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Mother’s Day Without Mothers

This past weekend marked another Mother’s Day. It marked the fourth one for me without a mother of my own. 

I thought about last Mother’s Day when my family and I sat around discussing biopsy results, BRCA tests and upcoming surgeries. There were still so many questions without answers.  

We took pictures in front of a blooming crab apple tree (not blooming yet this year!) and smiled as if it was just another Mother’s Day. I watched my kids drive off and envied them for being able to “drive away from cancer.”

I observed boats driving by on our little lake and thought about other families celebrating Mother’s Day without cancer.

My husband and I attended a concert my youngest son was singing in and I sat there pretending everything was alright. I sat there trying to act normal, just being a mother listening to her son sing.

This Mother’s Day I thought about how much I have missed my mother this past year. Her presence in my life has been missed even more since my cancer diagnosis.

My mother was the great communicator of the family. My mother always knew what to say.

Even now, she would know things to say to make me feel better. She would be calling to see how I am doing. She would feel my pain and understand my fears, even if she had not had breast cancer herself.

My mother would have understood about the ache I sometimes felt deep within and about the terror of facing life without breasts, or hair, or worse…

She would have understood what it felt like to be a woman living on the edge unable to stop thoughts about dying from simmering during the wee hours of the night. She would have understood why I cried sometimes without even knowing the reason for my tears. She would not have cared if I was irritable, blotchy-faced or just plain unpleasant to be around. She would not have thought such things were even odd.

She would have loved me and understood because that’s what mothers do.

I wish I could have a day or even an hour to spend with her now. I would tell her I am sorry for not listening to her more attentively about her fears when she had cancer.

I would ask her for advice on how to get through the dark moments that still come; the moments when I feel most vulnerable, overwhelmed or frightened.

I sometimes wonder if she watches over me from heaven and I know that if she does, her heart has ached for me this past year, even in heaven.

Jody, one of my blogging friends from Women With Cancer, recently commented, “My mother was already gone when I (Jody) was diagnosed and I am grateful to have spared her that.” I hadn’t thought of things that way before. It’s a much less selfish way to look at it. It’s a far more comforting way to acknowledge my mom’s absence from my life this past year. Thanks Jody.

My heart aches for families that lose mothers when the mothers are way too young to be lost. A young mother among my husband’s relatives was lost to breast cancer mere days ago. I think about things her children will miss. I wonder what their Mother’s Day was like.

I remember Sarah, The Carcinista,who I only knew via her “snarky” blog, so full of attitude and spunk; so full of life. Sadly, Sarah died last Tuesday from ovarian cancer after halting treatment, after saying enough, after deciding she didn’t want to be sick anymore more from treatments that weren’t working anyway, after deciding she just wanted to be a mom to her two boys for whatever time she had left.

Again, I can’t help but wonder what their Mother’s Day was like.

An incredibly moving post to read about Mother’s Day called, “When Mother’s Day Hurts,” comes from Marie, my friend from Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer. Marie writes poignantly about a different take on Mother’s Day. I hope you’ll check it out if you haven’t yet. You won’t soon forget Marie’s words.

So mostly what I am is thankful for all the years I had a mother and for all the memories I still have.

And, of course, I’m thankful for getting to be a mother to three great kids as well!

I hope everyone had a pleasant Mother’s Day, whether you still have a mother or not.

How did you spend Mother’s Day (on Sunday or when you were growing up)?

What is a favorite memory you have of your mother or grandmother?






Wednesday 18th of May 2011

I love hearing all the wonderful memories you have of your Mother. My Mother was just like that. I too miss her very much. I can identify with Jody, after my Mother died my family went through some very bad incidents and health problems and I was so glad she didn't have to go through all that pain, she'd had enough pain in her life.


Friday 20th of May 2011

Betty, All the memories are pretty nice aren't they? We are lucky to have so many good ones. And yes, Jody's comment really helped me a lot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on mothers.


Wednesday 18th of May 2011

Nancy, I love this. You speak so much of what I feel in my heart. My grandmother died today, and I have found myself reflecting so much, of course. I know she and my mom have reunited today and that is providing some comfort.

One of my favorite memories with my mom was the last time she visited me during college. My dad hunts deer in the fall near my old campus, and my mom decided to go up with him and stay in a hotel near me while she recovered from a chemo treatment. I ended up spending the night there with her: we went shopping, met up with some of my friends to grab some pizza, and enjoyed each other's company all night like the best of friends would. I miss those days, but can't help but feel so thankful tonight to simply have the memories. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to reflect :-) xoxo


Wednesday 18th of May 2011

Sami, Thank you for commenting. I am so sorry about your grandmother. I lost mine many years ago and I still miss her. (My other grandmother I don't remember very well). I'm sure it was excruciatingly painful for your grandmother, too, when your mom was so sick. Looking at this latest loss as a reunion for the two of them must be a bit comforting. Thanks for sharing one of your favorite memories of your mom. I'm glad you have lots of good memories, though not nearly enough.

Jan Hasak

Thursday 12th of May 2011

I spent this past Mother's Day in Ireland with my friend. We took a train to a castle related to one of my ancestors and met up with Marie later in the day.

My mother passed away in 2004 from lung cancer. She was a beautiful person, gentle and loving. Since two of my sons have moved away from home, I didn't feel compelled to be home on Mother's Day.

A favorite memory of my mother is spending time with her canning cherries from our trees in the orchard out in back. We pitted them, our fingers dripping with blood-red juice, and then processed them. Also I learned how to sew from my mother. I don't use these skills anymore, but I treasure the memories of my mom spending time with me, lovingly teaching me things that her mother taught her.

Thanks for this lovely post reflecting on motherhood.



Thursday 12th of May 2011

Jan, Thank you for sharing a couple of your treasured memories of your mother. She must have been lovely and quite skillful! I am so glad you had a good trip to Ireland, visited some wonderful places and got to meet Marie!

Jody Schoger

Wednesday 11th of May 2011

Nancy, I understand the ache so well, even though my Mother died in l987. Mother's Day, and especially May, which was the last month of her life, brings memories close to the surface. It was only this year that I realized my cancer, and now Steve's, would have been so difficult for her to handle.

There's nothing that better describes a Mother's love than, "She would feel my pain and understand my fears, even if she had not had breast cancer herself." So beautiful.

Another thought. Connecting with others who have lost their Mothers really helps on holidays. Now, instead of getting stuck in my own thought I will remember that your loss is still new. We begin to help each other in the way our Moms would so willingly do.

Thank you for including me in this beautiful post, hugs, Jody


Wednesday 11th of May 2011

Jody, Thank you for taking time to leave your thoughts, I appreciate it especially with all you have going on right now. I'm sorry you lost you mom when you were both so young. And your dad too. I'm trying to stay focused on your insightful comment that really helped. Thanks again. And you are welcome!

Beth L. Gainer

Wednesday 11th of May 2011


Thank you for your honesty. Those fears and inner demons still plague me. It's totally normal for you to be feeling the way you are feeling.

It must be so hard to be without your mom. I'm deeply sorry.

I also thought about the moms who didn't live to see this Mother's Day through. It is so sad.

I spent my Mother's Day with my daughter, and just tried to take in the wonder that she and I are together. I continue to try to appreciate life and live it to the fullest. It's cliche, but true.


Wednesday 11th of May 2011

Beth, Thank you for your caring comments. I was thinking about those moms too... and the families that experienced their first MD without the mothers. I'm glad you are a mom now! Was this your first Mother's Day? I forget how old your daughter is; she's so adorable! Enjoy it all!

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