Grieve and Excitement, Honoring My Mother in Graduationcsudhbulletin April 27, 2022 0 COMMENTS
Holding my mother’s hand while in the hospital on July 15, 2021. Photo courtesy of Annais Garcia.
By Annais Garcia, Staff Reporter.
I never thought I could hold the amount of emotions that have come along after losing my mother to pancreatic cancer, while also being a few weeks away from graduating from California State University, Dominguez Hills. In the last few months, I have been holding the feeling of grief, while at the same time feeling happy, as I will finally complete my higher education journey this year.
I have learned that grief comes in waves. There are days when my mind is focused and I can smile at the world, but there are other days when my heart feels heavy and I am not even able to leave the darkness of my room.
Everyone reacts differently to death and it might take months or a year to come to terms with a loss.
Lately, I’ve been aware that I can’t run away from my emotions and that I need to embrace each of them as they come. From one side I feel the excitement of graduating and on the other side, I feel the sadness of not having my mother.
Just a year ago, my mother and I were having breakfast together in my apartment and talking about my graduation. We were both planning to celebrate it with Mariachi music and with many guests. Our plans changed, when on June 25th, just a month after that conversation, she was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. The doctors didn’t give us much hope after finding out how fast the cancer was spreading in my mother’s body.
My mother decided to take chemotherapy but since her cancer reached stage four it would only prolong her inevitability. She then decided to choose hospice, a type of care that is meant for terminally ill patients.
In my mind, I was not ready to see myself walking to the stage knowing that my mom was not going to be at my commencement ceremony, but at the same time, I knew that she was ready to leave this world.
Seven weeks after her diagnosis my mother passed away on August 19 at 4:45 a.m. while I was falling asleep next to her. Moments before her death I told her that I was going to be fine, that she could leave whenever she felt ready.
That morning my family and I lost one of the most important members of our family. Ever since then our lives haven’t been the same.
It all happened so fast, just four days after my mother’s death, I was getting ready to start a new semester that would take me closer to my dream career in journalism. The different emotions would take me by surprise and even sometimes I felt confused about what was happening in my life.
This January, when I finally started my last semester of my academic career, I knew that the experience of being on campus would help me with my grief. Focusing on my goal of earning my bachelor’s degree this year has kept me motivated, but there are still moments when I realize that my mother is no longer here to participate in my achievements, and those emotions negatively affect my ability to enjoy my final semester.
One of the best things that have happened to me this semester is being part of The Bulletin, the campus newspaper. To meet many other students whose goals are similar to mine, to work on writing stories that allow me to investigate, and getting published so other people can have the opportunity to read those stories, has been an amazing and rewarding experience.
On the other hand, every time one of my stories is published, I instantly want to share them with my mother. I want to see her reaction and I wish I could tell her how excited and happy I feel. I take my phone and as soon as I try to call her I realize I can’t longer hear her voice telling me that she feels proud of me, or paying attention to my stories while I explain to her why I decided to write about that specific issue. It’s a bittersweet feeling.
One part of me knows that wherever she is, my mother feels proud of seeing how far I have come, and how hard I’m working toward my dreams. Before dying, she made me promise her that her death was not going to affect my career. There is also another part of me that wants to see her there with the rest of my family waiting for me after my commencement ceremony, to give me a hug and to share my happiness.
During these months I have realized that there are three things that have helped me in my grief process. These things are therapy, exercise, and family.
Through this time I have learned that life is not black or white, that it has many colors, and that it’s possible to feel happiness while grieving. Finally, I conclude that happiness is an attitude you can have towards life and that it can coexist with many other different emotions. Anybody can be resilient even in the darkest or brightest moments. Today, to graduate feels like I’m honoring her memory.