Tuesday, August 08, 2006



Thirty Eight Years

She was beautiful - with a winsome smile and enormous warm brown eyes which were marked with a hint of sadness. Her lovely voice sang the hymns at church with joy and the lullabies at night with tenderness. At times, I can still hear her words in my mind, admonishing her children to be good, be brave, and be strong. When I let my mind wander and I remember her embrace, I can still feel the love she had for me, her "baby girl."

I remember coming home from school on a cold October afternoon, and my mom was packing her bags. I was confused because I wasn't aware that a trip had been planned, so I asked her if she was going to go and visit her sister. She replied that no, that wasn't her plan, and she asked me to sit down with her. Mom explained to me that she had been to the doctor, and that they had discovered a lump on her breat which apparently had been there for quite some time, because it had grown to the size of a grapefruit. I was old enough (13) to know that this was a very grave situation, and I knew before she could even say the words that she had cancer. She was packing so that she could go to the hospital the following day for a mastectomy, followed by radiation treatments.

The radiation treatments burned her skin, and she was in a lot of pain. She was in the hospital more often than not over the next several months. In fact, she came home for a couple of days at Christmas, but then had to return to the hospital shortly thereafter. Eventually, the cancer spread to the bone, so we knew then that she was only going to be with us for only a very short time.

My family did not share our grief together. Two of my older brothers were already out on their own. My sister was married and pregnant. The two younger brothers still lived at home with me (the baby of the family) and my dad. Mom's illness was one of those subjects which was just not discussed, period. Dad coped by drinking. The brothers who were still at home argued with Dad and amongst themselves frequently, and they were often cruel to me. I stayed in my room a lot, reading and studying. The only time I felt "safe" was at school where I did well academically but where I was rather quiet and reserved, or at church,where the presence of God helped to comfort me and bring some sense of peace to my soul.

To this day, I still feel rather guilty that I didn't visit my mother more frequently while she was in the hospital for the last two and a half months of her life. I couldn't bear to see and hear the pain she was in. I remember vividly my last visit with her (about two weeks before she died), where instinctively I knew she was close to death. She held my hand tight, and told me she loved me more than I could ever know, and that she hoped that someday I would know the love a mother has for her child. I wasn't able to go back to see her because, in my 14 year old mind, I was hoping that the longer I stayed away from the her and the hospital, then the longer she would live because I knew she wanted to see me one more time before she died. Selfish logic on my part - and I can only imagine how much it hurt her to not see me again.

I found out she died from my brother, who told me in a very cold and brusque way. Nobody else was in the house when he walked in and told me she was dead, so there were no words to comfort me, no arms to embrace me to help take the pain away. I remember going into the bathroom, closing the door, crying for about 5 minutes, and then washing my face. I looked in the mirror and promised myself that I would never, ever cry again for losing my mother. It was at that exact point in time where I closed off my soul, and I became angry at God and at the world for a very long time. I turned off that Light in my life abruptly, and I withdrew into a deep and dark hole where I remained cold and lifeless for years.

I look at my daughters today, and I do know the kind of love that mothers have for their children. I know that Mom left me a wonderful legacy of love to pass on to my girls. But it took years and years of getting to that point of allowing that Light which had been extinguished by her death to find it's way and gently return to my soul. And that's another story for another day. . . In the meantime, the 38th anniversary of her death is this coming Sunday. Please say a prayer in rememberance of a beautiful woman whose faith in God never wavered, even until the end.

19 Comments:

At 9:10 PM, Blogger Julana said...

Valerie,
I'm so sorry for what your mom went through. Now that I am a mom, I can't imagine anything harder than facing death with a child still dependent on you.
I'm so glad that you were able to heal and keep moving forward on your journey.

 
At 9:41 PM, Blogger Humble Beginnings said...

Moving story... pastorally I want to say so many things.. but it would all seem trivial. I'm sorry for the loss but happy that you share your love with us.

 
At 9:53 PM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

Julana - Thank you. I can't imagine it, either. In fact, it is one of my biggest fears.

