Here's an update....
About a couple of weeks ago my mom died. She put up an incredible fight against a cancer that is unlike any other. She had more grace, courage, and strength than most people in this world. I'm not saying this because I am her son or because it seems like it's the kind of thing one should say in these situations. I am saying this because it is true. She never once asked "Why me?". When my father said to her that he could not understand why this was happening to us of all people, she simply replied with "Why not us? No one is exempt." She still continued to worry more about my father, sister, and I and other family members rather than her own-self.
When the end of her journey came closer and closer she could no longer walk, then when she started to lose her speech she could still mutter "I Love You" to those dearest to her. When her speech was gone she communicated in weakened hand squeezes when questions were asked. My mother started to decline rapidly when the news came of the death of one of her brothers who died after a seven week battle with pancreatic cancer. She was able to make it to the first half of his services and the day of the funeral she was unable to attend. That night was the last night she could speak and carry a conversation, albeit quietly. I still can't believe how incredibly FUCKED UP the past month has been for my family!
On a somewhat more positive note....the last night my mother was able to speak, the night of my uncles funeral, I went to her room and asked to sit with her alone. When I sat next to her bed I balled my eyes out while she lay there and told her how much I love her and how much I am going to miss her and miss taking care of her. We had a good conversation, me pretty much crying the whole time as she reassured me that all will be okay. We talked about things in the future that I wish she could be there for and how much I will miss her at those life events and she said to me "Honey, I will be there. I just won't be there in body." There was more that we talked about, but the last words she said to me were "I am proud of you and I love you." What more could a son want from one of his parent as they lay on their deathbed?
I told her I love her and kissed her on the cheek then went to bed for the night. The next morning she could hardly muster full words. After that great talk, however, I felt at peace. I knew that she would be alright and that we will be as well, all it takes is time. I felt so sad for her laying in that bed. She died about a week after we had our talk. She died in my father's arms.
When it came time for her services a week after her death, my father, sister and I were blown away. We know how loved and well-respected our family is, but had no idea that we would have such a large turnout of people. We knew it would be big, but when we saw just how many people care about my mother and us as a family we were overwhelmed. The undertaker said it was the largest funeral he has ever seen. People flew in from other parts of the country and stood in the pouring rain for hours to pay their respects once they were able to get inside the Funeral Home. What an incredible feeling to know that my mother and my family has had this kind of impact on others. It was a humbling experience for sure. I am so grateful for those that came out in support of my family to honor an unbelievable woman.
The day of her funeral my sister and I received something unexpected. In front of the entire church my father somehow gained composure and read two letters my mother had written before she died. One to me and the other to my sister. They were to be read, at her request, by my father while we were in church surrounded by so much love. I don't cry in public, I don't cry in front of anyone who is not a member of my immediate family. Ever. That day I balled my eyes out as my sister and I were wrapped in each other's arms as we listened to the amazing words she had written. I will be forever grateful for that gift she gave us both.
My mother said she wanted her services to be a celebration of her life. So everyone came dressed in the colors they knew she loved to wear in the summer, her favorite time of year. There was crying but there was def a lot of laughing as well. I know she was looking down and smiling.
What has my family learned from this? What positives have we taken from a negative? Well, we know to tell each other "I Love You" more, even if its at the most random time. We know to say what we need to say. We know to laugh more, to not take everything in life so damn seriously, and most importantly, to try and make this world a better place. "Where there's a Will, there's a Way" she used to say and you know what? There always is someway for everything to work out just as it should, and hopefully for the better.
So today I ask you all to take a moment and let the people you love in your life know just how much you mean to them. Make their day by doing something for them, whether it be writing them a note or just saying "I Love You" or anything at all you feel they would appreciate. We never know when life is going to change for the better or for the worse, might as well leave no doors closed and no stones unturned, especially with those we care about. I'll post more about my mother, but for now this is all I have to say.
I'll leave you with a few words that my family has adopted from the British Government (used in the 1930s-40s) during these times - Keep Calm and Carry On.