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My Best Friend
My Best Friend
I am a reflection of my mother, through her personality, her characteristics and her love for life. My mother was the one who was there to dry my tears as she could make all of my problems disappear. She was my number one fan. No one was as proud of me as she was. She knew that I would do great things in this world. She was my will to live, my will to succeed. She was my everything. However, for as long as I can remember, I have always been afraid that one day I would wake up and my mom would be gone. Her countless diseases and numerous trips to local emergency rooms intensified this fear. My fear was even more exacerbated when my mom was diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago. My biggest fear became a reality as my mom passed away on August 8, 2007. Since then, I have tried to continue to live as Mom would have wanted. I have developed a new outlook in life as a result of everything that my mom taught me.
I have always been afraid that one day I would wake up and my mom would be gone forever. I remember in seventh grade waking up to my brother telling me that my mom was in the hospital yet again. She was never a healthy woman. She had countless diseases that led to hospital visits, surgeries and daily visits to the doctor’s. My fear of her dying was intensified when she was diagnosed with cancer in April of 2006. When my mom was not in the hospital, I would wake up every morning and make sure that she was still here in my life, alive. As her cancer progressed I would go into her bedroom every morning and give her a kiss on the cheek. She would wake up for a second, smile, say I love you and then fall right back to sleep. I wanted to make sure that if my mom died while I was gone that she would know that I loved her and that I would know that I kissed her right before I left.
After my mom’s cancer diagnosis, I was filled with fear when I realized that my life would never be the same. From the beginning, the doctor’s told my family that my mom would not be able to beat her stage four Cholangiocarcinoma, but we did not want to believe it. With her chemotherapy treatments, I slowly watched my mother’s independence diminish. First, as a result, of the chemo she could no longer drive. Then the chemo took her hearing, which my mom tended to deny. It made for some interesting and challenging phone conversations. After that, the cancer took away her balance, her memory, and everything that made my mom who she was. With each development and progression of her cancer, my fear would become intensified.
I remember two particular incidents that made me realize that my mom was not going to be able to beat this horrid disease. The first incident took place the day after my mom had returned from a weeklong hospital visit in July. My mom had been sleeping downstairs on our couch because she could no longer make it up the stairs. I had gone downstairs to check on her and she needed me to help her get to the bathroom. After making sure that she was all set, I sat on the couch and waited while she went to the bathroom. She was standing at the sink washing her hands when all of the sudden she looked in the mirror. She started to scream and cry and yell. What she saw in the mirror was not my mother. It was a woman whose skin was so yellow as a result of her liver failure, her face was so swollen as a result of all of her medications and she had two popped blood vessels, one in each eye. The reflection in the mirror resembled a monster. It frightened me to think that it was my mom, but I know that it was not her. It was the cancer taking over. The second incident took place only a few weeks later but my mom’s condition had significantly deteriorated. She could no longer walk on her own. She felt defeated in that she had to use a walker to get to the bathroom. She also had a wheelchair, a shower chair and hospice had started to come. It was decided the day after her fiftieth birthday that she would be moved to a nursing home. It was becoming too hard for my family to take care of my mom at home. It was so hard to ride in the ambulance with her. I realized that she would never be in my house again, my house was never going to be the same. I started to realize that she was not going to be able to beat this cancer and that my biggest fear was going to become a reality and a reality soon.
On the morning of August 8th, my biggest fear came true. I awoke to my father shaking me. It was 6:48 in the morning and he had just returned from my mom’s nursing home. He told me that mom had passed away ten minutes before he arrived there. I did not believe him. I was hurt and angry because the hospice nurses were supposed to let us know when she was supposed to pass. They said that she had at least a few more weeks to live. I did not understand. I could not believe that I would never be able to hug my mom again or kiss her and tell her that I love her. I lay in shock in my bed as my father left me. I realized what my life would be like now as my dad left me alone to cry.
At first I was so overwhelmed; I did not know how I would be able to handle everything without my mom being there to help me. I felt like my mom should be there to help me get through this hard time and that she would be able to make everything better. However, I was forced to do everything on my own. I had to choose the picture that would be put in the newspaper. I wanted it to be a beautiful picture of my mom, one before the cancer took over. I had to make collages and I wanted them to be perfect. I wanted people to see all of the memories that I had with my mom and how amazing she truly was. I wanted everyone to remember her as she was before the cancer, beautiful, full of life, and genuinely nice.
In the days following her death, I did not know how I was supposed to grieve or what I was supposed to be feeling. I was anxiously awaiting the wake where I would see my mom for the first time in two days. I was afraid of what she would look like and the way I might act. I did not know what to expect, but the woman in the casket did not resemble the mother whom I recently remembered. She was not jaundiced at all. Her skin color was back to normal. Her fluid had been drained so she was not swollen either. It was hard to believe that the person that I was staring at was the woman that had been so influential in my life for the past eighteen years. I could not believe that she was dead. I kept thinking that she was going to wake up and just tell me that it was all a nightmare. Unfortunately, it was not a nightmare.
