Members almostErin Posted January 28, 2011 Members Report Share Posted January 28, 2011 During my senior year of high school, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. That was in 2008, the beginning of the end, though we didn't know it yet. I was 18 and lived alone with her and our dog and two cats. She started working part-time, then not at all, as the chemo treatments progressed. I cooked, I cleaned, I walked the dog, I did the grocery shopping, I went to school, I applied to colleges, I had a part-time job, I took her to doctor's appointments, I tried to have a social life. I feel like I failed at each and every aspect of it. I wasn't very good at keeping house, I had some of the worst grades of my academic career, I hated my job, and I fought with my mother, even in her time of greatest vulnerability and pain. I was an awful caretaker.But then the summer arrived, and I was off to college. She was too sick to come with me, so I went with my older brother. It was exciting, on the other side of the country, I was free to be young. And then my grandfather died. A month later, my grandmother died. Two months later, my mother was re-diagnosed. This time, the cancer had spread to her liver. One surgeon she met with refused to do the procedure- it was too risky, and she had blood clotting in the area that would make it even trickier. Without the surgery, she would have a year, at best. We found another surgeon. He felt it would be difficult, but doable, and worth the risk. She made it through, and began a second round of chemo soon after. I flew back to college. It was an incredibly academically rigorous school, and I struggled to keep up. By the middle of my second semester, I decided to leave. I was depressed, never having fully given myself time to grieve for my grandparents, I felt out of place, I felt like I wasn't focused enough on anything to be learning. I decided to take a medical leave of absence, and return home to live with my mother. She was still in her second round of chemo, and though physically weak, her spirits were strong. She was glad to have me home. I worked 2 part-time jobs, and took care of the house and her, as I had in high school. She seemed to be getting better, and our relationship felt a little better too (we'd had a history of being very contentious housemates- I was the angry adolescent and she the overbearing mother). I decided to go back to school that fall. For me, it was disastrous. I hadn't spent nearly enough time dealing with my depression before returning to school. I developed extreme anxiety, and struggled to leave my apartment to make it to class. I barely slept or talked to anyone. But I made it through. Spring semester, I went abroad. I lived at sea for 6 weeks and did oceanographic research, and finally was able to enjoy being alive for just a little bit. I came back to a warm, happy summer spent living at my brother's house, with frequent visits from our mother and the dogs. Then, in August of 2010, they found more cancer. It was all throughout her body- her liver, her lungs, her lymph nodes. They weren't sure what they could do. We weren't sure what we were supposed to do. We just had to keep going.I went back to school, and my brother moved back home to be with her. In less than two months, she was gone. I made it home in time to see her, but she was already unconscious from the morphine when I arrived. 45 minutes later, her breathing stopped. And my world came crashing down. She was 59 years old. I am 20 years old. There was so much about my mother that I hated, that drove me crazy, but I cannot let her go. It's been almost 3 months since she died, and I have barely had time to grieve. Because my father is not part of the picture, my brother (who is 22 and in graduate school) and I have had to deal with funeral arrangements, estate planning stuff, lawyers, life insurance, taxes, and a house full of stuff, our house full of our childhood, full of our mother. And we both have to be in school. There' s just no time. I don't know how to make time for this. I am devastated. I am lost. I am terrified. I am so profoundly sad. And I feel like the biggest failure ever. I am wallowing in my school work- stressing out about it, but not actually doing it. I am afraid that I going to fail out of school. But I want so badly to be in school, to finish school. I just know that I can't stop, because if I stop, I won't ever get going again. But if I don't stop, I don't know that I will ever find time to grieve. I can't schedule "grieving time" into my daily planner. It doesn't work that way. It shows up when you're in the library, working on a problem set, and you have to suppress it, lest you become that girl who cries in libraries. I have a couple friends here who know what I'm dealing with, but even they tend to forget, as I would expect them to. They are just living their lives as normal college students. Other than my therapist, nobody really knows. I just feel like such a failure, like I can't possibly do what I need to do to be a functional human being, to heal, to grow, to learn. I just want my mom back. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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