I have to say, May is my least favorite month of the year. Within one month are dates that haunt me: Mother’s Day, which is sometimes the same as my brother’s birthday; the anniversary of Mom’s passing, which is the same as my grandfather’s birthday; immediately followed by the anniversary of my brother’s passing. May sucks.
Everyone always told me how great my mom was. I didn’t see it at the time. I was just a kid, and she definitely loved my little sister more. She was pretty great. She volunteered to chaperone every field trip, baked for every bake sale, helped with costumes for every theatre production, drove me and my sister to countless rehearsals, club meetings, and appointments. She pushed me to do well in school and go to college. She tried, so hard, to be a good mom, to be there for us. She cried when I went away for college. I cried, too.
When I was home for Thanksgiving, Mom kept saying how she just “didn’t feel right”. I told her to go to the doctor; she sure as heck (Mom *never* swore) would have made us go if we said the same thing. She put me off, but went the next week.
Her GP told her to go see her GYN. Her GYN said, “You were just here a couple months ago, why are you here?” He ran some tests. And scheduled surgery for the next week.
Nobody told me this, of course. I was told the day before the surgery. It was finals, Mom said, I needed to study. My uncle would pick me up for Christmas break. It wasn’t a big deal.
Well, it was. They did a complete hysterectomy after finding a tumor the size of a grapefruit. It hadn’t spread, they said. No need for further concern.
But here was: six weeks later, it had spread to her lungs. Then to her eye, her hip, her brain, and finally her bones. On May 21, 1998, barely six months after her diagnosis, she passed away, with my sister and me by her side. She was 49. I was 18. My sister was barely 16.
It has now been 11 years, 11 months, one week, and four days since we lost Mom. I’m now 30, and am a special education teacher for students with severe special needs. I am in constant contact with my grandmother’s power of attorney (she is 91, deaf, has dementia, and lives on the other side of the country), who always tells me she does this for me and for my mother, who she loved like a sister. Every time something happens to me- graduation, a new job, a move, a relationship issue- I want to call her, and wonder what she would say. I have no idea what she would think of my life now. I hope she knows, somewhere, how very, very much she is missed.