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.
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.