It’s not usually something I’d talk about publicly, but today I’m going to. Just because I feel like talking about her. I may take this down later. We’ll see.
Today makes three years. Three years since my mom died. It seems rather impossible that we have been that long without her. Then again, the hurt has faded as much as I think it ever will. In that way the time passed is evident. For a whole year afterwards, it affected my very personality. Even when I got back to life, my friends would say to me, and about me, that I was “just not [my]self”, even though I was really trying to be.
Certainly all of us here know something about vile diseases, but MS, for me, tops the list. In many ways it is MS that enabled me to feel capable of dealing with the breast cancer. First of all, when I struggled with the diagnosis, I often told myself, “at least it’s not MS.” This might be surprising to you as MS is, for a great many people, manageable. Mom was not one of those people though. She had the less common – and worst – kind. Hers was not regressive, but progressive.
She was diagnosed when I was 4. She was the kind who really reveled in being a mom. And most of all she loved teaching. My main memory of her is staying up late and getting up early, all to grade the papers of her 3rd and 4th graders. Always with a dark mug of tea at hand, in the white cup with the big “S” on it. Her bloated old teabag perpetually on the sink – a habit I have inherited to the chagrin of my boyfriend. I loved helping her prepare her classroom every summer. I coveted the task of sliding the scissors through the extra lamination of the cheery characters she’d tape around the room. She’d take us for burgers at the local greasy spoon where all the teachers ate in the summer. I cannot imagine how it broke her heart when she had to quit, because a teacher with a walker is not well-suited to handing 3rd & 4th graders.
As time goes on the disease changes one in so many ways, so those are the only memories I trust as authentically her. MS is a big black hole that just slowly sucks away everything. And I mean everything. For 25 years she dealt with it. For 10 of those she was in a hospital bed. I think you can see why I thought, “at least it’s not MS”. My heart goes out to the handful of people who have been unfortunate enough to be struck with both.
The other affect it had on my BC diagnosis is that I was obviously no stranger to medical woes. We had dealt with our share. What I know is, of course it all sucks and will drag you down sometimes, but overall you just have to “get on with it”. Life continues to go on, relentlessly. You can make better or you can make it worse. Some people hate the saying “just get on with it”. I think its great.
Today I’m going to start the habit of giving to the MS Foundation on her anniversary. I invite you to honor the memory of someone you love by giving to MS research, or another cause that is near to your heart, too.