Melissa's story

On December 9th, 2008, our lives changed in an instant. I had rushed my mother to the emergency room after her level of confusion became alarming. We received the gut wrenching diagnosis that she had a brain tumor.  Later that week we would find out that it was lung cancer that had metastasized. She had also received a diagnosis of breast cancer earlier that November. So all of a sudden, in a single moment, my vibrant, beautiful, colorful, brilliant artist of a mother was riddled with cancer.

Complete and utter disbelief. Every cell in my body felt the sharpness of our new reality. I fainted.

Our world turned instantly upside down. That disbelief & shock held their ground and then shifted into fear. Fear held on too, but eventually turned to sadness.  Sadness stuck around but turned to anger. The doozy was that at any moment, any one of those feelings would take charge again and spin us around so fast, that we would loose our balance and our breath.

All of the big questions flooded our minds: How, why, when, and what can we do?

For the next year I was my mother’s right hand gal, driving her to Dana Farber and Brigham & Women’s Hospitals for daily radiation and chemo appointments, researching other healing systems, consulting with natural doctors, booking her massage & reiki sessions, making playlists to keep her spirits up during our awful commutes, cooking her meals, forcing her to drink green juice and smoothies packed with cancer killers, encouraging her to make life lists and plan for future trips to her favorite places like Tuscany and the south of France. And eventually bathing her, helping her get dressed, and cleaning up the destruction state that chemo had left her weakened body in. As I look back, I realize that I was somehow taking impeccable care of myself as well:  green juicing/smoothies, working out, walking in the woods, meditating, praying…I had to be at my strongest to bear the load of her grief, anger, sadness, and depression. I see now that I didn’t have time to grieve. I was too busy trying to save her life.

On January 12, 2010 at 5am, after a year and a month of fighting, we lost her.  My best friend, mother, and soul mate was gone from this world.

It’s been 5 years since that day and the disbelief and shock are still present. I still endure moments of crippling sadness and mindblowing anger at the universe. Many days of these past years have been spent in bed with the most debilitating depression of my life. Somehow, someway, I managed to refocus my career sites on wellness, and made it through muscular therapy school, graduating at the top of my class. And I continue to pursue my wellness career with a holistic nutrition program that will be finished in June. Although bits and pieces of the past years are completely blurred, with many details totally erased from my memory, grief’s nasty, slimy claws are slowly releasing their grip on me.

There are the days now of real clarity when I realize that my mother isn’t gone at all, she’s just changed form. And the realization that she left so that I would discover and pursue my true passions in life: wellness, nutrition, healing, helping others relieve their own pain.