Helen is a young professional working in data analysis. Beyond crunching numbers, she enjoys writing and spending time outside running, biking and connecting with others. She began taking an active approach to learning about and managing cancer after her aunt and mom were diagnosed with lung cancer, and provides a multicultural perspective on living with cancer. She lives in San Francisco, CA.
The woman who raised me and I did not always see eye to eye. In fact, as two stubborn, opinionated characters we frequently bickered, challenged and exchanged choice words with one another. As I reflect on 25 years strong with Mom, here are some of my favorite words that we exchanged. We gave each other many cards over the past few years, one of which she had told me she looked for a long time searching for the right message to express her feelings. It reads:
"When you have a daughter who makes you proud, makes you laugh and, very often, makes your day...you know what joy is. When you have a daughter who is a good person with a gracious heart and generous spirit...you know what peace is. When you have a daughter whose beauty (inside and out) is matched only by her compassion for others...you know what love is. Because I have you for my daughter, I know what it is to be truly blessed."
When I first read those words – as I read them now – I feel so close to my mom. Recently, I found a card with the words that expressed how I feel about her. I read this aloud to her on Christmas Day.
"Dear Mom, I'm so grateful for the way I was raised. You were never afraid to be my mother – to put your foot down, to teach me right from wrong, to make sure I did my best...You always let me know I had a mama who cared about me, who believed in me, who was there for me no matter what...Growing up with that kind of love and support made such a difference in my life; it made me who I am today."
My mother was never afraid to voice her opinion or be one to mince words, to put it lightly; but she was always pure in her intentions and true in her actions, and I feel so clearly, so humbly loved. As I go forward, I remember her strength and purity, her fierce sense of pride, her generous heart and sensitivity, her sense of humor (she once packed me a peanut-butter-jelly-and-ham sandwich because I refused to pick one of the two). Throughout her life and especially in her fight against lung cancer, Mom set us an example in unconditional devotion, taught our family valuable life lessons and never lost her indomitable spirit.
I know Mom is with us now and always. Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes, because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation. I love you Mom, Happy New Year. Rest in peace and God bless.