Five years ago, on March 19, 2009, I walked up an incline in Aspen, Colorado, with a phone to my ear. I listened, shaking, as my mother told me her doctor found a "blockage." I was irritated. We all knew what a "blockage" meant. It meant "cancer". And cancer means you are done.
It was sunny and warm, a typical spring break-like Colorado day and some of my dearest friends in the whole world had flown in from New York City to ski in the best powder around. My heart beat so fast as I listened to her describe more details about this thing, and I knew what the call meant. It was a foe looking for a fight.
Since then, my father, brother, husband, sister-in-law and many family and friends have gone to extraordinary lengths in this one cancer fight among too many. Five years went by.
In the center was my mom, lying in scanners, sitting in cars and flying on planes, waiting in rooms while health care professionals talked, getting blood drawn, waiting three months to three months, arguing with insurance companies and welcoming each opportunity to visit with someone who came by her house to sit in the front room because she was "Paulette" -- the best mom that everyone wanted as their mom -- stepping forward and never really taking on her gloves.
Nobody fights illness unless they want to live, and being a fighter is a descriptor not fit for all of us. Fighter. Think of what it means to fit that definition: you're on the front lines; you're hearing the reality of a frightening situation; you're aware of danger lurking; you're full of adrenaline waiting to win the game, willing a victory; you persevere, can't give up; you're unable to settle and restlessness befits your constant need and desire to win. It's got to be tiresome. It's got to be an ever-present quest for sleep, for the ability to close your eyes.
Mom left us this morning at 12:40 a.m. We were so fortunate to be with her, holding her hands. She drew her last breath very peacefully and my only hope is that she is finally, truly resting for the first time in so long. Everyone always says their loved ones fought until the end. My momma really fought, she fought so hard and walked away from us when she was damn ready. Even in her pain, she raised an eyebrow, smirked and once opened her eyes and shed tears when my sister-in-law told her goodbye. She felt and heard our tears (for me) and our laughter. We had some laughter, too.
We will have details about arrangements tomorrow. For now, thank you for being part of our life.
- Greg, Taryn, Matt, Thayne, Jennie and Ginger