And with the sweet comes the bittersweet…

I was going to write a post today on the secret single behaviors I’ve been participating in while Papa M has been in Melbourne for business, but the truth is that I haven’t been on my own that much. When he flew out I expected a week of chilling in front of the telly, eating meals for one and maybe doing an odd beauty treatment or several. What I got was decidedly different and marks a massive life change for me and my family.

For those of you who followed me in my pre-marriage incarnation and those of you who know me in real life, it comes as no surprise. My awesome mother (who for the purposes of this blog we’ll call Mama Dubs) has been fighting against cancer for four years now. What started as IBC (inflammatory breast cancer – and check that link out because most women don’t know the symptoms) metastasized to her lymph nodes and finally her liver. Around the time that we got married, she chose to discontinue treatment – a decision we were fully behind. Once the disease had progressed to her liver, the chemo was palliative rather than curative and the side effects were beginning to outweigh the benefits of keeping the cancer in check.

Still, it was a shock when my parents arrived on my doorstep on Wednesday night to tell me the results of her oncology appointment. I thought we had more time… we don’t. Both indicators of cancer growth (tumor markers and liver function figures) have skyrocketed since her last tests. The oncologist feels that her cancer is progressing quickly, giving her a best case scenario of three to four months and a worst case scenario of three to four weeks. Her feeling, and mine, is that it will probably be something in the middle of that.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m okay with this – it’s too hard. Knowing that Christmas will come and it’s likely that Mum will be gone. Knowing that she’s never going to get the chance to meet her grandchildren and that I won’t have my mum to turn to during times of difficulty in those future pregnancies. It’s difficult to imagine a life without her in it and my heart breaks at the thought of not being able to climb in beside her on a couch or a bed and harp on about the injustices of the world. What am I meant to do without one of my champions? The tears are streaming down my face as I type this.

So what’s the bittersweet? What is the stuff that I can be okay with? Work is being very understanding – I had yesterday and today off and will reducing my teaching load to four day weeks for the foreseeable future. We’re creating lists of the things that we hope we have time left to do. Mine includes going shopping with Mum for a baby outfit and a maternity outfit – while some may think it’s weird, it will be so special to have those things to use in future as a reminder of my mum and it is a chance to do with her now what I had hoped to do even a year from now. I can treasure the fact that she saw me from infancy to truly being a grown-up and marrying Papa M and becoming my own little family. Finally, I can be glad that in the time we have left, I have the chance to say the important things, the things that matter and everyone else also gets the chance to say to her just how special she was to them.

Mum, I love you. Although it sounds cliche, you have helped shape me into the woman I am today. Even though your love was shared between us three girls, it never felt like it wasn’t enough. You were my champion when times were rough and encouraged me to always fight for what I believed in. You taught me to be independent and while I didn’t understand at the time why it was fair that you made me cook dinner for the family after I told you I was moving out of home after high school, I am so glad you did. I appreciate the sacrifices that you and Dad made me for me and the way that has created my own generous spirit. Watching you thrive under pressure has taught me to handle all obstacles with grace, however unwilling I may be, and to just get on with it. I will even miss you telling me “like it is” – who else is going to call me out when I’m letting myself be too highly-strung? All I can really hope for is that I am as good a mother to my children as you were to me.

So that’s the bittersweet. Sometimes as much as we want life to be all cupcakes and walks along the beach, it’s just not. I won’t be posting much more about this on the blog, not because I don’t want to be honest but simply because it hurts too much. With such limited time left, I’d rather live in joy that she is still here rather than in the fear of what life will be like when she isn’t. So when you see me posting about OPKs and shopping with my mother, know that the sweetness has just a little bitter edge.


13 thoughts on “And with the sweet comes the bittersweet…

  1. I had to fight back tears when I read this. Your attitude is pretty amazing, I know you’ll really treasure this time with your mum. I’m thinking of you.

  2. My heart is so full for you and your Mum and the rest of your family. I think buying baby & maternity stuff together is PERFECT. I wish you all lots of joy in the coming months, and I will continue to hope, as ever, for a miracle. I am sending all my love and hugs your way.

  3. Oh baby, I totally feel your pain. I have tears in my eyes and I’m so sorry you are going through this. It’s just not fair. The sweet thing is, I guess – the fact that you know. So you have time to do and say all the things you want to. There aren’t words enough to express how I’m feeling and I know that nothing makes it easier to bare. I’m sorry. I’m really really sorry, honey. We’re all here for you. xxxxxxxx

  4. I am so sorry to hear this. I am new to your blog, so this is the first I am reading about this part of your life. I really really wish I could think of something to say that would be comforting, but everything just sounds so cliche… Your mum sounds like a wonderful lady, and you both are so strong. I just wanted to offer you all of my support, and I’m really praying for you from Canada. **hugs**

    • That’s so sweet of you Sarah. I know that it might be a bit overwhelming for new readers to read that but it is such a big part of my life at the moment that I think it is important. Thank you so much for your prayers.

  5. I’m in tears love. Millions of hugs to you, your mum, your dad and your sisters. I really do hope you make the best of the coming months, may they be filled with love, happiness and laughter. Thinking of all of you xoxo

  6. I am a bit choked up reading this. My heart is going out to you and your family right now. You have no idea how badly I want to jump across the ocean and give you a gigantic bear hug. I will be thinking of you all the time. I know that you and your beautiful mum will treasure the special times you have left together. I hope that you will find peace together as a family, in doing and saying all of those important things while you can. Love and hugs to you.

  7. Love and hugs from Bombay. You girls are always in my thoughts, if you need a shoulder and a hug or three I will be there in a flash

  8. What a hard post for you to write hun, and I hope that writing it out has been a form of comfort to you. I can only repeat what others before me have said – my heart aches for you, but I am so so glad you DO have the time to do those special things with your mum. Buying baby clothes is so precious and wonderful and something you will definitely cherish.

    Both Jase and I are thinking of you and your family lots, and sending you our support and SO MUCH love from the UK. xxxooo

  9. Found your blog by way of a friend. Your mother is so strong and brave and so are you. I hope that every day brings you memories you can cherish.

  10. This must have been hard to write, and I’m hear for you always, you know that. Enjoy every moment, babe. We’re all here to support you xxxx

  11. I dont even know the right thing to say to you after reading this. I know it made my heart ache for you and your family….you guys have always been in my life at some point, whether at a distance or right there with me – and I am so sorry to see this is what you are going thru. I guess you can at least be sure you have a good friendship base and lots of people willing to support you through this time! My thoughts are with you xx Big love

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