I told you a bit about my parents Joe and Christine in my last post and what it was like for me growing up as an only child. I explained how my dad Joe had struggled with alcoholism before I was born, but that he had recovered and I had never seen that side of him until my mom passed from cancer.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in college. We couldn’t believe it, but the doctors said she had a high chance of recovery, so we were hopeful.

But no matter how optimistic we were or how many treatments she tried, my mom was never able to get rid of cancer completely. It was heartbreaking and unimaginably painful to watch her shrivel and shrink as she battled her illness. Before cancer, she was full of life and energy. I think of her playing Aretha Franklin songs in the kitchen and singing along happily as she whipped up a new dish for our family for dinner. “Say A Little Prayer For You” always makes me think of her and smile.

But cancer took all her energy and laughter. My father and I watched helplessly as she rapidly lost weight due to nausea that chemotherapy gave her. She lost all her hair, and my dad took her to buy wigs. It was hard for her to lose her hair, but she stayed optimistic saying her curls had always annoyed her and she had always wanted to go blonde. She had about a dozen different wigs that she would swap out based on her mood. Sometimes she had a turquoise bob, other days she had long, glamorous blonde waves.

She had to have both breasts removed to try to get rid of cancer. I started to lose hope when the doctor offered to put in implants so she would still look the same, but she just smiled sadly and said there wasn’t any point. I knew then that she knew that she wouldn’t make it much longer. Throughout this time my father stayed strong and was my mom’s biggest cheerleader. He was a model husband, taking off work to care for my mom, cooking and cleaning since she no longer could, and trying his best to stay positive and take care of everybody.

Keep reading to find out what happened when my mom passed away.