The Beginning of the End

As I sat in the all too familiar familyroom at the funeral home I looked around at the people who actually thoughtthey were my family. My aunt and uncle were leaning against the wall talking tosome cousin who I had never even met before. I hope my mom is watching fromheaven, I thought to myself. I scanned the room trying to find a familiar face,a face of someone who had actually been there with my mom and I during the pastyear. Where had all these people been when I needed help taking mom to chemo, ormom needed a shoulder to cry on besides her 27 year old daughter? It is almostdisgusting to watch all of these people talk and attempt to reminisce about mymother when in fact not one of them even truly knew her.

Out of the fifteen or so people only fivereally knew what my mother had battled the past year. Kat, Heather, Mimi, Von,Mark, and Emily might not have the same last name as my mother and myself butthey had been with us through the good and bad. Even my father who had ahorrible divorce with my mother when I was six years old had helped more thanmy mother’s only brother. Those five people had come to the hospice, visited meand my mother at home, listened to her fears of dying and leaving me alone,held my hand when I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer, those five werefamily, not these other people. 

I looked over at my best friend Kat. Thelast time we had been in this family room together was when my brother hadpassed away suddenly in gym class. Who would have ever thought that only twelveyears later we would be here again for the death of my mother? Kat was talkingto one of my many fake family members through gritted teeth. I am sure she was feelingthe same amount of anger towards them as I was right now. Kat and I had beenbest friends since fourth grade and she had been there every day once my motherwas diagnosed with stage three lung cancer. She remembers the many times overthe past year I attempted to reach out to these fake family members and gotnothing in return.

“Amber, it is time to go in,” the head of thefuneral home said to me.

My real family, Kat, Mimi and Heathergrabbed my hands and led me into the chapel.

“Hold on. I just have to go the bathroomquickly,” I let go of their hands and slipped into the small bathroom.

I looked at myself in the mirror and saw mymother looking back. I splashed water on my face, wiped the tears away andheaded into the chapel.

The rabbi began talking about my mother. Itwas almost comical considering she had never met my mother. I had met with herthe day before and I told her what I could about my mother. But, I mean how canyou really describe the women whom you love and admire, the women whom broughtyou into this world, the women whom is your mom and best friend in an hour. Yousimply cant!

The last month at the hospice they had toldus to try and get comfortable with a few rabbis by talking with them, sharingstories with them, etc. so they could speak at the funeral. My mother and Iboth laughed at this. Could there be anything more depressing? We had decidednot to take that route so here I am today listening to a stranger talk about mymother.

“Besides being a great friend to many shewas also a mother to her son she lost Jack and her daughter Amber. Amber haswritten something about her mother. Amber please come up,” the Rabbi whisperedlooking at me.

I glanced at my three best friends whosmiled and nodded. I can do this, I said to myself as I walked up to themicrophone. I had always regretted not speaking about my brother’s funeral andI wont live to regret this as well.

“Hi everyone,” I said shakily into themicrophone. I looked down at saw Kat looking up at me with tears streaming downher face.

“Kat don’t look at me like that. I don’twant to start crying,” I said into the microphone without even thinking. Thewhole room laughed. I have never been one to show my emotions.

“My mom is my other half. No matter what Idid right or wrong she was by my side. I knew when I looked in her eyes sheloved me and I loved her more than anything in this world. My mom always madepeople laugh. We used to sing Beatle songs together and run up and down stairsas my brother pretended to play the drums. She loved to sing and dance nomatter what time or place it was.

I remember junior year of college my momdrove with me to Rollins. Three days of my mom and myself with a fully packedcar heading to Florida. On day two we started getting a little antsy as you canimagine. Needless to say some real “dirty south” rap came on the radio and mymom started dancing in her seat belt. Her arms were up; she was throwingherself around the car, kind of like a Jim Carrey move. I was laughing so hardtears were coming down my face until my mom stopped and looked over at the carnext to us and noticed that this family must have been watching the whole time.They had this horrified look on their faces. We both started laughing evenharder as my mom tried to sink down in her seat but the damage had already beendone.

She was a true fighter, even her last fewdays when her medications were changed the nurse would warn me about the“usual” side effects like not being able to walk or move much, but each time Ithrew that door open and my mom and I would make eye contatct all those “usual”side effects were thrown out the window. It was just me and my other half. Nextthing I knew we would have our arms linked around each other laughing at howdumb we looked as mother and daughter hobbling to the bathroom together.

Everyone keeps telling me that what I didwas amazing and how hard this past year has been for me. But this wasn't a hardpast year for me, it was a hard past year for my mom and she was the amazingone. Getting chemotherapy, radiation, having your daughter take care of you,not being able to live at home, numerous hospital visits, all of that sheendured only to find out that none of the treatments had worked and here we aretoday.

I am grateful that I could be with my momthis last year each and everyday and yes it was hard and scary but it wasnothing compared to what she was going through and we did it all for eachother. All we both wanted was one more day together!

I know if my mom could speak today thereare two people she would want to say thank you to for helping so much duringthese last ten weeks. Nurse Cindy and Nurse Janet. You two really put my mom atease. You made us able to have real quality time together since all we had todo was be mother and daughter. My mom and I weren't trying to be nurse anddoctor anymore. You two kept her company and laughing and most of all safe. WEboth could finally sleep a little because we knew you two were looking over us.You both let me cry on your shoulder when I just couldn't hold it in anymoreand my mom and myself as comfortable as we could be with what the future held.When you would call and check on me or sit in my moms room to help her fallasleep meant so much to both of us!

I know my mom and brother are watching overme everyday and that makes me smile. I love my mom more than words can expressand I wish that those of you who didn't really know her could have because sheis an amazing woman. I love you mom. Jon please take care of her. Love youboth... see you in my dreams...

love ... me Amber"







StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 12/21/2009 1:03:49 AM
Good story here. A friend of mine who's husband died this year told me the exact same thing your story is based on. Where were all these people when he was sick and dying?

Novel / Novella
writing backbaygirl
"My entire existence could be summed up in one phrase. And that is: If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable."
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A young girl reflects on the last year of her mother's life.