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When I was in middle school, I had members of my extended family pass away. I went with my mom to the services and even cried a little for those people who I had barely known. I had gone through those deaths, but had truly never felt grief for someone close. I had never lost someone who was an important part of my life or someone I knew very well. There's no way my 13 year old self back then could have predicted that the next funeral I would attend would be my own mom's...

There really aren't enough words to describe how close my mom and I were. She was a single mom and my siblings had all left the house while I was still in grade school. So from then on, it was just her and I. I was like her shadow. No one knew me better than her, and there was no one I felt more comfortable with than her. She was everything to me. She was my best friend, my constant companion, my mentor, the one person I trusted above all others, the one I could always count on, and the person I believed nothing bad would ever happen too. My mom was a good woman. She was smart, funny, caring, honest, and most of all a devoted mom. She was completely self-sacrificing for her family and set the greatest possible example of how to live your life. Everyone who ever met her loved her, and many people admired her. She was so humble though. In my eyes she was superwoman. I was so unbelievably blessed to have her as my mom, nothing I will ever do will make me worthy enough to be called her daughter. I love my mom with every part of me. And never once did I wonder if she had loved me.

I had just turned 19 when mom got sick. There had been something wrong for months, minor symptoms that we didn't know the cause of. Then one evening she again went to the hospital, two hours later the nurse called me and asked me to come there. I was driven by my cousins and immediately went to my mom, who didn't even know that I was coming. Within minutes the doctor came and told us he believed she may have a brain tumor. Hearing those words the first time sounded so unreal and shocking, no one...and I mean no one...ever expects that. The next morning we were off to meet with a neurosurgeon and have an MRI done that evening. The next morning, she had brain surgery. Two days later we would discover she had two tumors that were stage 4 and malignant. All this happened in one week...one week. It's amazing the way things happen sometimes. It's also amazing that I was even able to stand at the end of that first week.

Even with treatment, mom was given only months to live. We moved immediately to another hospital where she would get help to start walking and talking again. I should mention that after mom's surgery, she was like a completely different person. She was unable to do anything for herself. She was totally dependent on others. She could hardly communicate. Later on the way I would look back is that this was when I really lost mom, I lost the mom I had always known. The smart, outgoing, funny woman who was stronger than anyone I had ever met. After weeks of therapy mom moved into a temperorary place we were at. I should also mention that mom and I lived alone when she got sick, and I was still completely dependent upon her. Mom needed constant care for everything, she couldn't really do anything for herself anymore. That care would end up being totally provided by me, I became my mom's caregiver 24/7. I had no real training, no one to tell me what to do, no one to guide me. If I had known then what I know now...I can't even go into that because there are just too many things I would do differently.

Two years mom was sick. Two years we went to doctors' appointment, treatments, ER visits, got medicine refills, and even made a visit to the Mayo clinic. And for two years my life completely revolved around her. I stopped everything. Taking care of her was my sole purpose, a purpose that I rarely received relief from. Mom didn't trust that many people to care for her, really it was only my aunt, whom I'm now closer than ever to, that relieved me from my duties when she came to visit. Otherwise it was mom and me. I broke down from exhaustion and frustration so many times during those two years. I also never truly admitted to myself that mom was really sick. I know that's hard to believe, but I couldn't. I couldn't let it in that this woman who was dying infront of me was the same person I have loved all my life. I couldn't admit that she was dying from such a serious disease either, the word cancer wouldn't enter my vocabularly until much later. There are so many things I regret from that time. So many things I wish I could redo, so many things I wish I could have said to her. Unfortunately her and I were never truly again able to have a conversation that was too in depth. The tumors took that from us. Those tumors took everything away. I didn't help matters though.

In that last month the doctors had found another tumor that was growing in her brain, it was growing quickly too. I wasn't able to care for her anymore, so she went into a nursing home. I can't get into how I feel about that now after the fact either. Mom was in there exactly one month. She had suddenly gotten worse that last week. More tired, not eating as much, and other signs I didn't know were exactly what happens when people die. A nurse gave a couple books to read and it shocked me how it described what was happening with mom perfectly. The nurse talked to me in order to help prepare me for what was coming, and I broke down. I cried so hard. It was something I hadn't let myself do in so long. I was crying for mom, for losing her. Afterwards I went back into mom's room and tried again to feed her and engage her into watching one of her favorite tv shows.

