On the Death of My Mother

On the Death of My Mother

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Two years and four months ago I died. A terrible condition struck me, and I was unable to do anything about it. In a matter of less than a year, it crushed down all of my hopes and dreams. This condition was the death of my mother. Even today, when I talk about it, I burst into tears because I feel as though it was yesterday. I desperately tried to forget, and that meant living in denial about what had happened. I never wanted to speak about it whenever anyone would ask me how I felt. To lose my Mom meant losing my life. I felt I died with her. Many times I wished I had given up, but I knew it would break the promise we made years before she passed away. Therefore, I came back from the dead determined and more spirited than before.

It was June 6, 2011. I remember taking my mother to the County Hospital’s emergency room. She seemed extremely exhausted; her eyes were half-closed and yellow, and she placed her elbow on the armchair, resting her head on her palm. I remember it was crowded and the wait was long, so she wanted to leave. I was the only one there with her, but I did not allow her to convince me to take her home. I told her in Spanish, “Mom, let’s wait so that we can get this over with and know what’s going on with you. You’ll see everything is okay, and we’ll go home later on.” I wish then and now that would have been the case. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread to many parts of her body including her lungs and kidneys. The doctor said to me not considering that I was a minor and my mother’s daughter, “Her disease is very advanced and we don’t think she will live longer than a year.” With this devastating news, I did not know what to do. I thought to myself that perhaps I should cry, or try to forget and take care of her as best I could and make her laugh to ease her pain.

It is not easy to forget a parent who has been there through the good and the bad.

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When that person leaves one’s life, she leaves an empty space in one’s heart that nobody else is able to fill. I felt I was gone with her; in fact, that was my wish, because I thought I would not be able to survive in this world without her. I was a sophomore in high school, missing many days out of the year to take her to doctor appointments or even to stay with her when she seemed frail. Teachers and classmates would ask me “What’s going on with you? Your eyes are red and puffy. Are you okay?” I did not want to respond; I felt school was another life. It had nothing to do with what I was going through at home. Part of me never wanted to jeopardize my learning and future. Not wanting to share that experience, meant I was blocking all of my friends and closing all doors. I did not think anyone would understand my situation, as I was responsible for giving my mother her medications as prescribed and speaking with her doctor and nurse once a week. As I saw my mother deteriorate, so did I. I would not eat sometimes, and in the midst of this ordeal, I would have to do my homework. I felt the whole world was coming down on me.

When my mother died May 31, 2002 at 9:05 in the evening, it was a shock to me. I didn’t think it really happened. I went to school the next day after her burial, and I would go home thinking she would be there. When I went back, teachers already knew what had happened because my guidance counselor had called my house and she was aware of the situation. The teachers asked me, “What are you doing here? Why don’t you take one week, it won’t affect your grade because when it’s something like that, we understand.” I don’t know exactly what was going through my mind. Teachers were taking me out of the class to talk to me; my guidance counselor would call me to her office and ask me if I wanted counseling. The first thing I thought is, “I’m not crazy.” However, she explained to me that I was going through a stage of denial and that later on it was going to sink in. In other words, I would later realize that my mother was no longer with me. She told me, “I am afraid that when you reach this stage, you would do something wrong or not finish your studies.” I did not take counseling; I thought I would be okay.

A year later, to my amazement, I found myself crying almost everyday thinking how much I missed my Mom and wished she would be by my side. However, I also remembered our conversations from the past. The many times she told me, “I want you to go to college and make me proud.” These words are engraved in me, and because of her I wake up everyday and go to school eager to learn and do my best. I came to realize that life is not over unless one closes one’s eyes forever. For the living, life must go on. I came back from the dead; I have awakened to reality. I feel like a new person with the determination and will power to succeed. My mother is my inspiration. I know that now that I am going to college, this opportunity is a dream come true for the both of us. Although she is not here in the flesh, she is still part of this reality because she is living in my heart. She has become the ground for a new life and a new beginning. I have survived!
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