TRIBUTE TO MY BEAUTIFUL MOMMA
I was 24 years old the day my Mother died. My MOM was 43 years old. At that time I was married with a sweet 3-1/2 year old son and a beautiful 1-1/2 year old daughter. Just starting out on my own and still very much connected to my Mom as I am my mother’s oldest daughter and was her closest confidant.
When my Mom died, she left behind 13 of us. My baby sister was 4-1/2 and my baby brother was 5-1/2 years old. Our ages ranged from a 4-1/2 year old to a 25 year old.
I am now well into my adult life and have children twice the age I was when my Mom contracted breast cancer. At that time we knew so little about this still somewhat deadly disease. I remember clearly when we were told that she was going to have to have her breast removed. The reason I remember is that two weeks prior to that my beautiful baby girl was born. I was just starting to nurse her and it seemed so unfair that my Mom who had nursed so many children was now not going to have one of her breasts any longer. These were the breasts that had nourished so many of us. It was going to be gone, taken off, removed, cut away and left with this gaping dark hole.
I remember the night she called me from the hospital. It was the week, unbeknownst to us, before she died. We were all expecting her to come home. There was no way she was going to leave us. No way! It was very late at night when I picked up the phone and it was my Mom and this is what she said to me “Marie, I know that I am dying and you have to promise me that none of your brothers or sisters get put in an orphanage”. Just hearing her weak and strained voice I wanted to scream, throw the phone through the window, go to the hospital and whisk her out of there. I would have died with her if I could have. Of course, I told her she was going to be fine. That she would get through this and come back home to her loving family. Alas, it never happened! Nope. Not this time!
My beautiful 43 year old mother died one week later.
Even now I find myself having difficulty writing about that fateful, sad, never to be forgotten experience from the time of the diagnosis (as it is called) to her death 18 months later. Breast cancer was somewhat of a celebrity back in the day. As stated above there was little known about this devastating disease and still today I wonder, many times, why it is still considered somewhat of a celebrity. With the many fund raising benefits and billions of dollars spent on research why so many women continue to be devastated by this disease and even sometimes, the cure, as well. How could this happen? A woman who had bore so many children. A woman who was irreplaceable. Where was I supposed to put all of her pain?
I realize today that I was in a crippling emotional tailspin of which I have never fully recovered. I kept telling myself it was all a big mistake. There was no way she could be sick. There was no way this woman who, up to that time,was full of positive energy and who had this great sense of humor. This strong, charismatic and beautiful woman. Who besides caring for her many children was married to an Italian macho, controlling, handsome, charismatic man known as my father.
My Mom fought hard for the 18 months that it took for the cancer to run through ever bone and muscle of her sweet body. This was the body that brought so many lives into being. This was the body that worked so hard each and every day to make a good life for us. She was a role model for what it meant to be a good Mom. She was loving and kind and compassionate and caring. She was a craftswoman, gourmet baker, seamstress, tailor, decorator and story teller. I loved and depended on all of that! We were going to grow old together. She was going to be the good Nana for my children like her Mom was for us.
Who was I going to call in the middle of the night when I had anxiety. She would walk me through my panic attack like a licensed doctor. Step by step instructions on what to do to stop the panic. She was my rock. I knew I could do anything in life because of her. And then it was over. One year and nine months later. She was gone. How am I supposed to know how to be a woman without my Mom? How do I go through my 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s without her guidance? How will I know how to age?
For any woman who loses their Mom, no matter what age, there is an invisible cutting of an emotional and spiritual umbilical cord. An abrupt, seemingly unfair taking away of my inner child’s security. My Mom was young but I was younger. I have lived for all of these years with a hole in my heart. There is no pill, no food, no drink, no physical thing that will ever replace my Momma. I look at the photos, I see her smile in my mind’s eye and yet through the many experiences I have had in my life, I miss her desperately. I ask myself many times who am I now that my mother has died.
Every Mother’s Day I look at the many cards and gifts available for children to give to their Mothers. I mourn her even now. I have thought many times how fortunate are the women that still have their Moms. How important it is to maintain a loving relationship with your Mom for as long as you have her. Forgive whatever needs forgiving . There is no one that will ever replace your MOTHER.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
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