It was a Saturday afternoon when the sun was shining and it wasn't terribly cold outside when the end came. My aunt was already at the nursing home. The nurse said mom was in a coma that morning. I had called my siblings to tell them to come as soon as they could. They were making plans to visit before I left to see mom. When I walked into her room she was breathing strange, my aunt ran to get the nurse. I immediately went to her and started talking to her. I sat next to mom on her bed, held her hands, and told her that I loved her over and over and over. I also tried telling her that it was going to be okay, that I was going to be okay. I was trying to do anything to make things easier for her. Mom died 20 minutes after I got to the nursing home, later on my aunt would say that she waited for me. I believe that. It was like a dream. A really strange dream that I didn't know how to react to. Mom had died. I just couldn't fully understand that. No matter what I did it just didn't seem real. I had cried and cried as she died, but I just couldn't believe that really just happened. I remember the funeral home people finally arriving and we left the room as they did their job. I don't think I knew what was going to happen next. We were all out in the hall when the door opened. They took my mom out of the room on a gourney in a black body bag. And that was it...I sobbed harder and louder than I ever thought possible. I couldn't even walk. I had to lean on my aunts to stand upright. That was such a horrible experience, I cannot even explain it right to fully make people understand what that felt like. The relatives that were with me experienced it too, but it wasn't the same. She was my mom, she was my everything. I was the person who had spent all their time caring for her. I was the person who was with her all the time. She was my mom...my siblings will never be able to understand what that was like either because they weren't there. I was there 100% before, during, and after.

Mom has been gone for one year and almost five months now. The pain is more real now than ever though. I am feeling it more than I ever did before. In some ways it is good that I am feeling it, but it also hurts more than anything I have ever felt. It isn't just the pain that hurts, it's the loneliness. I have lost my constant companion, the person I've been with my entire life. I have never known this kind of loneliness before and it's terrible. There's so much I miss about mom. Simple things, little things, big things...I was 21 when she passed. I hadn't even begun living yet, and she was already gone. I miss the guidance. There are so many major decisions in life that I have to make, never did I imagine having to make them all without her. I don't know how to make them without her. Recently though I have realized just how badly I would give anything just to hug my mom again and kiss her cheek. Even to relive that last moment before they closed the casket, just to touch her again. There's a literal physical ache inside me now that she is gone. An ache so painful that I just do not know what to do with it. There are also so many unresolved issues I have to deal with. So many things I would love to say to her. I see girls and their moms everywhere I go, I can't help but miss that. I also sometimes wonder if they know how lucky they are. I'm forced now to forever be without my mom. The one person I love with all my heart and soul is dead, and now I don't know what to do.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for your reply...

And you are right. I did love my mom. I loved her with all my heart and soul. I loved her with every part of me...still do.

This past wk I visited my father for the first time in over ten years. I was scared, nervous, and very unsure of what it would be like. I tried to keep an open mind. Overall there had been good and not so good points to the meeting...but now I am realizing one thing about that meeting that sticks out more than anything. I didn't recognize him. I didn't have that immediate reaction inside me that was suppose to say, "oh yeah, that's dad." One thing that had made me emotional over this meeting was the idea that I would be someone's daughter again, something I had missed so much. Maybe even more than I knew. Without that recognition, it was hard to connect. Afterwards I visited a food stop that I had memories of going to with my mom. Small things quickly came back to mind more and more...thoughts of my father went away as my senses became overwhelmed by memories of mom. It hit me so hard then, the grief. I cried on the phone with my sister for nearly 90 minutes. I cried over everything. I know I repeated myself a lot but I couldn't make clear enough certain feelings I was having. I couldn't make clear enough the pain inside me. The ache that's left in me. I couldn't make clear enough how much she meant to me and how much of an amazing woman she was. I also couldn't say enough just how much I missed her. I told my sister how much harder this was to handle because this was something that at the core would never change, nothing will ever bring my mom back. Ever. The talk was emotional, in depth, and exhausting...but in the end, it helped. I was able to breath easier afterwards. I was calmer. My head was clearer. I've talked to my best friend over this and my aunt, but this time it was different. This time it was my sister. It was different because she lost her mom too. She lost the same mom as me and had grown up in the same place as me and with the same family history. Our grief is not the same, but our feelings match on many levels...if that makes sense.

I just started reading a book called, The Long Goodbye. I was looking for something I could relate too. Something I could maybe find some hope and strength from. I'm not too far into it, but I'm keeping an open mind.

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I'm so sorry about your Mom. I can't imagine how hard its been. My Mom has early onset Dementia. I think you'll relate to The Long Goodbye. I've read it, it's good, but nothing describes the gut wrenching feeling of losing someone you love piece by piece.

Very few people have to experience that loss while at the same time taking on the UNFATHAMABLY difficult, exhausting, thankless duty of full time home-care, especially so young. You may not recognize it, but knowing what I do, I know you must be a person of incredible strength and determination. You gave your Mom the most difficult, self-sacrificing gift of all, to be able to be in her own home with someone she loved to care for her. I sincerely admire you for that. It hurts to think how painful this must be for you. You're in my thoughts and prayers.-

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