Home > Death, Family, Grief, Love, Personal > The End: We Will Carry You with Us

The End: We Will Carry You with Us

When I visited home to tell my mom I was pregnant in early 2009, she mentioned some troubling health problems.

In July 2009, my siblings and I learned our mom was dying.

Click here for The During, part 4,
or here for the why of these posts.

July 23, 2009

What had me going at 20% usual speed after I hung up the phone with Rache was reflections on loss. I feel like I lost my mom several years ago, so I didn’t think it was possible to feel greater sorrow on that front. But hearing that physical death may also be imminent, it’s clear there are degrees of loss. Intellectually, I understand that there’s very little hope my mom as she existed while I grew up could be regained. Apparently, though, my heart has been holding onto hope that there might be some movement that direction. With physical death, what once was and what is now are all wrapped up neatly and concluded, with no chance of semi-happy endings.

This excerpt was from a letter I sent my dear friend Mackenzie soon after hearing Mom very likely had cancer.

July 23, 2009

Now, It can’t Rain All the Time. It’s a good evening for melancholy in music. That was so even before I began exchanging text messages with Rache. Now I’m contemplating those messages and the state of mom’s health, which till yesterday I had assumed was fine, physically.

Cancer. The word doesn’t seem so malevolent now as it always has, which is surprising. I think this sense is probably tied to the fact that it’s simply a mechanism toward an end we’ll all meet, eventually. It’s the prospect of death that floors me, together with my surprised at being floored. Shouldn’t it be a little more expected by one who’s no longer 10?

It’s hard to suss out truth through mental illness, but indications are strong, as strong as they may ever be given the circumstances. Only time will tell, truly, and so I will wait. One way or another, my farewell to Mom will have to conclude someday. Like when we said goodbye to Grampa G, there are just some things I think we as humans can never truly be ready for. So for now, I simply ponder.

July 25, 2009

Deborah Bryan is thinking of ends and beginnings, and how frequently they converge in reminder that sorrow isn’t all there is.

July 27, 2009

Deborah Bryan is troubled one moment, then okay the next. Then troubled again, then okay. Repeat.

July 30, 2009

Cancer: confirmed.

Someday soon, I won’t be sharing my birthday with my mom anymore.

August 2, 2009

Like all days, yesterday had both its highs and lows, but the lows weighed on my heart to leave me very tired. At points, I’d feel numb, whereas at other points, I’d start weeping at the craziness of the speed with which change strikes. Just last week I was thinking how cool it is Mom’s been making such progress the last few months. Then, just as I’m wondering how far we’ll be able to take this progress, BAM! Cancer! And not a kind readily treatable, slow-moving or in its early stages. A kind that means rapid, painful devastation, especially when coupled with the exhaustion of a person who’s done living and is (for that and other reasons) opposed to virtually all treatment.

Late in the evening yesterday, Anthony comforted me as I wept and tried to explain my tears. It’s not for my loss, for though I don’t know what happens after life, I can’t believe God would care less for us in death than in life. Rather, it’s for a reflection on all the tragedies my mom’s been dealt in life, and how few joys she’s had to temper them. I know when she was fully lucid she hoped fiercely that we’d have it easier and better than she did. That has certainly come to pass.

I only wish her life had become gradually lighter, rather than more and more full of increasing pain, so that in the end that’s perhaps all she’ll take with her. Since I can’t know, I’ll have to hold onto Anthony’s words: “She had at least four amazing things in her life, and she knows that at some level, even now.”

August 19, 2009

I’m sad David is gone.
I’m sad Anthony will be gone for the weekend.
I’m sad my mom won’t talk to me, for whatever reason.
I’m sad that I want to be with people, but don’t know who I want to be with.
I’m sad I only ever get to talk to my best friends in five-minute bursts anymore.
I’m sad my monthly expenditures have gone up several hundred dollars and will go up several hundred more shortly.
I’m sad at distances that grow and grow, because that’s just how life is.
I’m sad I can’t sleep, and that the insomnia leaves me feeling foggy.
I’m sad life can never be the same.

August 27, 2009

Deborah Bryan found it very exhausting spending 45 minutes trying to explain why going for only 2 of a recommended 4-6 rounds of chemotherapy is a bad idea.

