In Loving Memory

Written by Abby Perks of Warminster, “In Loving Memory” was the first-place winner in our 2014 Essay Contest’s high school division. Abby (center) is pictured with (from left) brother Zachary, sister Emily, brother Matthew, brother Alex, and father Michael.

The word cancer is like nails on a chalkboard. Nobody wants to hear it. Some people know of it as a zodiac sign but others have a heart wrenching story behind it. On October 27th, 2012 is where my story for cancer began. My mother was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer. On October 27th my mother had her five kids (including me) join her on her hospital bed and she shared the bad news with us. At this time a million thoughts went through my head but the one that stuck was “Will my mom beat this disease?” I had no doubt in my mind that she could. I was only thirteen years old so I had no real idea what cancer really was. I had told my friends the news and they all seemed more worried than me.

As my mother’s disease got worse and you could see the effects of chemo therapy it made me think will she make it? In my mothers case she had two different types of chemo one that made her bones and muscles ache and one that made her lose her hair and made her incredibly sick. On my birthday, March 18,  2013 her hair loss was becoming an issue so we shaved her head, but before this happened she said to me “Abby, I don’t want you to have this memory on your fourteenth birthday” I said back to her, “Mom, you’re more important to me than any birthday and whatever you need to do, do it. Besides, we have next year.” That was the last birthday I got to spend with her.

Then it was June and she’s expecting good results which made me happy! Unfortunately her results had said it spread throughout her lymph nodes in her throat and stomach but was no longer in her cervix. My mother was very insecure with showing off her bald head. My sister and i both shaved parts of our hair to make her more secure with her hair loss. So many hats, bandanas and headbands were bought to do whatever it took to make her happy. She couldn’t be comfortable in her own skin. At times I would tell her to take her hat off. Sometimes she would, other times she wouldn’t. My emotions would always seem to get to me and I would ask her if she was afraid of dying. Her reply was always “Don’t worry, baby, I’ll be fine.” It made me happy to see her confident but I knew she sugar coated the pain to ease everyone else’s sorrow.

My mother was in and out of the hospital a lot; she liked being able to see the stars from her own window. It warmed my heart knowing she was home. I loved being around her, I loved seeing her, I just loved how close we were and the bond we formed. One day we got pulled out of school on the thought of our mother not returning home forever. The flow of tears overcame me. I couldn’t bare to look at her. The thought of losing my mother tore me apart, but luckily enough she was able to come home.

One day her doctor came in and said it would be in her best interest to sign the DNR papers for when that time comes. She also said that everyone in my family needed to be prepared for the worst at this point. I couldn’t help but cry. Was I really going to loose my best friend? Is cancer really going to take my mother’s life? I couldn’t bare the thought of her leaving us forever.

I didn’t know the effects of death till I pulled into the driveway after school on October 1st, 2013. I saw my neighbors and my dad crying. Instant sorrow filled me. I ran inside right to her room. She looked painless and happy, which made me happy, but I knew the end was near when our family and friends came to say their last goodbyes. I couldn’t help myself but to be angry, angry that out of anyone, why her? She didn’t deserve cancer- nobody does. That’s when my brother said not to worry and that she’ll be bouncing off the walls tomorrow. I had to tell him how real this was and that our mom will be cancer free in Heaven. That night she passed away.

It doesn’t hit you right away when it happens. Grief hits at different times. I’ve also noticed how people care, but when it becomes old news everyone disappears. I wish nothing more for my mother to be at my graduation and my wedding, but I know she is always with me. The thing about loosing a parent is getting use to the other’s parenting skills which I am still trying to get used to. I also need to get used to not seeing her, talking to her or even knowing that she isn’t there anymore. It is a painful thing to go through at fourteen, but I am very thankful to have a family even though we are missing an important member. My mom died six months ago and it still doesn’t feel real.