know, the first person you want to talk to about a situation, issue, question and etc. I could tell her everything, well almost- except sex. I could count on her excellent advice and trusted her with anything. She was my soul mate and my best friend. It was an honor to be her child.
If I were to dig deep and find the positive in all of this, I would say that my mom’s death made me kinder, more compassionate, which would’ve made her laugh; she always insisted that I was the kindest person she had ever met and when I’d tell her it was her doing, my mom would shake her head and say, “No, baby girl, you were always a kind child; you cared about everyone and everything. It wasn’t my doing. It was God’s.” Well, this time, it was her doing. For when you reach to the Heavens for strength, you discover true strength isn’t a physical attribute or a skill; it is love within the unconditional. Once opened, it cannot be closed so now, it spills upon the earth, within every one of my interactions; it is the truth behind the everlasting. –Amen….
Note to the Reader- I apologize that I didn't get this posted until Thursday. The subject matter was harder to articulate than I thought it would be. Please follow me on Facebook or Twitter for updates on my blog...Always sending love and light!