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May: Flashbacks, Widow's Day and another Motherless Mother's Day

I recently learned that there's a "National Widow's Day" (where my flowers at?!) which happens to be in May which is also the month for Brain Cancer Awareness and the month Mike was diagnosed and then diagnosed again and it's also the month of Mother's Day which is also somethin' when you don't have your mom.

Happy May.

My mom died in 2019 so my first mother's day as a mom was also my first without a mom. The excitement of being celebrated as a mom softened that blow a little bit.

painting with a twist

I'm not bitter but I'd be lying if I said I won't feel jealous of the beautiful mother/daughter pictures that will surface next weekend. The "I am so lucky to have you as a mom" captions. It's true though. You are lucky. Embrace it. Feel every bit of that gratitude if you have the ability to celebrate with your mom this year. Feel every bit of gratitude if you have the ability to raise your kids with your mom by your side.

So much life has happened since my mom died that I can hardly remember what life was like with her here and well. And that's hard to admit.

Then, I think about how grateful I am that I made it to adulthood before I had to navigate those feelings. But next month is Father's Day and that feels like a ten ton truck headed directly towards us as we're broken down in an intersection. I'm dreading it. I just want to lock my kids in the house for the entire month of June so they don't have to hear anything about it. Pretend it doesn't exist.

father's day 2021

The excitement of the Mother's Day celebration at school next week is matched with the anxiety that they will also have a Father's day celebration at school next month. I hear Dante singing the songs around the house "my dearest mommy...." and it's adorable but my heart hurts. Thankfully, Dante's school is extremely empathetic and aware - which lessens that anxiety a bit.

Last year I made a comment that "it didn't feel like Mother's day". I didn't mean any harm by it. I wasn't even upset. It's like as you get older and have kids, your birthday is just another day. That's how it felt. I was ok with it.

Mike, however, took that comment differently. He felt at blame for it not being a "special day" for me. My husband...confined to a chair....struggling to get his food down...was worried about ME not feeling celebrated on Mother's day.

That's just a small glimpse into who Mike was - and I will never stop sharing that.

He said to me "when I get better, we're going to celebrate all over again."

He said those words often... "when I get better..." It was like if we said it, we could convince ourselves it was possible. We both knew there was no getting better.

This year Mother's Day feels even harder - but I remind myself of what Mike didn't realize last year: that these two little boys that he blessed me with during his time on Earth - they're the only gifts I need.

ocean city, nj

Like I've said before, springtime is rough. In May and June, things were changing quickly last year and as we go through all of these "firsts", I've been having flashbacks - like that of Mike's Mother's Day comment.

I've been reliving bits and pieces of our journey. I'm back there momentarily and then snap back to reality.

Another flashback that keeps recurring is a phone call I had with Mike's Neuro-Oncologist. I was sitting in Dom's rocking chair and sprung up in the middle of Goodnight Moon to run for my phone.

I'd been playing phone tag with the doctor all day and I couldn't miss her again.

Things were quickly changing and I needed to have the conversation about what to expect over the coming weeks.

This was the first time in our journey that I asked her to give me a clear timeline. "Shoot it to me straight. How long does he have? Will we make it through the month?"

She responded: "That's very hard to predict but it's unlikely."

She said it's especially unpredictable because based on the new tumor's location, "Mike is at high risk for a heart attack or sudden breathing complications." She suggested I be prepared for what I would do should one of those situations occur (like... would I call for intervention or just let him die right then and there).

As if processing Mike ending treatment and entering hospice wasn't enough.

My gut reaction was that I'd absolutely call for all life sustaining measures. Learning that gave me some weird devotion to brain cancer.

Like, NO... It has to be brain cancer. He didn't go through all this to be taken out by a heart attack. All that treatment. All that suffering. We need to see this through. Brain cancer is what we've been working to accept. So brain cancer it must be. Not a heart attack.

My answer, of course, was based on Mike's quality of life at the time and it changed as Mike's symptoms progressed, but that thought process was very real.

I never shared that conversation with Mike. I just wondered every single day if he would wake up the next morning. But he didn't need to hear that to wonder the same thing. There were many nights that he thought were his last.

And I can't even imagine how he felt with those thoughts.

ocean city, nj 2021

I think about my mom and Mike. The two most important people in my life besides my children. And I think about my new relationship and anyone who enters my life for any reason moving forward.

On one hand, it's nice to have a blank slate for a hot second. But on the other hand, the fact that the new important people in my life will never know the other most important people in my life - the people who made me who I am - is really a mind ***k.

I guess that's my job though - to find a way to connect it all. To make sure I'm sharing who they were and the parts of me that they're responsible for.

mother's day 2021

Anyway...hug your moms, love on your husbands and cuddle your babies.

If you asked me a few years ago what this Mother's Day would look like, I'd have said that I'd be nursing a new baby, celebrating our family of five in the home we thought would be our "forever" home.

Life can change in an instant. Happy Mother's Day. and Happy Belated Widow's Day? I guess?

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2 comentários

07 de mai. de 2023

I will be thinking of you. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post for your mom and husband.


05 de mai. de 2023

As always well put. I lost my mom at 22. She didn’t show up for my college graduation and hid her quickly progressing brain cancer from me. Life all life is precious and anyone new will never know how special your person was unless you tell them. They need to know it and accept it for you to move on and love them. I think you are navigating this territory very well but I do think it’s because you have your boys as a help and distraction. Your mom was great. One of my closest friends as is your dad. You were very blessed. Mary

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