Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Saddest Day Ever

     I'm fortunate my brother, Mark, has finally agreed to let me post something he's written and today, on the twelfth anniversary of our mother's death from breast cancer, he shares his memories of what we call, The Saddest Day Ever.
     Thanks, Mark.  I know writing this and letting me share wasn't easy, but I believe any opportunity to unveil the ugliness of breast cancer, its destructiveness and the havoc it wreaks on a family, is one we must take.
     As I've written before, breast cancer is not pink.  It is not a pretty, smiling face and not eased by bright pink well meaning messages.  It is a nightmare endured by those personally dealing with it as well as the loved ones left picking up the pieces.
     Serious research is needed to understand, prevent or stop metastatic breast cancer, so hopefully future families will never need to know such sad days.

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      I had been planning a business trip to Los Angeles for weeks, but I wasn’t sure when I could go.  My mother had been dying for the last month and a half and I didn’t want to be across the country when the end came.  After postponing the trip for a month, and under scrutiny from my boss, I scheduled all the meetings, reserved the plane tickets, hotel rooms, and rental car.  I put  my material together to go.
      We were told in January that there was nothing else that could be done for my mother, that the breast cancer she had been fighting for years had won.  She was home now, lying in her bedroom in a hospital bed.  My father was taking care of her night and day, and my sister spent a lot of time at the house as well.
      It was a Saturday in March of 2000 the last time I would see my mother.  My boys, my wife, and I drove across the river to visit her.  It was another one of those damp, cold, depressing March days, a day we would later refer to as “the saddest day ever.”
       I went upstairs to her bedroom to see her.  I hadn’t been there since the previous weekend and I knew that her condition had worsened.  I didn’t know what to expect.  She was shrunken and pale, dressed in brand new blue pajamas. A dozen oversized white medicine bottles sat on the night table with the kerchief she had always worn to cover her hair loss.  My mother’s baldness was finally exposed.
      I closed the door, told her I was there and that I wanted to talk but that I would be crying.  I lied down next to her on my father’s bed, and thanked her for all she did for me during my life.  She put out her hand for me to take. In contrast to her appearance, her hand was warm and full.  I said I would miss her and I would take care of my father and my sister who was still unmarried.  I was sobbing so loudly that my wife came into the bedroom, worried that my mother would be afraid.  I told her I would be going to California the next day, but that I would be back on Friday and I’d come see her next weekend.
      We left the house in the evening just before dusk, made the drive over the Bear Mountain Bridge and home in a hard, heavy downpour .  God was crying along with us.  Later that night, around midnight, my father called and said that’s it, she’s gone, wait for morning to come over.
My wife and I had a cup of tea in the living room while I cancelled the trip to California.


One of the few photos I have of my brothers & I with our mom.
This one is my first birthday.



8 comments:

  1. Biased. But, beautifully written post that I know was difficult to write and even more difficult to share.

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  2. I'm very moved by this heartbreaking, and also beautifully written, account of your family's "saddest day ever." I'm so sorry for your family's loss and heartache. I know how much a mother's and grandmother's love is missed. My family has a "saddest day ever" as well. So many families do. Every loss to this wretched disease represents another "saddest day ever" to a family. Thank you so much for sharing about this painful day. These stories need to be told. Nothing pretty or pink about breast cancer. Nothing at all. Thank you Stacey and Mark for sharing so honestly.

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  3. There is so much I could write, but my heart is too full and tears are blinding my eyes... the pain of losing my own mother is still too raw and painful.

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  4. Stacey,
    First of all I want to say how sorry I am and that I know it doesn't really get easier, it just gets easier to live with. You don't miss them any less and there are times it hurts like it happened yesterday. My dad is gone since 2007 and it was the unexpected end of a six month medical issue. I blamed myself. Sometimes, I still do.

    Mark's post is a beautiful tribute to your mom. To recall his last visit and the aftermath can not have been an easy thing for him to do.

    I wish you all peaceful hearts. I will make as much noise as I must for everyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one and for those who step into the barbaric treatments we face with the goal of reaching NED.

    xoxox

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  5. Mark - Thank you for sharing. Saddest Day Ever. :-(

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  6. Stacey,

    Oh my gosh. Your brother's guest post is simply beautiful. It brought me to tears. I'm so sorry you and your family lost your mom to this ugly disease called breast cancer. You are right: this disease cannot be dressed up in pretty pink parades. This posting tells the truth.

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  7. What a beautiful tribute your brother wrote! I love the picture you posted of your family when you were young. I remember my brother's wife telling me he was crying in another room when I phoned to say that our dad had passed away. Our mom had already died (lung cancer took her), but to have our dad gone made us orphaned. Your brother's post reminded me of that feeling. Thanks so much for sharing. XXX Jan

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  8. Just now catching up; read your post, how beautiful, how sad, we all go through it, it's the hardest thing ever. It sucks. And I'm still crying.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    {{{hugs}}}

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