My Mom


Where to start? Hmmm...basics are always good: My name is Keri, and I just turned 20, in January, 1996. I am motherless. I think those words about sum it up for me. On March 17, 1995, my mother died of cancer after being sick for ten years. Things will never be the same.

My mother was my light, my life, my only guidance. When I was about 10 years old, my mother was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is considered one of "best" cancers to have (I hold back a laugh when I think of best and cancer in the same breath). Supposedly, it is highly treatable and curable. Not for my mother, though it seemed to be manageable at first. After a year of treatment, she was in remission. That same year, my parents divorced. I have not seen my father since. I wish I could say the same of the cancer. Her cancer returned yearly. It was like a bad roller coaster dream: treatment, health, treatment, almost health, treatment...and so on. This lasted for nearly ten years. She tried every treatment she could find. She even traveled to get the best care that there was, but in the end, it did not matter. Things were not truly bad until that last year.

Her last year of her life was not pleasant for anyone. I was away at school (by my mother's choice: she did not want me at home, she wanted me to do what she thought was best for me, and that was school). She tried one last round of chemotherapy, but her body just could not handle it. I often think that the treatments were worse than the disease itself. By March of last year, we knew it was going to end soon.

My mother was 43. Only 43 years old. I was 19. Now I feel 19 turning 40, with the trace of a 10 year old in me. There is no need to discuss the details surrounding her death, other than to say that I held her hand and told her it was "okay for her to leave," and within a few hours, she was gone. Gone forever.

Now I am motherless. It hurts a lot. I live every day knowing and thinking about the things I was never, and will never, be able to share with my mom. College graduation, marriage, my first home, but most of all, my children. My children will never get to meet this wonderful person I briefly called "Mom" and loved so dearly. They will, however, get to know her through stories I will tell them about her.

Unfortunately, I begin to fear every day that I am beginning to forget about her. I think that is only natural. But, still, it hurts more and more. It also hurts because there is no one for me to share stories with now. Being parentless is not a commonality among college students. I have yet to meet anyone who can understand what it is like to suddenly be all alone. On the bad days, there is no one to call and talk to late at night. Even harder, though, is not having my mom to share the good days with anymore. Though, few are good these days. Nonetheless, I would give anything to be able to share my future with her.

Her untimely death has left me in pieces. I thought I would be ready for it, after all, I basically had ten years warning, but no amount of preparation makes you ready for it when it happens. I still think that it can't possibly be real. Yet, I know that it is. During the last year of her life, I started the grieving process, so everyone figured it wouldn't hit me that hard. They were wrong. I was grieving early because my mother had become a SHADOW of the person she once was. I had accepted that at the time. Her death, however, still rocked my world and landed me off my feet. I, too, now feel like a SHADOW of the person I once was. However, I am now standing again, taking small steps in the world with no one to hold my hand and no safety net for reassurance. It isn't easy, and I often feel that for every two steps I take, I land one step backwards. I guess that is how it is in life.

The one year "anniversary" will be in March, 1996. I am not ready for it, as I am not ready to accept that she has been gone for a year. I have heard that the anticipation of the day is often worse than the day itself. I wonder if this is true, and if it is, isn't true about everything in life?

**in case anyone was wondering, I am a Junior at The George Washington University, in Washington, DC. I am studying child psychology. If anyone out there wants to write and talk, and share similar experiences, I have been told that I am a good listener and sounding board.


You can send email to Keri at [email protected]
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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW