After the pain of watching Mom’s health go from bad to worse so quickly and losing her in April, I thought I would be glad to see 2015 go. But when I started thinking about it, even though 2015 was an incredibly difficult year, a lot of good things happened too. It’s like my yoga teacher says: Life is made up of moments. Some of them are bad, but some of them are good.
So let’s take a look back at the good, shall we?
2015 was the year…
… I started a book club.
I’ve always wanted to join a book club, but couldn’t find one that fit with my schedule, so I suggested starting one to a friend while out for coffee and she was so enthusiastic about it, I actually did it. We started with five members in February, read nine books, and grown to eight members.
… I held a sea pony.
I went on my third trip to Hawaii in March and finally got around to touring the seahorse farm. I prefer to call them sea ponies though. Did you ever watch My Little Ponies in the 80’s? Remember the “Call Upon The Sea Ponies” song? Shoo-be-doo-shoo-shoo-be-do? I may have gone around singing that song for weeks before we went to Hawaii. Not annoying at all. After I held the sea pony I supported the Seahorse Hawaii Foundation by spending copious amounts of money in their gift shop. I couldn’t help it! Seahorses are so cute! I kind of want one as a pet. You can do that, you know. They’ll send you one in the mail.
… I made friends with honus.
Also in Hawaii, I found my new favorite thing to do – go honu spotting! It all started when the weather wasn’t so great so we pulled into Waikoloa for lunch. While we were at the Lava Lava Beach Club we heard people talking about seeing some turtles up the beach a little way so we decided to go look for them too. They’re so cute! We went back to Anaeho’omalu Beach to look for more turtles on a few other occasions and it didn’t disappoint.
When deciding where to go in the fall, I wanted to head somewhere in the Southern US. New Orleans was in the running, but when I found out Charleston had a sea turtle hospital at their aquarium, that’s where I wanted to go! That’s where I met the loggerhead sea turtles, and I didn’t think it was possible, but I think they’re even cuter than the Hawaiian green sea turtle! I love their faces! I met Botany while I was there, and since my visit, she’s been released back into the wild.
… I realized just how strong I am.
Seeing Mom so sick in the hospital and watching her lose control of such simple bodily functions as swallowing was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Her whole illness was rough, but I don’t think I was prepared for that. Until you lose your mother, you don’t know just how devastating it is. Everything started happening after I got back in Hawaii, and those next months were hard to get through. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much. But I got through them. I visited Mom and sat with her in the hospital. I brought Dad freezer meals and cooked for him while I was home. I made it back to work. I kept going, although at times I felt so alone. I made it through the 12 hour shift at work the day Mom and Dad’s wedding song came on the PA and I lost it and had to go ask them to change the music to another decade. I started running again. If I could handle losing my mom to Alzheimer’s and make it through chemo, surely I could run on a treadmill for thirty minutes.
Music helped. As strange as it may sound, finding the Backstreet Boys Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of documentary on Netflix and that album helped me through the tough times. The songs Madeleine and Soldier, even In A World Like This and the title track, made me feel better. “Hold on, don’t let go.” “Rise up, rise up, rise up, Madeleine. The sun will come out again.” “If your heart is getting colder, you know I will always be your soldier.” Yes, BSB, I will rise up. Yes, my heart is cold. Yes BSB, you can be my soldiers. Also, Rod Stewart helped, which is ironic because my sister and I vehemently despised his Have I Told You Lately That I Love You song. But Rhythm of My Heart and Forever Young soothed me. I think of Mom every time I hear Forever Young. “And when you finally fly away I’ll be hoping that I served you well. For all the wisdom of a lifetime no one can ever tell. But whatever road you choose I’m right behind you, win or lose.” I feel like Mom is saying those lyrics to me, and it helps.
… I learned how much my mom meant to everyone.
Perhaps the only good thing about someone dying is that everyone shares stories of just how loved she was. I never realized just how much Mom meant to my cousins, and it was touching to hear.
… I found some new hobbies.
I’ve heard you should do the things that made you happy when you were ten years old. Besides playing with Barbies, which I don’t think is an appropriate adult activity, I liked to do crafts when I was younger. Perhaps that’s why I’ve enjoyed taking up cross stitching. I found some supplies when going through Mom’s stuff in April and now I’m hooked!
I’ve also embraced coloring too. And I would like to point out that I was introduced to coloring mandalas a few years ago, before it was trendy, by my yoga teacher when I did the yoga teacher training course. Sticking my beautifully coloured “Today is going to be awesome” picture to my fridge had a surprisingly positive effect on me. For Christmas I got three new coloring books and I’m super excited!
… I went to a plantation.
Ever since reading Gone With The Wind, I’ve had a fascination with the south. While in Charleston in September I visited Boone Hall Plantation, and it was stunning!
… I threw a themed party.
Planning my sister’s baby shower helped save me. I was feeling really down around the six month anniversary of Mom’s death in October, and it was really busy at work and I felt really discouraged. Then I went on Pinterest looking for nautical party ideas and creating her baby shower gave me something fun to do and pulled me out of my funk. This improved state of mind has been with me ever since, and helped me get through this first Christmas without Mom.
… I became and auntie!
2015 could also be called the year that everyone I know had a baby, because quite literally all my married friends did have babies. I’m most excited about my sister’s baby! I love baby snuggles! And I love buying cute baby things. I can’t wait until she gets older and I can buy her Duplo and Play-doh and teach her how to bake. I know my sister is so incredibly sad that Mom will never get to hold her baby, but I’m determined to love little Roslyn enough for both of us. And while I won’t be able to sew her Halloween costumes, I can teach her how to make her Grammy’s chocolate chip cookies.
… I hosted a festive gathering for my friends.
I’ve realized if you want to get people together, someone’s got to organize it, and that’s the most difficult part. So, I took it upon myself to organize a baby friendly (see above) dinner at my apartment, including Secret Santa gift exchange. It was lots of fun!
… I’ve been cancer free for five years!
Got the all clear at my last hematologist appointment in December. I’m still scared of long term complications, such as heart disease and breast cancer from the treatment, but it’s so much easier to not think about it all the time. I also think the whole experience has given me a greater sense of empathy for the cancer patients I encounter at work. I know the system sucks, and you have to advocate for yourself to make sure your paperwork doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. I know what it’s like to spend time in the Medical Day Unit hooked up to an IV and that awful saline taste you get. I know what it’s like to have to go for radiation treatments five days a week. I know how how it feels to be anxious about a scan or a follow up appointment. I’m glad all that is behind me, and I hope I never have to go through it again. As Kanye West said, “that that that that don’t kill me can only make me stronger.”
… I became a person I know my mom would be proud of.
For a long time, I felt that my lightness was gone. Even though things have been rough this year, I don’t feel so dark anymore. I’ve tried hard to be a good person, a loving daughter and sister, and a supportive friend. I thought this Christmas was going to be rough without Mom, but maybe all those other Christmases when she was sick helped prepare me for this one without her. I found it comforting helping my family out, putting up both my sister’s and my dad’s Christmas trees, doing the Christmas baking, and helping my sister’s mother-in-law make Christmas dinner. In Mom’s cheesecake, cookies, fudge, and stuffing, I felt like she was there with us. She gave me those skills, and she helped me become a kind and caring person. I saw a poster at the yoga studio once that said “If there is light in the soul, there is beauty in the person.” I feel like I’ve found my light again. And I know I’ve done Mom proud.