Four years ago, my mom became an angel.
In 2007, I was living the dream in San Diego. I was enjoying the single life, had a great apartment, lived 10 minutes from the beach and 20 minutes from the mountains. I had a great job, great friends.
And it was always sunny.
Three days before my brother’s wedding, while I was home to celebrate, mom told us “My body is filled with cancer.” It was in her eyes, bones, liver, lungs…it was stage IV breast cancer that had metastaticzed. It was never in her breasts; a mammogram one month prior did not detect any abnormalities. I bawled my eyes out.
My mom taught me about patience (I am still working on this!). She never raised her voice. For real. She had a calm and peaceful presence to her – she could get a room full of kids to stop jumping off the walls simply by asking them nicely. But she also told it like it was – she never hesitated to let you know what she thought. She never judged. She always let us make our own choices (read: mistakes). And we trusted that she would be there if we didn’t make the right choice. We learned ethics, values, and frugalness. To this day, I wash my plastic baggies and tinfoil and reuse them – mom was “green” before it was cool. The first time she came to visit me in San Diego, we went out to see a reggae band at a local bar. She got hit on more than once. She looked at me with a sparkle in her eyes and said “Now I know why you like it here! There are so many cute boys here!”
I decided before I left to go back to California that I was moving home to be with my mom. Within two weeks, I was back in my good ol’ hometown.
It was not always sunny in Minnesota.
I refused to believe. This was something that happened to other people! I drank alot. I was angry. I was scared. I didn’t want to lose her.
Actually, everything does have a silver lining.
I had two and a half years to remind my mom how much I loved her. We went to Jamaica and shared cherry tomatoes out of the garden.
I bought my house. I met my husband.
Mom lived her bucket list: Spain, Jamaica (twice), Arizona, Canada and many other adventures. She chose hope. She was not afraid to die. She planned her funeral so we wouldn’t have to. The day she died, it rained. I mean, the skies opened up and it poured. Thunder and lightening reminded us how we felt inside.
We had Jax.
And when he was born, we were tested in a way that didn’t (and doesn’t) seem fair. We watched our little boy struggle to live. And in the darkest hour, I remembered the image my mom chose for her funeral program…
She is Jax’s Guardian Angel. She was there when he was tired and alone. She wrapped wings of love around her first grandson and whispered “You can do it.” She helped save his life.
Fours years have passed since we said goodbye. Some days, it feels like just yesterday, other days it feels like forever. I find myself holding my breath…wondering…how will I be a mother, without my own? At that point, I notice more in my surroundings…the birds, the blooming flowers, the cool breeze – and I look at my son, who is healthy and happy and I put my face to the sun and feel the warmth of her love shining down from heaven…
and I know she never really left.