Writing my mom’s obituary is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I wasn’t ready to exist without her; I sure as hell wasn’t ready for this.
The obituary. It’s a big deal, right? It tells the story of your loved one’s life. It also announces to the world that your mom — the woman who gave you life — is gone.
So, I opened up my laptop, created a new Word doc and started crying.
I was about to summarize my mom’s life in a few lines of text. It felt like an impossible task… and it felt wrong.
“I can’t do this,” I whispered to her. In my head, I heard her voice, “Yes you can, mija. Just breathe.”
As my tears hit the keyboard, I took a deep breath and started typing. I started with her hometown and moved on to her career and volunteer work. I ended it by listing her family.
As I read her obituary now, I realize there’s something missing: her struggles, her battles, her wins, and her losses.
And then I realize… she lost the biggest battle. The price was her life.
But it was never a fair fight. With cancer, it never is.
That she didn’t see it coming is one of the things that hurts the most. It shakes me to my core. It wakes me up in the middle of the night – in a panic – causing me to silently scream-cry.
And once that passes, it leaves me fucking angry. Angry at the doctors who couldn’t save her. Angry at my mom for skipping her annual check-ups in 2020 due to Covid. Angry at Covid. Angry at myself (for a whole lotta reasons but more on that later).
Goddamn it, she was a fighter! She stood only 4-feet, 11-inches tall, but she took shit from no one.
Ever the warrior…
Even on the day of the diagnosis, after the first group of doctors gave her six months… and after the next group of doctors (minutes later)… gave her a few weeks… and after the next doctor (a few minutes after that)… gave her one week… my mom wanted to fight!
“We’re gearing up for the fight,” she said, fist halfway in the air, my stepdad on his knees, scream-crying. I stood there in front of her, stoic, tears streaming down my face, but stoic. I wanted to fall to my knees and scream-cry with my stepdad, but she gave me this look. Our eyes locked and I knew then what she was telling me: Be strong. Eres una guerrera.
Little did she know that a few minutes prior, just outside her room, the doctors had to pick me up off the floor because my knees buckled as they gave me the news first. I started hyperventilating. My vision, blurry. It was surreal.
The significance of that moment is not lost on me. I replay it in my head every day. It’s the moment I knew that my mom was going to die.
Still, I pleaded with them to find a way to save her. I silently scream-cried because I didn’t want her to hear me.
“I just need to get my strength back so I can fight this,” she announced to the group of eight doctors in the room. The head doctor stood there, shaking his head, knowing she wasn’t a candidate for treatment.
She deserved treatment! She deserved the chance to fight! At the very least, she deserved the chance to decide for herself. I’d like to think that I could have accepted her decision — treatment or no treatment. What I did know is that I couldn’t accept it this way. I still can’t.
But it was never a fair fight. And in all honesty, with cancer, it was never going to be.
Soy hija de Gloria. Una guerrera. Esta es la historia de mi mamá. Y mi terapia.
I’m Gloria’s daughter. She was a warrior. This is my mom’s story. And my therapy.