One of the most difficult things for me to deal with when my mother died was the anger. I was angry at the doctors for their failure and I was angry at her for not trying harder to live.

As children, we look at our parent and see pillars. They are not supposed to be weak. They are supposed to have all the answers to all the questions. They don’t feel pain like a child does. They are supposed to comfort us, not the other way around. This is the greedy little kid in us all.

When my mother first became diagnosed with nasal cancer she chose a treatment that I disagreed with. I learned quickly that her cancer was out of my control. But it didn’t stop me from trying.

The lack in control led to a deep anger over the entire situation. Every time she had a setback, I felt like I had a little victory. She should have listened to me. It is a horrifying thing to admit. But I cannot deny my feelings.

For the entire time she lived with her cancer and all of her treatments, I struggled. I watched as she became weaker and begged for her to try the things I knew would save her. But she had had her own plans despite my pleas, and they did not include me.

In her last few months, it was eating that we fought over. I begged her to eat, she promised she would…tomorrow. I raged at her doctors for allowing her to slowly fade away.

When she was on her deathbed, taking her final breaths, I wanted to scream. “I told you, Mom! I told you this would happen! Why didn’t you listen to me?”

In the end, when she died, I found myself plagued with guilt. How could I have spent the last year of my mother’s life struggling to control her and being angry because I couldn’t?

As much as I wanted to go back and change what had happen, I knew it was best left in the past. I knew that if I had spent the year holding her hand and telling her she would be fine, that I would have been lying to her. And that would have been even harder to for me to live with.

Ultimately, there is only one big regret I have. And that is not telling the one thing I wanted her to hear before she died. As she lay barely breathing on her bed and the phone was to her ear, I stood bent over crying on the other end. I couldn’t speak. All I wanted to say was thank you. Thank you for being my mother.

Diane Strong 2012


Diane Strong

Diane Strong lost her mother to oral cancer, an experience that inspired her to write the book "Out and Back." She lives in Kentucky with her husband and their two children. She received a liberal arts degree at Itasca Community College, a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Equine Studies from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, and a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Science from the University of Kentucky. She writes a column for the Georgetown News Graphic and home-schools her children. In her spare time, she competes in road races, triathlons and adventure races. She is the founder of the Georgetown Run Club and Intellectual Society. She loves what she does.

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