September 9, 2009

“Mom’s losing her hair (almost gone) and her t cell count is down. Waiting to start chemo. Sounds like we might have to come back tomorrow due to icky veins… No iv therapy staff around right now…”

There are several stages of comprehension, and reading Mom’s lost almost all her hair brought me to another one. After reading Rache’s text, I sat weeping in my office, still attending to my work, till my boss came in and said just the right thing to make me laugh.

I so miss my mom. But the mom I miss is long gone. We’re talking, what? 2001, 2002 that I had my last conversation with the mom who had much love and compassion to share along with the grim? It had been many years before that where the darker portion of her personality – perhaps her illness? – began to really gain ground, but there was still a lot of what I thought was beautiful about my mom when I was a little girl and she had virtually boundless love to share.

I guess what I’m saying is, given her mental illness and the miniscule chance of ever seeing her again as she existed through my childhood, I would selfishly like to truly say goodbye. It’s hard to keep saying goodbye in bits and pieces, and to feel as I do so I’m losing more of the mom whose memory I’d like to cherish. I can only imagine how hard it is for Rache, who gets to deal (together with Nick and David) with every accusation and demand of this shadow-mom of ours.

I would like to remember my mom as she existed in this icon: smiling, beautiful, and happy to have seen one dream come true. Not hairless, dwindling and raving, so that the images all become mixed up in my head and in my heart.

Me and mom (icon)

September 14, 2009

Deborah Bryan will not just kick but *obliterate* someone’s nuts altogether if the unexpected and very not small bill her mom received means her mom discontinues chemo.

September 15, 2009

Deborah Bryan is thinking of beginnings and endings, and can’t quite comprehend how it’s possible to be so full of joy and sadness at once.

November 19, 2009

Deborah Bryan is sad the exam shows her mom’s cancer isn’t gone.

December 17, 2009

Deborah Bryan wants to share that her Mom’s been like a different personal altogether since she met her grandson. Her mom calls every day just to say hello and even asked for pictures of all her kids to replace all the ones she destroyed years ago. So even if mom doesn’t survive her cancer, there’s so much good that came from the November trip up north. That is and shall remain a tremendous joy.

love

January 16, 2010

Deborah Bryan‎’s mom is doing worse, in both ways, but Deborah has that one beautiful picture of her mom smiling and holding David. She’s still glad for that.

January 20, 2010

One of the younger Survivors just passed away after what sounds like an extended battle with breast cancer. This got me thinking about my mom, whose own cancer looked to be responding well to chemo – the last of six possible rounds – a few short weeks ago, but who learned last week there’d been a 10% growth in the cancer over a short period of time.

She’s given back all the pictures of us, including little David, since they “never bring [her] luck, anyway.” She’s no longer calling me, nor returning my calls.

It’s hard to tell whether one illness or the other is truly at the heart of this. But what’s clear is that, whether the physical illness instigated the full-on return of her mental illness (versus the somewhat more manageable version of her illness we’ve seen in play the last few months) or whether this is natural cycle, this “up” cycle is over. I wonder if it will be the last we’ll see.

Though it’s over, I’m glad I got to see that heartfelt smile at least once more. And that David, as I wished before he was born, got to be held by his grandma at least once.

January 20, 2010

Deborah Bryan is thinking about loss. Chances are, that unwashed person raving at you on the street used to have a big, toothless smile and bucketsful of dreams for the future. She knows her mom had both of these and more, and wishes her friends could have seen THAT mom the way even she less and less frequently got to over the years.

February 5, 2010

Rache talked to Mom at lunch and determined she’s deep off her rocker again.

She also confirmed that, while Mom’s cancer is growing again, Mom has determined her approach this time around will be to “wait and see.” Since her kind of cancer is unresponsive to radiation therapy and she’s absolutely opposed to having her uterus and ovaries removed, this effectively translates to “I’ll wait and see how long it takes me to die.” So, even though I went through all of this in late July, it turns out it’s just as hard to prepare myself the second time around for the death of someone whose life was so intrinsic to my own.

Mom’s life makes me so sad. But she succeeded, ultimately, in her goal that her kids’ lives be better than her own, so I will try to think of that rather than everything she suffered and lost.

February 6, 2010

Saddened by word from my sister: “She really is dying.” Now. Soon. 😦

February 10, 2010

Deborah Bryan is going home.

One minute before I took this picture, I stood with my hand on my mom's doorknob and wondered,

February 11, 2010

Dear friends, the biggest heartbreak of my life is coming, and there is nothing I can do to change that. All I can do as I face this painful eventuality and the growing knot in my stomach is know that you will help carry me through. Thank you.

