Tough as a Mother

Literally every time I see that on our sweatshirts or tank tops, I immediately think of my mom. Although, she was about 100 lbs and 5’ tall, she was the toughest, strongest woman I ever met! She took on three types of aggressive cancers, advanced Lyme disease, surgeries, chemo, radiation, immunotherapy, and a million and one tests and scans and yet, she never stopped moving, hosting parties, climbing the Spanish Steps in Rome, hiking a ski slope in Park City, having girls’ nights with her lifelong friends, going out with my dad for date nights and cross-country road trips, or spending time with her most cherished person…my son.

My mom refused to let anything take her down. She fought harder than her doctors had seen happen, than experts could believe and honestly, more than any of us who knew and loved her could ever fathom. She never sat still! Never stopped running errands, shopping, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, or making plans for everyone around her. One of my last conversations with her was her giving me marching orders of how I was to organize her funeral, what she’d wear, where to find things, and just the exact way it should happen. If she wanted something done, it had to be her way. (I guess I got that from my mama…)

More importantly, my mom was the benchmark of moms. She was Pinterest before it was invented. Elaborate birthday parties, homemade Halloween costumes, themed dessert tables, custom creations on party platters including animal scenes made from vegetables, murals on our bedroom walls, insane Bar and Bat Mitzvah centerpieces she would create before these massive bashes were even a thing. You should have seen her house on Halloween. An entire attic of my parents’ house is filled with her décor.

She never missed a soccer game, a play, a dance recital, or a PTA meeting. We grew up in an area with not many Jewish people, so she made sure to be the class mom who gave all the kids dreidels and made latkes for them onsite. My brother’s soccer team wound up having no coach when he was four years old, so she bought a book, learned the sport, and took over the coaching.

She was the mom who let me have the weekly sleepovers for my 8 closest friends, let me have friends over every weekend to use our pool, stole our liquor when we thought we were sneaky, but still let them come back week after week. When she was in her last days, every one of my childhood friends came to see her because she was that important to all of them too.

As we got older, she championed us, disciplined us (and man, could she stick to her guns! Imagine being actually grounded for a month because she “said so”?), and fiercely loved us.

Weddings. Showers. All continued to be her elaborate way to express her talents and creativity. Kane’s first birthday party consisted of her making about seventeen different themed Mickey Mouse treats for my dessert table just because “she thought them up”.

And Kane, he could never have dreamed of having a better Mimi! He was her star. What she lived for. What she fought for. She died with a photo of them together on her chest and took it with her. Nothing in the world mattered more to her. Her biggest fear was always that he won’t remember her because he’s so little. Not only have I reassured her countless times that he will, but we made him a Mimi Book. A hard covered book of every photo of them together since he was born. When I read my prepared speech at her funeral on Friday, I included an interview I did with my son about how much his Mimi meant to him in his own words.

I never use our blog as a way to discuss my personal life. It’s just not who I am. Many people who are very close to me didn’t even know how sick my mom actually was until the end. My best friend, my confidant, my daily phone call, my mentor, my idol, my role model, and my mommy. She was a hoarder, for sure. We have spent the last few days finding a lot of things. Many of which were not important at all, but so many that were. A handwritten speech she read at my Bat Mitzvah, every dance recital and school play program, every report card, progress report, and certificate of participation, handwritten cookbooks for my sister-in-law and I with every one of her “famous” recipes…even the patches from the Presidential Fitness Tests at school.

This past month has driven home in me and in my family how much you MUST tell people every day what they mean to you. I had the chance to tell my mom, but still wish I said things more often. Wish I didn’t get mad at her for annoying me with her “you should do it this way” advice. Wish I spent more time with her. Just wishes I’ll never get. If you love someone, say it. If you think they’re amazing, say it. Don’t hold back! Trust me, you will never regret it! We have been told by others who lost someone that we will see signs. I’ve heard some pretty cool stories from friends about their signs and I’ve already seen some starting the day after she passed away. A force that strong can’t be kept down! The best way to explain who my mom was to someone who never met her, is a text I received after her funeral. My friend who never met my mom came to be there for me. She messaged me afterwards to tell me how much she appreciated what I had said. I thanked her for coming. Her response was this, "I have no idea why you are thanking me. From my personal experience today, I can tell you that I feel loss that I didn't know your mom. She sounds so, so incredible. It was so touching." That was my mom. Incredible. Even in death, she hosted a HUGE party!

It’s been less than a week since my mom died, (I can’t even say that out loud without choking, by the way.) but all these “little waves” come over me. My dad did something so dumb yesterday and I desperately wanted to tell my mom so we could laugh. I was walking to the gym this morning and that’s our time to talk…no one to call. I found a bag of something she was making for Kane yesterday and lost it. Just sobbed after being fine all day. I assume it will continue to come in waves and this is my new normal, but as Cassie reminded me this morning…you are never too old to just need your mom.

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