Nearly sixteen years ago, I woke up one morning and my life was truly and completely changed forever.
My mother had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Basically, that type of cancer attacks your lymph nodes, spleen, immune system and doesn’t let up. She had had it awhile but somehow, I always thought that she’d be okay. She had this smile on her face that could light up a room, the personality and vibe that made you ever so relaxed in her presence, and a love that was so big it was really unbelievable. How could any thing possibly hurt this woman that was so wonderful? It had started out as a kind of skin cancer, she went into the doctor, and everything seemed okay. That was when I was in 6th grade. Not too long after that, say 7th grade she found out the horrible news that she had cancer. They named it Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was the enemy of our happy home. I was about 12/13.
I remember the shots she had to take. I remember my dad being angry at a doctor beforehand because they accused her of making up an illness just to get out of work. I really would like to meet that doctor by the way. I remember the bone marrow thing and she was so brave during that. The needle was quite large. I remember her crying in her deepest of sleeps, wanting her own mother who had passed away when she was a young girl. I remember going to the hospital along with my dad and brother, packing our book bags to do our homework, and not being able to see her except through this glass door. I remember the day that she beat it and the doctor said she was in remission. She was so happy, she wrote in her journal she was so glad that she going to be able to see her grandbabies. I was happy. We all were happy. The days of her having to give herself shots were gone. The days of having to see her in pain like that was finally over. Our prayers were answered. She would not have to cry anymore over not being about to find clothes to fit her because she was so swollen up and couldn’t find anything to go to church in. I remember the day that was good because when I got home from school, she was on the other side of the door smiling, sitting on the couch and she was home.
I remember even the day the doctor called and I was the nosy 14 year old kid who had gotten a phone in my room. I heard it was from her doctor so I put my hand over the receiver to listen in. I thought maybe good news? Alas, it was not. The cancer was back, they had to start with radiation, and I got to hear my mother’s voice break over the phone. I waited until they hung up, then I did, and then I unleashed my tears. I knew radiation was bad. She came in to tell me and found me bawling. She knew I had listened in and wrapped me in her arms.
About a month later, November 11, 1996, I woke up to shower and my dad knocked on the door to tell me to hurry up because they were coming to get her. I froze. I cried in the shower and wrapped myself in a towel to go to my room. My aunt found me at the foot of my bed and coaxed me into getting dressed. She cried with me. Shirley Jewel helped me and she hugged me. I got dressed in time to get my brother to stay in his room. I got back to the living room and saw them wheeling her out on the gurney. A memory in my mind is seeing her under the sheet and her body moving as they went over the steps. I went numb that day. I remember after they left, I took my Christmas list and ripped it to shreds. What did I have on that list? I wanted her well…forever. I was mad at God that day.
I would like to tell you that I prayed for God to ease my pain. I would love to tell you that I was happy with His decision to take my mama. I was not though. I was angry and I yelled at Him and I held that grudge with him for a very long time. I went as far as ripping a crucifix off my neck at one point, throwing it across the room.
The truth is this: Every time I go back to my old house, I think when I open that door she’ll be on the other side. I sometimes think its just a bad dream and it never really happened. I am 30 now and I have since made peace with God. I still miss her so much and I’ve prayed for forgiveness for how I talked to Him. Its not easy to lose someone. Its even harder to lose a mother, especially when she was so young and you were, too.
The truth is you never get over it completely. You cope and that’s all you really can do. You try to move on with your life and it gets a bit easier but not so much because you never forget.
Someone told me a long time ago that its been awhile and I should be mostly over it. Its not possible, really. Not to me. I can’t get over losing Debbie Lee Moore, my mother. That sweet angel who always had a smile on her face even when she was hurting so bad. She always said to be kind to people and life is too short to live in a fuss. I try to do that. I try to be good to people and try to smile. Its hard to do that sometimes but I still try my best.
The truth is that after 15 years, 6 months, and 2 days, I miss her just as much as I did when I was at the foot of my bed crying. I’m just dealing with it.
I did pray one night after she was gone to show me a sign that everything was going to be alright. I never stopped believing in God, I was angry with him though. That night, I dreamed that my mother came to me but she was a silvery type of an angel in our hallway. I went to her and she smiled but she looked so majestic. The entire dream was just me crying and her holding me, telling me it’d be alright. I will never forget that dream. I may be hurting still, but it will be alright. Life goes on and all we can do is just smile and try to deal with it the best we can.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. I love you, miss you, and am always thinking about you.
This song reminds me of that dream