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An Uneasy Peace: Joyce Reflects On Her Mother’s Death

An Uneasy Peace: Joyce Reflects On Her Mother’s Death

My mom died on April 1, 2023. She was seventy-four years old. For thirty-plus years, she lived with cancer that started in her breast. It slowly carved out pockets of disease in her body like a glacier creeping down a mountain. For decades, the cancer had minimal impact on her body. She rode her wild Arabian horse nearly every day, excavated new garden beds, wielded a chainsaw and repaired her own roof. Her mind was strong, too. But in a different way. The same fight and steely resolve she brought to her daily activities, she brought to relationships, including the one she had with my sister and me. A tough life defined by an abusive relationship with my father left her emotionally hardened. Over time, those calcifications turned into razor-sharp spikes. And she used her spikes to slice me. Over time, our relationship resembled one of those spiral-cut hams slathered with extra spicy mustard. To protect myself from her, I built a fortress. Sadly, my personal fortification project coincided with her cancer worsening. Tumors broke apart her spine and colonized her liver. Despite our difficult relationship, I made the decision to stand by her, in any way she would allow. I ended up being the liaison with her medical team and working behind the scenes to make her final months and weeks a little sweeter. My mom once told my sister, No one needs to hold my hand when I die.” But my sister and I were determined not to let that happen. Regrettably, we were too late. Hours before we arrived at our moms house, she passed. Our mom died how she lived — alone. Our hands, however, were fully extended and ready to grasp hers.