February 11, 2010

Sitting with Mom about a half-hour ago, she clasped her throat and told me, “It is my time to die.” She took my right hand in both her hands before shifting in pain. When asked what would comfort her, Mom looked at David with a smile and said, “Just him. Just him.”

mom n d light

February 11, 2010

David is finally napping, in his car seat with his hand wrapped around Mom’s finger.

February 15, 2010

This is the status of Mom:

She is in extraordinary pain. She drags her hands over her body when she has the energy, trying to bring some comfort to nerves that feel on fire due to the workings of her form of cancer. She grasps her throat frequently and struggles to breathe. She can make it as far as the kitchen and bathroom right now, but one foot drags behind her, presumably due to the cancer’s impact on her nerves.

Sitting on the edge of her bed to change channels on her TV is a huge undertaking, and she can’t aim very well, so that something so simple as changing a channel might take her 30 seconds; understandably, she persists, for she wants to have some control as she bit by bit loses basic capacities. Most of the time she lays in bed naked, for it takes too much energy – even with assistance – to put on clothes. She refused Mads’ offer to wash her sheets, though the nature of her cancer means her sheets very much need washed; her bedroom smells like death and semi-controlled bodily functions, the way Grampa G’s did when I held his hand hours before he died.

Today Mom found the energy to put on a t-shirt and underwear, but her hands trembled as she ate two pieces of toast Mads had made her. Mostly she lays in bed and takes in her now very small world with one half-open eye. Whether for swelling or for lack of energy, it’s now uncommon for her to have both eyes open at once. She can barely make it through a sentence right now, and more frequently than not starts to say something and murmurs unintelligibly as she loses her train of thought. Just expressing that she wanted cottage cheese yesterday took her a couple of minutes, and then it was only communicated because Rache and Dave guessed. Mom wants cottage cheese a lot right now.

I’m going to go in and sit by her bedside now. I may lay with her, depending on how she’s feeling. In ordinary circumstances, I wouldn’t want to be within 10 feet of that bed. These, however, are not ordinary circumstances, and it’s a small token to help comfort someone for whom there is little comfort left in this life.

From up close – instead of Long Beach – it’s not so huge to think my mom is dying. Instead, it’s a sequence of moments, each tragic and precious. It’s life.

Mom’s not dead yet. She will, I believe, be at peace once she is, but for now I am focusing on the fact she is still alive, and doing what small bit I can to make that as peaceful as possible.

Thank goodness for Li’l D, whose presence alone now makes Mom smile.

February 15, 2010

Deborah Bryan just rubbed her mom’s back and felt profound gratitude for the synchronicity of all the pieces of her body that allow her to breathe, run, jump, hug, kiss, laugh, ski and airplane David, with little difficulty. This body is marvelous, pregnancy weight and all.

February 16, 2010

I just can’t believe how quickly all of this is happening.

After last night’s status update, Mom moved around a little with only a minor limp. She did this emphatically, as if to show she’s not been bowled over by this illness.

This morning, she held her grandson and played with him for ten minutes while I got ready for work at Rache, Nick and Dave’s house. I took David and did a few more things and came back to find my mom dressing. I asked, “Are those my pants?” She said, “Of course not!” I left with David and assumed we’d find more of the same following work.

Except, Mads called a few hours in to say Mom had fallen. Then she called an hour after that to say Mom had fallen again, and couldn’t use either of her legs.

Shortly thereafter, Mom fell a third time.

When work ended, I returned to Mom’s with David. I changed his diaper and smiled at how he flirted with her through the process. Mom smiled back at him and held his fist in her hand.

She’s spoken only a handful of words today. 99% of her communication has been through nods and shakes of the head. After our horrible conversation with her sister, instigated based on Mom’s nodding in response to my query, “Do you want to talk to Rosemarie?” I laid down next to her and rubbed her back, leaning my face against hers and listening to her breathe. She said, “I just…”

I waited, but she didn’t finish the sentence, just closed her eyes again and resumed her slow, near-silent breathing. I didn’t push. There’s no use. The only thing that’s useful, apart from getting out these words through status updates and notes so I don’t explode with anxiety and sorrow, is laying with her and doing whatever small bit I can to help her last moments be more peaceful than most the rest of her life.

