My Mother <3

My life changed when I discovered the items contained in a small box...

I could hear my mom and dad crying. At the age of four, seeing your dad cry is like finding out Santa Claus isn’t real. That big, strong, invincible man who was like superman to me, was hugging my sobbing mother. She wasn’t crying in an overwhelming sort of way, or that “I am watching a sad movie” sort of way. It was a horrible uncontrollable sort of cry.
Like any other four year old would do I asked, “Why is mami crying?” My mom boldly wiped her tears away and told me “Estoy enfermita.”, which means “I’m sick” in Spanish. Of course my parents assured my four year old mind that everything would be okay. So life went on. The thing is that, at the time, I didn’t know that my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer and given one year to live, at the most.
That night I fell asleep like I would any other night, without a single worry on my mind. Not my mom. She stayed up and watched me fall asleep. As I slept, she sat down in a chair next to my bed and wrote me a letter. A letter I wouldn’t read until a couple of years later. That was in 1994.
Three years had passed. My dad and I were picking up my mom, yet again, from another doctor’s appointment. This was normal to me. The past three years had been full of long visits to various doctors. I was coloring a Cliford coloring book. I stayed in the car while my dad went into the hospital. My dad helped her into the front seat of the car. I leaned over and gave her a peck. She looked over her shoulder and asked me, “Amor, can you please pass me my hat? It’s cold.” I kissed her bald head, put her hat on her head and kept on coloring. Usually my mom would question me about my day; what I had learned in school, and what I had eaten. But…today she was unusually quiet. I simply kept on coloring.
Once we got home, my mom came into my room where I was playing, and sat me down on the bed. I was used to this. My mom always loved to come and just talk to me. She always liked for me to know what was going on. I always heard all the things she had to tell me, but now I see I never truly listened or understood anything she ever told me. She told me, “Carolita, (that’s what she liked to call me) do you know what they did to me today at the doctor’s?” I shook my head. “They opened up my chest and took out bad stuff that was making me sick.” She unbuttoned her top 2 buttons and showed me the tender red scar on her chest. I stared in awe. “So does this mean you aren’t sick anymore?” I asked. My mom smiled and told me, “Well, I don’t know really know, but I am better.”
A year and a half went by, my mom’s hair grew back and we even got to go down to Argentina and visit my grandparents for a month during summer vacation. Everything seemed great.
Suddenly, we were making trips to the doctor again, wig shopping, and spending large amounts of money on chemotherapy. Meanwhile, my mom had set up little personal goals for the family. One day she would teach my dad how to cook one of our favorite meals, another how to do the laundry, and even taught my dad how to braid my hair. Deep down inside I always knew the reason why she was doing all these things, but I was in denial and I didn’t want to accept it. I could never imagine not having my mom there. Even after she was permanently put in the hospital, I didn’t truly grasp what was going on.
Then, on that infamous day, April 5th, 1998 I vividly remember my uncle coming to pick my dad up and telling him “she’s getting worse”. I knew it. I honestly look back and realize that I just didn’t want to face it. They dropped me off at my aunt’s house where I kept busy playing with my cousins.
A couple hours later my dad walked into my aunt’s house. I knew what he was going to tell me. He took me outside and told me “Mom is in heaven now.” He hugged me and started crying. I simply hugged him. He looked at me and asked me, “Do you want to go see her for the last time? She looks peaceful as if she were asleep.” I told him no and went off to be by myself. I don’t remember anything else from that day besides the fact that I stayed alone and did not cry. A couple days later, we had a mass for her at the church down the street. I remember seeing everyone cry. Not me, I did not shed a tear.
People say that certain things scar the soul. Certain mistakes and cruel words can leave marks for the rest of one’s life. My mom’s dieing wish was to be cremated and buried in Argentina with her cousin, who had died from cancer as well. Soon after my mom’s death, my dad and I made a week-long trip to Argentina. I don’t remember anything at all from that trip, except one thing. One single event that hurt so much, that to this day it is painful for me to mention it.
We had stopped in Santiago, the capital of Chile, to get a connecting flight to Mendoza, our final destination. My father and I went through all the security procedures, and lastly we had to put all our bags through the metal detector. Of course my dad knew it would start beeping because our bag contained my mother’s urn, so he was purposely holding on to my mom’s death certificate and other necessary documents. Once it beeped, the big, mustached man came over to my dad and told him, “Sir we need you to open your bag.” My dad did as he was asked. The many rudely started to remove items from the bag until he saw the large brown box. “What is this?” My father, in his best broken English responded, “Oh, it is my wife, sir.” The man elbowed the other man next to him, bellowing in laughter, and said. “Check this out. He says its his wife.” As he laughed and I looked at my sorrow-filled father, I literally felt like someone was sticking a knife in my own chest. My heart became full of hatred. I don’t remember anything else. All I know is that I didn’t say a word, I stayed quiet. I don’t know if the man ever apologized or if my dad had actually understood what he had said or if anything…

As the old cliché goes, “Time heals all.” The years went by. I entered my teenage years. I was going through my typical hormonal changes, and I had a new stepmother and two step sisters. I was getting use to them, and trying to deal with all the typical mood swings that come along with that age.
One day I found a box at the very end of my closet. I was curious so I undusted and opened it. There was a cassette and a letter. I put the cassette in my radio and pressed play. It was my mom’s voice. As soon as I heard it, I started bawling. I recognized it the second I heard it. She started by telling me how much she loved me and then went on to tell me she wanted me to grow up into a strong, intelligent woman and that she promised that she would always be there for me. She recorded my two favorite bedtime stories onto the tape as well. The tears were rolling down my cheeks. Then I saw the letter. I unfolded the paper and carefully read the beginning of the letter. “Carolita, I sit here, watching you sleep. You are so young and innocent, I just wish I could keep you this way forever. But, I know that you will grow up to become a wonderful successful woman who stands up for what she believes in. I was diagnosed with breast cancer today. I want you to know that I will never give up. I am going to fight this, I want you to know that you are the love of my life and I will do whatever I can do to fight this…for you”
That day I stayed in my room all day and cried. I cried for all those years that I held in all the sorrow and tears that I had kept to myself. I cried for the anger, sadness and injustice I had felt. I cried until I couldn’t anymore.
As I sit here now, I can remember all those talks I use to have with my mom, the times we spent laughing, playing chess, and just being together. I realize that as a younger child I didn’t understand all the things that were occurring. I had a pessimistic outlook on life. Now, I can see all that I learned from this life changing experience that will always and forever be a part of me. I also have a new profound love and respect for my mother.
Not only had my mother endured five years beyond what was expected of a painful disease, but she had stuck to her faith and never lost hope. I just wish that some day I will be able to live up to be half the woman she was. She was the most beautiful, courageous woman that ever lived. To me, she is more than human and she really kept her promise. She is always with me. She is in all the good I see. I see goodness in my family and friends, in the beautiful things around me and all the little moments of happiness that I consider heaven on earth.


somuch2say somuch2say
18-21, F
3 Responses Aug 12, 2010

incredibly touching story. My heart goes for your memory and your loving mom, who inspires so much after her death! Hope, you grow stonger, bettter and set an example for yourself. Take care, Carolita.

sorry for your loss.<br />
my mom also suffered from breast cancer,,but she's okay now..she survive<br />
i remember seeing her crying while praying to God to help her with her condition..like you i never shed a tear in front of them when i found out her condition but when i'm all alone i can't help it but to cry and pour out what i feel inside.

Your story is so sad, yet very beautiful. So sorry for your loss, but true, she will always be with you. Even though there comes a time when our mothers have to leave Earth, they will never be far away from us. Bless you.