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  • Writer's pictureDana Vanhoy

7 Weeks

I wrote about belly buttons in this post in September of 2018, on my birthday. It talked about being by my mom’s side as she succumbed to cancer.

I haven’t been able to write a blog post since.

I bring up a blank Word document to try to write something and I cry.

I have no words. Or I have all the words and they don’t come out in a cohesive, intelligible format. But here goes.


Let me take you back to the end.

Mom passed away on her birthday, October 18th, 2018. What are the chances of that? Of dying on your birthday? I guess the odds are 1 in 365? It wasn’t lost on us that mom had her heavenly birthday on the same day as her earthly birthday. We all considered her an angel.

I spent 7 weeks by her side. The last 7 weeks of her 75 years on this earth.

Seven of the longest yet fastest weeks of my life.

Seven weeks that were beautiful and sad and loving and heart-breaking and filled with God’s grace.


The first few weeks of my mother being in hospice were occupied with family and friends, reunions of loved ones from near and far. Everyone loved my mom and it showed. She got to say her goodbyes to my husband, my son, all of her other grandchildren, even three of her great-grandchildren she had never met until she was in her final weeks of life. Family and friends brought us food: casseroles, chili, roasts, cookies, sub sandwiches, pizzas, taco salad. Surrounded by so many friends, family members and food, it dawned on me that we were having a living wake for my mom.

If there is any “upside” of knowing that life’s finish line is just ahead for a loved one it’s having the opportunity to say all the things you want to say.

I apologized to my mom for being a jerk when I was a teenager. She assured me I was never a jerk. But I’m her daughter, she was kind of obligated to say I wasn’t a jerk.

I told her “I love you” every single moment I could and her response was always, “I love you more.” And I would tell her that I know she loves me more because now that I have my son, I understand the strength of a mother’s love will always outweigh a child’s love for her mom. And that’s ok, that’s how this parenting thing works.

I let my mom know she should be very proud of the legacy she is leaving behind: four children, 10 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. We all carry around a part of her within us.

Mom never lost her sense of humor in those seven weeks. When my siblings and I would jokingly try to pry out of her which one of the four of us was her favorite child, she’d pretend to fall asleep.

One time when it was just me in her room, next to her bed, I was blubbering and crying into a Kleenex. She was staring off into space, her mind somewhere else, a common thing people do in the last days of their life. I didn’t think she was paying attention and so I balled up my Kleenex and tossed it into the wastebasket on the other side of her bed. As the Kleenex found its way into the basket, I wanted to pump my fist like Michael Jordan after a three-pointer but I refrained. Mom raised her eyebrows and whispered “nice shot”. I laughed through my tears and told her I didn’t think she noticed but I was happy she did. We always want our moms to be proud of us, no matter how big or small the accomplishment.

Three days before she died, it snowed (yes, October 15th my hometown had its first snowfall). Big, fat, fluffy snowflakes that looked like God cut open a goose-down comforter and shook it out. We asked mom if she wanted to get up and see the snow. At this point, she hadn’t been able to get out of bed for days, she was too weak. However, she nodded her head yes, she did want to get up and see the snow. The nurse got her into a wheelchair, we wheeled mom into the solarium, next to the wall of sliding glass doors, and she got to experience being in a live snow globe. Her eyes were wide with tears and though she couldn’t talk at this point, we all knew why it was so emotional for her. The realization of seeing something for the last time must be very overwhelming.


Now, a little over one year later, I find myself missing my mother so very much. I didn’t know it was possible to miss someone this terribly. It’s particularly tough when my son does something that makes me proud and I want to call her up and tell her or post about it on Facebook and await her hilarious comments. The only thing that keeps me going is my faith in God and his promise of an eternity with Him in heaven. I know she’s there, with her parents, whom she missed so very much when they passed. I’m comforted in the knowledge that she is happy and pain free and one day I will see her again and she can tell me all the funny comments she couldn’t post to my Facebook page.

I miss you mom.

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