Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Thoughts on Elizabeth Edwards and my mom...
My heart is heavy today hearing the news about Elizabeth Edwards. I feel for her family, her children and their heart-wrenching loss. I also remember watching television and hearing the news about her stage 4 breast cancer. At the time of Elizabeth's diagnosis, my mother was nearing the end of her battle with that very same disease. Sadly enough, six years after her initial diagnosis my mother was gone.
We thought she had beat it and even celebrated five years of what we thought was "cancer-free" only to find out shortly after her five year anniversary that the cancer was back - and with a vengence. I remember thinking when hearing Elizabeth's diagnosis that she too would be gone in about six years. So sad that my thoughts back then turned out to be right. So sad that five years is the "average" life expectancy of someone with that particular diagnosis.
For my mom we had held out such hope. I so desperately wanted to believe that my mom had beaten the odds even though as nurses, logically we knew the truth but still couldn't wrap our heads or our hearts around that. I lived most of the last six years of my mom's life in total denial. Total denial that she would go, that I would lose her. Even now, five and a half years later I still have trouble with facing that she is gone. She was my best friend. We did everything together. We worked most of our lives together - first waitresses together at The Oxford House Restaurant, then nurses together at the The Willows and at Bradley Hospital. She was fun, she was funny and she lived her life. People loved her - I loved her. We were supposed to grow old together. We were supposed to be two little old blue haired ladies going to lunch. She would be a little more hunched over and a little more hard of hearing and I would yell, "C'mon Ma! Get in the car!" I'd roll my eyes pretending to be annoyed and she would giggle like she always did and off we'd go. I had all kinds of these scenerios in my mind of how we would grow old together and the fun we would have.
I still have trouble seeing mothers and daughters out and about. I get angry and jealous and want my mom back here so badly. When I see daughters being disrespectful or mean to their mothers I want to walk up to them and shake them and scream "Don't treat your mother like that!". I almost can't stand it.
I remember the last Christmas we had together. She was having pain in her hip and leg and I believe now that she knew the end was near. She knew that would be our last Christmas together. I remained in my state of denial. I couldn't bear to believe it. I still can't. A few months earlier I think she knew. She may have even tried to tell me but I just couldn't hear it. She said that she wasn't afraid to die and I remember responding that I was afraid that she would. I remember crying about it at the time and it just being such a completely devastating idea I couldn't even begin to think about it. Little did I know that less than a year later she would be gone.
I could tell so many stories about her. Times she made me laugh, things she did that made me roll my eyes, the sacrifices she made for us. She taught me to be the person I am today and I am so proud and so grateful to have called her my mom.
There are days that I cry, and there are days I think about the unfairness of her being taken so young - she had so much more life to live. We had so much more to do together!
She said that she knew we would miss her when she was gone but that she didn't want us to be sad. She wanted us to be happy and think about all the good times and all the happy times and she wanted us to laugh when we told stories about her. And I am happy and I do remember all the good things about her - and I do laugh recalling so many of the things she did - but on days like today - I feel sad.
Days like today take me back to those awful months when I finally came to the realization that I was going to lose her and ultimately did. So sad that she isn't here on earth with me.
I know she is watching over me, and she is always in my heart - but I am selfish and I want her here in person. I just miss her. And it hurts really, really bad.
So tonight, my prayers are with the Edwards family. I know that loss and its heartbreak.