It was 23 years ago this past week that my mother died. She had battled breast cancer for 10 years and spent much of that time beating it into submission, living a good life, but always with the threat of the disease advancing and striking her down. The final battle was lost at age 66. I was 37 at the time and struggled to keep fear, frustration, anger, exhaustion, and the see saw of emotions in check. At the end, she was ready to relinquish the fight and join her maker. And truth be known, I was ready as well. It was so difficult to watch as she became unable to walk, to keep food down, and suffer with excruciating bone pain that painkillers plus morphine could not fully relieve. Somewhere during this time, I stopped praying for a miracle and started praying for God to take her home. She and I both realized that life was going to be better for her on the “other side”. She relinquished the fight February 24, 1992 and I freely let her go.
I still miss her. Maybe more today than 23 years ago. Don’t get me wrong. When she first passed I missed talking to her, shopping with her, cooking with her (albeit I never could get her tomato sauce quite like hers). I missed her the day our daughter got married, the day I became a grandmother and she would have been Aiden’s great grandmother. How I wanted her there with me to share the high moments in my life. I wanted her here to share the low points too. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and suffered with chronic cellulites. Or when I was so tired I could barely function because unbeknownst to me I was suffering from coronary artery disease and needed a double bypass. In those times, she would hug me, reassure me and tell me I was not alone. She would tell me that God was always present and by my side. And that she would also be by my side as well. I also know that she would have the wisdom to discern when I was just being cranky, selfish, ungrateful, whining and would tell me “Loretta, do you know where you’ll find “sympathy” in the dictionary? Between sh_ _ and syphilis.”
I miss her something awful.
Today, at 60, I am at the age when she was in the throes of battling cancer. In the last 23 years I have had my share of medical adversity as well and I know there is more to come. I can relate to those quips, feelings, aches and pains that she had. I wish she were here to talk me through this time in my life. To share how she got through it. Even at 60, I still want my mom.
I used to think her strange when she said things like: “If I wasn’t in pain, I wouldn’t know I was alive”. Now I understand perfectly! I am amazed at her grace, her sense of humor, and her perseverance. Oh, sure, she had her down times but she always managed to make peace with whatever medical mayhem she found herself in and got herself emotionally and spiritually back up. Even at the end, she submitted, rested and waited for the Lord.
Yes, I miss her. But I am so glad I got to know her, I mean, really know the person she was – not just as a mother but as the woman God made her to be – shaping her through her life experiences. She shared her life story with me as I grew into a woman and I learned from the stories that made up her life. In these years since her passing and with my aging, I have come to appreciate the gift God has given me in my mother. I hope I face my adversities with the same grace and faith my mother did.
It also helps me to know that my mother lives on – in me and my brothers. I see snippets of my mother in my daughter and I am so blessed to know she lives in each of us. Even better is the knowledge that she is in heaven, free from pain, cheering us on, and will be welcoming us home to the Father when the time comes.
Yes, I miss her. But we shall meet again. Of this I am sure.
Gloria Gioia San Venero Yon – July 14, 1925 to February 24, 1992