It has been such a long time since we have talked and there is so much to tell you. I really don’t know where to begin.
It will be four years since you passed away this November 12. In so many ways it seems like such a long time ago – and in so many ways I feel like I could still pick up the phone and call you. It is an odd feeling.
I decided to write to you because I always used to talk to you when I was confused about things. You always took my side – whether I was right or whether I was wrong. I really liked that I could count on you to support me – always. Well, I am confused again. It is not a bad thing that confuses me – in fact it is good. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the people in my life. Their generosity and kindness never end. I am not used to being on the receiving end of the well wishes and support – it is much more familiar territory to be supporting others. How humbling this experience is.
You remember Helene, Mom? She was always so good to you when you called for me at work. The students love her and find such great comfort in her smile. Helene is always smiling. You and she had quite a rapport and she was so very gentle with you when you came to see me. Anyhow, you’ll never guess what she put together for me… a quilt. She had my staff select a square of fabric that they wanted to have in the quilt and then she gave them another piece of fabric that they could write a message to me on. Then, she quilted all the squares and messages together in one great big quilt Can you imagine? How does one say thank-you for such a magnificent gift? I can’t believe that people would put such an effort into something just for me. Honestly – what would you do with that? I am so … yes, the word is humbled.
Mom, I have been so well taken care of by so many people through my journey with cancer. Janine, you know, my friend the nurse who was so helpful to line you and Dad up with Diane, then Tessie? You didn’t know how helpful she was when I needed more help for Dad and when I kept Dad home when he was palliative. She was so very kind and supportive. Anyhow, Janine is the messenger from work and brings me all the goodies from staff once a week. Unreal, right? Today, she dropped off the quilt and a gift from another colleague and friend Joanne. I was freezing cold today. Joanne must have known I’d be cold because she gave me a cozy-warm pair of pink pyjamas and fluffy socks along with some lotions and creams from Bath and Body Works. Oh, and in the morning, Vandie dropped off a stew and fresh rolls. Honestly, what can I say about the generosity of my friends?
I kept David home today because he wanted to have some Mom and David time together. He explained to me that he struggles at school. His friends know I have cancer and they understand David is sad. But David said, “They just don’t understand what I am going through and I feel so alone.” Oh, Mom. That broke my heart. Kevin is going to try to get him into Gilda’s Club and look for some more social worker support for him. There was supposed to be a worker at his school – but he hasn’t seen her for three weeks. It is so difficult to know what to do for him. I can’t promise him everything will be okay – because I don’t know. Would that be giving him false hope – or lying?
Katya has also been very helpful but I worry about her too. She doesn’t talk much to me about my cancer. I am relieved, however, when we went shopping last week (you would have been proud of me) and she joked about the cancer with me. I think that’s how she copes with it – with humour. That’s good.
And then – there’s Ben. He is so far away and I feel so disconnect sometimes. He and I talk – he calls me! But I can’t see him and I don’t know how to read him. I am most anxious for Ben to come home for Christmas, Mom, so I can get a better handle on how he is.
Kevin is a bit overwhelmed too I fear. He is not stressed, so he says, but he is so busy – you would worry about him too. I offer to help where I can – but he insists that I do as little as I can. He says he is okay – but I see signs of fatigue in his face. He has to hold down the fort here at home as well as work full time and deal with all of life’s little nuances like getting wood, fixing the snow-blower, and picking up oranges for his Mom. And his Mom relies on him too. She is good to not ask for too much from Kevin, but her eyes are so bad and she really just cannot see to take care of even her phone on her own. She is such a lovely woman, Mom, and she worries and dotes over me too. She is great company for me during the day – and I guess I am good company for her too.
Of course, you remember Amy, Karyn, and Mary. They call or text me almost every day. Chris, who may be new to you – messages me (face-book) a note every morning and greets me with a “morning Minion”. You won’t likely know what that means – but it is cute and it lifts my spirits.
I have re-connected with Debbie too. I know you would be happy to hear that as I have known her for such a long time. She texts or messages daily too.
Kevin and I have been on routine walks with Anne and Lee practically every week-end as they know it picks up my spirits to see our dogs chase one another through the woods. They have a little dog, Holly, who loves Jazz and can run circles around Jazz.
Bruce just came by to ask Kevin about scuba equipment as Kevin is now into scuba diving big time. It has been great to see Kevin, Ben, and now David all get out diving together. There is some really good bonding happening there – of course it is too cold now. I am not happy, however, that Kevin wants to take a course on ice-diving. You thought regular scuba diving was bad!
I guess by now you have been re-acquainted with Auntie Helen and you guys are a happy family once more. I was so glad that I was able to get to see her this past summer, Mom. She was not well and I know she was ready to leave this world – I think she was hanging on until the last Malloff reunion happened. I did my best, Mom, to spend some quality time with her when I was with her for the last time in her apartment. She wanted me to come back and help Cathy pack up the apartment – she was going to buy my ticket. But I just couldn’t commit as I was unsure of my health at that time. I’m sure she understands my hesitancy now.
I think this is the most one-sided conversation I have ever had with you! It is odd that I am not getting any feed-back from you, although I know you would be loving and encouraging. I know you would be forever worried that I am eating well and getting enough sleep. I remember how you fretted so much when Ben was born. He took so long to come into this world. You were going to drive to Collingwood in the middle of the night – imagine.
I have so much more that I’d like to say to you, Mom, but I am quite tired tonight. It is the first time since chemo started that I sort of feel “dragged out”. Not bad, eh? No other symptoms yet… hope they won’t come. I just wanted to get your input on how I can possibly say thank-you to so many people? I wanted to let you know how well everyone is taking care of me. I wanted to let you know that I still need you – and miss you terribly. I remember, on several occasions, when I caught you crying. When I asked you why you explained, “I miss my mother”. I get it Mom. I miss you. After all this time and no one can take your place. I wish I could share this letter with you in person. I know you would wrap your arms around me and hold my face in your hands. We would cry – then laugh – then share a Brandy or Bailey’s! I think tonight, if you were here, we would stay up too late and talk too long. And I would enjoy every minute of it.
Anyhow… this letter will have to do. I hope that you can help me figure out how to thank so many people for the wonderful support they have shown to my family and I. Maybe, if you have time, you can sneak into my dreams tonight? I’d love to see you. I’d love to hear you sing, “Good-night, Irene” to me one more time. Just a hint!
So, until we meet again, Mom – spukonya noche (really don’t know how to spell that). I love you.