Welcome to Middle Age

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.

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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.

  • sending you a hug xx

  • Oh, Lara. There are no words that would be enough. And so there’s only to say, love and thoughts to you and yours.

  • Sending hugs to you and yor Mum Lara.xxoo

  • Lara, you don’t know me but I’m a true admirer or your work. I’ve been in a similar situation (with my then 36-year-old brother) and empathize with how you must be feeling right now.
    Those last few days, hours, moments are forever etched in our minds and hearts.

    Wishing you and your mom comfort, peace and, above all, love.

  • Collette

    Please be gentle with yourself. Sending positive, comforting thoughts and wishes to you, your Mom and your family.

  • Heather in SF

    My heart goes out to you and I’m so sorry about your mom. My mom had cancer in 2009 and every time I visit her she goes through the same exercise with me but I have resisted and refused to hear her. She is fine now but I think I will take your approach and let her make her list and help. Time is precious, isn’t it. Hugs to you.

  • This is sad and true and beautifully written. I’m sorry for your trials but I wanted to say that your words touched me.

  • Big hugs Lara. My mother was very sick last year, & continues to be up & down. While I’m lucky that she’s still here, watching her fall into such a state of fragility was not easy to watch. It made me think of all those times she would look after me; cook dinner for my brother & I; tuck me into bed as a child. Seeing her struggle was not easy, & not knowing whether she was going to be ok or not was equally unsettling. I’ve never been hit with my parents’ mortality like that before, & it made me really take note & not take them for granted.

    I hope the time you have left with your mum is rewarding, loving, & she doesn’t experience too much pain or discomfort. Best of luck & lots of love to you both. xoxo

  • Dear Lara, I am so sorry to read about what you’ve been (and are) going through. Sending you thoughts of strength and peace as you spend the next few days with your mom. It is never easy, no matter the circumstances, but the memories will keep you going.

  • Oh, Lara. I am so terribly sorry for your awful year. You’ve still managed to make us smile and sit in awe of your work, time and time again.

    I’m also terribly sorry that you are losing your mother. I can’t even imagine. What a blessing to have this time with her, and to acquire these keepsakes, even if it’s difficult. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but let me just say that my heart is breaking for you, and if you need anything — ANYTHING AT ALL — I’m happy to help. I don’t know you very well, but I can totally rally if you need any work done, or help of any kind.

    I’m thinking of you, Lara. Hang in there, and much strength to you through all these difficult transitions. YOU ROCK.

  • Melinda

    Lara,
    Your words bring back many of the same thoughts and feelings I had when I lost my mom in 2005. I understand the internal battle between not being ready to let her go and wanting her suffering to end. I am sending positive thoughts your way and wishing peace to your mother. Cherish every second you have left with her. Remember the good times when she was healthy and force out the bad thoughts of her pain. I felt like I was walking in a fog, a dream. Lean on those who are there for you. They want you to lean on them, let them help you. Be well Lara, you can get through this and it does get better.

    Melinda

  • Lara, I’m sending positive thoughts your way. I wish you and your family the best. It’s far from easy but cherish every moment you can. Stay strong.

  • oh lara. i’m not sure if its a comfort or not to know that there are lots of us who have walked the path you’re walking now. goodness knows i’m familiar with the loss of a parent and the brisk cruelty of cancer. i’ll be thinking of you and sending you some warm thoughts…and as for the blog, come back when you’re ready. we’ll be here to embrace you. xo

    – tami

  • Lara, I am sending tons of positive vibes, hugs, and lots of prayers your way! I wish I could give you a BIG hug right now, but until I get to the west coast, I am sending a warm e-hug.

    Take care, my friend.

  • Lara I am so sorry for the year you have had. You have handled it with such grace and I appreciate you sharing. Take care of yourself. I’m praying for you to experience peace and that the next year will be filled with more happiness and joy.

  • corey lovering

    Wishing the tears I have right now after reading this post could help ease your pain in some way. So sorry for your loss.
    With love,
    C

  • LaurieA-B

    Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your family. Sending warmest thoughts to you all.

  • Mary

    Lara, I am so sorry to hear of your losses. Our daughters grew up and moved away, but they do come back to visit. My own mother died a few years ago, not from cancer but after several years of increasing dementia, not recognizing her children and grandchildren toward the end. Middle age brings challenges; I hope you find that there are rewards as well.

  • Hsiao-Ching

    So sorry for your loss. I’m glad you were able to share some time with your mother.

  • Sending peace, and strength, and patience, and warmth wherever you need it most.

  • Lara!…I´m so sorry!.. peace and all the love of the world is send it to you. God know why things happen. All my Love to you!

  • Lara,
    I don’t know you, but I know some of what you have been going through. With me it was my Dad who passed away a few years ago. It’s hard not to let it be the pervasive thing throughout all your life’s moments, even the good ones. I hope you can now be more at peace…

  • What a beautiful tribute to your mom. It’s never, ever easy, but I am comforted by the fact that you got to spend time together in the months she won back from cancer. I’m sending you and your family love.

