Originally posted by jambeypants:
Almost three years ago my mom was diagI guess I just want to know how anyone else may have tried to cope through something like this, be it cancer or what have you...?
Aside from the time frame, my story bears some interesting similarities to yours.
On March 10, 1995, I came home from work in the evening to find my younger siblings home alone. No big deal, but certainly unusual since my mother was almost always home by then and my father not far behind. They came in together about two hours later and called us all into one room. My mom smiled at all of us and said she didn't want to scare us, but had a bit of news for us. Ever the teenage smartass, I smiled at her and said "Okay Mom, what are you dying of?" She smiled back, paused for a minute, and said "Breast cancer."
Boooyyyyy do I wish I could take that one back.
And so began the most bizarre thirteen months of my life. She fought it tooth and nail, never slowing down and never giving up her hobbies. She was active with the school board and local political things of that nature, and she'd fit in her chemo treatments when she damned well wanted to. And if there was a board meeting to attend? Well, that cancer would just have to wait!
We'd always had a fairly horrendous relationship up to that point, I won't go into details but it was not the sort of relationship a mother and son are supposed to have. To this day I don't know if that was because I was the oldest, if that was because I was strong-willed, if that was because she saw things in me she didn't like...all I knew was that she hated weakness, and that she was determined to beat it out of me one way or the other.
Of course, it made sense as I watched her battle her cancer. A woman who despised weakness in others showed no traces of it herself. I never saw fear in her eyes, none of us did. When she beat the cancer the first time and went into remission, it wasn't a victory...it was merely the expected outcome from a woman who'd never lost at anything before. When she became ill again and was told the cancer had metastasized on her liver and brain, that was no big deal because she'd already licked it once before. Even at the point where I can now look back and know she was aware her end was near, she faced it bravely and with no hint of fear or undue concern. This, like everything else she had gone through in her life, was a hurdle that would easily be overcome.
But of course, cancer isn't your normal foe, and cannot be stared down forever. We were left without the backbone of the family, without the person who ruled the household. That was the biggest change. The entire course of my life changed the day she died, my seventeenth birthday. (Now I can't have a normal birthday, I do the cemetery thing instead.) One minor result was that rather than go to school back East where I had received a scholarship, I went to school out West so I could stay close to home and take care of my youngest sibling (who was three years old at the time).
The end result was a family stronger and closer than it had been previously. And it's sad that it took tragedy to pull us all together like that...but there comes the Moment of Truth. We had a point about a month and a half after mom died where we had to make the decision. We either pulled together, or we fell apart. I remember that day very clearly now, I remember how gut-wrenching it was to not know what to do next, not know what moves to make or what steps to take to undergo a "normal" life when the person who raised you from birth is suddenly gone. It scared the living hell out of me, to be honest. I didn't know who to turn to, I didn't know who to ask.
I had a girlfriend at the time, though looking back that was of little value to me because she and my mom were so close that she spent more time mourning her loss than I did. My siblings did their own thing and handled things their own way, so my only solace was work. I buried myself in whatever work I could, whether it was Captaining the Track team or working a few part-time jobs after hours or volunteering at the hospital...anything I could do to get out of the house for a while was something I'd grab on to. I need that time away to clear my head, to keep me grounded. I found it was too easy to lose myself in the feeling of emptiness when I went home, so I just never did. I'd go home after school or work, and whenever my father needed me to take one of my siblings someplace, and that was it. The rest my hours were spent working, so my mind could focus on something else.
I'm not sure that was the healthiest way to go about it, but for me it worked wonders. When my friend's mom died, he found it was easiest to spent time with friends and used that time as a way to escape the reality of what had happened. Had I been a bit younger, that's probably what I would have done...but at seventeen most everyone I knew was working or had their own thing going after school, so that wasn't really a viable option. (And there was no real Internet either, I guess)
No matter what happens, I'm sorry you have to go through this. There is pain here that I'm not sure exists elsewhere, and that is more than I'd wish upon anybody. But there is also learning here, and a chance for you to really pull your family in close to you if you so desire. As sad as it sounds, it worked that way for my family. So when you think about it, all was not lost on that hot, bright morning when we buried our mom.
Take care of yourself. I wish you and your mother the absolute best...
BruinDan, "Not Quite Morrissey," PHOM
¡Siendo padrote no es fácil!