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I understand now: A note to my mother for Mother’s Day

Another Mother’s Day has rolled around. This is #13 for me without my mother, a living one anyway. I’ve been sitting on this note to my mother for a long time. I’m sharing some of the cancer part of it today.

If you’re missing a mother (or someone else), writing a note to her/him can be a helpful tool when you’re missing them. If this person you miss and grieve for happens to be your mother, Mother’s Day might be the perfect time to write that note.

If you do decide to try writing one, let me know how it goes and if it helps.

Thank you for reading mine.

Dear Mother,

I understand now.

I understand so much more about many things, but today I want to share a couple things about cancer, specifically, your metastatic breast cancer experience, that I now better understand after having had a cancer diagnosis myself.

I’m sorry if it seemed I did not understand what you were going through when you really needed me to. But I know you understand that.

I understand so much better now how you felt when you were sick.

I understand now about the exhaustion. I know it was brutal.

I understand why you lost interest in movies, TV and even reading books – the latter being one of your greatest passions in life.

I understand how food (another great love) came to be something you could not tolerate to even look at.

I understand your obsession with bowel movements.

I understand how it felt to lose your hair and be “forced” to wear silly-looking hats and turbans.

I understand how sometimes you didn’t want to take phone calls, much less make them.

I understand that sometimes even those you loved most were downright annoying at times. Okay, probably pretty often.

I understand how lonely you felt going through cancer, especially the metastatic part.

I understand why you looked forward to the end of each day and the respite only sleep could bring.

I understand your feelings of frustration, anger, humiliation and despair – just to name a few.

I understand your desire to learn everything you could about breast cancer and your obsession regarding genetic testing for your children.

I really understand why you were so irritated when I dragged my feet about that testing.

I understand why you wanted to talk about breast cancer and why you were probably frustrated and annoyed when it seemed we were trying to close such discussions down.

I understand now how selfish that was of us. Of me.

I understand why you were sometimes irritated with your doctors and nurses because they seemed to treat someone of your age in a condescending manner.

I understand why, at the same time, you felt safe and secure in a hospital bed under the care of certain doctors and nurses who did care for you with compassion, skill and utmost respect.

I know there is still much I do not understand about all that you went through, but I do understand a whole lot more. Not just about cancer, but other life stuff too.

Mostly, I understand even better now what a wonderful mother I had.

Yes, I understand.

We miss you. We love you.


Daughter #3.

Happy Mother’s Day greetings to moms, grandmas, aunts and all the others out there who love and nurture children, whether they be their own or not. If the day is difficult for you for whatever reason, you are not alone.

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Have you ever written a note to a loved one who has died or are you thinking about doing so?

Cancer or no cancer, what is something (good or bad) you better understand now about your mother?

Is your mother still living?

I understand now (a note to my #mother for #Mother'sDay #family #mothers #daughters #love #grief #loss #writing

You Have #Cancer - 10 Years Later #cancerdiagnosis #breastcancer #survivorship #womenshealth
How, if at all, do you mark your 10-year cancerversary during a pandemic?
View from my #kitchen sink: No, you're not doing #stayhome (or #cancer) wrong #breastcancer #covid19 #pandemic #family #mothersinlaw #thissucks
Views from My Kitchen Sink: No, you're not doing #StayHome (or cancer) wrong


Wednesday 6th of May 2020

Dear Nancy, Wow, I don't think I have the words to tell you how your letter made me feel personally. It was like someone wrote me a letter acknowledging my feelings about myself. Dealing with MBC and also grown children not really wanting to talk too much about my journey, you brought tears to my eyes; someone knows how I feel; even if it weren't meant for me. This is my 9th Mother's Day without my Mom, she did not die from cancer. 2 weeks ago my middle sister died, also not from cancer. Just a weird time, not able to visit my sister, Mother's Day coming up, self isolating. I just had to say thank you and Happy Mother's Day to you. Take care and stay safe.


Thursday 7th of May 2020

Chris, Gosh, you've made me glad I went ahead and published this one. Like I mentioned, I've been sitting on it for a long time. I'm glad it touched you and helped in some way. I'm sorry to learn about your sister's recent death. And of course, I'm sorry about your mom too. You take care and stay safe too. Thank you for reading and taking time to comment too.


Wednesday 6th of May 2020

"I get it." My mom's been gone for almost 10 years (June 13). She was a worrier extraordinaire and there have been many times during this cancer journey that I'm glad she isn't here to witness this. My mom was also noncompliant with her own health. She had heart disease and diabetes and refused to see doctors ("I only need one doctor not all these specialists!") or take her meds at the times designated. That made me angry for a long time after her death. I remember waking up one morning after surgery and giggling because I finally understood her aversion to all the docs. I think I have about 8 now; it's crazy. But that morning I looked up to the heavens and said out loud, "I get it now, Mom." Happy Mother's Day, Nancy.


Thursday 7th of May 2020

Linda, I know what you mean about many times being glad your mom wasn't here to witness your cancer experience. I've thought the same more than once. And yet at the same time, I know what a support person mine would've been, so it makes me mad, too, that she hasn't been here. (I'm sure you get that too.) Yeah, your mom's aversion to doctors is understandable. Needing eight docs is crazy for sure. We realize and come to understand many things about our parents as we grow older ourselves. Thanks for sharing and happy Mother's Day to you too. Enjoy.

Donna Funkhouser

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

Ok, here goes. Dear Mom, I really wish I'd gotten your recipe for what we kids called "red soup" before you died over 40 yrs ago. I still can't duplicate it just right. I wish you'd gotten to know all of my children and watched them grow. They would have made you laugh! They got your sense of humor. I wish I'd asked more questions about our ancestors because nearly all have passed away now and there's so much I want to know. I wish I'd asked more questions about your metastatic breast cancer. I know you didn't want to talk about it and I was so young, only 23 with 2 small babies, but once I faced BC myself a few yrs ago I felt desperate to have you near me to answer my questions and surround me with your comfort. And to teach me how to smile on the bad days like you did. Happy Mother's Day Mom. I miss and Love you❤ Daughter #6!!


Thursday 7th of May 2020

Donna, That is such a lovely, heartfelt note. Thank you for writing it right here in this space - so much loss expressed through your words. I'm sorry you missed out on so much time with your mom. She must've been quite young when she died. Now, you've got me wondering more than a bit about that "red soup". Tomato? And you're Daughter #6! Also wondering now how many siblings you have. We miss our moms forever. Thank you for sharing about yours. x

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