Sunday, August 10, 2014

How is Love Measured?

Is it by how many times someone visits when your ill? Or how often they call? Is it by how much money they spend on you? Or by how long they mourn while your still here on earth or when your gone? 

I'm sure I've asked myself these questions thousands of times throughout my life, but more since mom received her diagnosis.

Ever since I can remember, whenever I would tell mom I loved her she would always reply " I love you more, I win." 
And it's funny how even at 38, it still always feels so good to hear her say those same 6 words.
As a mother myself now, I find myself using this very same phrase with my own children.
Last night as I cuddled with my 6 year old watching cartoons and found myself saying it, I wondered,

"Is love really measurable?"

When our mom became sick I just naturally chose to assume the role of her caregiver and advocate,
Doing my best to make sure her needs are constantly being met and asking the poignant questions..
Did she take her medication? Did she eat? Did she have a bowel movement? 
Holding her hair as she kneels over the toilet puking the only thing that had actually made it to her stomach in the past day.
On more then one occasion I've been asked, "Where do I get the strength to do this?"
The answer has been and always will be, because I love her and can't imagine a world where someone wouldn't do this for someone they love or that she's not a part of for that matter.
Since she was diagnosed 591 days ago, I've spent every day trying my best to make sure she knows how much she is truly loved, by not only my words, but my actions.
It doesn't mean I always get it right every single time, or now that she's dying we don't get into arguments anymore, because no one's perfect and I am far from a saint. 
It doesn't mean that when she's medicated and angry about this horrible disease and lashes out at those that love her the most that I don't feel like running in the opposite direction because her words cut like knives.
I'd be lying if I didn't say there have been times over the past year, I've haven't found myself feeling angry, resentful or even exhausted with the entire situation from the doctors to god to mom, when she gets set in her stubborn ways.
I think back to when my mom was first diagnosed and given three to six months to live. When all of this was brand new. 
When I hoped the choices I was making were the right ones and I stopped working for a year, slept in her room almost my entire pregnancy, and stopped leaving the house for too long in fear that while I was out doing groceries she could die. 
With that being said, it doesn't mean that my siblings, extended family or friends who can't always be here because of school, work or life, love her any less.
We're all just coping very differently, 
some choose to tackle it head on, others will avoid the whole situation completely with the hope it'll all just go away, and others just do the best they can.
I would also be lying to you if I said there aren't times where I long for, or miss my old life. The life that allowed me to enjoy simple things without sadness or guilt, knowing my mom wouldn't always be here to enjoy these same things.
 It's only in the past few months that I've begun gradually accepting that I'm only human, made of flesh and bone, forgiving and making peace with myself for feeling this way, has been my hardest struggle.
Learning there's absolutely nothing wrong with escaping reality for a little while even if that means having dinner with a friend, deciding to go back to work or going away for the weekend has been a work in progress.
Knowing that something could happen tomorrow, 6 months or even 5 years from now if we're lucky, is always a scary feeling.
Yet I've learned over the past 19 months you can never leave everything absolutely unsaid, because I think when the time comes I'll still wish I could have just one more

" I love you more, I win!

When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer your life changes in the blink of an eye without you even realizing it.
  All of a sudden what you've been oblivious too and was part of someone else's every day life  without warning becomes your own reality...
It's like you start seeing things for the very first time with a whole new appreciation for them. From billboards, tv shows,tearjerker cancer movies and donating a $1 towards cancer research, to noticing people on the train platform or in the grocery store, wearing gloves or beanies in 90 degree weather, with picc lines or chemo bags wondering if they too like your loved one have terminal cancer or if they caught it in time.
Not too long ago a friend of mine mentioned how I seemed to be taking everything so well and how strong I was. 
What I explained to her was it's not that I'm am strong, it's just I've been fortunate enough to have some time to let this all soak in. 
It took about a year of seeing a therapist on a weekly basis to get here, and slowly but surely she's  given me the tools to cope with my own feelings.
Don't get me wrong I still have my occasional meltdowns in the grocery store line, while driving to work or picking up my husband's dry cleaning.   Asking myself, "Why my family?" "Why now?" and it's definitely a work in progress everyday ...

Last month after getting chemo every 2 weeks for the past 18 months the doctor decided because mom's last scan was still showing No evidence of metastatic disease she would start getting it every 3 weeks instead of every 2.
You wonder will the week make the difference in her next ct? 
I don't know, nobody knows.  All we can do is take it one day at a time.

Yesterday after almost 3 weeks of a lot of crappy days, was finally a really good day for mom.
We spent the afternoon shopping for the kids school supplies and she stopped and sampled every food they had at Cosco twice. 
I haven't seen her eat as much as she did in quite a while so it was definitely nice to see.

 I guess the whole point I'm trying to make is..

I don't have all the answers and I don't know if it's just ok to do the best you can.
Or take time for yourself.
Or forgive yourself for feeling guilty. 
Or crying too much or not enough.
Or for being mad at the world in private or even in public.
Or for enjoying life to much or not enough
While your loved one fight's for their life, but it's what keeps me sane for my husband, for my children, for my mother.

What I do know without a shred of doubt, is that I have loved her without measure and for that I win!

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