Tag Archives: loss

Remembering Mom: part 4

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Well it’s April, folks. Time just keeps passing on by, as it tends to do. I just got back from a Caribbean cruise last week. It’s been one year since my brother’s bone marrow transplant. My little chickpea will be two years old at the end of next month. It’s been five months since her mom passed away. It’s been four years since my mom passed away.

I’ve turned into someone else entirely, over that time. My eyes have been opened to the depths of the human experience. Over the last four years I have witnessed true suffering, pure, unadulterated joy and experienced profound empathy (of which I did not think I was capable).

I can’t emphasize enough how much I feel like I have grown as a person in the last four years. I am easily recognizing who I want to become and the kind of people I’d like to be surrounded by. While I’ve known the direction I’ve been heading for a while, I never felt like I deserved it for myself until recently.

In my mom’s place, there’s an emptiness. The best way I can describe it is, it’s as if my mom and dad are my shoulder angels and both of them rested there my entire life until the age of 27, when my left one disappeared.

The emptiness brought not only a feeling of deep loss, but also an intense questioning of who I really was. Ever since then, I’ve been on the path to figure that out.

I’ve been through many emotions ranging from near euphoria to intense self loathing, but along the way I have found out who I am. I’ve done the work and gotten to know myself well enough to know what motivates me, why it does and how to use that knowledge to better my life. The struggle IS real, and it’s not easy.

However, in my life it’s been better than denial and ignorance. When I say I wouldn’t be who I am without my mom, I also mean that I wouldn’t be who I am had I not lost her. She continues to inspire and influence me to keep moving forward, be more aware and really attempt to see in myself what she saw in me.

That’s how I live. Awareness and facing my life head on is my new normal. It’s not easy and I have to fight constantly, but it’s worth it because the only people who don’t fight for what they want are people who’s spirit is broken. Mine has been on the mend for four years and it’s only going to get better from here.

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Four years, countless tears
I wouldn’t be who I am
I’ll love you forever

RIP, mom.
Peggie Anne Gardner
April 15, 1951-April 19, 2011

Titles are overrated

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Hi there! Well, what a few months it has been since I last spoke. I’m not sure how long this entry will take to write for me to be able to articulate what I’d like to, but I am going to try to at least start.

Can I tell you how much my little chickpea has grown? She’s 16 months old and she’s the cutest thing anyone in this house has ever seen. She enjoys making funny faces, loves animals, and she likes to say “wasssat?!” (what’s that) Spending so much time around a baby, I’ve learned that they change really quickly! It’s really fun to watch her learn how to communicate. She’s a little foodie, so of course her first sign was “more.” In order to get me to make a funny face, she’ll make a funny face. In order to go for a walk, she’ll go get my shoes and look longingly at the door. When I sign and say “I love you” as I put her to bed, she points to me when I say I and herself when I get to you. Then, she blows me kisses. Only she doesn’t know how to take her hand away from her mouth yet so she just keeps it there and smiles. It’s so precious. I really cherish her.

I think the baby is the whole heart of a house that is filled with many that are breaking. Her mom is actively dying of cancer. This house is full of sadness because her mother is involuntarily leaving her husband and children, a husband is losing his wife, a very young daughter and son are losing their mother and a mother is losing her daughter. it’s heart-wrenching, painful, sorrowful and, quite frankly, not fair.

I can’t help but ask myself how it can it be that just over sixteen months have passed and chickpea’s mom is now dying of cancer? I met her and her brother’s mom in her 6th month of pregnancy, one month after she was diagnosed. Up until July, I had only heard stories of the suffering people endure during late stage cancer. Now, I have seen it for myself on a daily basis.

The bravery and strength their mom has shown has been one of the most courageous things I’ve ever witnessed. One thing I hope I can impart on the kids, that I hope they understand really early, is that their mom fought, and fought and fought. She’s lost and lost, and lost again, but every single day she comes back fighting for them.

I know she’s tired, and anyone would be. I am not exaggerating when I speak of her suffering. Even though I recognize that humans are stronger than they think they are and can deal with more than they think they can, she has dealt with at least 100x her fair share with barely a complaint.

I don’t know what to say to her, I can’t even begin to understand how profound this loss is. She got 3 1/2 good years with her son and 9 okay months with the baby before she was hospitalized for increasingly extended periods and ultimately bedridden. Four and a half years and 16 1/2 months is not anywhere near enough time to get with kids she spent a total of 18 months growing inside of her. Why should she already have to say goodbye?

