Friday, July 13, 2012

Address in the Stars

Tomorrow, July 14 marks 3 years since my mom lost her battle with cervical cancer. Not a day, or even hour, goes by that I don't think about her and wish that she were still here.

The past few days I've thought a lot about those few hours up until the time she passed away. It felt as though I was having an out of body experience. It seemed as if I was watching everything right before my eyes without fully accepting that it was happening to me. I grew up very fast in that instant.

I still remember every detail as if it were yesterday. I've not shared this with many people so I hope that y'all don't mind me sharing it with you. It was Sunday evening and I was leaving Washington to head back to Wilmington for summer school. I remember that my Granny, Mom, and I were talking about what we could do the following weekend for my Mom's 52nd birthday. She was so sick and we didn't want to do too much to exhaust her but we wanted to do something fun at the house. We decided we would talk about it over the week and plan something out. I gave my mom a kiss and walked to my car to head back to Wilmington. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was the first time my mom hadn't stood at the door to wave me goodbye as I drove away. Apparently, she was really upset about it because my Granny said she talked about it for a while after I left. She was too weak to do anything. I made my usual phone calls to my mom, dad and granny when I arrived in Wilmington and went to bed.

I was awoken around 1am (I think) by many different numbers calling me. I immediately began to freak out. I finally reached my Granny and was told that they had to take my mom to the hospital. This wasn't the first trip she made to the ER. She was so skinny and the chemotherapy she was taking was slowly breaking her down. My family had such high hopes for her and the idea of losing her wasn't something any of us discussed due to our positivity. You can imagine the shock when a nurse was put on the phone and explained to me that I needed to get home fast because they couldn't guarantee that they could keep my mom alive until then. My heart dropped. She put my mom on the phone and she told me how much she loved me and assured me that it wasn't necessary for me to come home. She said that she was going to be okay (typical of my mom to say). This was the last time I heard my mom's voice.

I was driven from Wilmington to Washington's hospital as soon as I got off the phone. I couldn't form tears. I wanted to, but the pain was so bad that I couldn't express it in any way. I arrived at the ER as they were taking my mom up to ICU. Once there, everything became slightly blurry. The doctor on duty was a high school friend's dad so that made me feel a little better. He explained to me and my family that my mom wasn't going to make it. They were going to do everything they could to make her comfortable but she was bleeding internally and there was nothing they could do to save her. Everything was breaking down in her small body. I wasn't ready to hear this. She had only been out of remission since January of that year. I didn't understand how this could be happening so soon, if at all. While we realized this time was much worse than the first time she was diagnosed, we just didn't think that it would end this way- nor were we told that it might. Since my parent's were divorced and I am an only child, it was my decision what happened. Talk about pressure. They had put my mom on life support right after I talked to her on the phone. We spent hours and hours sitting in the ICU room with her. Everyone took shifts and spent time with her. She was conscious and able to understand what was being said to her but she couldn't speak back. She was surrounded by everyone who loved her in the final moments of her life.

I spent some time with her alone in the few hours before her death. I was able to tell her things that I needed to tell her and also apologize for things in the past. She and I had come so far and become so close in the last few years of her life. I was grateful for the time we had together to become so close.

On Tuesday, July 14, 2009 around 2am, all of my mom's family and close friends went into her room in the ICU to be with her as she passed away. I never let go of her hand the entire time. A part of me never left that room on that day. My dad pulled me out of the room shortly after she passed away. I collapsed in the hallway of the hospital. Shortly later, my dear friend Allison showed up. I was still on the floor in the same spot. She never left my side for the following few days. I was constantly surrounded my friends, family, and sorority sisters. It was their strength and compassion that helped me get through the following days. I couldn't take things a day at a time right then. I literally took them a minute at a time, then hour at a time, then finally day at a time. I still grieve her death, but I try to focus on all the good times we had together. I never allowed myself time to grieve in the beginning. I came back to school and buried myself in Phi Mu and school work. This was such a positive escape for me from reality. I felt as though I had to be strong to get through everything. I still have my moments where I get really upset, but I think everyone does. They come at the most unexpected times.

This forever changed my life. I learned that life is so short and that I shouldn't take a single second for granted. I decided that I would spend the rest of my life doing everything that would make my mom proud. I have always been a very motivated person, but this accelerated me to a new level. Whenever something really good happens, I still find myself reaching for my phone to call her. The same when something bad happens. I have learned to pray a lot. I pray for strength to help me get through each day. Even though I wish my mom were still here, I am grateful for the time that I had with her. A part of her will live on with me forever.

One of my favorite pictures of my mom and I

Someone put this song on a CD for me shortly after my mom passed away. This song really expresses the way I felt and continue to feel. It's beautiful and came at the most perfect time.


Courtney B said...

Oh my goodness... I am SO sorry for your loss!! Your mom was a beautiful, strong woman! And YOU are beautiful and strong... thank you for being so open and vulnerable with your story. Praying for lots of comfort this weekend!!

Lexi said...

Such a well-written post, April! I am praying for you and family. Love you!

Amy A. said...

I love you April! I never heard about that day and I cried so much reading this. I have so many wonderful memories of your mom and I can still picture her proud smile when we were passing you around when you were a tiny baby. You are such a strong woman and we are so proud of you, I can't even imagine how proud your mom and dad are. Thank you so much for sharing this!

rFe said...

So sorry to hear about your mom, cervical cancer is something that's affected my family as well. Stay strong sweetie!

I also nominated you for an award on my blog :) xoxo

EMR said...

This is such an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing this and I am so sorry for your loss. I'll be praying for you!


Portuguese Prepster said...

This really made me tear up. I'm so close to my Mom and this really struck a cord with me. I'm so sorry for your loss and I really admire your ability to share your story and continue to be positive in your life. I'm sure your Mom would be incredibly proud of you.

Blue Dog Belle said...

Wow, this was so beautifully written love. I am so sorry for your loss. But it sounds like you are so lucky to still have an amazing support system behind you. I haven't lost either of my parents, thank goodness, but I can't even imagine the pain you must go through all the time. You are so brave for putting this on your blog. Thank you for sharing!

Xoxo, Emily