Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if my parents had stayed together, or if I had lived with my mom instead of my dad. I’m not sure either would have been better than the life I have right now, but it’s still interesting to think about at times.
My mom and I haven’t always had the best relationship. When I was a toddler, my dad got custody and my mom spent years in and out of jail. She didn’t always make the best choices, but everyone makes mistakes. She and I didn’t see each other a lot during my teen years, and that was hard growing up, but it might have been for the best. For years, we were not in contact, but that changed in 2010.
In June of 2010, I reached out to my mom and we began emailing back and forth. It was lucky that we did because a few months later she was diagnosed with colon cancer. We were still just emailing at that time, she kept me updated on her treatments and I kept her updated on my writing projects and school. For a long time, her diagnosis didn’t seem real, so I avoided it. I stupidly thought “she’s getting treated, so she’s not as sick as it sounds”. Part of that too was that she kept a lot of it secret, how severe it really was. She focused more on my writing skills and encouraging me to continue my writing, and I am grateful for that, but at the same time, I wish I had known how serious it really was.
Two years later, around September of 2012, she printed my first completed story. She was not a tech expert by any means, but she took it down to the local Office Max and printed two copies. One for me to edit and read through, and one for her and her side of the family to read. That was the first time I realized my writing was ever really worth something. That was the first time I felt proud of my writing, and the first time I even considered going further than just writing it and leaving it in the “to be typed” tote in my closet. I can never thank her enough for that.
Not too long after that, in December of 2012, she was put on hospice. Hospice means that the medical professionals believe that the patient has less than six months to live. I started to see her behind my dad’s back, even though I was an adult, and she taught me a lot about her cancer, her treatments, and some of the things I had missed when we were apart. It wasn’t until February, and full swing in the first nursing program, that my dad finally found out about how serious her condition was and allowed me to see her on the weekends.
We talked about a lot on those weekends, and I am so glad we did, because I didn’t realize how short our time really was. It was around finals for the first semester in nursing school and I was convinced that I had failed one of my finals. I emailed her, telling her that I was convinced I would drop out of nursing school. She called me the next day, while I was in class, and she told me some of the greatest words that I needed at that moment. “You passed, I’m sure of it, and if you didn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be”.
Those words may seem harsh, but they were what I needed to hear. After, she asked me to call her back when I could, and I promised I would. I never did, and I wish I had. We had so much more to talk about, I had so much more to say, but we never got that chance.
It worked out that I actually got to be there when she passed a few days later. I had gone over for her birthday, as I had planned to, only it wasn’t the day I had planned. Her hospice nurse had increased her dose of dilaudid and she was basically knocked out. She died the next morning, but I stayed up most of the night with her, spending time with her. It wasn’t the easiest of nights, and we didn’t communicate with words, but that didn’t mean we weren’t communicating.
I’m dedicating my books to her, because she inspired me, she pushed me, and most of all she loved me, whether I was a writer or not, a nurse or not. She loved me for me, and I only wish she could be alive to see the book she helped to inspire published.
To whom would you dedicate your work?