Three years ago on this very day my mother showed up unannounced. I knew it meant something significant. I knew it wasn’t good. It was days away from Valentine’s Day, but I knew her delivery was going to be more thorns than roses.
I’m not sure if she actually said the words, but I knew her cancer had returned. I could tell by the sorrow in her eyes, even though she worked to hide it. I could tell by the way she twiddled her thumbs. I just knew. I didn’t need to hear the words because I could feel it.
Her cancer was back and it wasn’t good. Doctors had given her one to two years. They had given her a timeline, an estimate of death. An estimate of life left to live. It was the first time there was no hope for remission or a cure.
She sat there tearful, yet courageously strong. She was delivering life-changing news, but with faith and hope and love sprinkled in. Ironically she looked beautiful and healthy as she sat there telling me she was dying. She was stepping gracefully into her final months and moments. I was stepping into denial and avoidance. I heard her message, but I failed to accept it. It simply couldn’t be.
From that moment on, things would be different. Death would now cloud our minds, and our hopes for the future. Our days would be a confused mix of appreciation, hope, despair, and a constant worry of the unknown. We would find ourselves chasing moments and memories. Trying desperately to collect as many as we could before the time and chance had slipped away.
My life and world started with my mother. How am I supposed to maneuver through it without her? She is my source of wisdom, inspiration, and unwavering support. I don’t want to live in a world empty of her. I don’t want the world to be empty of her. I want her here. I need her here.
The news she delivered that day is the kind of moment that never leaves you, even once she has. It’s the kind of moment that gets locked in your mind and soul. The saltiness of the tears that ran down your face. The warmth in the way we wrapped ourselves around each other. In love. In pain. In fear.
It’s the kind of anniversary that you wish didn’t exist. The kind of moment you’d give anything to change. But, it’s a moment that is yours, so it stays. No matter how painful.
Life is really just an intricate blend of joy and pain. A unique blend of happiness and sorrow. Memories like this remind us to savor the good and those we love because you never know the estimate of life, until you do. And then things are never the same.
Love your people fiercely. One day the only way to love them will be from wishes in your heart, memories in your soul and messages sent to heaven.
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.
Today is my day that I got the news. May 9th, 2011. The day after Mother’s Day. “I have pancreatic cancer”. I searched the internet…it wasn’t good….I knew it wasn’t good…because that Thursday, she was slated to start 2-day chemo…like right away. The thing about cancer is that it sort of gives you a timetable…but that means it gives you an extended grief period. Like you start grieving for them before they even leave. Everyday you wake up like “Is it today..are they leaving today?” and then when they don’t pass, you do the same thing tomorrow. It was like I was on a pre-grief ferris wheel before she even passed. Even as I try to forget the dates, it’s like my heart has grief muscle memory and I get withdrawn and sad – looking at the calendar reminds me of the significance of the date.