You may have noticed my absence over the last 6 months; something that was a bit out of my control and left me too drained for anything creative. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March of this year. For two solid months I sat by her hospital bed, through each Code called on her, through 3+ weeks in intensive care, through septic shock, a C diff infection, and several touch-and-go episodes. I spent too many nights trying to sleep next to her, at times not leaving the hospital for 36 straight hours. On May 18th she finally succumbed to complications from multiple surgeries.
Upon her death, I threw myself into two projects: helping my stepfather cope and go through her things, and a backyard project with Butcher Son, where we completely tore out the back lawn to build 4 huge raised beds for vegetables. It wasn’t until last week that I had the impetus to write again.
In going through another round of boxes of my mother’s possessions, I found a binder, which she had lovingly hand-painted. Inside was a printout of each and every column from this blog. The fact that she had done this left me with both a smile and a tear. (Well, more than one.)
My mother was intensely proud of her two children. We were the first in the family to graduate from university, and we both went on to have successful marriages, meaningful engaging jobs, and raise some really wonderful children. She regularly praised me on my writing, which often brought her to tears, not only because of the subject matter, but because it touched her so that I could manipulate words in a way that was heartfelt, passionate, and deeply personal at time.
My mother was an inspiration. She battled back from heart failure more than once, living with both a pacemaker and a defibrillator; went through two knee replacements and a heart valve repair, and multiple other surgical procedures. The cancer was just another in a long line of challenges, and one that she should have recovered from.
Her gynecological oncologist was a master, able to remove all the cancerous tissue and give us hope for a full recovery. But the heavy dose of antibiotics required allowed a C diff infection to flourish, eventually causing septic shock and a body that was not strong enough to fight back. After several rallying episodes, her heart gave out. And our hearts went with her.
But her belief in me, and my joy in writing this blog, was reignited when I saw the binder. So I hope to put pen to paper (or keyboard to computer) and get back on track, weaving words from my food experiences. And, I hope to tell you a little about my first attempt at raised bed gardening and the glimpse of joy my whole family found in making the project happen when all we could do was cry.