Tuesday, October 15, 2013

18 Years

My mom died 18 years ago today.

It was a Sunday evening. I had just turned 29 and was 14 weeks pregnant with my second child.

It wasn’t a complete surprise – my mother had been diagnosed with Leukemia on New Year’s Eve, 1993, eight months after my mother-in-law died of cancer. (1993 was a very difficult year for us, to say the least!)

My mom was told she had six months to live – she survived almost two years. (Obviously the doctors didn’t know my mother - no one told her what to do!)

Despite the fact that we knew she was sick, her death was still a shock for our family. Mom had rallied once and was actually told she was in remission for a few months. As they say, with life there is hope.

While my mom was battling leukemia, my husband and I were facing our own challenge. After suffering one miscarriage, my husband and I had been trying to conceive for over a year. When we were finally given the wonderful news, we hesitated telling anyone until the required three month date, in fear of another disappointment.

We finally decided to tell my family our good news at my birthday dinner. A few hours before we were to meet, my mom called me. In a voice I had never heard her use, she told me she wouldn’t be able to make it to my dinner, she just wasn’t up to it.

I knew. My mom would never miss a birthday dinner for any of her six children. I knew.

When we were initially told our due date by the doctor, I was concerned. It was such a long way away for all of us. But I hoped and prayed that my mom would be there to see her newest grandchild.

With one phone call, that hope was dashed. I knew that wouldn’t happen.

In the bravest voice I could muster, I told my mom “No worries” and that I’d see her soon. Then I hung up the phone and cried, and cried, and cried.

I was torn. What to do? Call my mom back on the phone and tell her I was pregnant, or wait until we were all together again. I picked up the phone and shared my “good news” with her. In hindsight, it was probably the most important phone call I ever made.

The next day, my mother was rushed to the hospital. She died two days later. Had I not told her at that moment that I was pregnant, I know I wouldn’t have had the chance to tell her at all.

Was it the right choice? Yes, I think so. I hope so. I like to think my mom got a little bit of good news amidst her pain. And I know I felt better knowing that, while she may never meet my child, she knew another grandchild was on its way into our family.

As they say, life goes on. Six months later, my beautiful, sweet, easy-going daughter was born. From the beginning, she was a joy. She loved to be held by anyone and everyone and slept through the night at six weeks (unlike her brother). I have no doubt she was a gift from my mother.

I remember looking at my daughter’s face when she was born and wishing that my mom could see her. And now, 18 years later, I still wish that. I do believe my mom is up in heaven watching over us, but it sure would be nice to have one more moment with her, just to “catch up!”

18 years …

I miss you Mom.