On April 2nd 2012 my mom lost her battle with cancer. She had multiple myeloma and battled it for over five years. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life. I had to watch the woman that was half the reason I was alive, the woman that was always there for me growing up, my mom who could make everything ok when I was a little kid slowly waste away. The vibrant larger than life person I knew all my life was lying in a bed dying in front of me and I couldn’t do anything. I, my brother and my step father would take turns staying the night with her at John Hopkins. My Aunt and Uncle came by to help as well, everyone that could lend a hand.
When we first got to John Hopkins she was talking and in very good spirits, as if she was just fine. She always seemed to be more concerned with how everyone else was doing rather than herself. I watched her as she would talk and joke with people that would come visit or talk about normal stuff. She’d ask about their family and how they were doing. She put everyone at ease, like she didn’t want to upset anyone or make them feel uncomfortable around her. But as things do, it got worse, she started getting nose bleeds all the time, her joints became inflamed and was constantly in extreme pain. Her liver began to shut down causing toxins to build up in her body. She couldn’t speak and would lay there and moan in pain, but even then if she saw me looking at her concerned or with tears in my eyes, she would smile and wink at me, as if to say, “it’s ok, I’m ok, all of this is temporary. I’ll be free of this pain soon enough.” I always thought of myself as a “tough guy” not a wimp or a weak person, but I lost count of the times I cried myself to sleep those last few weeks.
I remember one night in particular, we were in her room at Hopkins not long before she passed. She couldn’t sleep and was in a lot of pain, I was sitting next to her bed holding her hand and I just broke down. I don’t know why but I did, I couldn’t stop crying and I put my head in her lap and told her I was scared and that I didn’t know what I was going to do. And for the first time I could remember, she started crying too. She put her hand on my head and stroked my hair like she did when I was a little kid. She said, “You’re going to live, and I’ll always be with you in your heart and never forget that I love you so very much”. She passed a few days later. I miss her every day, not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. Today marks 8 years since she passed, but feels like yesterday.
Emotionally, things are better now when I think of my mom. I smile and chuckle, I remember joking around with her, her smile and her laugh. But every once and awhile, when I’m alone in the dark, I cry and miss my mom.