  • Oh Lara. I’m so sorry. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  • Hugs to you and your family. My mom died last January from brain cancer and it was a long slow and very hard time for everyone, especially my mom who lost her ability to communicate. It’s so wonderful that you have great memories and can think back on when she was well and happy. I’m happy that she’s at peace now and now take time to rest and talk and find peace yourself.

  • Tracy

    Condolences, Lara. Wishing you peace in your time of grief.

  • Reine Mihtla

    BIG LOVE LARA!
    Sending you REINEbows…(a full spectrum of healing light)

    REINE

  • My condolences to you Lara, stay strong for your family.

  • Lon Lasher

    Thank you for sharing. It’s always hard to talk about personal issues in the public. Having gone through some of those issues with my mother about six years ago, I can certainly relate.

    Sharing those times is precious. Remember, you are not receiving those gifts for you, you are receiving those gifts for the giver.

  • With all my heart, I wish I could fly over and give you a hug. You are the most kind hearted person I know and wish I could do something. Just thinking of you and sending you all the strength I can spare.

  • Sockdog1

    What does one say at a time like this… whatever it is, is it ever enough to ease the ache? I lost my mother to cancer at the age of four… it hurts.

  • Oh, Lara. Sending positive thoughts and my deepest condolences.

  • Lara, my deepest deepest sympathies. I can not even for one minute imagine the weight of your last year. I can only say that I know how amazing and talented you are and that life has so much still in store for you.
    We should speak at some point in the future, but just after my book published (thanks to you) my partner and I split separating me from his two sons. The boys in the book. This pain I can relate to. I miss them every day.
    Losing a mother. I cannot begin to think.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • sam breach

    Oh Lara. I am so sad for you on so many levels. I am shedding tears for you, literally. It’s all I can do for you right now, but they are very heartfelt tears. I am not sure whoever it was that hoodwinked us all into believing that life begins at 40. Because ever since then, ever since I became ‘middle aged’, (if 40 is when that starts), I have often been reminded of how frequently life ends. All we can do is grapple for our own survival. At least for a while. Hang in there. Sending love.

  • Lara: So very sorry for your loss and the difficult time you are experiencing right now. I’ve lost a mother to cancer and have a 15 year old who has lived in Brazil 85 percent of the last ten years. My deepest condolences. It is not easy, the pain never truly goes away, but the memories and joy of their presence in your life will outshine the suffering you feel today.

    Justin

  • Oh Lara, I am so so sorry to here this. The older my parents get the more I worry about this reality. Do take care of yourself, and if there is anything I can do just let me know.
    Sending loving thoughts from Portland.

  • May her soul rest in peace. Warm hugs. It must be difficult for you right now but take heart in the fact that she spent her last days with you and got her peace.

  • Carole

    I have tears in my eyes reading your post. I am so sorry for your loss. I am sending you warms hugs and all my thoughts are with you.

  • So sorry for your loss, Lara.

  • I can’t think of a more tender way to share these heart-wrenching emotions with the world. Your beautiful words, though no doubt, satiated with grief, had incredible power to calm and to restore hope. I’m so sorry for you loss. Yet I feel in my heart, you and the family will peacefully carry on. Love. Gosia

  • Dear Lara,
    I see you, I hear you and I feel what you are going through. This “middle age” sucs with the harsh reality of our life’s transitions. But, I think, by reading your notes that you are seeing the important pieces despite the pain of it all. As we touch the cast iron pan, cookie sheet or rolling pin, our loves are with us. Our hearts swell with the connection we make to heaven and those who shape our lives. As for our earthly loves, well thank goodness for technology… they are only a tweet, im or skype away until we can hold them in our arms. Peace be with you.

  • I’m so sorry Lara, keeping you in my thoughts in this sad and difficult time. For every tear shed today, let there also be a mountain of special memories to fill your heart with smiles for years to come.

  • So sorry to hear about your loss Lara! At this very moment I am going through exactly the same thing with my mother in law who is now in the final stages of lungcancer. I am sincerely hoping for her that it will not takes much longer as it is almost unbearable to watch.
    Wishing you and your family all the strength and love you might need!

  • Dear Lara, I’m so sorry to hear your loss. I’m sending you lots of prayers, positive vibes across to you. May your mother live in peace! Hugs to you.

  • I’m so terribly sorry for your mother’s passing and your daughter’s relocation to another state. Myself, at age 40, having a mother that has cancer, a father that just died of cancer, and a 16-year old daughter that recently was living with her father, I truly understand. My prayers are with you.

  • Y

    Very sorry to hear about your mother. Wishing all good things for your and your family this year. x

  • Sending caring thoughts as you cope with the loss of your dear mother. It is our stories, good and bad, that unite us. I appreciate your bravery in sharing. Take care!

  • Chelsea

    Sorry to hear the past year was not what it should have been for you, Lara. Happy you were able to find that place of love and peace alongside your mother–sounds like you were both equally lucky to share your lives with one another.

    Thinking of you & hope 2011 brings you renewed energy & more opportunities for happiness.

  • I’m very sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. I’m sending warm and comforting thoughts your way.

    Take care!
    ~ingrid

  • My thoughts and prayers are with you. I still think about my mother everyday and it’been 3 years since she died. Day by day it gets a little easier.