My life was so unconventional, and I didn’t even realize it.
While brushing my teeth in the morning, I would watch as my dad drained fluid from my mom’s lungs. After dinner as I lay next to my mom, I would occasionally have to move her breathing tube back under her nose. I would help situate my mom’s wig on her bald head before she left for work.
I was only 10 years old.
Not a year later, on October 21, 2014, my life became even more unconventional, and I still didn’t realize it.
As I started to walk over from the fourth grade wing to the Middle School standing next to my chaplain, the only thing going through my head was that I was cool because I knew that none of my friends had ever stepped foot in Middle School. Little did I realize, I soon would never want to step foot in the Middle School again. My excitement was heightened as I stood outside the Middle School conference room waiting for my sister...we were going to go see mom! But. But. This feeling of excitement didn’t last long. Everything shifted in a second. My sister walked through the door, and she started to cry. I was more confused than ever. Little to my knowledge, my dad had been sitting in the conference room the whole time. The next words my dad would say, would change our lives forever. He said, “Your mom is gone.” I didn’t understand. I thought he was joking. I thought - silly him, people don’t die, but soon it became a reality. As I tried to speak to her as she lay still on the hospital bed, not responding to anything I said, I realized...this was no longer a joke, my mom was gone.
This was almost seven years ago. I am now seventeen years old, and the pain of losing my mom at such a young age and never having lived a day where my mom didn’t have breast cancer is hard.
There were so many things that felt normal when I was young but were not. The fact that her hair fell out. The fact that she could only drive with one hand because she had a wound under one arm. The fact that she had a port on her chest. The fact that I would have to sit in a waiting room in the hospital waiting for her treatments to be over. At the time though, I knew nothing else. This was my family’s life, our normal. But, I remember my mom's life not about cancer; it is about life, family, and community.
My three favorite moments that I look back on with my mom are: watching movies with her on the couch, bedtime, and our final trip together.
First, I loved doing the simple things with my mom; in particular, watching Flea Market Flip next to her on the couch. One night, she let us watch it during dinner on the couch, which I didn’t see as a special thing. I was blind to the fact that the reason we were doing this was because she was unable to sit and eat dinner at the dining table.
Second, she was always the best at bedtime routines. Every night she would lay with me for exactly three minutes, this was my favorite time with her because I got her all to myself. After three minutes she would tell me “God loves you, mommy and daddy love you, and Katelyn in special.”
Lastly, a month before my mom’s passing we went to Chicago. This was a special place. This is where my parents met. My favorite thing to do was to push my mom around the city in her wheelchair. My sister and I would actually fight over this job. And, when we returned to the hotel I loved to push myself in the wheelchair around the hotel room. This is obviously not normal. I didn't realize until later that the reason we were pushing her in a wheelchair was because she was on an oxygen tank, and walking made her out of breath at a faster rate.
I don’t think I will ever learn how to cope with losing my mom at eleven years old. It was and is and will always be the hardest thing to go through. I miss her more and more every day.