Sunflowers–

 

Quick post:

Also,  I know the flowers in my featured image aren’t sunflowers, but keep reading or go to my page and you’ll figure out why “Sunflowers” is the title of this post! 

In many ways I am always looking for what I call “sunflowers” in life. These are normally moments in my life that I stop and think, “wow, that makes me pretty happy”. These moments can range from turning on the tv and my favorite movie being on (which did happen the other day), to having a stranger tell me they like my dress. These moments are always so small, but they make me think “this is a pretty good life”. So, here is my first sunflower for the blog.

I was driving today and heard a song on the radio that I didn’t recognize. Normally I reach over and search for another station, since I love singing along to songs I know. This time I just wasn’t paying attention to the radio, or was just too lazy to search for a new station. My sunflower for today was Lauren Alaina’s song “Doin Fine”. In some ways it connected with me. Check it out:

I’m doing fine enough to know that everyone’s a little broken
Fine enough to learn that hearts are best when they’re wide open
I still got fear inside of me
I’m not okay but I’m gonna be alright
For the first time in a long time I’m doing fine
I’m doing fine

-Lauren Alaina 

Doing Fine

In many ways its comforting to know that it’s not just me that’s hurting. This song is pretty empowering if you ask me, and I just thought it would be fun to share.

Have a great week! If you have any other songs you think I should check out, comment below!

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June

Hello my followers (and anyone new to my blog as well),

It has been too long, and I am sorry. The past 6 months have been a whirlwind of emotion and living life. I have experience joy, pain, regret, and a birthday all in the time that I have been away. I’m interested in keeping this blog going, and maybe this time I will keep up with it, posting every few weeks. Do not hold me to this though. This is a verbal commitment, one that I’m bound to break once life gets hectic again.

What’s new?

Personally, I have finished my Junior year of college. I have watched 8 months go by without my mom. I have moved to a large city for the summer, working on an unpaid internship while watching my savings hit rock bottom. Last, I have learned a lot about myself.

I plan on cleaning up my blog a little throughout the week, and want to start really posting again. If you haven’t noticed, I changed the title of my page. Searching for Sunflowers. 

There are many days that I am able to laugh and smile, with the memory and presence of my mom and her joy in the back of my mind. These days I know that she is standing beside me, making sure I catch God’s new painting in the sky when it begins to get dark. There are also days that cause me to have flashbacks. Flashbacks of the house before her passing, walking towards my parents bedroom with death poking its head up at every window, aching to come inside. Flashbacks of standing by her bed and counting the seconds between each breath. Each time the seconds dragging on longer, with my chest tightening with anxiety before her next shallow breath became known. These days are hard, but these are the days that I have started to really understand myself and what my family and I went through.

I changed the title for many reasons. I have grown very fond of sunflowers throughout the past year.

The first reason being they are bright, like my mother.

Second, a particular poem caught my eye before her passing, speaking to me in a new way.

“despite knowing
they won’t be here for long
they still choose to live
their brightest lives

– sunflowers”
Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers

In many ways, this poem embodies how I viewed my mom. Despite the fact that she knew there were limited weeks, months, and years, she lived her absolute brightest life and never once missed a beat.

Last, I picked a sunflower from her spread on the casket before she was buried. It was bright and beautiful, and I could just hear her whispering that I picked a good one.

So, Welcome to Searching for Sunflowers. I will be posting a lot about cancer, but maybe I’ll start to throw in a little more about myself and daily life as well.

Thank you all. 

 

10/25

My week started out with a computerized path of a plane fly over a satellite map while sitting in the plush seats of the economy section. October was spinning to a close, with pink Breast Cancer ribbons mixing with the tacky orange and black of Halloween. I always flip through the flight magazines, looking for anything to pass the time. This time, thanks to the shitty month of October, I opened the magazine to the Breast Cancer Awareness section. The magazine had thoughtfully highlighted the Stage IV section, making a note of all of the stewardesses that were living and working despite the cancer in their bodies. One stewardess was even praised for living with it for 17 years.  Along with the envious magazine, the airline handed out pink paper coffee cups and napkins. Oh, joy. I was surrounded.

What a start to the week.

Normally I do not go home during a semester due to the long drive, but this semester I had managed to make it home 4 times, this being my 5th. The first few times, mom was conscious, able to hold conversations, occasionally got up to use the bathroom, as well as feed herself. This time, she was barely conscious. When I first walked into her room on this last visit, she was laying on her back, breaths coming ever 8 seconds. Her eyes slowly peeked open, sensing someone was in the room.

“Hi, mom. I made it home.” I whispered as I engulfed her frail body in a hug. As I rose from leaning over the bed, I saw her dark eyes fill with tears.

“I love you, mom.”

The response was small and weak, but she was able to respond just the same.

My dad, standing beside me, proceeded to softly explain that I had come home due to her insistence that it was time and she was tired of fighting. My mother nodded her head, closing her eyes and falling back to sleep.

This was the beginning of my mothers last week on earth.

6 Months to Weeks

Again, I have been slacking on blogging and keeping this page up to date. Honestly, I have been putting off this blog post because, quite frankly, it is going to suck.

Around 3 weeks ago I was sitting in my dorm room at school, when I got a text from my dad. I can always tell when I am about to receive bad news because the texts are always short and to the point.

Call me when you are able to talk for a bit”

When the ringing stopped and he picked up, I knew this was the start of the descend down hill.

“We just finished talking to the doctors. They are putting her on the strongest chemo available. If it works like it should, we have a max of 6 months left with your mom.”

Needless to say, I didn’t leave bed until that evening.

The hope of 6 months did not last long though.

I am back at home, and long story short, mom is now in hospice care with about a week left.

