From Jennifer Van Dusen's Young and Breastless blog.
Mother's Day. The. Worst. Day. Of. The. Year.
For some people it’s Christmas, birthday, anniversary of the passing, but for me it’s Mother’s Day. Since loosing my mom (btw all the words for death are awful, I did not misplace my mother, she is dead), May has become a torturous month. Which is so contradictory, it is a month where the earth is coming to life again, you can actually smell the growth. Colour comes forth from the blanket of white and we are all reminded that we can change and grow.
My mother was diagnosed in 2007 with breast cancer. I’ll never forget the night she told us. I thought we were going to her condo to celebrate her promotion. Instead, after we ate she told us she had “little cancer”. I started to cry and then I grabbed my own breasts and said “what about me”? I spare you the gory details of the next 2 years, but I will say that she was so strong. My mother had had a very hard life and if anyone should have ever been spared the wrath of cancer, it should have been her. She was stronger than she had ever been in her life. She spent all her energy telling us she was ok. She tried 8 or 9 different rounds of chemo to try and prolong her life. My husband was by her side for every appointment. There was some voice in the back of my head saying she would beat the disease. Instead she died in the ICU after I had to remove her from life support in December 2009.
"It has been said that time heals all wounds. I don't agree. The wounds remain. Time - the mind, protecting its sanity - covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone." ~ Rose Kennedy
I am still a daughter but without a mother. I am lost on Mother’s Day. I would like most to stay in bed on this Sunday in May, pull the blankets over my head and feel sorry for myself and angry for my mother. I wish I found comfort in visiting her grave, but she’s not there.
This will be the 2nd Mother’s Day I spend surviving the same disease that killed her. Maybe I was spared because she is taking care of me from above. I will tell you one of the first thoughts I had after I was told that I have breast cancer was thank God my mom is dead. It would kill her to have seen me go through this, I know. As my next thought was thank God I don’t have a biological daughter (please don’t get me wrong here, these are extreme thoughts I know.) And there are many, many reasons for cancer and even more reasons we don’t know about yet but these are the thoughts that lurk in the dark part of my mind. Now my thoughts are sometimes guilty, like why me and not her.
I wish the world had a little more compassion for us, the motherless. Instead I feel that Mother’s Day is a day where salt is rubbed in the wound.
The one thing I can say was cancer gave me the time to really appreciate my mother. I made sure to tell her things I may never have said otherwise. I remember one day when we out grocery shopping and in the conversation, I said how much I appreciated that she was a ‘stay at home mom’, how I remembered coming home from school and she would always have a healthy but yummy snack waiting. She looked at me incredulous and was surprised that that was so important to me, now, still. It was then I realized I had to make sure she knew, in words how much her life and mothering meant to me.
I wonder now sometimes what our conversation will be like when we see each other in heaven. Will we discuss this time in my life? Part of me hopes she’ll be able to open up and let me know what her experience with breast cancer was like and the other part of me thinks we may just have a cup of tea and sit in silent understanding.
Jennifer Van Dusen is a 30-something breast cancer champion who loves her husband, fur-kids, shopping, reading, and public speaking. Having cancer has taught her to live each day to the fullest, to appreciate the moment, and do what she can to help others and her community.