How the Summer of 1993 Changed My Life Forever

The summer of 2009 marks the 16th anniversary of two defining events of my life: the death of my mother, and the onset of my downward spiral into being undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and chronically ill.

Though my mother died 16 years ago this July, I remember that day as if it were yesterday. My mother was diagnosed with cancer during the fall of 1992 while I was away at graduate school, and I struggled with the challenge of not being able to be with her on a daily basis. A few months before graduation, my mother called me in tears, saying that her pain so severe she would not be able to attend the ceremony. I decided right then and there that walking across the stage meant nothing to me without my mother at my side. I spoke with my professors, finished exams, wrapped up my TA grading, handed the keys to my car to my roommate (I had it shipped to California later), and returned home to be with my mother. Deep in the pit of my stomach, I knew that she didn’t have much time.

I immediately moved in with my mother (my parents divorced a few years before) and struggled to remain strong in the face of her suffering. During this time, I expressed love for my mother more freely than ever, making sure to tell her how much I loved her, and how important she was in my life. Shortly after moving in with Mom, my boss approached me and asked for me to go out of town for a trade show. I was excited by the prospect of my first business trip, and with Mom’s blessing I agreed to attend the event. Before leaving for the airport, I gave Mom a huge kiss and told her how much I loved her. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was to be our final farewell, and the last time I would ever see my mother alive.

A few days into the trip, I begin to feel that something wasn’t quite right. Then my mother called, saying that she couldn’t take the pain anymore, and asking when I would be home. I knew that the end was near, and not being with her was devastating. I told my Mom how much I loved her, and promised to be home the next day. I will always remember Mom saying, “I don’t know how much longer I can wait.”

The next day, the somber faces of my father and sister greeted me at the airport, and I immediately felt weak in the knees. When we got in the car, my father and sister told me that Mom had died earlier that morning, and I doubled over to stifle the pain and the tears. Though 16 years have passed, the pain of this memory is so raw and close to the surface that it still makes my eyes flood with tears whenever I think about it. Losing my mother was the worst experience of my life.

A few months later, my body crashed and began attacking itself. Yep, this is another anniversary that I’ll never forget.  You can read more about my health journey here.

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2 Responses

  1. […] off yet another year or two.  Fortunately, she survived, but cancer is rampant in my family.  I lost my mom and 2 aunts within a three year timeframe.  That’s not to mention my cousin who died of […]

  2. […] colon, larynx, and esophagus – just to name a few. Cancer, as a result of cigarette smoking, claimed the life of my mother and three beloved aunts; the oldest was only 50 when she […]

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