New Year Resolution

As 2010 came to a close, I had some time to think about all struggles we were faced with, the biggest was losing mom to cancer. In October 2009 she was diagnosed with cancer, in December she underwent 6 hours of surgery to remove it. She went through months of Chemo and by late May of 2010 she was deemed “Cancer Free”, we were ecstatic but it didn’t last long. Just a month later she went back for a check up and found the cancer had come back aggressively, she was given 3 months to live. Cancer took mom on October 16th 2010, just 11 days before her 57th birthday.

I was still pregnant with our daughter when mom told us she was dying. There was an overwhelming sense of failure, guilt, regret, and hopelessness. I felt trapped and alone, it was like one of those dreams where you’re screaming for help but no one can hear you. I just wanted to be close to her but I would have to wait. As soon as our daughter was 7 weeks old I flew from TX to HI to spend be with her and to hopefully have those final words to let her know that I love her and to hear her tell me the same but I never got that chance. On the day that my youngest son and I arrived, I called her to let her know we were on our way. She wasn’t feeling well and told me to come the next day so she could get some rest. I was exhausted as well and decided it may be a good idea. The next morning I called her numerous times, text her, called again, called my grandmother’s land line. Finally she answered and in a very weak voice she gave me the address. When I arrived, my grandmother had to buzz me in and when I got off the elevator I saw my frail grandmother run to me, fall into my arms and she just cried and cried and hugged me tighter. I could not have ever prepared myself for what I was about to see. She wiped her tears away, patted our son on the head and we walked into her apartment. There, lying on a hospital bed was what was left of my mom. She was broken down, weak, and very thin. She lay in the bed for hours, not responding to me, and only groaning from time to time. I broke down, I couldn’t stand to see her like this and I called home crying that I wanted to leave. This was not my mom, this wasn’t the strong woman that I just saw a few months ago, the woman that I loved, despite her flaws and her absence for most of my life.

Because she was so out of it, I never had that last talk with her. When we left CO to TX, there were some words exchanged and anger. I wanted to tell her that I was sorry, and that if I knew that she was going to lose her battle, then her smoking and drinking again wouldn’t have been such a big deal. If she only had a few more months left on this earth with us, then go ahead and have that drink and that cigarette! I was so angry that after the months of treatment, surgery, er visits, doctor appts, chemo, meds, everything that we had gone through, she had given up. When I found out she was drinking and smoking again, I just lost it. I told her to leave my house and to stay with my sister. I was pregnant, exhausted, planning a move and losing my job. After that day, we were never the same. We could barely look at each other. But even still I felt that she was going to pull through and then once we got settled and I wasn’t so angry with her, I’d tell her I love her and that I was sorry and explain why I reacted the way that I did. I was hurt. But I was selfish. I didn’t fully realize what she was going through, the fear and anger that she was feeling, the hurt and pain of knowing she may never meet her only grand daughter or watch her grandsons grow into men.

I spent some time going through some photos that I had of her, there aren’t many, but in all the photo’s her eyes are bright with love and laughter. She loved my photography, she would get excited when I’d bring the camera out to take pictures and would “hover” over me while I edited, putting in her suggestions. It annoyed the hell out of me, but I would give anything to have her hovering over me know as I write this now.

Looking back, during those last months I wish I would have taken more photos of her, more of her with the family and with me. I get so wrapped up in taking the “perfect” photos that I don’t take the REAL photos. The candid photos. The one’s that we can look through years from now and REMEMBER that day, the fun, the excitement and also the pain. These are real emotions that we will remember.

Many people have made their New Year Resolution to lose weight, eat better, or save money. My New Year Resolution is to be happy and grateful for the people and things that I have in my life. To have more patience and humility and to see the big picture. And finally to pick up the pieces, stand tall and continue to pursue my dream and love for photography. All of these are what my mom would have wanted for us and I want to be able to give her that.

So this year is dedicated to you, mom. I may succeed, I may fail, but I would have put my heart into it and at the end of the day I can look back and say “I did that.” and be at peace.

Happy New Year,
Kristina & the Rice Family

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One Comment

  1. Shelby Stone wrote:

    That is simply beautiful, Kristina! Warm wishes for the New Year to you and yours!