Chapter 2: Light going out and loss of mother

The cancer was back.

My Mother was walking outside our new house on a cold wintery day and she slipped and fell on the ice. My Father took her to the emergency room to check for any broken bones and it was confirmed that nothing was broken….she now had cancer in her bones. It had metastasized and had spread everywhere. In 1988, this was definitely not good news. Still, my Mother did not think she was going to die. She geared up for aggressive chemotherapy and our community rallied around our family with help. We had a constant rotation of people coming in to help with all of us kids, bringing food, cleaning, laundry, you name it. We were on lasagna and casserole overload and definitely getting away with eating loads of sugary cereal for breakfast. She continued to grow weaker and the cancer stronger. There was a loss of mother all around. There was a huge void.

After a few months, my Father decided we needed full time help and he hired an amazing woman to help my Mom and also care for my 2 younger siblings and I. My older sister was getting ready to leave for college in a year and little things like homework, laundry and dinners were becoming big things missing from our lives. Mrs. H quickly became a part of our family. She had the gentle, sweet nature similar to Mrs. Doubtfire and kept meals on the table and me out of some trouble. She was with us every day and went home at night. She was a true blessing to our family. It was, however, around this time that things really started to change for me. I had an intense anger that was bubbling inside of me. I was not sad. I was angry.

I wanted to do fun things as a family.

I wanted to chase fireflies in the yard.

I wanted to ride my bike after school, not vacuum the floors every day because my Mom could not.

I wanted a normal family.

I wanted her to take me to get my first bra.

I wanted her to watch me play soccer.

I HATED her short hair.

I didn’t want to bring her ginger ale when she was throwing-up.

I wanted to be 12.

I didn’t understand that I wasn’t mad at her…I was mad at the whole situation. The sicker that she got, the angrier I got. I distinctly remember one fall day when she was asking me to start dinner and if I could bring her water to her bedroom. By now, she was in a hospital bed at home and spent more time there than anywhere. I said to myself outloud “I wish she would die.” I did not really understand what that meant, but had heard adults talking about her dying and peace. I did not know what it would mean to really have a loss of mother. I wanted peace and I just wanted it to stop. I wanted my childhood back and I wanted my Mom back. This person in the hospital bed was not her. She was gone.

She still did not think she was going to die. My one wish is that she would have somehow accepted it and talked with me. I wish she could have told me how to put on mascara, how to paint my nails, how to braid my hair, what it feels like to be in love and most importantly…goodbye. My Dad told me that she just could never accept that Jesus would take her from her 4 children and her husband and that He would heal her! In November, my Dad took my older sister and I on a walk after dinner and told us that we needed to start to prepare that my Mom was going to die. She was getting weaker by the minute and slept most of the day. I remember my Dad crying and my sister crying and I remember just feeling empty. I remember I was crying because they were crying. I was so confused on what this actually meant. What would happen to her when she died? What would happen to us? Why was this happening? She was supposed to be getting better! We got back to the house and my Dad and I started to shoot baskets in the front basketball hoop. Just like every other night. Although now something had shifted. We were now in waiting mode and the sand was draining quickly from the hourglass.

I started to have anxiety attacks, but at the time, I thought I was having really bad allergies. One December night I had an epic anxiety attack with my sister in the mall. It scared me and I felt like I could not get enough air the rest of the day. That night, I was really having a tough time falling asleep and I was scared I was going to stop breathing. I went into my parent’s room and asked my Dad if I could sleep in their bed and I climbed in. My Mom was in a hospital bed next to their bed and was on oxygen. She kept pulling it out as she was sleeping and would gasp and I would help her put it back in. She would fall back asleep and then pull it out…again and again and again. I remember the sound of that machine…. shhhhwip…..shhhhhwip.

My Dad had been doing this for countless nights without sleep and then getting up and going to work all day. To say he was exhausted was an understatement. After a few hours of this, my Dad told me to go back to my room and get some sleep. I got up, I helped my Mom one last time and I went to my room and fell asleep. That was early morning of December 10, 1989. That was the morning that my Mother was taken to heaven.

My Mother had died.

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One Comment

  1. I used to suppress my anger and frustration throughout my childhood, too. When a kid doesn’t cry and stares at me with empty eyes, I know she hurts.
    You were an amazing kid, Kathleen!

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