In the online edition of the local paper from across the river is a series that evokes such emotion within me it is difficult to watch. I watch anyway.

Lovelle Svart is dying. I’ve never met Lovelle and while I’m sure I could if I chose to, I won’t. It would be too much for me and I’m sure she has other things on her mind right now.

This woman I don’t know is dying from the same disease that killed my mom, my gramma and my dad. Lung cancer is slowly stealing away her breath and her body and her life. She is dying with an openness that touches me deeply.

Since my mother’s death at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday, February 1, 2006, I’ve struggled. A lot. I’ve struggled with grief in all it’s phases. First there was there was the sobbing. Lots and lots of heart wrenching sobbing. Then there was the anger. It was directed towards my mom’s sisters for reasons I won’t go into right now.

Next came exhaustion and depression and disbelief. Then more tears and anger and the good memories did finally find their way to the surface. Now, 19 months and 13 days later, I am sad.

I think about my mom and I wonder if it could have been different. Was there something I could have done differently? Would anything I could have done made any difference to what my mom did? If I’d talked with her differently, would it have gotten her to talk with me differently? Would she have given me the answers I’m hungry for now or would she have continued to put me off; to ignore my need because she simply could not or would not deal with the fact that she was dying.

My mother refused to acknowledge the reality of her situation. She wanted someone to find a magic pill. She wanted her doctor to *fix* her. She did not want to have to DO anything to help herself. She went through three rounds of chemotherapy because her doctor ok’d it. She refused to do any of the things the doctor told her to do while she was going through the chemotherapy. She didn’t stop smoking. She didn’t exercise. She didn’t rest. She didn’t spend her time like it was her last.

Instead, my mom was rude to those who tried to help her. She was depressed and scared but refused to talk with any of the counselors the doctor set her up with. She was mean and nasty and unkind. She cried alot and whenever someone didn’t buy into her behavior she had a favorite comeback and she used it often. “Remember me? I’m the one who’s dying. I don’t have to (fill in the blank).”

Logically, I know my mommy was absolutely, mind numbingly terrified of dying. I know that. Sadly, I am now to the point where I do not care that she was terrified. I am pissed off that she didn’t seem to have one thought about me and how I would feel when she was gone. Ok, sometimes I’m pissed. Mostly, I’m heartbroken.

My mom never talked with me seriously about anything she expected after her death. She never made sure I knew she loved me. She never once asked me how I felt during the experiences of her diagnosis and treatments or how I felt about her dying…or what I would do when the event finally occurred. She never once talked with me about anything of importance. Not. Once.

My mom died leaving alot of loose threads. With me. With my children.

Communication has never been a strong suit with my family of origin. When I grew up, talking was not encouraged on the part of the children. We did what we were told, when we were told and we liked it too. My mother never treated me as an adult even when I left home and had three children of my own. I wonder if that’s part of the reason she never talked with me about the things I wanted to talk about before she left.

I’ve had a few experiences recently that have opened my eyes to the reality of my communication skills. There are things I must convey to my oldest daughter that I simply have not had the desire to talk with her about. If I do not talk with her soon, she will learn these things from someone else and then she will be hurt and angry that she didn’t learn them from me.

Now, this thing I must talk with my daughter about is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. It just doesn’t involve her and she will want it to involve her. And I don’t want to hurt her feelings so I haven’t told her. If I struggle to tell her something that will dissappoint her, how will I ever talk with her about something as serious as dying when the time comes? Is this how my mom struggled? Eye opening thoughts that don’t make me feel any better about my mom but they are eye opening just the same. I don’t want to be like my mother in this respect…in many respects actually, but in this respect especially.

Lovelle Svart is open with her illness, with her prognosis, with her life and with her dying. It touches my heart more every time I read. I hope I can take a page from Lovelle’s book and be as open with my children. When my time comes, somewhere after my 100th birthday, I do not want to leave this world like my mother left it. I’d much rather complete this part of the journey like Lovelle.



7 responses to this post.

  1. You can take a page from Lovelle’s book, honey. You have the wisdom, the courage, the ability, the right, to do that. In fact, those whose mothers didn’t mother them (and maybe even some who did) can do very well by finding women we admire — older, younger, relative, friend, stranger — and taking all of those pages we need, to make our own reference book about how to be the kind of woman we want to be. It’s a built-in back-up plan when our first shot at the mother-daughter thing leaves us less than well-prepared for life.


  2. hi there. i feel your pain. my mom was absent from my life throughout my childhood. but you can be a better woman for your loss. i have a couple of “mother articles” on my blog if you’re interested.

    good luck!




  3. Traci, you write well. Would you consider writing the story you need to give your daughter, then sit with her while she reads it, ready to answer questions and talk with her? Sometimes “the words” are hard to mouth, but once shared, much easier to fill in the blanks and add the live emotions to them afterward. Just a thought.


  4. Well said, dear. As are Susie’s words. I especially like the idea of “taking those pages we need.” I think that can be applied to so many things in life.


  5. Your method of identifying your own “space” relative to a given situation, and then locating the space of others relative to that same situation, gives your perspectives a depth that I am “taking” as one of my “pages”. Thank you. And thank you, Susie, for that metaphor. It’s beautiful.

    Traci, your girls don’t even know — and thank goodness they have no reason to know — how fortunate they are that you do the difficult work you do to be emotionally healthy and growing. I admire you SO much, Traci.


  6. I’m very sorry for your loss.


  7. Hi honey. Just checking in today, and sending love.


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