February 20, 2010

David is so happy. He has no idea we are looking at the place his gramma will probably be buried.

February 21, 2010

Deborah Bryan thinks the best single reflection of her mom’s current state is that she can no longer smile for her grandson. 😦

February 22, 2010

For the Laughing-Instead-of-Crying files: (1) “And that shirt she
was trying to put on was actually a pillowcase, so…” (2) “Apparently, her voice has gone ‘square.’ She just laughed when I asked if she meant ‘scratchy.'”

February 22, 2010

Rache: “Deb, do you know Dad’s Social Security number?”

Deb: “666-66-6666?”

February 24, 2010

…and now, even nodding and shaking her head takes too much energy. Mom did, at least, muster up enough energy to smile at her
grandson and stroke his cheek before becoming still again.

February 27, 2010

Deborah Bryan is homeward bound, having kissed her mom goodbye for the last time.

March 1, 2010

when i last wrote, i was pregnant. now i am five months a mother. when i last wrote, my own mother was fairly early into her chemotherapy and hope was yet abundant, now she lays on her deathbed, being force fed meds by the children she once administered medicine to.

i’m exhausted in virtually all ways it’s possible to be exhausted, but i needed to write at least a little now. i needed to write at least one more entry as a non-orphan, as a woman whose own mother yet lives and breathes, if barely.

in the last days of 2009, i was cautiously optimistic mom had kicked her cancer. two months later, she is almost dead of it. yet not all is bleak. mom found great comfort in her grandson in the two weeks we visited her. a couple of times, she even comforted me, by holding my hand, playing with my hair, or, in one case, shuffling over and resting her head on my knee. these are comforts i could not three years ago have imagined ever experiencing again. now, of course, i have kissed her warm cheek for the last time, but i am so pleased to have been allowed those extra chances.

March 3, 2010

Deborah Bryan just got a call from her sisters asking if she wanted to thank mom for anything. Among others, she thanked her mom for: life, three amazing siblings, encouraging her childrens’ dreams, laughter through hardship, demonstrating the importance of true apology, and of course calling one of Deborah’s boyfriends stupid for saying Rache was prettier. 🙂

March 4, 2010

Deborah Bryan started the workday wishing her mother would find peace, but is heartbroken now that she has. Always and forever, Mom. Always and forever, we will carry you with us.

March 5, 2010

At 2:35pm yesterday, my mother breathed her last breath in the loving arms of my sisters.

By 8:00pm yesterday, I was on a plane home, having already been guided that way with help from so many beautiful people: Pat, who held me as I sobbed when the news came in; Rose, who caravaned to daycare with me to ensure I made it safely; Anthony, who took care of the many practicalities involved in getting me homeward bound on a flight Nick booked almost immediately with his United miles. These actions came in conjunction with many messages of love and support, through many media, for which I am so deeply grateful.

As you all know, Mom struggled with mental illness for many years before she was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer last July. In her last months, however, we her children were afforded the incomparable, amazing gift of having a few moments with the mom we remembered. For a few months, we exchanged loving, coherent phone calls full of giggles. In her final weeks, when she had energy, she would bounce her grandson and happily make kissing noises at him, and hold our hands or stroke our hair like in the days of our childhood. My last such moment with my mom, in the early hours of the morning, involved no words but will live in my heart forever.

I write this email to convey two important messages. First, I am eternally grateful for the love and support each of you has shown the last months, and for the support it is clear you keep intending to provide. I am also grateful to my siblings, who again reminded me that, though our childhoods might have been difficult, we could, did, and will see the best and worst of times through together. For this I am so blessed.

The second message is more difficult to express, but must find a voice. I am not who I am despite my childhood, as I have so often heard; I am who am because of it, including in great part the loving, passionate encouragement my mother determinedly gave. As her illness progressed, it became more and more difficult for her to express these things, but the lessons she had already imparted upon me in her absolute faith I would achieve my dreams is at the heart of my every achievement thus far. As my mom’s friend Beth said a few days ago, “I always had so much respect for the way your mom maybe didn’t have much, but so determinedly gave everything she had.” That is the source of me, and as I look to a future in which my mother no longer has a physical presence, she will nevertheless live eternally in my heart as Mom, not the circumstances nor the illness that progressively hid that mother from me.