 

 

Summer Break – pt. 2 (Vulnerability)

The first night I came home for summer break, my dad told me that this is going to be the hardest summer of my life. I think he is right.

Mom has shaved her head and is wearing a wig out in public. Its crazy though because many people have no idea that she is wearing a wig. It looks so natural that sometimes I even forget about it until we get home and she takes it off.

Physically, there has not been as much progress with her cancer as we had expected (thank goodness). Her mental health is a different story though. For almost two weeks she struggled pulling herself out of bed, along with panic attacks that came in waves throughout the week. Thankfully, her doctors realized what was happening and has given her some meds to level back out her emotions.

My mother and I went out to lunch the day after she began taking her medication. In the middle of the busy restaurant we talked about how she felt insignificant, misunderstood, and limited on the time left in her life. She spoke about how some days her anxiety roped itself around her, making it impossible to focus on anything.

While on the unusual lunch topic, she told me about one of her first moments of severe anxiety, when she woke up during chemo one Thursday and had realized my dad had left. During my years of middle school and high school, I never saw my parents as overly in love or affectionate. For some reason this image of my mom in pure panic because my dad left to get coffee, left me raw. She admitted to me that for some reason her mind did not register the fact that he had left to just go get coffee (like he normally does in the 2 hour chemo treatments), but instead she thought he had actually just left. Up and left her, for good. My mom is the strongest person I know, and has never admitted anything like this to me, and not only did that break my heart, but it made her stronger in my eyes. I know many people who would never admit such vulnerability and weakness, including myself, but she laid it all out on the table for me to examine and experience with her.

I have been struggling some too lately, and I might as well explain how vulnerable I am as well.

As a 20-year-old woman, I find my Pinterest feed full of wedding dresses, engagement rings, and home décor. I know that all of this is in the very far future and I am nowhere near needing to prepare for any of it. But lately, when looking at these ideas and saving them to my Pinterest boards, I can’t help but picture these big events. These big events that (unless some crazy miracle occurs) I will not have my mom with me to experience and guide me through them. It’s a very grave thing of me to write, I know, and I am sorry.

Clyde (my counselor at school), always told me that these thoughts will happen, and there is no way for me to stop them, I just have to feel the pain and sadness and then keep pushing through.

Vulnerability is an embarrassing and frustrating concept that we all deal with, and sometimes, to know our true strength and to know our true weaknesses, we just have to have other people acknowledge it. So thank you, my fellow blogger for acknowledging my vulnerability.

Sorry again to all of my followers for taking so long in between posts. I would say “I’ll do better”, but I cannot make those promises. Thank you for following again!!

Summer Break – pt. 1

I am officially home for summer, it has been a long one already, and I am only 4 days in!

There have been some updates with my moms health over the past few weeks.

She has been doing a round of chemo every week since January. The last scans showed some breaking up and shrinkage in her liver and lungs, but also new spots are popping up in her liver. The doctors have pushed her 3 month scans up to a little less than 2 months, just to see if there has been any growth and if we need to switch the level of chemo.

Things are starting to get a little too real for my liking also.

My moms hair as almost all fallen out, and she has found a nice wig to wear that looks completely real. Along with her hair falling out (which happened as couple months ago), her nails have started to bruise and bleed underneath, making it hard for her to do much with her hands without them bleeding.

My grandfather (so my moms dad) has been talking to me a lot about how his mother also died from this type of breast cancer when he was in high school. Yesterday, he mentioned that his dad also got remarried a while after his mom died, and then proceeded to warn me that that could happen to us as well.

On the first full day I was home from school (Thursday), I went with her to her chemo treatment.

The cancer center is a sad place.

They try to make it brightly colored and bring in dogs, music, and other visitors to keep the spirits up, but underneath it all, there is just this deep sadness in everyone.

Lately I have also been feeling very selfish. I know many friends that are spending their summers away overseas, studying abroad, and living in new places. I don’t get the luxury of leaving with nothing to worry about. It’s very selfish of me, I know.

All in all, things are unraveling a little quicker than expected.

Long Time, No See

Wow. Hi everyone!

I have been in full swing of volleyball and school for the past few weeks and am finally getting around to looking at my blog again.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. First thing first, I reached out to the counselor here at school and have been going to counseling sessions each Friday. I am skeptical about writing about that, just because I hope no one I know is reading my blog. Not that talking to a counselor is a bad thing, but I don’t want people I know to know.

My counselors name  is Clyde and he’s an older gentleman, with a crooked smile and warm eyes. I really do appreciate him, because even if I tell him that I don’t have anything else to talk about, he always sits and listens to  my small talk until I get around to my next topic I need to get off my chest.

I’m not overly sad or in need of a lot of help, but I like talking to Clyde. Its easy to talk to him because I don’t know anything about him or his life outside of his broom closet office. I don’t like dumping all of my rollercoaster feelings on my friends and my boyfriend. I know they probably wouldn’t mind, but it is a lot to process and honestly, none of them really understand the severity of all of it.

I went to Florida with some friends for spring break and really enjoyed that. A little less than a week ago I also went home with a couple friends for Easter break. We had a lot of fun and everything seemed relatively normal because my friends were home, so mom wore her wig the whole time and we didn’t really talk about treatments or anything else.

I am planning on living in the city mom gets her treatments done this summer, so I won’t be home, but I will probably end up going with her every Thursday.

We haven’t had any new updates recently, but she had scans this Wednesday and should be getting the results back next week. She is nervous and so is everyone else just because last time she wasn’t feeling bad, but the scans came back with growth.

As I am writing this, I am also throwing it back to my child hood and watching Bill Nye the science guy. I’m not sure why that is relevant, but it has put me in a pretty good mood.

Thanks again everyone, and I’ll for sure be writing again soon.