Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Mother

Today is my mom's 60th birthday, and she has been heavy on my heart and mind. Yes, I think about her on a daily basis, but most of the time I reflect on positive moments and recognize the blessings surrounding us everywhere. Lately, the thoughts I've been having about my mom are about the last few weeks that her body was fighting that disgusting disease that we should be focusing our hatred on... cancer. Although I shared some tidbits of what was going on this past January, I wanna take this time and speak more from my heart about what's been racing through my thoughts.

My mom was so fragile those last few weeks. My family and I kept telling her she was going to beat this cancer and it would soon be a distant memory. I just wanted to find out results from her blood work, which took SUCH a long time, and devise a plan of either radiation, chemo or whatever it would take. We had a bit of a hiccup at first because doctors said that my mom might have had tuberculosis. Therefore, she had to be secluded in a room that required everyone to wear a mask. That first week my mom was in the VA hospital, I was fortunate enough to have family everywhere. Two of my mom's sisters stayed at her bedside every single night and day (while I was home at night with a 3-month old baby). Family would wait with her day in and day out for doctors to come and provide any kind of update. My mom was never alone in those rough weeks, which I am beyond grateful for. I would even have my aunts rotate and watch baby in the car while I sat with my mom in her secluded room. My mom waited for going on 5 days... waiting day and night for an update from apparently fellowship students because the doctors were SO hard to get ahold of in that hospital! Towards the end of the week, test results confirmed that she did not have TB... unfortunately this wasn't the best news we heard, being that it meant that her irregular blood work most likely pointed to cancer. They ended up taking a biopsy at the end of the week and sent my mom home on a Friday, telling her she would need to return the following week on Wednesday to review the biopsy results.

My mom was so weak upon arriving home. She could barely walk let alone breathe. It was beyond shocking to me because just short of a week ago, I was looking at my mom walking and talking just fine. Yes, she appeared to be sick, but not to this extent. Baby and I (and more family, of course) spent all day Saturday with her, encouraging her to move around and not consume her mind around the big C word [probably easier said than done]. I even shared with my mom a story I had read that week about a woman who was sufferring health issues that she felt so defeated. The power of prayer and willingness completely changed her situation, and she was healed by the grace of God. My intent was to share some uplifting and positive messages with my mom so that she can also feel like this was going to turn around with prayer, faith and love. I just don't think she whole-heartedly could get her mind off of being told she had cancer.

That night/early morning, my mom suffered a stroke. She was taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, and they broke some heartbreaking news to us just hours after assessing CAT scan and MRI results. My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that had metastasized very rapidly, throughout her entire body, including her brain which is how she suffered the stroke. I can't explain the hurt I felt... the feelings of defeat I had... the loss of words for my poor Mom. In that moment, one of my Aunts told me it was time for us to stay strong. My mom didn't need to see us hurting when she was the one hurting the most. My mom needed uplifting prayers... for strength... for peace... for love. I tried my hardest to stay strong during that time... leading up to the last week my mom spent on this earth.

After transferring my mom to her hospital, Kaiser, we soon made this 3rd hospital our homebase. We spent day and night there... my aunts staying overnight every single night. We sang with my mom, prayed with her, read her scriptures from the bible, and talked to her about anything and everything. She was released from Kaiser on hospice on a Sunday morning. That night, my family surrounded her bed, singing and praying and respecting the woman she was... the mom she was.. the sister she was... the aunt she was... the soldier she was. My mom was called to Heaven that night around 10pm.

I have the utmost honorable respect for my mother. She had all KINDS of occurances happening in those 2 rough weeks, one after another... And she managed to keep a smile on her face, speaking great positivity of being able to see her grandson when she was well again. She was the epitome of a fighter demonstrating such toughness, endrance, happiness and love more than I can ever imagine.
Dear Mom,

I am beyond proud of you, and proud to be your daughter. You left no stone unturned on this earth. You have taught me to never give up no matter what life brings my way. You have taught me to love my children unconditionally and always strive for the best in life for them. You have taught me to always always always put God first and trust in our Lord.

Manuia lou aso fanau! Alofa tele atu mo oe.

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