If it crosses your mind in the future, ask me sometime about the mom whose ferocious determination her childrens’ lives be better than her own shaped that reality. There were so many remarkable moments of laughter and love, I would delight in sharing giddy, giggly memories (and there are many!) with my beloved friends who – in many cases – were never afforded the opportunity to see the Christine who didn’t always get it right (who does?), but always tried, all the while making an adventure of it.

Next October 30, I will celebrate alone the birthday I shared with my mother. But she’ll be in my heart, and the gifts she bestowed upon me will carry her spirit forward in my every action, every day.

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  1. September 15, 2015 at 5:21 am

    Beautiful, Deborah! And I am so thankful that you added in those scarce but treasured moments of laughter. There is always a little laughter. And it helps us make it through.

    • September 17, 2015 at 10:12 am

      It is so true! My mom was great at getting us laughing with her antics, and I do believe that was one of the things that most helped us survive everything, together. 🙂

  2. September 15, 2015 at 6:10 am

    …and now I’m crying, and I don’t know any of you!…

    • September 17, 2015 at 10:15 am

      Even seeing the title of this post chokes me up, because I remembet so clearly typing up the message I borrowed it from. But I am so glad, despite the tears, to have looked back over all these years and see how much love there was amidst the sadnesd and frustration. It was so healing to walk through then with all the muscles I’ve since developed, and to do so in such kind, compassionate company. A weight on one set of shoulders can feel so heavy; distributed across many, so very light by comparison. I am so grateful to everyone who shared this journey with me. It lightens the load and strengthens the heart for the road ahead. Thank you.

  3. September 15, 2015 at 6:43 am

    As hard as I have no doubt each of these posts was to put together I really hope they bring you peace. Much love.

    • September 17, 2015 at 10:17 am

      They really did, thank you, to an astonishing extent. I set out hoping to lend some love and lift to others needing it … only to discover I, too, found a peace I hadn’t even realized was missing.

  4. September 15, 2015 at 7:05 am

    I read this through tear-filled eyes. I am so glad you got those moments with your mom that you will treasure forever. Based on that image, it looks like you not only carry her in your heart, but see her face in your own.

    • September 17, 2015 at 10:21 am

      I am so glad, too. I feel the gladness whenever I remember my mom, but … I was struck so powerfully by gratitude as I reread, and understood how truly beautiful were those days we had together.

      I am still overjoyed when I see her face in mine, my siblings’, and even sometimes my kids’. It’s a sweet reminder how very many ways we really do–and will for always–carry her with us.

      Thank you.

  5. September 15, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Deborah this was an incredible story to follow. I feel I know you more now than before. Our mother’s are our life lines from the beginning until the end. Your’s was not always an easy journey but you are the beautiful person you are today because of it. Thank you for sharing your heart. uch love Linda

    • September 17, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Thank you for sharing it with me! I can’t describe how much lighter of heart I feel. Part of that is for all the good revealed by reviewing this all … another, even more satisfying part, knowing that who I am now–someone I am glad to be–would not exist this way had the road led anywhere else. Much love.

  6. September 15, 2015 at 7:29 am

    I love you. It was hard to see/read your entries where you referred to yourself by your name. I’m sure it was a coping mechanism. I am so grateful that hospice had a harpist come in that morning. While she listened to the music you could see her face and body ease up. It was like it almost took her pain away. I think it was one of the things that helped ease her out of the world that day. Even though after she was gone I wished for even one more minute with her, this world had been so hard at the end and the pain so extreme. I’m glad for that harpist.
    I know it’s silly, but sometimes I’ve wondered if the funeral home dressed mom as requested. I remember asking if I could see her dressed and they said “no.” We spent time together as sisters trying to find the right clothes and necklace. I don’t remember what the necklace looks like now, but I wanted her to look nice. It’s probably silly. I hope that necklace is there as a sign of our love. We thought of her when after looking around for a long time made the “final selection”. I know her soul is not down in the ground, but the body we loved and held is down there and if nothing remains, but dust of her body, I hope that necklace is there amongst it.

    • September 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      The “Deborah Bryan” bit was a function of the particular playform, not coping mechanism. (I know we touched on this in text, but it’s good to capture here, as well!)

      I remember thinking it was funny they’d send harpists. I didn’t imagine it could have that much impact. I quickly understood thanks to Rache’s messages how much that visibly eased the pain on Mom’s face. Now when I hear the harpist who occasionally plays at the farmer’s market here, my eyes start tearing up. They’re doing the same right now, even thinking of her.

