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Friday, October 23, 2009

THE BRAVEST WOMAN I KNOW...

This is my mother. As I grew up I thought she was the most beautiful mother, inside as well as out. There were times however, as I moved into puberty, that I thought she was too timid for her own good. She gave in to people and didn't stand up for herself when I thought she should have. As I grew older I came to realize that my mother was raised to be this way, as she was raised in Virginia during a time when it was considered "lady-like" to be mousy and succumb to your husband's every whim, not to mention the childrens' whims.

I was lucky. Although I was shy as a child, I was born with a strong and stubborn personality. I could never understand why my mother allowed herself to be everything to everyone, but never to herself. I don't believe I have ever met a more selfless person than she, and as much as I love and respect her, I wanted so much more for her.

When my father died, my son and I moved to Arizona to be near my mother because I wanted my son to grow up with his grandmother in his life, as I did mine. As the years passed I realized that my mother finally wanted more for herself and for her needs. I encouraged this as much as possible and tried on every level to get her to stand up for herself and not take shit off of anyone. Much to my excitement, years later, she is now the strongest woman I know, surpassing myself by furlongs. We grew so much closer when my son and I moved to Arizona those twelve years ago, and now I have the best friend I have ever known.

In August of 2008, we discovered my mother had stage 4 lung cancer. Not only was it a shock to find out she had cancer, as she has always been the healthiest person ever, but to be at stage four? True, she smoked a lot of years, but she quit almost 8 years prior to this treacherous discovery. Since August of 2008, my mother has fought literally for her life. Could this be the same timid person from my youth? She not only gained her identity, but the strength of a thousand lions preparing to fight. Through a year and a half of radiation, three types of chemotherapy, herbal remedies, and a collapsed lung, through highs and lows, ups and downs, this woman has stepped up to the plate. Of course there were hard times and bad times, but through it all she has remained the epitome of strength and beauty and enjoyed getting out there and living life to the fullest.

Several days ago, after enjoying much success in her fight against this relentless beast, we went to the oncologist to check on her progress as we do every three or four months. This time we were told that the cancer was back, that her lungs were fully invaded along with her spleen and the collapsed lung. The doctor, a man with a horrible bedside manner, looked at us and told us there was really nothing more he could do and that there was no hope. He said that she maybe had eight weeks left to live. My heart sank and I looked at my mother who sat there shaking her head rationally as though to say, "I understand." She showed no fear and no sad emotion until we left the office. I don't know if I could have done that. Not after such gut-wrenching news. The past few days have been filled with struggle and sorrow, sadness and fear, but we have decided to try the more aggressive chemo again, along with milk thistle to try to eradicate the cancer from the liver and wherever else it will reach. I am not giving up on her, and I think after today, neither is she.

I wouldn't have believed it 20 years ago if someone had told me how strong my mother would prove to be, but here she is battling like Xena - Warrior Princess, and I couldn't more proud and thankful that she is my mother and my best friend.

2 comments :

Virgie said...

Kimberly
Iwrote one message on this but don't think it went through so I will try again.
I am so sorry to hear about your Mother's cancer coming back. I was reading your blog. Spend as much time with her as you possibly can and build up those memories so that you have them to hold on to the rest of your life.
My substitute Mom that has raised me all my life means the world to me and that is what I do. I don't know how much longer we may have with her either, but either through being there,which isn't often these days, to talking on the phone,which is all the time, I try and make the most out of it.
As for the empty nest syndrum, I don't know that you really ever truely get used to that . I have not had someone in the house now for about 9 years and I still miss the day to day stuff that I had when the girls were home. You will find ways of filling the time I am sure. You have many crafts that you keep busy with.Unlike myself.
Love reading your blog.
Virgie, Dawn's Mom in case you have forgotten me.

Kimberly Miller said...

Thank you SO much Virgie. That was very sweet of you and I appreciate the very sage advice. Things are very tough right now and as odd as it seems, it feels like I'm about to be an orphan, even at my age. How strange that is. But I am making the best of all my time with my mom so hopefully I can fill my heart and memory with the best and leave the rest.
Thank you again and of course I remember you.

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