Especially when her kids are so eclectic with advanced personality traits. Me and the little boy quote movie references. I’ve never met a four year old that could use this obscure line from Elf to get a bedtime story:

BB: Can we read a story?
Me: No, the moon is already out on your clock. It’s time for bed.
BB: Not even ONE book??
Me: No
BB (lightly touching hands together, in old woman voice): But the children love the books!

I laughed so hard… what four year old references movies to make an argument?! He has an old soul, I really wish his mom could be there to witness how his personality continues to develop.

My job is unique and emotionally challenging. I have found that practicing mindfulness and coming from a place of complete compassion in my everyday dealings both inside and outside the house has seemed to help me so far.

I have also learned a lot about my own unresolved grief, my own heart and the way I’m living my life. Not only that, but why. This situation has led me to learn to recognize recurring themes and behaviors in my own life and put me on a path to learn to manage them accordingly.

I am inclined to believe that painful situations lead to personal growth and strength, that has certainly been my experience. I’m still not exactly sure why this has all worked out the way that it has, but I’m inclined to believe that I am supposed to learn something from it. Whatever that something is, I know it’s going to be one of the most important lessons of my life.

I didn’t do a recap, but you shouldn’t have to scroll back too far to see the story of what led me to this job.

My other job with the little girl and the newbie is going really well. She doesn’t even want to eat lunch because she doesn’t want to “waste her special ms. kasey time” and cries when I leave. The newbie is now three months old. She’s a cuddle bug and, as her big sister pointed out, is very calm when she’s with me.

I don’t really know what readers will take away from this, other than there are no guarantees in this life. Bad things happen to good people everyday, and I guess the best we can do while we’re living is love with our whole heart, and allow ourselves to be loved.

I recognize that this post is sad, and that’s one of the reasons I had to write it. This situation weighs very heavily on everyone involved. As always, thanks for reading.

Remembering Mom Pt. 3

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Hi there. I am all settled in Baltimore. My brother received his transplant and is now making healthy, donor generated blood cells. He has a lot more energy these days and things are looking up. It’s kind of crazy that all this would go down almost exactly three years after we did it the first time. April, man.

My mom’s birthday was April 15, she would have been 63. The anniversary of her passing was April 19. I sometimes wonder what place she would have in all of this if she were alive. I speculate on whether or not she would trust me to take care of Bryant, if she would be here taking care of him too…how she would have handled it. IF she would have been able to handle it at all?

I don’t know, in some ways it’s probably better that she’s not here for this. I, of course, selfishly wish that she was so she could comfort me. So I guess craving your mother’s comfort is something that never goes away with time.

Some things do change though. While last year and the year before I was concerned with what impact my mom’s death had on me, I now find myself looking for answers about the impact her life had on me.

Maybe coming to terms with who exactly she was and what influence that had on me is what I need in order to be able to celebrate her now that she’s gone. Up until a few weeks ago I had been focused on her death and consequently, my grieving.

Now I want to focus on life and healing. The process of grieving led me on this ongoing journey of personal growth. This journey has brought up very important questions about who I am and maybe even more importantly, why I am who I am.

The influences my parents had on me will stay with me forever and I’ve only been looking at the big picture. I am only just now realizing that events that, at the time I thought had no effect on me… are actually at the core of who I am as a person.

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Wedding day!

It’s not always fun or easy to answer questions about who I’ve grown to be. But as my very wise big brother tells me, “once you’re done growing, you’re done living.” I never want to stop growing, improving myself, learning. The bottom line, and I’ve said it before, is that I have a responsibility to the people that love me. You see, if I stop growing, I’m not only cheating myself, I’m cheating the people that love me and the people that I love.

I’m not sure if that makes sense but I hope it does. I can’t explain it any other way except that I never want anyone that ever loves me to feel like I gave up. My mom labeled me a fighter the day I came into this world (prematurely, dangerously underweight with a hernia) and I will remain a fighter until I absolutely cannot win anymore.

So, that’s that. I was able to keep myself distracted on April 19 with some of my amazing friends here in Baltimore. They were kind enough to take time out of their Easter weekends to join me on a local pirate cruise. It was ridiculously fun, I laughed the entire day.

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Getting knifed and photobombed simultaneously

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World class scallywags

Last year, my best friend and I went to the Perot museum in Dallas and also laughed the entire day. I decided that after this year I’d like to try to make it a tradition to make April 19 the most fun day of the year.

Mother’s Day was tough, I can try to laugh as much as I want, but deep down, I never stop missing my mom. The pain is always there. My brother was there for me though, he hung out with me all day, hugged me while I cried and tried to keep me laughing as much as possible anyway. Lots of people tell me he’s lucky to have such a great sister, but it’s me who is lucky.

Next time I’ll write about my trip to Dallas. It was super fun, and nice to have a break and be home. Thanks for reading as always!