      Your thoughts on Mom, body/soul and the necklace are so beautifully expressed. A small part of me worries that the necklace wasn’t buried with her. The rest of me feels that we “tended to the causes.” We lovingly selected what we thought was right, and that’s unchanged by anything that happened afterward. We planted the seeds with love, as it were; whether or not the tree grew is beyond our control.

      I can imagine Mom in our necklace, and wrapped up in our love. These are good things.

      I love you.

  7. September 15, 2015 at 8:26 am

    What an incredible journey to go on with you, if only in your words afterward. I think it’s awesome that while the cancer was ravaging your mother, her mental illness went into a kind of remission so that you all could have those last days to cherish the mother of your childhood and have kinder final memories of her. ❤

    • September 17, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      I am so, so glad for that time. I would never have expected and still sometimes can’t believe I got it.

      That picture I got of Mom holding D in November … her smile. I never thought I would see her true smile again, so even that one unguarded shimmer of Mom-ad-I-once-knew-her would have been a little light. But all those moments, all those tender moments … irreplaceable, unforgettable sweetness. ♡

  8. September 15, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I love the ending – how, despite all the very real pain, you can see the good and the joy and always keep tight to those memories.

  9. September 15, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you.

  10. September 15, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    This post in particular of your series had tears rolling down my cheeks. I can only imagine how tough it was to go through these entries. I love how you’re able to look through the pain and cherish those moments of love.

    • September 17, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      It was tough and freeing all at once. I feel so much lighter of heart having done so. Aaah.

  11. September 15, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    My father and I were involved in a long-standing war about my choice of partner. Then we found out he had cancer. Inoperable cancer. Cancer which chemo/radiation could not, would not touch.
    So we buried our hostilities. Completely.
    Four weeks to the day after we learned he had cancer I was at his funeral.
    I cherish, and will always cherish, those four weeks – despite the grief and the pain which also filled them.
    Life (and death) is so incredibly complicated isn’t it?
    Thank you so much for this theory.

    • September 16, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Theory? Story or journey. I don’t know where theory came from. Sorry.

      • September 17, 2015 at 11:03 pm

        I knew you didn’t mean “theory,” but I wasn’t sure what you meant. Thank you for the follow-up, sharing this journey, and your lovely reflections along the way. I’m grateful.

  12. September 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    yes…………………………………………………………….<3 Beautiful….absolutely beautiful……….

  13. September 15, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Interesting how we can look back at a painful period with such beauty. Well done!

  14. September 16, 2015 at 1:05 am

    This was such an emotional read… Beautifully expressed.

    • September 17, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Thank you! Such a load off my heart, walking this road again, and doing so in such loving company.

  15. September 16, 2015 at 3:04 am

    As I walked this last journey with you I wept, am still weeping. I rejoiced for you though a little too. Rejoiced for the glimpses of your mom, for the loving care you were able to offer, the much needed time to say good-bye, the time to span generations and capture that all to brief time of loving between your mother and your son.

    Yet still I wept, for you, for your siblings and your mom. Though I think your mom left you with a wonderful gift, the bond you share.

    • September 18, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      I can’t even begin to describe what a load off it’s been to share this, and distribute the weight. It made me a little sad that I didn’t capture some of the Really Terrible Heartbreaking Stuff I couldn’t bear to write, but still. What I did write captured what was, and sharing it with people listening and lifting … well, that was a gift. I am so grateful. I love you.

  16. Deb
    September 16, 2015 at 4:55 am

    Thank you, and tons of ((((((hugs))))))

  17. September 16, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    In that self-centered way in which we humans relate everything to ourselves, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am that the love of my life, who died a few months ago, went suddenly and without warning instead of piece by piece. It must have been so difficult to watch someone you love disappear through so many years. Thank you for sharing. It’s beautiful.

    • September 18, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      I remember thinking how intolerable it was saying goodbye in those bits and pieces, but then … contradictorily, I am also glad I got the chance. I think about your loss and my heart aches at not getting the change to say those thanks and send that love. I guess each way has different hurts? In any case, I am glad for your words, and your sharing this with me. Thank you.

      • September 20, 2015 at 10:26 am

        You’re right that each have different hurts. Really, losing someone you love, whether unexpectedly or over a long period, just plain sucks.

  18. September 17, 2015 at 5:58 am

    This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Very touching.

