I walked into your hospital room in full scrub gear as I had for the past 6 months. You looked at me with wide yet warm eyes and very decidedly said, “You can take your face mask off now.”
I instantly felt the weight of an icy boulder push down my body and try to bury me under the dingy linoleum floor. By removing my mask I was sentencing you to death.
The call came earlier that day and I was told that you didn’t have much time. Your body was too weak for a transplant even if another match was found. I had heard the words but they didn’t register, I was in denial.
My voice cracked as I asked, “What do you mean?”
“It’s ok,” you answered in a much stronger voice than mine. “Now I can see your face.”
My mind raced as I thought, “My germs can KILL YOU!” As I looked around the room, however, I realized there were others there without a mask already.
I painfully began to take off my gloves, the long gown and finally my mask. I felt like a sloth yet my tears formed quick-as-lightning. I choked them back. As I clumsily threw the layers in the soiled bin, a dry and metallic taste formed in the back of my throat. I swallowed hard as I struggled to maintain eye contact with you. I sat in the chair next to your bed anxious to hold your swollen hand. You whispered, “I’m glad you’re here” before closing your eyes, the heavy medications easing your pain but forcing you in and out of consciousness.
THAT my dear best friend was the moment I accepted there was no hope for your recovery and acknowledged that you would die of cancer.
The realization of what was soon to come came in painful jabs. What turned my stomach and brought me the most uncontrollable sadness was the thought that you would never see your three young sons again. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy their hugs and giggles or soothe their ouchies. I felt as if my heart dissolved in waves of acid as each excruciating thought of what you would miss slithered through.
You died a few days later on my husband’s birthday.
At your funeral I spoke about your unique spirit and how your virtues inspired me (I left out how you also drove me crazy sometimes but that was no secret to you).
- At 30 years old you were unapologetically bossy and dedicatedly stubborn, yet giving and generous.
- You were magnetizing, infectious and loyal to a fault.
- You fiercely loved and protected your loved ones, you were an amazing mother.
- You could easily get us out of the big trouble you had just gotten us into.
- Did I mention you were bossy?
- Oh how I loved you dearly.
Hundreds turned up to your funeral so I urged them to make your life count. I felt I needed to make a big life change to somehow make sense of everything so I asked everyone there to join me. I implored them to make a conscious effort to follow in your virtues. I asked that they single out a change they want to make in their lives and have you be the reason to act on it in hopes of bringing acceptance.
You have inspired me to redesign my life so that I live with intent and purpose and be the best possible mother I can be. I didn’t realize how much of this I was lacking until I witnessed your tragic death.
I built a Tiny House!
I can hear you say, “What? No!” in a surprised yet fascinated tone in your voice with that big iconic smile of yours, then ask “how the hell did you go from this to THAT?
I’ll try to explain.
I decided I would honor your life by putting energy and power into crafting a purposeful life I would be proud of, one that you influenced. One centered on my family, my truth and my joy.
I want to work on projects that inspire others and make a difference in their lives, starting with my son and loved ones. I vow to do whatever is needed to be a present mom and be grateful for all moments with my son.
I can imagine you say “I don’t have the option of motherhood anymore but you do.” I can also hear you in my head, “So you better make it count EVERY SINGLE DAY.”
Your minimalistic ways (although they stemmed from your germ phobia and obsessive compulsiveness but nonetheless) have inspired me to minimize my physical possessions in order to make room for what truly matters to me. We have gotten rid of about 75% of our possessions (you would be so proud). I figured that by reducing expenses and the chores that come with physical possessions, I can craft the type of life you and I used to say would be ideal but so elusive: work to live, not live to work.
So now my dear friend, I promise I am making it count.
My job doesn’t have to define me anymore and much less dictate my time with my son. I can now choose the work that I do. I don’t NEED that big paycheck anymore (financially nor symbolically). Who would have thought right? Me! Mrs. Career, who idolized her corporate life and her 100 pairs of shoes quit her job and move into a tiny house!
It is your life that has inspired me to make this change and it is your death that has propelled action.
The fact that you died on my husband’s birthday is like an omen to me. I feel that I’m supposed to make this life change and now every year on that day I will celebrate the birth of the man I love, but also your life AND the commitment to live my life with intent.
You made sure that I never forget you by your actions in life, and now with your death you’ve made sure I never forget my promise to live fully.