My mom, who we found out had lung cancer this summer, passed away on Christmas Eve.
When we got the diagnosis we knew we had short time. But once all is said and done the end came much sooner, and much faster, than we expected.
As my mother’s only living child I have had a lot of things to DO in the weeks since she passed. I’m still not done. I have until the end of this month to clean out her apartment – the one I moved her to in November to be closer to us. The one I don’t think she spent one happy day in. Emptying the apartment might actually be the easiest thing since I still need (and want) to actually go through a lot of things. And that’s not even getting into all the legal and financial aspects of all this. The mind boggles.
My mom and I had a difficult relationship in the past 20+ years. I didn’t always like her very much. She was not an easy person to spend time with and she was often critical of me in snide or cruel ways. When my father died of cancer in 1997 I thought the wrong parent died.
I know my mother loved me. She may not have always been able to show it in the ways that I needed it, but I know she did. And her death has shown me that I loved her perhaps more than I thought I did. Despite the pain and difficulty I experienced in our relationship, she’s still my mom. Her late-in-life friends describe a woman I didn’t know (“great sense of humor!” “so full of life!”), while my aunt (my mom’s sister) and I lick our wounds with her often mean spirited treatment of us.
I’m starting to come up for air a bit now. I know I’ll be underwater again as time goes on, as I deal with the aftermath of all that needs to be dealt with. I’m speaking mostly logistically, but I have other concerns too. My sister, my father and now my mother have all died of cancer. You better believe I think about this every day.
I need to try to remember to breathe…..