Today is Mother’s Day in the United States, and this year, I am kind of at a loss of what I should do, let alone feel, in celebrating this holiday reserved for maternal figures, whether biological or not. There’s a lot of conflicting emotions associated with it all, which hadn’t been the case even in the previous year.
In essence, the reason why I feel this way is because my mom passed away in December. She had been fighting a long battle with brain cancer that ultimately destroyed her cognizant abilities before being put in a coma that she, unfortunately, didn’t awake from. This will be the first Mother’s Day without my mom, and it’s heartbreaking to think about that.
My mom lived a short, but fulfilling life. She grew up poor in Taiwan, but worked hard by studying, getting good grades, and eventually moving to the US to pursue her Nursing degree. She pushed herself not only in the medical field, but also in English, since she didn’t have a strong level of it upon arriving in a country foreign to her. My mom worked her butt off to prove herself to others, and she did, succeeding in becoming one of the top nurses at one of the top hospitals in the nation. She worked hard for her career, and it paid off in the end.
As a mother, she loved me and my sister– she took care of us by feeding and toilet-training us, teaching us how to walk, how to speak Chinese (her native tongue). She signed us up for extracurricular activities, e.g. swim classes, piano lessons, to get us engaged and potentially develop a passionate hobby out of them. She even spoiled us with tons of clothes, as she herself was a shopaholic and wanted to share her spoils with the rest of her family.
My mom was into the simple pleasures of life, whether it was sweets, online shopping, or even the next Coldplay album. But she later started becoming more adventurous, embarking on travels with my dad to other parts of the world– they traveled extensively in the four years following her death, and she saw so much while making up for lost time back in childhood.
Her life wasn’t without a lot of hardships, though. She had gone through hell and back in 2013, when she was first diagnosed with both breast and lung cancer. After a full year of aggressive treatment, she was deemed cancer-free, which was a huge relief to us– although she had to continue check-ups and medication in the years to follow, it appeared that she was back to normal, as if the cancer had never happened.
However, it wasn’t until 2018 that we suspected that something was up. Her latest test had shown that parts of the cancerous tumors that weren’t eradicated ended up spreading to her brain, and that worried us incredibly. We didn’t know what we could do, nor how long she had to live in case things didn’t work out, and yet we still remained hopeful that things would be okay in the end.
2019 was filled with countless of hospital visits, consultations with medical professionals, and ultimately numerous chemotherapy sessions, which ultimately, were futile. The ultimatum: she would be put in hospice at home to live out the last of her life, not knowing how long she had to live. My mom ended up living for over two months after the hospice decision, and she survived for nearly two weeks in a coma before she passed quietly two days before the New Year. She was only 59 years old.
My mom was an incredible fighter– even in the face of death, she still held out, because she didn’t want to let us go. There was still unfinished business she had on Earth, we presumed, but we had no idea what it was. We told her countless times while she was in a coma that, despite our sadness, we were okay with her letting go, knowing that she would no longer suffer in the end.
Perhaps it was the fact that I’d gotten off work late at night and was super tired, but I felt her spirit call out to me in my dreams in bed the night before she passed. It was like a golden Aurora borealis dancing vividly in front of my closed eyes, as if she was saying goodbye to me for the last time. Upon waking up and finding out that she had passed away, I knew that the visions were no coincidence at all.
Although I’m heartbroken that my mom is no longer with us, I’m also happy that she’s no longer suffering from her brain cancer and that, if there is a heaven out there, she’s happy there. A day goes by without me thinking about her and tearing up, but I know she would want for us to continue living life, pursuing our passions, and overall being happy. My dad, sister, and I will be sure to continue traveling the world, eating good food, and being there for each other as a family. Because I’m sure she would want the same.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. May you rest in Peace. ❤
— The Finicky Cynic
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