Mother’s Day (with a broken heart)…

Mother’s day is my favorite holiday.  I don’t celebrate my birthday really, aside from a little cake, which is more for Chase than it is for me.  I don’t like to celebrate my birthday…. Not because I don’t like getting older, but because getting older is a privilege denied to so many children, like my Tanner.  If he doesn’t get to have more birthdays, than why should I?  But Mother’s Day is special.  I worked hard my entire life, in school, at work, to get everything I wanted, everything I planned my life to be.  The one thing I couldn’t plan or get exactly how I wanted was having children.  Infertility was an issue we struggled with for 4 long years after marriage and finally through the miracle of God and science we were blessed with Tanner.  18 months later we were blessed again, in the same way (through IVF) with Chase.  3 months later, Tanner was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and everything I had hoped and dreamed and worked so hard to get was spiraling down into a painful abyss of chemo, radiation, nausea, headaches, paralysis and ultimately death.  Death of a 3 1/2 year old.  So much for planning a perfect life.

I only had one mother’s day with both of my boys.  It was a beautiful day, with a brunch in my living room (because Tanner was immuno-comprimised and we couldn’t go anywhere).  Tanner was 2 and Chase only 5 months old.  I was so happy having  both of my beautiful boys in my arms, so happy being “momma”, the title I hold most important, and dearest to my heart.  Tanner had made me a beautiful little jewelry box at his preschool that year with a bracelet, and that piece sits on my dresser where I see it every day, one of my most prized possessions.

I love mother’s day because it is a day where I look at my beautiful boys and realize how blessed and happy they have made me.  This second mother’s day without Tanner, I will be reminded of how my heart is split in two.  Half of my broken heart in heaven, with Tanner, and half here, so proud of my beautiful Chase, my sunshine, my reason for living.

It is a day, however, that I still like to celebrate… because Tanner made me a mother.  Chase made me a mother.  I am proud and honored to be a mother.  No matter where Tanner is, I will always, forever, for eternity, be HIS MOMMA.  No one else can ever say that except me, and I am so lucky to call him mine.

Mom-cologists are a special kind of momma.  They don’t just take care of their children, they sit vigil at the bedside, praying and wishing for a good outcome.  Praying that they have made the right choice in treatment, hospitals, plans.  They recognize symptoms almost before they start and they administer medications better than a nurse.  They tell the doctors what needs to be done, and they advocate for their children like a soccer mom on steroids.  They would trade places with their child in a heartbeat without blinking an eye and they would give anything they had for that chance.  They continue to live in fear for the rest of their lives, because the possibility of relapse is so real, and happens so often.  A mom-cologist’s job is never done, and their journey is never over.  Even if their child is deemed “cured” they still have to deal with the array of complications that long-term survivorship brings, including heart, lung, growth, and reproductive issues.  And, if they become a bereaved parent like me, they live on every day without their child, wondering if there was something more they could’ve done, something new they should’ve tried, someplace else they should’ve gone… and in constant, un-defineable pain.

Happy mother’s day to all the mommas in the whole world this mother’s day… but a very special happy mother’s day, with love, hugs, sympathy and empathy for the mom-cologists this year.  I wouldn’t be who I am without my fellow mom-cologists who understand my pain and our trials… and to all of you out there who I haven’t met, all I can say is, “I know”.  We’re all in this together mom-cologists.

Happy Mother’s Day,

Love,

Tanner’s Momma

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My second Mother’s Day with Tanner, when life was perfect…

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