Today marks 7 years since I’ve lost my mother. She was only 41 years old at the time of her passing. She had been diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer in 2005 after having multiple upper respiratory infections. the key misconception to lung cancer is that those who have it smoked. That’s not the case with my mother. She was never a smoker so her being diagnosed with lung cancer was a huge blow to my family.
I’ve always wondered how I would go about writing this. How I should pay tribute to my mother. If I should list all the statistics of lung cancer. Speak on how I keep myself aware. Yet, you can google all that. What’s real is that it’s been 7 years without her. It’s been 7 long years. It’s been 7 lonely birthdays. Nothing, I mean nothing will ever be able to fill that void. Grief, it’s like a never ending plague. I think of her all the time and my birthday is a painful reminder of how much I miss her.
I live by my personal motto, “Through tragedy comes success.” This is what has kept me going all these years. This is what has helped me get through undergrad. I could have easily given up on my life when my mother passed away. I could have used her death as a crutch and excuse to not pursuing higher education. Yet, I knew that in doing so it’s not what my mother would want me to do.
My mother was such a fighter. From the 6 months that she was given to live, she beat the odds and lived nearly 3. All she wanted to do was live to see 40. Of course she wanted to see me along with my 3 younger siblings all graduate from high school yet she knew that wasn’t the reality. She fought so hard to keep normalcy for us. Until her dying day she fought not only for her life, but for the lives of her 5 children.
I fall #2 out of the 5 and as an older sister I’ve had to be stronger than I’d like to be. In 2009 we had a memorial service for my mother and as I thought I had everything under control, that wasn’t the case. I didn’t cry the day of her funeral. It’s not that I wasn’t sad, which I was. I had lost my mother. The day before my birthday at that. I had also talked to my mother less than a week before telling her that if she was tired that it was ok to go. My mother was no longer herself. Her body was cold, she couldn’t stop coughing, and there was nothing anyone could really do to bring her comfort.
The most difficult part of this was entering my Senior year with my mother dying and me trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. When one door closes another opens right? Well the door slammed in my face and I had to figure out everything on my own. I just always remembered how much my mother believed in me. How much my younger siblings looked up to me and how one day I hoped to provide for my family.
It hasn’t been easy. I’m still trying to find my way in this cruel world. What I do know is that I want others dealing with the loss of a parent from cancer to know they’re not alone. There are a lot of people in the same boat as you. There’s a lot of people trying to figure out what to do with themselves. Just know that you can make it through. It’ll never be erased. In fact, it will forever be embedded within you. To get through it is with faith. It’s with perseverance.
For my mother Rosa.
Thank you for all you have instilled in my within our nearly 17 years together. To my mother that had to fight her entire life you are now at peace. You are in the best place you could be. Not everything is the way I’d like it to be, but everything happens for a reason, I suppose.
I’ll never be able to fully understand why you were taken away from us. Or why I feel so lonely in this world. What I do know is that your unwavering love has been within me these past 7 years. I have felt your presence in ways that no one will ever understand. You’re not physically with me, but you’ve been there in so many other ways. The memories will forever be with me.