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 , 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 . 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.