  19. September 17, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Oh Deborah. I don’t have words for all the feelings I have had, reading this series of posts. I hope that it has been healing for you. I can’t imagine it has been anything other than a journey, and the hero(ine) always is transformed in the process — and often not in the ways anticipated at the beginning.

    In learning so much about your mother, I feel that I have learned not only the context for how I have “heard” you talk about her before, but also a better context for hearing you on so many other topics. Family. Parenthood. Love.

    Especially love.

    I am moved. I have wept. I thank you profoundly for letting us accompany you on your voyage.

    • September 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      It has been so healing. I began it thinking it might help someone else trying to figure out what to do or how to survive, only to discover a couple of so-important things: that how I was then was much less terrible than I imagined, and that becoming mentally ill no longer terrifies me as it once did. My story needn’t be my mom’s. But if I do go there and it is hard, and it is heartbreaking? I know now I will not walk alone, and I am heartened.

      It was so much more healing than I could have dreamed, and that was, in great part, for the people who walked it with me. Thank you.

  20. cardamone5
    September 20, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Beautiful job, Deb. You did your mom proud, but something tells me you don’t need to hear that. You know, just as you know the gifts your mother gave you. You relay her struggles, but there is no malice in your words, only confusion and hurt, and then, in the end, understanding and appreciation. God, I love words. Appreciation: what an amazing word. I love that you embody that word and that my definition goes beyond anything a dictionary could capture. That you could experience this perspective during your own tumultuous change (becoming a mother) amazes and inspires me. I consider myself lucky to have found you and your beautiful heart. Beat on.

    Love,
    Elizabeth

    • September 25, 2015 at 2:19 am

      Beautiful job, Deb. You did your mom proud, but something tells me you don’t need to hear that.
      I might not need to hear it, but hearing it makes my heart soar a little higher. Thank you for saying it.

      God, I love words.
      Yes! Last night’s post centered around the word “poop.” That word made me think of how amazing words are, bridging the spaces between hearts and minds that might otherwise feel so alone. Watching a little one pick up and use new words daily is such an exciting thing.

      Where will his words take him? How will he use them? I am enjoying and will continue to enjoy seeing J’s words grow. I hope I’ll remember saying this in about a decade and a half. 😉

  21. September 27, 2015 at 1:41 am

    😦 and leaking eyes.

  22. October 4, 2015 at 3:19 am

    Dear Deb,
    I don’t know you but your story made you feel so close… I hope your days feel a bit lighter. Your words somehow also force me to appreciate life more, all the minuscule acts of kindness, and the beauty that surrounds us. Their fragility.
    Finally, what shines through is what an amazing person your mom was, how much she gave you all in spite of the hardship life threw at her.
    Xo

  23. February 20, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Deb, you wrote this series while I was deep in my own experience of “during,” and I really looked forward to all that you would share. And then I found myself unable to read any of it. The email notifications came to my inbox, and sat. Yet, I knew they were there; I knew you were sharing wisdom that I would cherish and experiences I would connect with. I knew I could read them at any time, and that brought me such comfort. Without actually reading, I knew that you were someone who knew what I was going through, and that we may have experienced and felt some of the same feelings. Knowing these posts were here helped me feel less alone.

    Tonight I was finally in a place to be able to read your words, and I am blessed that they are all I knew they would be and moved once again by your vulnerability. I can relate to many of your expressions, and I cry for the brave young woman you were (are), forced into wisdom beyond her years. Love through the sadness – that’s the theme I see, and will treasure. For what life is fully lived without both? Thank you, for being you, and for sharing yourself with the world. ❤

  1. September 15, 2015 at 4:54 am
  2. September 22, 2015 at 8:26 pm
  3. December 18, 2015 at 10:49 am
  4. December 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm
  5. January 17, 2016 at 12:55 pm
  6. February 8, 2016 at 8:28 am
  7. March 5, 2016 at 7:10 am
  8. March 19, 2016 at 4:31 am
  9. July 15, 2016 at 5:28 am
  10. July 16, 2016 at 6:30 pm
  11. July 18, 2016 at 8:53 pm
  12. December 25, 2016 at 6:06 pm
  13. January 2, 2017 at 7:01 am
  14. February 10, 2017 at 4:02 am
  15. February 20, 2017 at 11:00 am
  16. August 20, 2017 at 6:45 am
  17. September 24, 2017 at 8:27 am

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