For Mother’s Day: an ode to my mom

13522_10205544614362464_1008215349814472317_nTo my readers, I wanted to share why I haven’t written in a while. A month ago I lost someone very close to me — my mother. Mom was my best friend, but cancer took her away from me at the young age of 55.

She was sick for a while, and watching her decline was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.

Cancer is an awful disease, and the impact it has on its victim is just devastating.

My mother had been sick her entire life and did her share of difficult suffering from Crohn’s Disease and other illnesses, but none of her past sicknesses had that impact. Until this disease, she always picked up and kept pushing forward.

Following my mom’s diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer in 2010 (the year when I started college and my brother high school), she tried to stay positive and spent as much time as possible living life to the fullest. But there came a point when the cancer metastasized began to spread everywhere, taking down her immunity, mind and body.

We took care of my mother — who once was strong and independent, but now needed help with every life task — as she dropped to under 100 lbs, and started hallucinating, growing agitated and upset. It was painful to watch, and there were many moments of hopelessness. Though I knew she would eventually be at peace, it was extremely painful to await the inevitable. I didn’t want to believe it, but deep down I could feel it coming for a while. She fought hard and kept going as long as she could though, proving her strength once again.

Even though it was so recent, some moments I almost forget she is gone. And then it hits me hard, the memories — both happy and difficult ones — and I remember that my mom is no longer here. When I hear a certain song, eat a certain food, visit a certain place or smell a certain aroma, I think about her. But she’s not here anymore. Even though there are times when it feels like she’s still right next to me. I can’t ask for her advice, hang out with her, share news with her (good or bad) or send her a fun kitten photo. She’s no longer on the earth. But there is a place where I feel her most.

The place where my mom was most at peace was nature. She loved birds and animals, and ended most days with a walk at the park. She was a beautiful person inside and out, and I owe my creativity and spirituality to her.

When I want to feel with her, I go somewhere with trees and11036266_10205352476359134_6151363754568132133_n water. Her spirit is in the outdoors, and when I see a bird, I feel like she is sending me positive vibes. The two birds on a branch I got tattooed on my foot on the month anniversary of her passing serve as another lovely reminder of her, and the many hikes we took together.

Mom also taught me a lot about life. She taught me to cook, something I will be eternally grateful for. I don’t know how I would be taking care of myself without everything she taught me. She taught me to be patient, and she taught me to be compassionate. She taught me to be ambitious, but at the same time, to enjoy life and not take things so seriously. She had a great sense of humor and enjoyed the little things. She supported me in everything I wanted to do. I wouldn’t be who I am without her.

I am trying to go on with life, and trying to make her proud, because that is all I can do. I’m lucky to have the most supportive people in my life — they have been so wonderful and have kept me going and given me hope. But I am 23, and it’s not going to be easy. Especially this weekend. This is my first Mother’s Day without my best friend. It was always a special day but now it brings a lump to my throat and an ache to my heart. The constant reminders of the holiday are starting to become too much to take — stores bombard my email inbox, the newspapers I design, posts on social media by friends and sounds on the radio airwaves with notes about the perfect gift, but I can’t even see her today. It’s amazingly unfair but I know it happens to many. I try to remind myself that loss affects every person at some point. It’s just difficult to cope at this time.

But to get through, I will try hard to remember all the good times we spent together (because there were so many) even though the past year and a half was heavy with turmoil. She was the strongest person I know, so I will keep that as an inspiration and do my best to be strong for her, because I know she’s watching me.

I love you, Mom. See you later.

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