My mom’s funeral was my first funeral; I did not know what to expect, or how hard the day would be. I was fearful of the unknown and the uncertainty that laid within the funeral, and I was fearful for what my life would be like from now on. I was unaware that the family went to the funeral home in the morning before the funeral mass. Being in the funeral home and saying goodbye was so hard. After we said our goodbyes, we sat in the limo and waited for them to roll my mom’s casket to where it would be placed in the hearse. Sitting there in the limo, driving behind my mom’s body, was terrifying. I did not know that after we arrived at the church that my family would have to walk behind the casket. It was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do in my life. My dad was standing in the middle and he had one arm around me and one arm around my brother. I do not remember much from that day, other than the fact that I realized that this is my family now, and that my mom will never be coming back. I could not begin to imagine what my life was going to be like now. My father kept telling me not to cry and that my mom was no longer in pain. Little did he know, that every time he told me to stop crying, I would just cry harder. It would remind me of the fact that men just do not understand and that my mom was no longer here and could no longer snuggle and cry with me.
After my mom’s death, I did not know what to do with myself. I did not want to sit around and cry all day because I knew that my mom would not want me to do that. However, everything I saw reminded me of her and how she was no longer here. I really wanted just to curl up in a ball and hope that if I prayed hard enough that maybe she could come back. I was told that I was supposed to grieve. I was not expected back at work, and I was leaving for school in less than two weeks. I had not started my dorm shopping and I did not want to at all. I was not sure if I wanted to go to school for the fall semester. But one conversation kept playing back in my head. In the beginning of the summer, my mom sat me down on the couch next to her. She told me that regardless of how she was doing, she wanted me to go to school on time. She was going to be sick, and to know that I was at school getting closer to my dream would put a smile on her face. I knew that I had to go to school on time, but I did not know how I would be able to survive. My dad always tells me that my mom passed when she did because she wanted me to go to college more than anything.
For a year and a half, I spent the majority of my time taking care of my mom. I took her to most of her doctor’s appointments, and took care of her while my dad and brother worked. I would spend time with her everyday after school; we would watch movies together, eat popcorn, and sometimes we would even cry together over how much we hated this cancer. I did not believe that after everything that we had been through that my mother was not here to help me get through this.
For as long as I can remember in my family, we have always said I love you. We would exchange those three simple words when we would leave the house, hang up the phone, walk into another room or sometimes just because we felt like making sure that the other person knew how much they were loved. My mom and I loved each other so much. Yet even though I knew my mom was going to die, I never got to predict the last I love you. As she had become progressively worse, she had made a larger emphasis on those three words and she would say them in a way that scared me because it seemed too final. She would say it as if she knew that it may be her last time telling me that she loved me. But I never wanted to think about it like that, I dreamed that my mom would always be there and that I would wake up from this nightmare shortly.
The last time that I got to tell her that I loved her was the night before she passed away. She was in a coma and the nurses had positioned her so that she was holding her heffalump in one hand and a flower in the other. I sat with her for about an hour; I rubbed her arm, told her stories from my day and prayed that she could get better. When I was going to leave, I gave her a kiss and she grunted back. I always say that it was her way of telling me that she loved me.
As a result of everything my mom taught me, my outlook on life has been affected. My outlook has been affected by my personality, my ability to handle hard situations, and the affect that I have on others. My mother was so influential in my life and even though she has passed away I continue to talk about her and let others know about all of the wonderful things that she did.
My outlook on life can be represented through the way I handle my classes. In my classes, especially my education ones, there is a lot of emphasis on mothers and the impact that they have on their children’s lives. At first I was really uncomfortable sitting in these classes listening to all the reasons as to why children need their moms, when I myself feel that I am still very much a child. Then I realized how fortunate I am to have had a mom like mine for the first eighteen years and seven weeks of my life. She taught me how to walk, how to talk, was my first teacher, my first best friend, and she was always there for me.
My mom’s influence on my outlook can also be represented through my ability to handle hard situations. Some days are harder than others, for instance when I have a paper due, or a debate, or a midterm. These are all days that remind me of how my mother would always be supportive and help me throughout my hard times. She would always try to make me feel less anxious about the activities in school that worried me. The night before big tests or presentations we would eat ice cream together, watch some of our favorite shows and I would forget about all of my worries. But, my mom never complained, she could handle everything that life gave her. When I am having a hard day, I wear my angel pin. It reminds me of my mom and her strength, it helps me get through the day.
As a result of my mom’s death, I have learned the importance of each day. Most people say that you do not know what you have until it is gone, but I knew how lucky I was even before my mom got sick with cancer. My fear of her dying and leaving me allowed me always to have a strong bond with my mother. When my friends would go out on the weekends, I would stay in and watch movies or go out and shop with my mom. I knew the importance of family and letting the people that you love most in life know it. Life is too short, and no one knows for sure how long they have. A day should never be taken for granted; every minute should be well spent.
When I want to quit, I think of all the times that my mom probably wanted to quit and stop the chemo and all of those experimental drugs. However, she continued to fight and to live on for me and now I shall do the same for her. I will have bad days for sure, that much I know is true, but I will try to let them be limited. Even then I will try and think of all of the things that my mom would have wanted to do and what she would tell me. Her guidance and warm words helped me through so much in my life. Even though she is no longer here in the physical sense that I would hope for, I will not let it prevent me from trying my hardest and making her even prouder. After all Abraham Lincoln said that, “All that I am and all that I hope to be I owe to my angel mother.”
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