I recently passed the saddest anniversary in my life. Three years ago this past Sunday, October 18, my mom died from leukemia. I have been meaning to post about this for the past several days, but I find the subject difficult to write about, or sometimes even to think about.
She had a rare, aggressive form of the disease that caused her a lot of pain and that moved fast. It was just about six months between when she showed the first symptoms in April 2006 to when she died in October 2006. They didn't even realize that it was leukemia until early June, and she then spent more than two months in Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston, where she got some of the best treatment that I think is possible in cooperation with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, but it still did not work. She came home in September and was at home for the last month of her life, with my father and visiting nurses taking care of her with some assistance from me and my brothers. The pain was often intense even with pain medication, and for the last few days she was asleep or unconscious most of the time. It sounds wrong to say or think this, but my father and brothers and myself all felt a sort of relief along with the great sadness when she did pass away, because she was in such pain and had great difficulty moving or being moved at all, even adjusting her position in bed, toward the end.
Mom carried very heavy emotional burdens for most of her life, from depression and a dysfunctional family life and a deep-seated and unshakeable sense that nothing she ever did was good enough. In spite of all of this, she was determined to do everything possible to give her own children a happy home and the kind of childhood that she had not had. She succeeded beautifully, far better than she would ever acknowledge. I hope that she realized this before she passed away, and that she realizes it now. If there were more people like her, the world would be a vastly different and much better place.