Saturday, August 13, 2011
Too many of us have experienced this-- losing someone we loved to cancer. I lost my mother before my thirtieth birthday. I lost my mother unfairly. She was too young, too good, and fought too hard to just be gone. While navigating this astounding void left by her death, I've learned way more about grief than I ever cared to.
I've learned that grief is not something you cope with, it's something you learn to hide. My niece was born this year, my book published, my birthday celebrated. All of these amazing things have brought joy into my life, and every ounce of joy brings a bit of sadness. Every one of these happenings should not have happened without being about to share it with my mom. This is what life is after loss- always a tinge of bittersweet. And it doesn't fade. You just learn to ignore it or to hide it more often and more thoroughly as the days pass.
I've learned that grief is not something you can plan around, which is really tough for a planner like me. The most unexpected moments, the oddest memories, can pull me back from feeling stronger, more confident, more OK to that very moment when I heard those words and felt as though the world was caving in on me.
I've learned that grief is best cut with anger. I know there are seven stages of grief, but for once in my life, I am not working very hard to move qiuckly. I've been on anger for more than eleven months, and I don't plan to leave any time soon.
Because I should be angry, right? My mom made our family a family. She was the voice that reassured me on bad days and now those days seem just a little worse. Hers was the smile that made accomplishments seem valuable and now those same accomplishments seem just a little empty.
My mother was a woman that made baby blankets for people she never met because she believed all children should have something home made. She was a woman who cooked for anyone sick. She embellished every store to emphasize the good in all of its players. She couldn't dance but refused to admit it and did it joyfully despite. She was my closest friend, made closer by a shared fight against a capricious disease. She fought with strength, resolve, faith, and hope in abundance, and deserved to see that count for more than it did. She found the delight in every small thing in life and her absense leaves everything feeling a bit dull. She died when she was too young, and she suffered too much.
I don't want reassurance today. I don't want to hear about time healing this. I am angry--we all should be.
Cancer is unbiased and cruel. As a sufferer, survivor, care giver, loved one, or casual friend, we have all felt the impacts of this disease. We all get angry over many things-- politics, work, traffic-- and work to move past it. But we should not move past this-- we need to stay angry over the presence of such a feckless killer. Because, in our anger, we can move against it.
Today, I am making a donation in my mother's honor to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Perhaps writing a check doesn't seem like much of a movement, but it is. The money we raise becomes research, new treatments, and lives saved. I can only hope my anger will somehow help others to never have to feel it.
If like me, you've felt this anger, I encourage you to give if you can. My mom's page is here if you would like to donate in her name. Or, give in the name of someone you've lost or seen fight. And if you can't give, participate in the fundraisers, write a letter to a cancer patient, share this blog, etc.
Let's all stay angry until we've restored the dignity, independance, and life to the sufferers of this disease.
I miss my mom today, like every day. Today I just allow myself to admit just how much.