Today marks the second anniversary of my beloved Moms passing. One year ago when I posted my thoughts on the first anniversary, my heart was still heavy and raw from the journey through cancer with dear Mom, and then navigating the subsequent maze of grief. It is amazing how much has changed in the past year. New beginnings, growth, and the terrible grip of sadness and loss within me beginning to ease up. Time is a great healer, when we allow ourselves to surrender to the process. Gradually, sorrow and tears are replaced with happy memories and grace. The clouds have lifted and I feel the warm sun upon my soul again.
As I have been reflecting on the past two years, and indeed my whole life up to that point, all I keep coming back to is how quickly it has all gone by. Then peeling back another layer, I began to think about Moms life. Looking at pictures of her as an adorable little girl, filled with curiosity and wander. Then those of her as a young woman spreading her wings to fly. A little later, those as a wife and Mother of two young children, and eventually as a proud grandma. Then as a bride again, years after my Fathers passing – a precious new chance at happiness, a second act. Then, like sand slipping too quickly through an hour glass, it all came to an end.
Looking at these snapshots creating a timeline, it seemed like Mom was born, lived and loved, and then was returned to the earth once more…all in the blink of an eye. She passed away in the same hospital she was born in, coming full circle in the truest sense. When I would talk to Mom about life, death and her cancer journey, the hardest thing for her to come to terms with was that she wasn’t going to be here with her family to celebrate the moments that she so wanted to be a part of. Seeing her dear granddaughter get married, celebrate my 40th birthday, to take just one more trip with her husband. How could it be possible that her time had run out so suddenly?
It makes me realize that regardless of how long or short our life…it is but a precious wrinkle in time. A beautiful blip on the radar. Mom would have given anything to live just a little bit longer, and did. What a warrior she was! Even with a grim prognosis from day one, advanced stage 4 cancer, she fought. She fought like hell. To stay with her family as long as possible she endured 32 rounds of chemotherapy. But she didn’t just endure them, she thrived. There’s the secret.
She would strut into the cancer clinic looking beautiful and chic as always, a colorful headscarf, flawless makeup and a stylish tote bag over her shoulder filled with books, magazines and snacks. You might have easily mistaken her for someone heading off for a day at the beach. It was because of this positive attitude and absolute strength that everyone there adored Mom. She beat the odds, surviving almost 2 years when a picture of just 6 months had been painted for us. She was focused on wringing every last drop of living and love out of the time she had left.
She never complained to me once. Every day when I called Mom to see how she was doing, the answer was always “good my Son”, even when she was so weak from yet another round of chemo that she couldn’t even lift her head off of the pillow. They would always sit new chemo patients next to Mom, because she would give them a sense of reassurance and hope. In Palliative Care only a few days before Mom passed away, she was still putting on makeup and joking with the Nurses. Those same Nurses had tears in their eyes as I held Mom in my arms while she slipped away. Two years ago today Mom peacefully turned away from cancer – to take flight with the angels, surrounded by all of her most precious people.
Mom, my beloved Mom. What a year it has been since the first anniversary of your passing. I plucked up the courage to leave an increasingly stressful career, and went on that sabbatical to Europe that I have always dreamed of. My home has become more colorful and warm, now filled with your beloved treasures that have feathered my nest for a new chapter. We celebrated the wedding of your dear granddaughter Tori last summer…and it was beautiful beyond words. I started work in a new field last fall, and continue to devote more time to the things that I love – writing, photography, travel and design. Just a few weeks ago I celebrated my 40th birthday, surrounded by the love of family and friends. In short, it has been a year of healing, and I know that you have been with me every step of the way.
I often think of the following quote from Cynthia Huntington’s book The Salt House – “The cold of these mornings gets into my bones, I think, when I feel how lightly the world holds us, how quickly we pass through it and are let go.” Mom and Dad, I intend to make the very most of my moment in time, which has been shaped by yours. I now understand that the tapestry of love that we create is our greatest legacy. Mom, I will be forever humbled by how strong, loving and graceful you were throughout your journey into the light, and am so proud to call myself your son. I love you, always and forever.
It broke our heart to lose you, but you did not go alone. A part of us went with you, the day God took you home.
Mom, surrounded by her beloved family on her last Mothers Day in 2016. Gin and tonic in hand…strong, full of life and love, beautiful as always right until the end.