Inside My Mommy Brain!

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Bittersweet Birthday

on October 10, 2013

I have a birthday coming up soon.  My next couple of birthdays are bittersweet.  I’ve been swinging from one emotional extreme to another.  Happiness, I’ve made it another year; fear, I’m two years away from the age my mom was when she died.  My mom passed away when she was 38 years old.  She was two weeks from her 39th birthday.  Cancer is a evil, miserable bastard. She had me young; she was only 15 when I was born. I didn’t think I’d ever get to this age. I was 23 when she passed and at the time, 38 seemed like it was an eternity away.

I think I’ve been really thinking about her a lot lately. I turn 36 near the end of this week and my birthday is bringing one of my biggest fears front and center; not living to see my daughter grow up. Thirty-six is the magic number because even though Mom wasn’t diagnosed until a few months before she died, thinking back this was when I first noticed her coughing more, not being herself.  The first diagnosis was lung cancer. Then, she started having headaches and seizures.  Her doctors ordered a brain scan, as well as a full body scan.  After the scans, the her oncologist came in to tell us the diagnosis. Let me tell you, when your oncologist chokes up and starts to tear up, you know you’re screwed.  I’ll never forget the day. He tried to tell us what he saw and then he put her brain scan up.  I didn’t need the doctor to tell me what I was seeing.  Her brain scan showed more than 20 “dots”, different sizes.  Some were the size of pin heads, others were an inch or bigger. All were cancerous tumors. Not only did she have the brain tumors, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and there were tumors throughout many of her other organs. That was the day he told her to go home, enjoy her family, and make any amends she felt she needed to do. There were no treatments he could recommend. He told us continuing radiation or chemotherapy would kill her faster. That was absolutely, the worst day of my life.  That was the day that all hope vanished.

I don’t want my daughter to know that feeling until I’m at a ripe old age. I know there are lots of people to love her and take care of her, but if I follow the same timeline and die young, I would leave my sweet girl motherless at a very young age. I know how much that blows.  I might have been 23 when my mom died, but holy shit, did it suck. A part of me died the day she did.  It took me years to finally come to terms with her death and start living fully again. I’ll always be sad she never got to see me graduate from college, she was my biggest supporter.  She wasn’t there when I got married and she’ll never meet her grand daughter.  I’m pretty spiritual, maybe not necessarily religious, but I think there’s an afterlife and I believe she’s seen her from the great beyond or whatever you want to call it.  Just what I would have given to see how much she would have loved being a grandmother or just for one more phone call.

It’s hard to explain to people that want to throw me a party, that want to celebrate with their friend, that as much as I appreciate what they want to do for me, I’d rather be home having a quiet evening with my daughter and other half.  I like to internalize emotions and not bother those close to me.  I, also, find it hard to talk about what’s going on, what I’m feeling, why these birthdays are hard for me. I don’t like to break down or show sadness.  There’s a small group of people that I let see that part of me, but not many. I know to some I’m probably coming across like a bitter anti-social bitch. I’m not really.

Having a party might be therapeutic, who knows? I know I can’t run from life and let my fear rule my every day; that I should celebrate to make memories for myself, my family, and my wee one, just in case.  I just don’t know if I can be happy and celebrate, it’s hard to be the life of the party when you are literally scared to death and the birthday just brings it a lot closer. I know that I’m healthy, I don’t have any problems right now. I see my doctor regularly and because of my family history I’m closely monitored for several different things.  I guess I wouldn’t be me or human if I didn’t think about the possibility or worry.  For right now though, for today, I’m going to enjoy my daughter. In a few weeks go see some of my family, and introduce my girl to one of her great-grandmothers.  Who can’t help but smile over that.

I know as bittersweet as these next birthdays are, I’m going to do my best to live each day to the fullest, play with my daughter, teach her what I can, keep on living my life day by day.  In the end, its’s all we can do, face our fears and keep on living.  Besides, I know my Mom, she’d ask me what the hell I was doing sitting around moping when there’s a whole world waiting for me and the little one to explore.

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