Good Reasons But No Excuses

January 1, 2009

It’s been too long. And as my title implies, I have reasons but no excuses.

In January 2008 I got a new job — incredibly challenging. Six weeks later, my mother — who had always been healthy, strong and vibrant and who was 10 years younger than my father — was diagnosed with terminal, metastasized lung cancer. In the middle of this, I started questioning whether or not I wanted to stay in my then-relationship. (I guess the “then” gives away what my decision ultimately was.) My entire life was in upheaval and everything that was not necessary to move forward got put on hold — including the writing.

By March, I’d pretty much decided to leave the relationship but was putting off the actual exit until we could see what effect Mom’s chemo would have on her prognosis. In June, she had her last chemo and was doing so well we were all convinced it had worked wonders. False hope: it shrank the lung tumor but every other tumor grew in the meantime. However, during the time we thought it had worked well enough to make an actual difference in her timeline, two things happened: I told my ex I was leaving, and, that same week, I met face to face someone I had happened to meet online the week before — and knew as soon as I laid eyes on him that I was supposed to be with him forever.

She deteriorated quickly. She died on August 31. Four days before, on her last lucid night, she met the man I married four months to the day later (last Saturday, in fact), and he was with me when she died. I have not begun to assimilate her loss nor the joy my new husband brings me, but I am trying to look both of these huge changes in my life squarely in the eye and take whatever they have to offer.

One effect emerges nearly immediately: I have become more convinced than ever of the importance of measuring one’s actions and their effects. My mother led a fairly simple life but I have come to know how broad her scope was, how many people she affected, how profoundly she is missed, and how very very much a life that was, in effect, a collection of right actions stacked one atop the other came to mean to those around her. She had grace and courage and lived those two characteristics fully. She believed that her responsibility to those around her extended to meeting their needs regardless of whether or not it was “her job” to help and, if possible, sending everyone she met away healthier and whole-er than when she first encountered them — and she succeeded in living this belief to a remarkable degree. She took care of her family, her neighbors, her customers, total strangers, her children’s friends, animals, forgotten civil war battlefields, her own and everyone else’s gardens, the rabbits who exasperated her by eating said gardens, wildlife, this planet. She lived a thoughtful life. She was, in her way, a simple activist.

And I am, very much, her daughter.

Be talking to you soon.

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One Response to “Good Reasons But No Excuses”

  1. toni Says:

    A belated (of course) welcome back. Love you!

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