The essay that follows is an emotional journey through the author’s mother’s battle with Sarcoma Cancer and her eventual death. The author beautifully portrays the love, strength, and cherished moments shared with her remarkable mother, from the initial joy and excitement of high school graduation to the heart-wrenching moments leading up to her mother’s last breath.
The author’s determination to achieve her mother’s goals, the agony of saying goodbye, and the lasting impact of her mother’s selflessness and love are all highlighted in the essay. Finally, it is a moving tribute to a remarkable woman and a reminder of the enduring presence of a mother’s love.It was May 2022, and my life was supposed to be at its pinnacle, until it wasn’t.
I graduated from high school and spent senior week at the beach with my graduating class. I couldn’t have been more excited to begin my adulthood and college career. My mother was diagnosed with Sarcoma Cancer in January 2021 and required chemotherapy and radiation treatments.Every day since her diagnosis, she has lost a different aspect of her life. She was a strong, resilient, loving, caring woman who was the best mother anyone could have.
She never asked the doctors for a life expectancy because she wanted to spend as much time as she could with her three children and husband.My mother set out with the intention of witnessing my senior prom and seeing me and my sister, Madeleine, walk across the stage at graduation. She accomplished both of her objectives. On May 26, 2022, I walked across that stage at graduation, proudly watched by my wheelchair-bound mother.
The moment I stepped onto that stage, I felt her overwhelming love and knew she was so proud of me, and that was all that mattered at the time.Those words made me feel like I’d just won the Super Bowl. She didn’t get out much, so being able to attend graduation was a huge accomplishment for her, and it took a lot out of her. We had a celebratory dinner at home, and she was too tired to stay awake. Although her absence from dinner was disappointing, I was grateful she was able to attend and meet her goal.
That night, I was looking forward to my week-long beach trip with all of my best friends. I texted my mom and facetimed her all week while I was away, telling her about the drama that was going on with all of my friends.Until Friday, when my mom stopped responding to my texts and FaceTime calls. I was concerned and considered texting my father to see if she was okay, but I let it go and continued with my last night at the beach.
I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my family about my week. Instead, I arrived home to find my mother in bed, and my father sat me and my two older siblings down and told us that our mother wasn’t doing well and that he was concerned.At the time, I thought my father was being dramatic and exaggerating, and that she would be fine. My father decided to take her to the hospital after much deliberation. She went from her room to the basement and then into the car.
They told her at the hospital that her spine is 75% collapsed due to the tumors growing rapidly. I thought to myself that my mother was a superhero because she walked on a nearly collapsed spine. My mother entered hospice care at that point and never got out of bed again.We informed all of our family and friends that her life was coming to an end.
I was in shock for the first few days after she entered hospice care; I couldn’t believe my mother would die when I was only 18 years old.I recall texting my sister, Madeleine, and asking, “Is Mom going to die?” Her response was, “In a few weeks, yeah.” My heart was shattered into a million fragments. I knew then that I was going to make the most of the time I had left with my mother and not look back.
I didn’t want to look back on the last few weeks I had with my mother and think, “I wish I had spent more time with her,” so I did everything in my power to keep my future self from feeling that way.As friends and family members arrived, I was lying in bed next to my mother, holding her hand. I had no idea what my life was going to be like. My mother told us on a daily basis that she loved us and that when she died, she wanted us to move on.
“When I take my last breath,” she said, “I want you guys to dance, don’t cry, dance.”Days began to blur together as my mother went in and out of consciousness over the next few weeks. I remember sitting in bed with my door open and my parents’ bedroom door open, afraid I’d hear her take her last breath. She began talking to her deceased mother in her sleep, telling her that she would see her soon.
My family’s stress was something I would never wish on anyone. We were on lockdown, spending time with my mother and watching her slowly deteriorate through the stages of death. I was in a mental rut, I wasn’t eating as much as I should have, and my main goal was to spend as much time as possible with her. On July 7th, my mother closed her eyes and said to my father, “I’m so tired, I need to go, I will see you later.”
My father came down the stairs and told us all that we needed to say our final goodbyes.My older siblings took the stage first. I began pacing back and forth because I didn’t want to say goodbye to my best friend. I started up the stairs, tears streaming down my cheeks, and then I stopped, I couldn’t do it. I went into my parents’ bathroom until I had the courage to say goodbye. I approached my mother, kissed her on the cheek, and told her I’d see her later and that I loved her.
When word spread that it might be the day she died, family members flocked to say their final goodbyes, until my mother unexpectedly awoke. She has been in hospice for 4.5 weeks at this point. I was upset when she opened her eyes. I was disappointed that my mother was still alive. I felt like a horrible human being. I walked outside with my heart in my throat as I noticed my father leaned over on the phone, crying.
I couldn’t bear the thought of having to say goodbye again.My mother was awake and talking for about 5 days before succumbing to total unconsciousness. My father decided to kick me and my siblings out and send us to our aunt’s beach house because he didn’t want us to see her in that condition any longer. My mother’s favorite place was the beach. She would sit on the beach from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
She would jump at any opportunity to go to the beach, especially if it meant spending more time with her children. She sat in the sun with a Grapefruit Crush in her hand. She was in her element and looked stunning on the beach. I was sitting on the beach when I realized I couldn’t tell my mother what I was thinking. My mother was still alive, but I couldn’t communicate with her. I was exhausted. I didn’t want this to be the end of things.
“Ryan, me, and Tommy (my brother) are going to see Jason Aldean on Sunday, do you want to go?” my sister asked. I wanted to go, but the word “no” came out of my mouth. All I could think about after that was my mother. I told my siblings I needed to return home that night because I couldn’t be away from mom any longer. My mother’s condition had not changed when we returned home.
Hospice told us to leave her alone and she would die on her own. I awoke a few days after returning home from the beach to find my siblings getting ready to go to the concert while my father and I stayed at home with my mother.I took a nap around 3 p.m. and awoke to my father coming out of their room and asking, “Can you go check her breathing?” When I walked in and saw she had the death rattle, I knew this was the day. My father and I alternated going in and checking on her until around 7:30.
We were lying in bed with her when we noticed her skin was icy cold. I lay there until I couldn’t any longer and then went downstairs. My worst nightmare came true around 9 p.m. I turned the corner when I heard my father’s footsteps and said, “I think so, I think she’s gone.” I’d never felt such heartbreak and emptiness before. We then had to contact my siblings who were at the concert. We called them each about 20 times.
When my brother finally answered the phone, we had to tell them over the phone. The moment I heard my sister scream and sob, I realized I was in real life. Friends and family members began to arrive; I greeted my siblings outside and hugged them in the driveway as they returned from the concert. “We didn’t answer your calls because we were dancing,” my sister explained. We were dancing when mom died, just as she had requested.”
In this moment, I felt relief because my mother died the way she wanted to, and I knew she was no longer in pain.As I continue to live my life without my mother, I realize that everything I do is to make her proud. As a person, I have matured and grown. As I am constantly paralyzed by the pain caused by her death, I remind myself that I am fortunate to be feeling this much pain because my mother was such a wonderful person.
Nothing makes me happier than being able to pick up the phone and call my mother, but I know she is watching over me and watching my every move. I will be eternally grateful to her for fighting her hardest for a month and a half to give us the time we desperately needed to say goodbye to her. Every day, I thank God for her presence and am grateful to have the best Angel watching over me. In honor of the most wonderful Mother…