16 years ago today

I have been doing much better with the whole going to bed at a decent time thing, but girly issues incited a four-hour nap today and I’m fairly certain that I’ll be up for quite a while. I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about this today. But as I look at the clock, I keep thinking about where I was this time 16 years ago.

I’m sleeping on my living room floor. My Aunt JoAnne and Uncle Tom are there, but I doubt they will sleep at all. My mom is sick and lying in the reclining chair, her most comfortable space. Earlier in the day someone from the hospital came to the house. She told me that my mom probably wouldn’t survive another week. Although my mom had stopped going for chemotherapy weeks earlier, this was a shock to me because I had never given up hope for a miracle.

In a few hours, I’ll wake up to my Uncle Tom’s voice, “We should wake up Dayle. I don’t think she’s going to make it through the night.” It’s 3:30 a.m. when I sit and hold my mom’s hand. She’s being kept as comfortable as possible with medication. When she looks at me, it seems as if she doesn’t even know who I am.

I’m lost as I gaze at the one person who was there for me every single day of my life. She was my protector, my enabler, my guardian and my best friend. She had faith in me when I had none in myself. She loved me even when I was a monster. She gave me everything. And now I sit and watch her suffer through a cancer that was thought to have been eradicated from her system 14 years earlier.

I hold her hand, wishing to be the little girl who would climb into her mommy’s lap and snuggle. I hold her hand and think that at 16 years old, I am not grown and I don’t want to be. I want to be my mommy’s little girl. I hold her hand and watch the vacant look in her eyes, her dry lips, her thin frame and wonder what kind of cruel world could make someone so wonderful, so amazing, so perfect suffer so much. I hold her hand and pray for God to let her go . . . to take her Home.

My own weakness takes over and I lie back down. I fall asleep, but not for long. I wake at 8:00 a.m. My Aunt JoAnne is sitting by my mom’s side, holding my mom’s hand. She’s crying. I sit next to her and take my mom’s hand as well. I tell her that I love her. A tear rolls down her cheek. The recognition that was missing a few hours ago is now there. She can’t speak, but I know she loves me. I know that in her own way she is telling me that she will always be there for me. And I watch as she takes her last breath.


16 responses to this post.

  1. *hugs* I wish I could give you a real hug…. I’m so sorry. From being a part of your life for the past few years I can say that I truly believe she is with you. The spirit we all felt in your delivery room when you had Abbey was proof. *hugs* I love you!


  2. Hugs to the sixteen year-old you and to you today.
    You do look a lot like her.
    This is just so so sad. Cancer is horrible and unfair. And I am just so sorry you had to lose such a wonderful person. I have a feeling she would be so proud of you and of your wonderful way with words. And you are right, she will always be there for you – she has a piece of your heart.


    • Thank you so much, Anne!

      Cancer sucks! But I did leave out the miracle of it all when I wrote this last night . . . I wasn’t in quite the positive mood, but I’m feeling better now. , . . My mom was first diagnosed when she was 8 months pregnant with me and when I was 1 1/2 years old, they gave her 3 months to live. I was extremely blessed to have her for the time that I did 🙂


  3. I can NOT even fathom what this must have been like for you….Even now, when I think about losing my mom someday, it scares me and makes me feel like I would be unable to go on. You are such an incredible woman to have gone through this and be who you are today. I know I have known you for such a short time but I agree with your friends that your mom would be so proud of you and the way you write.
    You have such a beautiful little girl and she’s lucky to have a mommy like you that loves her and can inspire her the way I know you will!
    *Sending virtual hugs*


    • Thank you so much, Sharon! Like I said to Anne in the previous comment, I was blessed too . . . I could have lost my mom as a baby and I had her for 16 wonderful years. I am grateful for every single one of them . . . Of course, I still have lots of moments of “this really f***ing sucks!”

      And now I have my daughter and I feel blessed every day to watch her grow 🙂


  4. That was heartbreaking, Dayle. I’m so sorry you lost your mom that way. My mom is my best friend and we are very close. Her health is declining quickly. It’s so painful to watch your mother, the person who knows you completely, suffer so as if she is the child. Only, you are helpless to make it all better.


    • I’ve always had people say to me how horrible it must have been to lose my mom so young. While, I certainly wish I would have had her in my life the past 16 years, I don’t think age has very much to do with how difficult it is. I’ve read a lot of books about motherless daughters and grief in general. Whether you’re a child, a teen or an adult, watching your mom go through a serious illness is devastating.

      I still have moments (like the night that I wrote this) when everything that happened over those few months are just crystal clear. It feels as if it happened yesterday and the pain still feels brand new. Most of the time, however, I can focus on my blessings. 16 years may not have been long enough, but it was 14 years longer than anyone thought I would have. My mom was given 3 months to live when I was a year and a half old. Even a few moments reflection on what my life would have been are enough to make me eternally grateful for those 14 years.

      I also tend to play the “what if” game a lot. What if my mom had beaten her cancer when I was 16? What if she were still with me today? Who would I be? Where would I be? What would my life be like? And the one thing that pops out more than anything else is that I probably would have ended up in a different high school, which would have led to a different college, where I would not have met the man who would become my husband, and so I would not have my daughter. I know that may be twisted thinking, but I’m kind of really good at twisted thinking. As much as I would love for my mom to be with me right now, I wouldn’t wish it at the expense of having my daughter.

      And of course, I know . . . and I mean I KNOW my mom is watching over me. I know she’s there. I know she’s looking over my daughter. And I know that I’ll see her again some day.

      Wow, that was really long!

      My thoughts and prayers and with you and your mom, Shawna . . . and also with what we talked about the other night. ::Hugs::


  5. I don’t know what to say Dayle other than to give you hug and echo the sentiments of the others… I do believe that she is with you everyday in spirit. 🙂 *big hug*


  6. I read this a few days ago and cried my heart out for you. It took me so long to comment because I just didn’t know what to say. But honestly, I love that you write so freely and share so much. You inspire me to be a better writer every day. Your mom would be SO proud of the woman you are.


    • Thank you so much, Jen! That really means the world to me! Writing has always been my outlet for my emotions. I’ve always been overly emotional and have a strong sense of self-reflection. If I don’t write these things out, I go crazy. Of course, until recently those writings were mine and mine alone. I truly love the age of the internet. The benefits of sharing all of this publicly are huge. I love that through expressing my own pain that I might be able to help someone else . . . and a more selfish benefit – it really helps when other people can relate and connections and friendships are built with who used to be complete strangers just because I wrote something that resonated with that person. (The same for the flip side of that – building those connections from reading others’ work.)


  7. This is such a powerful post, Dayle. Thank you so much for sharing this moment is such beautiful detail. I shared your hope for a miracle right alongside you. Hugs! This post truly makes me appreciate my loving parents. Thank you!


    • Thank you, Sam!

      “This post truly makes me appreciate my loving parents.”

      That makes me feel so good! I try not to be overly preachy about it, but it has bothered me for years the way so many people treat their parents (and believe me, I know some deserve the treatment, but most don’t). In high school especially . . . friends would bitch about their parents and honestly, I wanted to smack them!


  8. […] but I just don’t want to give it that much energy. Many of you read my post two weeks ago about the anniversary of the day my mom died. She died exactly 16 years, 4 weeks and 1 day ago. I was exactly 16 years and 2 weeks old. Today […]


  9. […] in September, I shared some memories of what is easily the worst day of my life. Today, however, I remember the absolute happiest day of my […]


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