I know it's been a long time since I last posted on here so I want to thank everyone who's taken the time to check back in. While my Instagram and Twitter are a of mixture of beauty and my personal life, I try to keep this blog more focused on beauty. Therefore, if you enjoy reading my blog posts (thank you!) you might have been confused by my recent disappearance. No, I didn't get lazy or bored of blogging, I'll explain now, but if you're not in for some heavy reading you might want to skip this post....
The fact is my Amazing, Beautiful, Strong, Courageous, Inspiring 53 year old mother lost her 5 year battle to breast cancer at the end of June. It was, ironically, extremely sudden.
She was not afraid to get check ups or see the doctor and they caught her cancer early at Stage 1 with a positive prognosis, and an optimistic outlook. It was an incredibly difficult and trying year as she bravely went through surgery, chemo and radiation like so many women before her. She walked in the Susan G. Komen Walk to End Breast Cancer and never once let the disease get the best of her. She was stronger, more outspoken and more resilient than she'd ever been. I remember the day she started to lose her hair. She decided rather than waiting that she would shave it all off. I was there the day she and her sisters bravely took a razor to her head and took control of what little control in her life she had left. She rarely complained about feeling sick or of the side effects oF even having cancer. Instead she asked about me. About my life, what I was going through, who I was seeing, what I was doing, how I was.
The time in between her "all clear" diagnosis and the "hey now you have Stage 4 Terminal Cancer and at best 2 years left to live" diagnosis is complicated and too long to go into. She was plagued with maladies that were both the after effects of chemo and new diseases that she had succumb to because of the cancer/effects. Again, I never heard a word of complaint.
There are different kinds of breast cancer women can get, and my amazing, eat healthy, exercise daily, take care of yourself mother had the worst kind; Triple Negative. It's the deadliest one, with the least treatment options and the most likely to come back.
I watched as my mom fought. Valiantly. Bravely. Courageously. Fiercely. Inspirationally. If it weren't for the lack of hair on her head people would seriously question if she was even sick. She was the most heroic, spirited fighter until the very end.
I don't want to go into details here about her final months. But her final months were not supposed to be her final months. When someone is diagnosed with terminal cancer you expect, wait for, and dread the "there's nothing more we can do. Go home, make yourself comfortable and say your goodbyes" conversation. I mean that's the whole point of having a terminal illness right? You get to the opportunity to die as you please. To say your goodbyes. To tell your last wishes. To say the things you never said? She never got that.
None of us wanted that moment to come, and ironically, that moment never came. Instead, on a calm June morning I came home for a visit, the first of what I promised myself would now be a twice a month thing. I woke my mom up for a doctor's appointment. My mom (who, in what were to be the final months of her life, had a trach put into her throat) said it was clogged and she needed to go to the hospital instead. I took her to the closest hospital, asking them to change the trach tube. They ran a gamut of tests in the meantime and told us she had "low grade pneumonia" and we could either transfer her to a larger hospital in a different state or leave her overnight as they would "give her the same medicines and monitor her condition so we could decide in the morning". Nothing was imminent or life threatening.
I called my father to inform him that my mom was in the hospital so he left work early to come. It just so happened that my brother and sister came too. It was all part of my mom's final plan. The family together one last time. The doctors assured us that waiting the night would not make a difference and we could reassess her condition in the morning. I offered to stay the night but the doctors administered sleeping medicine to my mom and my dad assured me that we would be back early in the morning.
I fell asleep on the couch that night. I was awoken abruptly and frantically by my father. He was screaming incoherently about my mother coding and getting dressed to get to the hospital. I looked for my phone but in the frantic rush to go I had to leave without it. I've never seen my father drive like that and I will never forget it. A man rushing to be with his soulmate, a man who's world had come crumbling down.
We arrived at the hospital at around 3am. My mom had coded for 7 minutes and we had the option to keep her on the breathing tubes and see if/how she came out of them (prognosis not good) or to end her life support. For me it was a non-decision. The last time I was home my mom told me she was ready to die. She didn't want to live on a feeding tube with a trach for the rest of her life. She just needed to know her family would be OK. I had told her 'we would be ok', 'I would make sure that we were ok'. Those words, that conversation, have replayed in my head like a bad commercial jingle. No matter how long I live those words will haunt me.
My mom, in all her vast, wise, spiritual wisdom had seen this day coming, much sooner than any of us. She had made sure that her family was around her and she got to mentally say her goodbyes. She got to hug each of us one last time. She got to see we were going to be ok. Then, she got to leave this earth with no one around her to feel scared or worried or panicked. She made the choice easy and she went out on her own terms.
I write this to attempt to describe some type of semblance of who I was and who I've been since. I've run the gamut in emotions. I've been numb, I've been sad, I've been angry, I've been repentant, I've been listless, I've been motionless, I've been motivation-less. I lost my mom's father 5 months later, the day after Thanksgiving. Then I lost my mom's dad 2 months later on January 2nd. Then I lost my dad's dad 12 days later on January 14th. Apathy is how I live my life these days. Not a 'I don't give a crap about anything!' apathy, but a 'I'm breathing to survive' apathy.
Through all the haze and the fog I've survived. I've been blessed with the most amazing friends, who have stood by me through every up and every down. Who've listened to my tears and took care of when I couldn't. I have worked for the most wonderful company full of compassionate co-workers and bosses who have let me had my bad days. I made the best, most amazing decision of my life, getting my little lovebug, Celine Dion Manning. I've slowly felt the apathy subside and a desire to take control start anew.
I can't promise I'll be the person I was before that day in June or that you'll even like the new me, but I've slowly clawed my way out of the abyss and back into the sun and I'm excited to start blogging again.
As Abraham Lincoln always said, "there's no better way to get over the loss of your mother than by purchasing copious amounts of makeup to review".
See you all soon!