HB - I would love to hear your "pastoral" words - believe me, I doubt they would seem trivial. Thank you for the thoughts and comfort you did share.

 
At 9:58 PM, Blogger daisymarie said...

Such a beautiful legacy and wonderful gift to be past to your daughters.

You have my prayers.

 
At 10:24 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

Valerie, once again, you reveal much common ground in our experiences. Sometimes, the things you reveal about yourself and the way you present them to us make you seem like a sister. Thank you for sharing this with us.

 
At 10:27 PM, Blogger Vicki said...

Valerie, your post moved me to tears...wish I could hug you. Losing a mom at that young age had to be terribly hard--especially getting the news like you did. But as a mother, I also think what she must have felt like--having to leave you when she loved you so much. Thanking God for the beauty of the legacy of love you're able to give your girls today. You're a wonderful mother. May God continue to heal...

{{Hugs}}
Vicki

 
At 12:14 AM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

Daisymarie - I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Kevin - I know, it's a bit strange how similar our experiences are! But, it's nice to know there's somebody out there who truly understands.

Vicki - your words touched me so much. Thank you, my friend.

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger HeyJules said...

It's a real testiment to His amazing grace that you got through all that, Valerie.

I know you've talked about her before but never in such depth. For you to have come from such pain and become such a beautiful woman, inside and out...

What a miracle!

 
At 5:12 PM, Blogger JodiTucker said...

So moving.....echoing the comments of Mr. Humble Beginnings.....except mine would not be pastoral words, just mum-type words of love and compassion.

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger Stacy said...

Oh honey, my arms are around you now.

((Big Hugs))

I'm going through this too with my mom. My dad passed away almost 17 years ago, and my mom has been fighting her metastasized breast cancer from ages ago. She lived longer than her Dr. expected her too; but I as you stand back and look at her and my kids and all such a moving, crumbling, indepth emotion. Love you.

 
At 9:36 PM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

Jules - Yes, it's a miracle. Thanks, my friend.

Jodi - Your words mean so much to me.

Stacy - Oh, you've touched my heart, and I felt your hug from miles away. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom - please let me know if you should ever have the need to talk or cry. Love you, too!

 
At 9:41 PM, Blogger Tammy said...

Valerie, I'm so sorry that you lost your mom that way. But I think it's wonderful that you're honoring her by bringing up your daughters with such love. She would be so proud, I'm sure.

And as always, you've again written a beautiful, thought-provoking post.

 
At 4:02 AM, Blogger ukok said...

Valerie, your post was deeply moving. How very sad that as a teenager you felt that there was no one in your immediate family whom you could rely on for comfort and support, and how very cruel that no one made more of an effort to simply reach out and hug you in your time of need.

It's a true testament to your wonderful strength of character that you grew up to be a loving wife and mother and to have a career where you analyze other people!

Thanks once again for this glimpse into what makes you the wonderful and special person that you are.

God Bless you for simply being you.

 
At 8:05 AM, Blogger Paula said...

I'm crying over your loss and pain. Your mom left a wonderful legacy, you. You are one of the kindest most honest women I know and I love you.

 
At 11:12 AM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

TAmmy - I would do anything for my mom to have met my girls - it's a sadness which I shall always have. I do find comfort in knowing we will all meet again someday. Thank you for your sweet comments.

HI Deb - Welcome home, my friend - you were missed! Your words brought me much comfort and love, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Paula - You're such a sweetheart. I've so enjoyed getting to know you!!! Love 'ya, too!

 
At 1:09 PM, Blogger TC said...

Thank you so, so much for sharing your story.

 
At 3:46 PM, Blogger Mrs. Diamond said...

I'm bawling. Crying for that little girl and the great loss. Crying for the mother who missed out on so many things. And crying for the family that couldn't share their sorrow.
I wish I could hug you right now.

 
At 2:49 PM, Blogger Gina Burgess said...

Val, how tremendously inspirational! A less strong person would have shriveled up and never blossomed like you have. I admire you more and more the better I get to know you because I see God at work and, you know, He does such GREAT work!

 
At 5:45 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Been thinking of you over the past few days. Hugs.

 

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