All along my journey of losing weight and getting healthier and fitter, I always looked to others that were stronger, more knowledgeable, braver, and wiser than I was. When I didn’t have strength to last once more day; when I didn’t have patience to wait out a plateau; when I wasn’t sure about nutrition choices for myself, I looked towards someone I admired. These people are doctors, musicians, integrative health practicioners, heart surgeons, personal trainers… and so on and so forth. My heroes don’t don capes or shiny underpants (at least I hope not), but they are amazing nonetheless.
In every different chapter of my journey, I would research and surround myself with information that my role model(s) had recently put out or had said on a tv show/radio program/newsstation. I considered these people to be my friends, someone that I could trust in my life, even though we had never met in person. I would take their advice to heart and apply it to my life. I would feel comfort from their lyrics that I wasn’t the only one going through what I had as a child/teenager.
Through every trial, I constantly looked for their words to help give me strength when I didn’t have any of my own left.
This is the case now. This morning, I received a text message from my mom (who lives with my father in Hawaii) that she was rushed to the hospital last night, due to severe chest pain, after collapsing during an afternoon walk. The ER technicians ran an EKG and ruled out a heart attack (thank God), but found a large build up of fluid in her lungs. My mom was dianosed a few years ago with discoid (cutaneous) lupus, that caused her skin to break out in large, red rashes that cover her face, her arms, and her neck. This condition made it near impossible for her to be out in the sun for long periods of time; she said the pain felt like she skin was on fire. She would go to extremes to be in long sleeves during even the hottest summer days and spent as much of her time inside as she could. Recently, though, her condition has progressed to her heart and other organs of her body, literally like her body is attacking itself. Lupus is known to be a very fatal immune-deficiency disease. She could have 10 years left, or she could have 2. No one really knows right now.
You always think that your parents and loved ones are going to be around forever, like they are indestructible and will always be there when you need them. But then reality and old age sets in, along with disease and medications. Suddenly, the hand on the clock seems to move much too quick. Where did the time go? I consider my mother to be one of my closest friends, though I haven’t always felt that way. Just like most teenagers, I wasn’t all that appreciative of my parents’ authoritative ways when I was that age. But since growing up, moving into adulthood, getting married, and making my way through this mess called life, I’ve found myself needing her support and advice so much more. Being the youngest of three kids, and her only daughter, she clings onto me like nothing else. Not a day goes by that we don’t talk (even a few times) through phone calls, texts, and when she’s able to come visit us in Utah.
My mom’s only 59 years old and it pains me immensly to think of losing her so soon. I haven’t been able to barely get up off the couch this morning, much less eat anything. My thoughts are solely on her and how much time we have left together and what I can do to make that time the most meaningful for both of us. I’m supposed to be in class today, and have two college courses this afternoon, but I can’t see myself being able to focus on any homework or textbook material.
Today, I’m relying the the strength of the words from Dr. Phil. This year, I started to DVR his show on the OWN Network, just to see what it was all about, and found the topics to be varied and intensely interesting. I really love the way he approaches tough topics and communicates with others. Here is what he recently said about grief:
“It’s hard to accept that a future without your loved one is your new reality; the mere thought of it can make you feel amazingly empty and alone. The yearning for their presence may feel as if it is going to consume you. As a result, you may refuse to get out of bed, want to go off alone somewhere, or push others away. You may think being alone will ease the pain, but it rarely does.”
“You may think, How can I stand enjoying myself when my son is dead? If you realize that a day has gone by when you didn’t think about your loved one (which may or may not happen in time), you may feel guilty that you’re “forgetting” him or her. If it takes a short amount of time to recover from a loss it doesn’t mean you only loved a little. The depth, breadth, and longevity of your grief are not a reflection of how much you cared about the person.”
The reality is that I don’t know and won’t know exactly how much time I have left with her. The point is to celebrate who she is and the relationship I have and have had with her.
My Mom and Dad plan to fly to Utah tomorrow, depending upon how she’s feeling. I’m going to do my best to make every second, minute, hour, day, and year count. That’s all I have.