By KD Angle-Traegner, Founder & Editor
I found out that my mom had cancer on August 24th. My mother didn’t tell me herself, she asked my aunt to tell me. I understood my mother’s reluctance to tell me herself- how do you tell the people you love that there’s a possibility that you could die much sooner than anyone could ever imagine? I don’t know that I’d have had the words either. There was a tumor and it was sizable. The cancer was further complicated by a rare condition that many doctors had only heard of, but never treated.
It’s strange how one word – cancer – can change everything.
Truth be told, my mom and I weren’t speaking when I found out about the cancer. We had an argument that hadn’t been resolved and carried on as the weeks turned into months. My family and I have always had a complicated relationship, as people who love each other fiercely often do. We are a family of big opinions and even bigger personalities, it’s not uncommon for disagreements to occur every now and again. It seems so utterly silly now. Whatever our disagreements were faded away with the news of her diagnosis, we never spoke of them again. Instead we came together to fight the cancer, as a family.
My young mother was a dancer.
My mom was sick well before she received a diagnosis. By the time a treatment plan was drafted, it was too late- she required hospitalization and around-the-clock care. Those weeks spent in the hospital seem like a blur now. The daily two-hour drive back and forth to the hospital, the ten and eleven hour days in the ICU holding my moms hand- the copious amounts of crappy coffee I bought in the hospital cafeteria that talked about Meatless Mondays but had zero non-dairy creamers and zero vegan food options. I also assumed caring for my parents five cats, bringing the number of animals I was responsible for to fifteen. My family rallied around my parents, each of us soaking up every minute possible with my mom.
And then, six weeks almost to the day from that first phone call, my mom passed away at the hospital with my father, her husband of 43 years, at her side. I was on the way when it happened, but I arrived 20 minutes too late. My mom was just 61 years young.
I’m not really sure why my mom is hiding in plants but it’s cute.
I’ve sat down two hundred times to write this post- each time failing to find the right words to say how much my mom meant to me. My mom was my first and very best friend. The hole in my life that her absence has left is so encompassing, so engulfing that some (most) days it’s hard to breathe. I’m completely and utterly lost without her. I’m unsure of what to do and how to go on. It’s only been one month, but it feels like an entire lifetime has passed.
I want to tell you about how beautiful and kind my mom was. I want to tell you that it was her love of animals that inspired my own. My mom taught me how to tie my shoes, ride my bike, and braid my hair. She taught me to love books and the knowledge that they contain. An artist herself, she constantly encouraged me to imagine and create art. My mom sketched, painted, sculpted, and crafted- nothing was out of the realm of her talent. She spent hours handcrafting cards that she mailed to her loved ones in abundance- a holiday or special occasion never passed without a card in the mail from my mom. She was enamored with all things that glitter- rocks, the afternoon sun on the water, gemstones, sequins, and glitter, of course. I’ll always see her in everything that sparkles.
I wanted to write this beautiful post about what an amazing person my mom was, but grief isn’t beautiful. It’s dark, it’s ragged, and it’s ugly. I am suffocating with sorrow and talking about my mom isn’t all that easy yet. I don’t have the perfect, beautiful words to say it but: my mom really was an amazing person and she was loved so very much.
I’m going to miss her forever.