Monday, February 8, 2010

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

The house is so quiet without you here. And though everything is still in its place, just the way you left it, a feeling of emptiness hangs throughout the house. My toys are still spread all around the place, but I'm not as interested in them as I was before. All the birds and the stupid squirrels come by your bedroom window to see if you've left them something to eat, but they leave disappointed. And the squirrels don't seem to get me so excited anymore. Even the sunlight that streams through the living room windows just doesn't seem to shine as brightly as it used to.

When you were here our house was a home. It was just you, Dad and me. There was laughter, there was fun, with lots of walks and playtime, there was lots of cooking, often with table scraps, but mostly there was happiness, lots of happiness. That happiness is now gone, replaced by a hollow nothingness - a gaping void. How could this happen so quickly?

Without you here, I now cling to Dad's side. I know he needs me now more than ever, and I need him too. He still pets me and hugs me, but there is something more desperate in his affection. I almost feel like I am his life boat. I remember when you used to kiss me; I felt your love wash over me in a warm embrace, from my big wet nose to the tip of my tail. I love Dad, and always will, but now I feel this heavy burden to protect him and care for him. That's my job though, and you don't have to worry about that, Mom, I won't let him down.

I remember when you and Dad came home from your appointment with Dr. May, and Dad's face was ashen. That was the day when our lives changed. I would listen to your conversations, and could see the abject terror in Dad's face. I heard you talk about clinical trials, radiation treatments, and I didn't know what all of that meant, until I heard the word cancer. Now I felt Dad's fear.

Cancer is a wretched disease, and one that we share in common with our humans. It robs us of our loved ones, and leaves in its wake shattered dreams and broken hearts. It strikes without prejudice or conscience. It is malevolent and an equal opportunity killer.

You were so brave, Mom, a true profile in courage. We lived in fear, while you looked cancer in the face, and never once flinched. Your "journey," as you would describe it, inspired all those around you. Your doctors, your nurses, who adminstered your chemotherapy, all of your colleagues at work, your friends and especially Dad and me were humbled and awed by the dignity, poise and grace with which you always carried yourself. And for an all too brief time, everyone thought you had beat breast cancer. We thought we could return to our normal life once again. Tragically, just one week before Christmas, you were diagnosed with a recurrence of the disease that was now Stage 4, having spread to other parts of your body. Dad clung desperately to the hope that you would soon be accepted to one of the clinical trials for the new PARP inhibitors, but it was too late, the cancer had spread so quickly. Yet even as your health began to fail, you never lost your determination to fight the disease. And as you battled for your own life, you worried more about your loved ones, especially Evan and Riden, Gram and Dad, and of course, me.

You also touched the lives of so many people, and not simply during your struggle with illness. You had a special way with people - and dogs too - by being genuine, kind and sincere. The generosity of your spirit was boundless. You always knew that the simplest gestures were the most meaningful. And that is what drew so many of us to you. You made this world a better place, Mom. You left behind a beautiful and gentile footprint for the rest of us to honor and emulate.

I'm sorry to tell you this, but I worry about Dad. He struggles without you here. Our walks are accompanied by an inescapable sadness that seems to follow him wherever he goes. He wears the visage of a man with a broken heart, whose dreams have been crushed by one of life's random acts of cruelty. He fears what the future will bring without you by his side. "Harry," he said to me, "our North Star is gone. How will we ever navigate through life without her?" Mostly, Dad stares out into space and just thinks. He doesn't share his thoughts with me most of the time, except for when the tears come, and then he just hugs me and says, "Thank you for helping me, Harry."

Dad said there is no reason or explanation for what happened. He said he could only arrive at one conclusion. As he gently rubbed my head, Dad said this: "I guess there are times when God needs to recruit angels to help Him do His work in heaven. And in this instance, Harry, He found an angel on earth in Mom, and He needed her more in heaven. I just wish He could have kept our angel here with us a lot longer."

Mom, I love you so much and I miss you terribly. I will cherish your memory always and will love you until the end of time.

With all my love forever,

Harry and Dad

And in the end,
the love you take,
is equal to
the love you make.
- The Beatles

In loving tribute to my darling wife, Dena.