I Will Remember

(portland, or)

This is one of those posts that I’ve typed and deleted at least 10 times over the last week. My mom passed away from bladder cancer last Monday, June 25. Typing that makes it feel more real, so maybe that is part of the reason why I’ve found it so hard to do. She went quietly, in her sleep, in my sister’s home in Portland, Oregon. She was 59.

I took the photo, above, on a walk through my sister’s neighborhood, earlier last month. M and I flew to Oregon the day after my birthday and I’ve spent the last couple of weeks since we’ve been home going through these photographs trying to process it all.

It’s funny how people get stuck in our memories. I left home at 14 for boarding school and never really spent any significant amount of time there after, so in my mind, my mom is still 38. She’s wearing giant tinted sunglasses, red lipstick, skinny Bongo jeans, cracking jokes and flirting with any guy within speaking distance. I spent a lot of my childhood being painfully embarassed by my young, loud, dramatic mother. She wasn’t always the easiest person to get along with and our relationship was never an easy one, but she was never boring. I’d like to think that this is the way she would want me to remember her. Young, vibrant, bright eyes and big hand motions, telling some wild, over the top, only partially true story. The life of the party.

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Kirsty {a safe mooring}says:
Jul 2, 2012 12:40 pm

What a wonderful image of your mom. One of the cruellest things about cancer is the way it can creep in and steal away the person you know and replace them with a tired, frail, featureless creature. I think you’re right: remembering her as she was, young and vibrant, is one of the kindest things you can do for your mom, and for yourself.

I’m so sorry this has happened. Thinking of you xx

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kcsays:
Jul 2, 2012 1:23 pm

“One of the cruellest things about cancer is the way it can creep in and steal away the person you know and replace them with a tired, frail, featureless creature.”

I think this was the hardest part. Not just for us, the kids, but because I know how much it must have frustrated her.

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Robin HitchDiedsays:
Jul 2, 2012 12:44 pm

I’m so so sorry. Love and hugs to you, and if you ever need to talk to another member of the DPC, I’m here.

And for what it is worth, what you wrote here about memory is really beautiful. Even though I didn’t live away from my parents for as long as you did before they died, my memory of them both did seem to revert many years back after they were gone. My kid-brain memories of them took over, maybe because they were simpler and happier and easier to process.

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kcsays:
Jul 2, 2012 1:25 pm

A lot of things from my childhood that I had forgotten has come back recently. Probably because of what you said, here, about it being easier to process. It actually feels like a gift.

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Miss Alixsays:
Jul 2, 2012 12:44 pm

So sorry to hear this, even though I knew when I opened this post what it would be. All I can say is that I hope you know all of us internet ladies are here for you if you, all wishing good things for you.

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Elliesays:
Jul 2, 2012 1:42 pm

I am so terribly terribly sorry. If you are looking for travel reading, I highly recommend Joan Didion’s My Year of Magical Thinking. It’s an interesting study of grief, and I found that it helped me a lot when I was trying to get through the death of my friend last fall.

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Kerrysays:
Jul 2, 2012 1:49 pm

Your candid honesty in this post took my breath away. That description of your mother is striking and bold – what a testament to her life.

I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing.

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anna {far from the wedding crowd}says:
Jul 2, 2012 2:03 pm

Remember those good times and perhaps the odd not so good part. Remember who she really was. Not the person you said goodbye too.

Life can be so unkind. I’m so sorry. I’m nearly always awake if you need a hug from across the ocean (and some).

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Trishasays:
Jul 2, 2012 4:15 pm

Thinking of you and your sister. Sending love and wishes for comfort and peace.

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meghansays:
Jul 2, 2012 5:29 pm

Oh love.

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Bethsays:
Jul 3, 2012 5:35 am

I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I hope that you’re able to process things and start to move forward now that the wasting away and her pain and the unknown is gone (at least mostly). Best thoughts for you.

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lynsays:
Jul 3, 2012 9:01 am

I’m so, so sorry. I love your memory of her.

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Kimberlysays:
Jul 3, 2012 11:17 am

I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. It sucks so much.

When my mom died, it was helpful to hear from other people who had been through the loss of a parent; even though everyone’s story was obviously different, the grief was somewhat similar. I knew that if all of these people had “made it,” so to speak, then so could I. It sounds as if you’ve got some very vivid memories of your mom, which is fantastic. When I sank down from time to time in the year or so after my mom died, I would grab a notebook and write down all of the wonderful memories of her that I could remember (in the midst of the sobbing). Now, whenever I feel the grief slipping in, I grab the notebook and read all of the wonderful memories. It really does help, and put things in a larger context . . . for whatever it’s worth, I got to know my mother, and be loved by her, and I genuinely hope you feel grateful for those things as well. It sounds like you absolutely are.

Here’s hoping for a kind, gentle road ahead for you and your family.

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kcsays:
Jul 3, 2012 6:27 pm

Thank you for sharing this with me. What a wonderful idea!

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Heiress Emmasays:
Jul 3, 2012 8:44 pm

I am a total lurker and don’t mean to seem weird, but I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss.

Your memories of your mum are beautiful.

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jacquelinesays:
Jul 12, 2012 6:23 am

KC, I’m getting caught up and just read this post. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you can hang on to that memory the rest of your life. Sending my love to you and your family.

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