By Lorita Sajous
For those who do not know my story, I became pregnant two months after my mom’s stage 4 gastric cancer diagnosis. For nine months, we faced all obstacles together until she passed away in February 2013. I was her caregiver, her advocate, and the person with whom she relied on to get her through her difficult cancer journey. I explored so many avenues of cancer treatments, while trying my best to stay on top of every aspect of treatment management. I became immersed into the medical world, looking for any ray of hope to save her. Following her passing, there have been days in which I look back at my own blog, read about the past events and just become exhausted all over again. How did I do all that? And, how did I do it while pregnant with my first child? Some might see my actions to save her as selfless, while others might see them as selfish. But, in the end, it was not enough to save her. But one thing is for certain–mom knew all I had done for her and how much I loved her. I have no doubt in my mind she left this world knowing that.
When I wake up each and every day, for a split second in time, I have the urge to call her to tell her some random tidbit about my life. Within seconds, I realize she’s not here anymore.
The past year has taken some getting used to. Life is not the same without her silly, quirky self. I miss her smile and her loving nature. She was the rock who supported me in every aspect of my life. To lose the person who brought you into this world is heart wrecking.
For as long as I’ve been married, mom was so anxious to have her first grandchild. But, it was not until she became ill that I became pregnant. My whole pregnancy and the birth of my beautiful son was bittersweet. In the nine months I carried him, my son was this abstract concept, and the whole idea of him being this living human being was very surreal. Lots of aspects of the traditional baby preparation process were placed on the back burner to the struggles that were placed before me. I did not get a chance to read the books I wanted, attend the mother-to-be classes, get my baby registry done early, go to stores with my mom to buy cute baby clothes, or indulge in vast amounts of food like most women do. Instead, an average day was working eight hours and returning numerous calls to medical personnel. If I was at home, I would be sure to cook food that she was able to tolerate, ensure that she took her medication in a timely manner, review the agendas for upcoming days, essentially, stay with her until she was fast asleep. I would then try to grab a bite to eat myself, get some sleep, only to do it all over again the very next day. Those were some long days.
The loss of a mother is hard. Each day I look at my son, I wish that she was here to see him smile and hear his laughter. I wish she could spoil him like a grandmother would. I wish she was there to care for him when I grew exhausted. I wish she was just there for motherly advice when I was most down. She fought each and every day in hopes to one day meet him. The loss of a mother is unlike anything else in this world–regardless of how young or old you are. A mother is a person who not only spent nine months carrying you, but a person that continues to dedicate their entire life to making you happy and be the best version of yourself possible. When mom died it felt like the string that connected your hearts was cut. She is just not here anymore.
So, one year after her death, I focus on the memories I shared with her even despite them being surrounded by sad circumstances. Though she was unable to meet her grandson, she was so ecstatic about him. She was frequently concerned about whether I was eating enough, getting plenty of rest, even lifting heavy objects…just like a mother would. She even offered advice about general baby care even in the midst of her most difficult chemo sessions. I also remember our good times before cancer. She was there for my wedding. She helped me move into my first home. She never hesitated to bring food and medicine when I was sick. She cooked my favorite foods when I visited her on the weekends. And anytime there was bad weather conditions, she’d call to remind me to wear my big winter boots and bundle up. There are so many wonderful memories. She was one heck of a mom.
The universe has a strange way of balancing things out in the grand scheme of things. For nine months, I struggled with the inevitable outcome of the loss of a mother. It drove me to such a dark and hopeless place. But, on one cold winter day in April 2013, the world gained a new mother. A mother who will love her son like crazy and dedicate her life to make him the best person he can be in this world. I am happy to say that I am enjoying life, loving unconditionally, and finding happiness again after all that has happened. And deep down, I believe mom knows and sees this.