Think Out Loud #32 ~ A Bittersweet Day

~Jennifer~ | 9:22 PM | | |

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Since I became a mom, Mother's Day has become a bittersweet day for me. My mom died of brain cancer in August of '95, almost twenty years ago. She had just turned forty in June. I was fourteen, and my sister was nine. A couple of weeks after she died, my freshman year of high school started.

That first year I walked around in a daze. I wasn't sad. I wasn't angry. I was just numb. 

Then my sophomore year came, and everything went to hell. I lost my friends for a period of time. I nearly stopped sleeping at night - I'd get maybe three or four hours if I was lucky. When I came home from school, I'd sleep the evening away in my room. The pain from my loss was so intense, it hurt to breathe. I thought my heart was literally breaking. My grades dropped. For the first time, I began struggling in school. 


My mom in high school, I think her
freshman year of high school 

I slipped into depression and anxiety. I became a cutter not long after graduating high school. I had suicidal thoughts and overwhelming feelings of helplessness and loneliness. I could be in a crowd of people and feel completely alone. I've been in and out of therapy since I was fifteen. None of it has worked. 

I was scared cancer was coming after me next. My maternal grandfather had died of the same type of brain cancer not terribly long before my mom was diagnosed. I remember thinking, how much more can one family take? It's coming for me, it has to be - I'm next in line. The nightmare of watching someone you love being attacked by an unseen enemy all over again seemed too much to bear.  


My mom's senior year photo

I had fourteen years with her, but it wasn't enough. It will never be enough. She wasn't there when I graduated from high school or college, when I got married and had kids. I remember thinking both times I was in labor all I wanted was my mom there to coach me through it. I didn't want anyone else but her. 


My parents - taken at Christmas when 
they were dating in high school 

When my grandpa died of brain cancer, she sat down on the living room floor with me and my sister. I crawled onto her lap, she hugged me, and we cried. She kept a journal while he was going through radiation and later chemotherapy. I read all of it though I knew it was meant to be private. Everything she wrote was how I felt later on when she went through radiation and chemo herself.

I want to scream sometimes at the unfairness of it all. So many things I didn't get to do with her, so much time that slipped through our grasp. It's hard not to be bitter.  


After finding this picture of my 
mom, I bought a jacket similar to hers
and had my friends take a photo
of me making the same face as her. 


I still struggle with depression and anxiety. My cutting days ended not long before I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I knew I had to find some other way to deal with the hurt and anger, so I began writing on my arms and legs with a Sharpie.  

The closer I get to forty, the more anxious I feel. She was thirty-eight years old when she was diagnosed, and that age makes me anxious, too. It feels like I won't make it past forty, either. I guess I hope I do although sometimes I wonder what the point of it all is - all the pain and suffering. I don't get it. Maybe it's about the good times. Maybe it's to see how we handle things, although I think that's pretty fucked up. 

While I still feel empty inside without her, I'm grateful I had the time with her that I did and that I'm still here to be with my kids. I wouldn't trade that time for anything. 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I miss you everyday. 

4 comments:

  1. My heart aches for your loss and feeling of despair and all the pain you went through. I think you're pretty amazing, Jennifer. Your treasured photos are all so wonderful. The one with you in the similar jacket making the silly face and sitting in the cemetery made me cry. You're in my heart.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Robyn. I just thought about this, but the cemetery is where Shannon Hoon, the former lead singer of Blind Melon, is buried. I went to the vigil for him. Just in case anyone was wondering. I'm getting ready this weekend to go visit my mom's grave. We stay down there near where she grew up.

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  2. I just want to hug you, Jennifer. **hugs** I know you miss your mom terribly but I think she's with you. Not physically, of course, but she lives in your heart. And she's been with you every step of the way - through all you've gone through since she left. And I'm sure she's very proud of the woman, wife and mom you've become.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Brandee. I'm looking forward to this weekend when we stay in a cabin around where she grew up and is buried. Although when I visit her grave, I don't feel anything because I know she isn't there. You're right, she is with me. I just wish she were actually here.

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