Last year, 4th of July weekend was spent at St. Mary's hospital in Grand Rapids. My mom had been there for a week for what doctors believed was a stroke from a blood clot in her brain. It had been a roller coaster week of improvements and setbacks. But as the fireworks were going off, we were celebrating that her brain swelling was continuing to decrease and she was beginning to breath on her own.
It would be 5 more days before they discovered the 3 tumors on her brain and then another 4 weeks and two biopsies to reveal that the tumors were in fact cancer (the first biopsy only found dead tissue so they wanted to go deeper with a second biopsy) Diagnosis: Astroytoma, grade 3. By the time she got her diagnosis she had completed the exhausting work of rehab and would be moving into radiation and chemo. But first, after being in the hospital and rehab for over 2 months, she was going home!
This past week we celebrated her one year anniversary. Not just her one year, but crossing over the one year mark with her doing so well physically and neurologically! I didn't know if she was going to make it to Christmas. I never thought she'd be celebrating another birthday or able to attend another year of my kid's birthdays. We didn't know if she was going to make it through chemo with the severity of her side effects. Doctors had given her 12-18 months and now, at 12 months, compared to others, doctors are surprised how well she is doing. She still tires easy and continues to have some mental confusion (especially when she's tired) and has some limitations with the things she can do for herself. But things she believed were lost, she's slowly gaining parts of it back. She is slowly getting back to writing and is able to read again, which has always been a great joy for her.
I especially want to mark this year because it seems to have taken her this first year to come back to life. To not be limited by her diagnosis or life expectancy but to find her way back to life, not her old life, but a new life, a new normal. Ahead of you now, Mom, this is my hope for you. Not to prepare for death as you have this past year, but for you to wake each day, for the rest of the days you are given, and truly LIVE, as you want to.
I posted this when my mom was in the hospital that first week and I'm posting it again now at the one year mark. My hope is different now than it was when I first posted this. The doctors were not giving us much hope that my mom was going to improve. My hope that first week was that I would not lose my mom. Now as I post this, my hope is not focused on death, but rather on life. I don't want to continue to lose my mom, before she's even gone.
And not only for my mom, but for myself as well, that every day I will choose life. In my marriage, in my relationship with my kids and my family and friends. In my work in the office and around my home. To choose Life. For all the days any of us have left.