Still Stunned A Year Later

My mom and I had always been close. She raised me since I was about 2 years old by herself so she was all I ever knew as far as a parent was concerned. Both father and mother roles being played all the time, there were many times she could not afford to feed both of us so she would sacrifice her meal for the night in order to makes sure I ate. My early childhood was like that up until I was around 11 years old and we moved in with my Grandmother. My mom and I lived in a two bedroom trailer, roach infested, and very little money. We had it rough but she made sure that I never went without food, water, and power in the house when I was younger. This is only to show you how close we actually were.

In October of 2010, my wife informed me that she overheard one of my female cousins and mom talking about a sore on her right breast but that she did not think it was serious and did not want to go to the doctor for it. Apparently, she had this sore since January 2010 and it was progressively getting worse. Finally, my mom confronted me with it and in December of 2010 we went to the ER to get it looked at when it became so unbearable painful that she could no longer hold her grandson, sometimes it was even too much to walk. As we sat there waiting we prayed for the best, she had a good sense of humor and knew most of the nurses and doctors working that night as she use to work in the same ER years ago. She was joking with them as they examined her, myself stepping out of course but could still hear their reactions of horror as they saw what they were dealing with. Sure enough it was diagnosed as Breast Cancer. I assured her that she could beat it, living through a life like she did there would be no one more fit for the task.

We continued our normal lives with the exception of visits to the Oncologist and Chemo treatments. It was the end of February 2010, I had just walked out of my Criminal Law class, when I got a call from my female cousin saying that mom had not told my brother or I the whole truth about what was going on. She informed me that the doctors were only giving her a few months to maybe a year to live. I was devastated, but continued to stay strong for her and the family. Then I received another call, this time the news was far worse in that she was unable to continue her Chemo treatments and that, little did we all know, when they diagnosed her the first time, she was already way past stage 4 and treatments were merely an attempt at a miracle. We placed her in a nice Hospice center per her request and she fought very hard for weeks. We had that talk about what was next and it was uncomfortable to say the least but I wanted to make sure her heart was in the right place. Not long after that she began showing the signs of disconnect from this world and lack or response when you talked to her and eventually she was just not there, alive but not there. She continued to hang on, eventually the family decided to each go in individually and let her know it was ok to move on and let go. When it was my turn I went in, talked to her and told her I would be ok, and all of a sudden its like she came back. I could see it in her eyes and while she could not talk she spent the last of her energy to give me one final hug.

The next morning her vitals began to drop and within minutes she was gone. I still could not believe what happened and it all seemed to happen so fast. I still struggle with it as she was a huge part of my life. I find myself wondering why I didn't spend more time with her and why I didn't call her more. She was truly one of a kind as she always put everyone else before herself. Neighbors in our area came together and bought a small tree which we planted in my brother's yard and for months it would not bloom. Couldn't figure out why. As my brother and I went to spread her ashes, we said our final goodbyes and it really hit home for both of us. A few days after that the tree went into full bloom. Her grandson every once in a while can be seen in his crib sitting up with a smile, pointing to the corner or hallway, and saying Grandma Connie as if she is standing there. I think about her everyday still a year later and it is no easier. The knowledge that she is no longer suffering and is in a better place is all that helps me through sometimes.
Rhumphrey Rhumphrey
May 13, 2012