Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This post is highly inappropriate for this blog, but yesterday my mom died. She was diagnosed with cancer in August. Things didn't look good, but we had no idea how bad they really were; the cancer was in her lungs and brain. The first oncologist gave her six months to live. We switched to another doctor who said she could live indefinitely on a kind of chemotherapy. What he didn't know was that the cancer was also in her spinal column, which is an untreatable condition.

Mom and I had a complicated relationship. I loved her and she loved me, and we even shared many of our deepest-held values of family and faith, but the little things -- the history of frustrations and disappointment -- kept us from ever really being at ease with one another. Baby and my daughters were almost the perfect buffer between me and mom, to make our relationship real and even fun in the last few years, but I always felt like she either didn't know me or knew me and didn't approve. Or maybe she just thought I didn't like her, because of all the times I was a colossal asshole.

She was a fun-loving woman. She was spontaneous and free-sprited. She had a highly-developed sense of propriety which she almost always disregarded, either embarassing or entertaining me depending on the situation. She taught us to never talk about money but could be counted on to ask even complete strangers how much they made or how much their kid's school cost. She was, like me, stubbornly loyal. Unlike me, she never shied from a fight over values.

In the last few weeks, preparing for her to die, I have learned a lot about her. She secretly smoked for about 23 years after I was born. She took care of an Alzheimer's patient and began to set up a trust fund for neglected and abused children. Her natural hair color was dark brown.

Her last few days were probably not her best, since she was in enough pain to require morphine, but she did get to spend a lot of time with my brother, my father, me, Baby, and even our younger daughter. I suspect that holding my daughter was the highlight of her last week.

I miss her. My daughters love her as much as possible, but the older -- being three -- will be lucky to remember her at all, and the younger simply won't. What a fucking shame.

Rest in peace, Mom. I hope to see you again some day.


  1. we're sad to hear the news, chase. we're praying for your family.

  2. echoing dave's sentiments, we are praying for you and your family, and are sad to hear of her passing. i am glad to have met her.

  3. your mom was awesome. the few times i met her i got a good sense of the things you described above. i have a natural tendency to like people's parents. but your mom was exceptional.

    xie and i (as she said above) are thinking of you and yours.

  4. Oh man. I'm very sorry to read this news. I hope that you find a lot of time and room over the next couple of weeks, months and years to tangle with grief and to mourn. Obviously your good humor will help, but never underestimate the healing potential of anger, breaking things and, well, crying a shitload. I'm so very sorry.