I was on the phone with my husband's step mother the other day, and she welcomed me to middle age. Sounds like kind of a cruel thing to say, right? But, as it turns out, it was both enlightening and comforting. It wasn't my birthday, by the way. We were just having a conversation about my life as of late. Of mothers and daughters, and reaching the age where those relationships significantly change. And, yes, it definitely appears that I am at that crux.
The past year wasn't my happiest. I have been debating whether to mention what has been going on, writing, rewriting and then trashing posts, deciding to stick to simpler, more cheerful topics and the good news (which I certainly had my fair share of). But mostly staying away. Staying away from the blog. Staying away from pot lucks and parties. Staying quiet when people ask how things are going. I don't want to lie, but I hate to be a downer. And truthfully, it was a downer of a year.
First, my daughter's father and daughter moved. Not across town, but to another state. And not the state that is just a two hour drive away. It's a long story, and one I've been fighting for years and years. Finally, I had to let go. She's started in a new school, and she is doing very well. She's still the same wonderful daughter. She's still just as talented (she even has an album on iTunes!) and lovely and all those wonderful daughter things. But every day, I miss her terribly as I'm sure you can imagine. I am counting the days until summer.
Also, my mother is very sick. After over 5 cancer free years, she found out last June that the cancer is back. My mom isn't one to sit and wait. She's a fighter. But, this time, the fight has been different. It's not about fixing or curing. It's about slowing down, getting comfortable and saying her peace. Last July she started chemo, and despite the hair loss and nausea, it greatly improved her quality of life. We had some lovely time together; unexpected months that the chemo gave us. She had improved so much, we started having hope that she'd be able to tough it out for quite a while. Since the holidays, however, it has come back fast and fierce, and her fight is coming to an end. I hate to say goodbye, but I hate even more to see her suffering. I've been in through this before, with my other mother. The final days of terminal cancer are no way to live, and we've reached that point.
So, I am focusing on my last visit out, where she could walk around the house, free from her oxygen machine, for 30 minutes at a time. She wanted me to go through her things, and decide what I wanted. This is a horrible thing to have to do, but I am grateful for the time it gave us together. She wanted me to have these things, things that were so important to her. No, that's not quite right. The things weren't important to her. But each dish, each picture, each trinket had a story of where it had come from or an idea of something she wanted to create. That was what was important and what she wanted to share with me.
I have no recipe for you. Just a few photos of some of the things that make up the story of my mom's life, and an ask that you send positive, comforting thoughts her way. These next few days are going to be hard.update: Thanks everyone for your kind and generous thoughts. Just after I posted this, my mother passed into peace.