Not for pity party purposes but just so you have context I need to give you some back story.
My mom died in 2011 after a 22 month battle with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. She was 5 weeks from turning 49.
Mom got married at 16, and had me when she was 19. She used to say that we grew up together. Her pin number for a long time was 3415 because when she was 34, I was 15…that’s still crazy to me. She always apologized for confiding in me so much. Needless to say, she and I were close.
I was playing golf with a friend the day I got the call. “They found 1 small tumor. Surgery will be on Monday.” I walked off the course, drove straight to the airport and a couple hours later walked into my dad’s arms in the lobby of a hospital. The next 72 hours were hell on earth as we waited.
Monday came and the surgery was more involved than they thought. 1 small tumor became “it’s everywhere” in the words of the doctors.
Life changed. Mom and dad started researching treatment options. I went back home.
Late night phone calls. Mom and dad, who never missed a milestone moment, missed the birth of our 3rd child while mom took chemo in Chicago.
I’m a fixer and I couldn’t fix this.
Good reports. Bad reports. Breaks from chemo. Restarts.
During the 2 years of her sickness I thought I was doing okay. I was trying to be there for my dad, my brother, and my mom as a sounding board. I was processing my feelings with Corrie periodically. I was writing some.
Christmas 2010 none of us knew that would be the last one. A few days after New Years she went into the hospital. She never really got out until the last few days.
Mom made us promise not to let her die in a hospital so while we were fighting for her, we were also aware of dad’s promise to take her home.
One day I was at the hospital alone for a few minutes and I asked the doctor, “If this was your mom, and you promised not to let her die here when would you take her home?”
So we packed her things, requested the discharge and off we went.
She ended up living a few days longer than they said she would, and we felt that we stole those days with her. But her awareness was limited at best. She never got to say goodbye.
As we walked through her final days there was so much going on. I spent most of the last 3 weeks of her life in Ohio with her and my dad. Corrie and the kids came back and forth some. I was trying to help with the doctors, eventually with hospice. I was trying to help manage the family members that were coming and going. I put together the slideshow we would play at her funeral.
Then on Wednesday, March 2 she passed away while I laid right beside her.
We did 2 separate services because of the nature and location of their work. I delivered part of the message at both funerals. I stood in line both nights while literally thousands of people hugged my neck, shook my hand, and offered condolences.
We left the graveside and drove home…and life kept going. I had missed a lot of work so I jumped into work. I tried to be present with Corrie and the kids. Eventually I just slipped back into life.
A few months later Corrie made dinner one night and we were eating on TV trays watching television as a family. I got up to go in the kitchen and I felt like there was an earthquake inside my body. I told Corrie something didn’t feel right and I came and sat down. When I did I literally felt like my insides were shaking and my whole body was going numb. I fell over on the couch and I cried for an hour. I thought I was dying. Later I was told I was having a panic attack. The emotions that had been bottled up in me just came out.
I had cried a little I guess, but it felt as though 2 years of bottled up feelings, worry, fear, sadness, grief and hurt poured out of my eyeballs while my body freaked out releasing this pent up stress.
I thought I was dealing with it in a healthy way. I was wrong. In hindsight I should have gone to a counselor.
I don’t know the correct name for what I had: Panic Attack, Anxiety Attack, Mental Breakdown, Nervous Breakdown, or something else.
I just know I was broken.
It’s never happened again. This year on the 4th anniversary of her passing I was more emotional than I have been since that night. I can’t really put my finger on why that day on this year was harder than the others, but it was.
I write this for 2 reasons:
1) If you’ve been there, you’re not alone. Reach out and help someone who’s walking a similar road to where you’ve been. Your experience could save them in many ways.
2) For those who are under heavy stress, grief, anxiety, or worry. Don’t wait until your body and mind break. Find a healthy outlet and help yourself now.
I would love to hear from you! Comment below or contact me through the About page!