The China Cabinet

Nancy Cobb-Smith

My mother was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in March 1997. Following massive surgery on April 16, 1997 to "prolong her life" she never again regained her health or strength she was pretty much house bound. It was a daily struggle, but throughout it all she tried her best to be upbeat. She could never talk about her pending fate, as death was waiting for her and she knew it. As the months passed she grew sicker and sicker, unable to hold down her food her body became malnourished. Her once strong body was now reduced to a very thin and frail looking woman. While in and out of the hospital during the Spring and early Summer of 1998, she would always make a point of telling me how lucky she and I had been to have been more than just mother and daughter, we were truly best friends! Indeed we were, and we had a special connection one that we promised would continue. Knowing my mother's life would soon end, on August 20, 1998 I phoned home at 9:00am and my Dad said to get home as soon as possible. Our Hospice nurse said my mother's blood pressure was low and her organs were shutting down. I arrived home at 11:30am and went directly to my parents bedroom where she lay in the hospital bed. She told me she was in pain so I hit the button on her morphine pump to make her comfortable. She then looked at me and asked me if this was the day she was going to die and I told her yes, that she was going home to God. She said okay, I guess I'm ready, but I'm going to miss you! She could no longer talk well, her words were mixed up but I understood her. I told her that the china cabinet she had wanted me to order since my wedding day 3 years ago was being delivered today. I told her that china cabinet was for her. My mother slipped into a semi-comatose state around 4:00pm that afternoon. At 10:20pm that same night she managed to get up the strength to tell her family surrounding her "I love you" and then slipped away 10 minutes later.

The next day after taking care of the arrangements with my Dad and brother I drove back home. To keep myself busy I began to put all of my china and crystal into my brand new china cabinet. The entire time I talked to my mother telling her that this was our special china cabinet. I tried to arrange it in a display that I know my mother would have liked, almost identical to the display of her china cabinet.

It's been almost a year since my mother died and each day is still a struggle, I never knew what it felt like to have a broken heart until now. Although I am 42, losing my mother is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Whenever I get blue I'll go over to my china cabinet, turn the inside light on and talk with her, cry and tell her how much I miss her! Sometimes I'll go 2 to 3 weeks without talking to her at my china cabinet. When I let time go by I happen to glance over at the china cabinet and find the light on. The first couple of times I thought I had forgotten to turn the light off the cabinet the last time I was in the room. But I've found the light on too many times for it to pass as my own forgetfulness or a coincidence. Who knows, perhaps it is a coincidence, but for now I'd like to believe it's my mother's way of letting me know it's time to talk! Guess she misses me as much as I miss her!



You can email Nancy: [email protected]
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anniversary date 08-20-98
date of post 08-05-99


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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW

Nancy, 42, said "My mother told me she'd miss me, I'll always miss her."