real life

'I miss you mum. I want you here on this earth with me so badly.'

Louise and her mum

by LOUISE ALICANDRO

Goodbye mum, I’ll always love you…

Wishing I had said those exact words to her. My therapist told me gently that my mum wouldn’t survive and to say those words to her before she went. And I wish I had.

As a young adult in my late 20’s I often reflect on a dark time in my life, when I was 13 my mum was diagnosed with cancer. Yep, the big C.

It was odd to hear that because my mum was the healthiest woman I have ever known. She didn’t smoke or drink and never bought her lunch when she was working. She always made a sandwich every morning before work. She didn’t even swear or get a craving for McDonald’s when she bought it for me. So you can imagine the look on the doctors faces when they said to her “how did you get cancer?” Mum’s cancer was a brain tumour with a 50/50 chance of survival. That is, treatment either works or it doesn’t.

As soon as mum was diagnosed she began to receive radiation therapy. We both moved into my grandparent’s home. I remember seeing how tired she was from treatment after I had finished school because we both got home at the same time. She always had to have a nap, as the therapy wore her out. But I knew my mum; I knew she was going to make it. I did have a little moment where she caught me crying because my mum had cancer and cancer is a really nasty illness. “Don’t worry, Louise, I’m going to be alright. And when I’m all better, we can go back home”, was what she told me. And I believed her, because she was such a strong woman. She put up with a lot. She left my dad when I was 4. He was physically abusive towards us both and it takes strength and courage to walk away from a marriage like that. But she did it, she was my superwoman.

Months had gone by and I noticed my size 10 mum had gained a little weight. She was now fitting into size 16. She didn’t really care but knew it had to do with the treatment and medication she was on.

In March the following year I turned 14. It would be the last birthday I would share with my mum. We had a small party with our family. Mum was feeling OK and the following month at the start of April mum said she had a severe headache. We took her to the hospital and they ran a series of tests. The tests were all the same, she had cancer and they kept her there. It was the last time mum would ever be admitted into hospital.

Days after that episode I went to school as per normal and the principal called me out of class. “I wonder what I’m in trouble for?” I thought, because back then I did have some attitude. The principal informed me that my uncle was on his way to pick me up from school as mum wasn’t doing so well. I really didn’t think anything of it.

Since mum was initially diagnosed her health was always up and down. When we reached the hospital, my grandparents were there and we were immediately taken into a special room full of doctors. They told us mum was in a coma and might not make it, however, I was so shocked that I could have sworn they were speaking Greek to me. Mum was in a coma for a week and during that time, she only ever opened her eyes once and that was to give me permission to eat chocolate pudding before my dinner. Once a mum, always a mum!

ADVERTISEMENT
Louise

When mum woke up from that week-long coma, she was paralysed from the neck down. She couldn’t walk or lift her hands and her speech was very slow and occasionally slurred. It bothered me a lot to see her like this because she was a previously healthy woman! How does someone go from health and fitness, eating right and being a mum to a young child, to a cancer bed-ridden patient? It wasn’t bothering me anymore, it angered me.

For two more weeks mum was awake, but then in the last week of April she went into another coma. This time we had taken her home so we could be with her. Mum was still in a coma on the 25th of April on ANZAC Day.

Every year on Anzac day Essendon (my football team) play Collingwood (mum’s football team). I have fond memories of her taking me to watch the game. It was our last Anzac day match and even though she was in a coma, I sat with her through the entire four quarters of the match on the television we had in her room.

The following day on the 26th of April at 8am I was collecting my school bag to leave for school when my grandmother came running into the kitchen crying. I told her to calm down and asked what was wrong. Mum had just died. My mum, died? My mum couldn’t die. She had this moment of bad luck in her life but she couldn’t be dead. I didn’t know what to do so I went to school. I had to get out of there. The news spread like wildfire, however, I will always be grateful to my fellow students and teachers alike for their generosity, sympathy and compassion towards me. Even my enemies passed on their condolences to me.

Now as a young adult, I have finished high school, attended university, moved interstate with a dashing young man, moved back home and have two properties under my belt. I wish mum could have seen all this. I’m due to graduate from university soon and I would love for my mum to be there. One day I’ll get married and have kids and she won’t be around. So what will I do? My grandmother and aunt have been around but it’s not the same. I want my mum here. Maybe I’ll just keep plodding along as I always have done with her at the back of my mind. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, but now instead of tears I smile when I think of her.

I miss you mum and I want you here on this earth with me so badly. I want to show off my achievements to you, like any kid should.

I love you mum, and I always will.

Louise is a 27-year-old freelance writer and soon-to-be university graduate. A food and travel enthusiast, she lost her mother at a young age and has found writing to express her emotions, both good and bad, to be a formidable outlet. Louise likes to write about food, travel and what life really is all about in your 20’s. Follow Louise on Twitter: @LouiseElena and read her blogs here and here. 

00:00 / ???