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  • Writer's pictureSusie Csorsz Brown

Except

It's my mom's birthday this coming weekend. A day to celebrate. A day for big fan fare and maybe a party. Except I don't really feel much like celebrating.


Some of you may know, I recently lost my mom.  Not as in misplaced her, but she passed away at the end of September.  I count myself grateful to have been with her when she passed; oftentimes, foreign service folks don't have that chance, but rather get that much-dreaded phone call after the fact.  Nonetheless, being there, being with her when she took her last breath, that doesn't make it any less awful.  Now I face the reality (when I don't keep myself busy busy busy): my mom is no longer here. She's not on the other end of that email or message or phone call.



Except she is.  I can still have a conversation with her.  I know her so well, I know exactly how she would respond.  I know her favorite things and her least.  I know her foods, her favorite plants, her favorite pastimes.  I know her favorite car color, and hobbies.  I know what tv shows she loved and which music she preferred.  I know her favorite bird. I know her favorite color. And I know it is not the color she wore the most often. I know she did not like the cold, but did not want to leave her home. I know her definition of home. I know her.


Except I don't know her at all.  Part of the loss, part of her rapid deterioration was due to an illness I didn't even know she had.  And that she'd had it for more than 5 years.  And that she had been getting treatment for it initially for 6 awful months and then regularly every other month since.  For 5+ years.  And that the disease came back, with a vengeance.  Mom, weakened after all that chemo and with a big bad cold, could not survive it.  And that it was completely unexpected that she lived as long as she had after diagnosis.  I didn't know any of this.  How I wish I could have helped.


Except I don't know what I could have done.  I mean, besides be there, hold her hand.  Cook nutritious foods for her.  Listen to her fears, her hopes, her questions.  Go with her to the doctors' offices, go with her to her treatments.  Be there.  Simply, even quietly, be there.  Mom didn't want us to worry, so she kept her secret.  


Except she didn't.  Her friends knew.  Her doctors knew.  The people at the place she spent a good number of hours each week knew.  What makes me the most sad about this, what breaks my heart the most is that I didn't get the chance to decide how I could be there to support my mom with what must have been one of the hardest challenges she's ever faced.  What if she didn't tell me not because she didn't want to take up that space, "make" me come help her, be needy, and instead, what if she didn't tell me because she feared I would not come to her side?  Oh, that ask would have opened a dozen little proverbial cans of worms, right?


This is not about me, though.  This is about honoring the woman, the parent, the person I most admire. On her birthday, I'll celebrate the amazing woman she was.



Next week, I'll share 5 things I learned from her, the truisms I know she's happy she passed on.

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