Feb. 10, 2008 should have taught me more

7:15 a.m. on Feb. 10, 2008…that time and date is when everything permanently changed for me and others in my family. It’s when my mother succumbed to the cancer and the treatments that had finally taken their toll in just the five weeks after diagnosis. I suppose we could list any day between the time she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and then. After all, every day was torturous for her and us. We all knew things didn’t look good from the beginning but we all held out hope that the latest ideas for treatment would finally work or we’d all finally wake up and realize it was just a horrible dream. Alas, neither was to be so.

As I look back now over the past year, I cannot believe how much has occurred in my life that I have been unable to share with my mom. I care deeply for my family members, but I’m not really the type to pick up the phone and chat “just because.” I remember, after my mom died, my three siblings and I talking about how we had spoken more to each other on the phone in those past few weeks than we probably had in the past six months. I also remember how we said we should keep that up, that if mom’s passing showed us anything, it is how fragile life is and how important it is to remember what truly matters during our relatively short time on this world together.

It’s been a year and I’ve failed. That’s hard to admit, but it’s true. I don’t pick up the phone and call my siblings “just because.” I did for a while at first, but then, I guess you can say, “life happens.” Everyone is so busy with schedules packed to the brim of things we need to do, have to do, want to do and should do our lives become a jumble of time and space and effort and end up swirling around us in a haze. Before we know it, another year has passed and we’ve lost another year of opportunities now gone by.

I always looked upon my mom as a great teacher, and she was. Unfortunately, I haven’t always been a great student. I’ve proven that over the past year. I failed to learn to put aside day-to-day trivialities and remember that, when all is said and done on this earth, that’s it. We have no more time to make that one last phone call we should have made or write that one last letter or even an email telling someone how we were just thinking about them and decided to write.

I suppose I can once again set a goal of trying to be more outwardly caring and emotional with people. I care, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve always had a strong streak of hiding my emotions, internalizing them so I can remain in control and get through the next thing that’s before me. Unfortunately, that often means that, at some point, those emotions boil over and whomever happens to be nearby can see a side of me they don’t expect and probably don’t want to see again. When I lash out, whether it’s snapping at the kids for something silly or finding a way to continue an argument with my fiance over a stupid disagreement, I feel regret and I resent myself for doing it.

Perhaps what I need is the proper motivation, which, in this case, is to post this blog entry and put it on record that this time…this time, I mean it…I will do better. I will pick up the phone and call my family and my friends “just because.” This time, I will put aside the household chores and projects because the kids are over for the weekend and they want nothing more than my undivided attention, regardless of what simple thing we are doing. This time, I will calmly talk through disagreements with my fiance immediately rather than burying my feelings and letting them explode in a startling flash of irrational yelling.

When my mom died, I sent an email out to friends and colleauges to give them the news. Many people commented to me that they thought it was a very nice email, and a few kind souls even told me they’d actually kept it.

So, in memoriam to my mother, one year from the date of her death, I am reprinting that email here:

This morning at 7:15, my mother lost her battle with cancer.

A vibrant, 73-year-old mother of four, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of one was taken from us just five weeks after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She put up a valiant fight, but the chemotherapy treatment necessary to defeat the cancer was simply too much for her system to handle.

For the past few days, she has been in hospice at the hospital after it was determined that medicine and doctors would be unable to save her. It was my mother’s wish never to be put on lifesaving machines and we honored that. After a couple of days without dialysis, a multitude of drugs and various other medical treatments, she rallied to the point where we were all able to talk to her and spend quality time together reminiscing and sharing some very personal moments.

And although these past few days signaled the end of her life was fast approaching, they are days I will always treasure because of the moments we were able to share.

And now, if I can have just one request to make of all of you, it would be this: go find someone you love and give them a big hug “just because.”

Rest in peace, Elaine Adler Moody, April 29, 1934 – February 10, 2008.

Thanks for “listening,” wish me luck and now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a hug waiting for me upstairs — even though she doesn’t know it yet. I think it’s going to be one of my best ever.

By Ari Adler Posted in Life

7 comments on “Feb. 10, 2008 should have taught me more

  1. Ari, this was a wonderful tribute to your mother and a real nod to the strength she imparted to you during her time on this earth. I’ve had a few losses myself this year that have made me hug my family tighter and pick up the phone more often than I did before to stay in touch. This is another great reminder to continue that trend.

    Cheers to your mother and a life well lived and loved.



  2. I know that pain all to well and too many times and I try so hard to stay in touch with loves ones and friends but like you say we get too busy. I too am trying harder this year because I have learned too well, that the people we hold dear can be taken away from us all too fast and too soon.

    Beautiful tribute to your mother.

    The pain is less but the thoughts and memories will always be there.


  3. I’m so sorry about your Mother, Ari :(.
    I didn’t get to know her as well as I would have liked, but I loved being around her. I wanted to keep in touch with her, but figured it was inappropriate.

    We recently lost our aunt, just 4 weeks after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It just took over and she was gone.

    Great message here 🙂


  4. Ari, my eyes are so misty it’s difficult to type. My mother is still with us at this point but she’s just complete months of chemo and radiation. We lost her father (my grandfather but like a father to me) in 2000 after a long battle with colon cancer.

    It’s difficult and I try not to think about it. Thank you so much for pouring your thoughts into this post – to remind us all that we can be gone in the blink of an eye, and to cherish what we have in our relationships.

    Have to go find the tissue box now! 🙂


  5. Ari: This is so touching, such a thoughtful tribute to your mother. I lost my mother at 7 to a cerebral aneurism. She was only 41. I think of her every day and yet – like you, I have to remind myself repeatedly about what’s truly important. Remembering to reach out to those I love doesn’t always come automatically or easy. Thank you for the reminder. Thank you for such beautiful prose.


  6. Ari,

    This was such a beautiful and poignant post about your mother. It’s a lesson to us all about how fragile life really is.

    Thank you for coming out of your comfort zone and sharing this with us.


  7. Thanks to all who commented about this post. I’ve been doing better and have spoken to my siblings several times over the past few weeks “just because.” Had a scare with my sister’s health recently, but she’s ok. Still, it was a frightening deja vu there for a couple of weeks. Time and again I’m being shown that I need to remember what seems important during the day often isn’t by the time you get home to family. What’s Pink say in her new song, “Sober?” “The quiet scares me because it’s filled with truth.” Amen.


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