The Kofford Family relocates to Colorado after 40 years as Californians. In December of 2007, Grandma Lorraine is diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. Sadly, she passed away on Dec. 26th, 2008 after a year long courageous battle. Follow our journey as we keep Lorraine's memory alive, and as we learn to appreciate that each day we are given, is a gift to be enjoyed!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
~Maria Robertson

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Mourning...

My mom and me in 2006...mourning my dad, yet hopeful that we had one another. Little did we know how our lives would change in the year ahead.

Thank you so much friends for your encouraging comments on the post below! Your kind words were just the "pick me up" I needed! You have been so supportive and kind, I will indeed keep the blog going, and will continue to search for the right "voice" in the coming weeks. Knowing you will patiently read, and muddle through with me, gives me confidence to continue, and I thank you SO much for your gift of support!

Today the kids were off from school for "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day". He was also born on my mom's birthday, (Jan. 15th) and my mom was always pleased to know she was born on the same day as such a great man. Tom had to work, so the kids and I cleaned house, ran errands, took Ashlyn cookie-selling for Girl Scouts, and stopped by the "Hope Care Cancer Center" this afternoon. The staff was so wonderful to my mom last year, and I wanted to thank everyone, and let them know that she had passed away.

I remember the first time I visited the center. It was about this time a year ago and I DID NOT want to be there. I didn't want to read the helpful brochures, I didn't want to be friendly or smile...I didn't feel hopeful, optimistic, or cheerful. The receptionist was so kind, and I politely smiled back and scheduled my mom's appointments; but in my heart I was angry.

I was angry that my mom had cancer again, I was angry that our lives had been turned upside down, and angry that I was an only child. I was angry that my dad had passed, and questioned my ability to remain strong for my mom. How could I raise a family, and drive my mom to numerous appointments and get the kids to all their activities, help with homework, etc... Being back at the center today reminded me of all the anger I felt at that time. Anger is such an ugly emotion and one we don't care to reveal....being cheerful is so much easier. Sometimes life gives us cause to feel angry though, and I have learned that in those instances, it is better to deal with it, than to stuff those feelings deep in our souls where they will surface at some other time.

The interesting thing about life though, is that time can change our perspective, it can change how we look at unwelcome situations. After a few weeks of daily radiation visits to the cancer center with my mom, I started to look forward to visiting with the nurses and patients. Of course my mom went in the first day optimistic, and made friends instantly, but I was reluctant and still angry. What I realized during our daily trips, is that people are everything! If we met anger and bitterness, we too may have mirrored the same. The attitude and presence of the people there, made the entire experience bearable, and even pleasant. They took the time to talk with us, to explain every procedure, and to listen to my mom's concerns and my fears. There was no longer room for my anger, as each person we met, slowly erased my fear, uncertainty, and restored hope.

Did you know that local high school students knit caps for cancer patients? Did you know that there are computers, books, pamphlets, and folks available to answer questions for family members of cancer patients? I didn't know that there were daily massage therapists available for patients to enjoy massages after treatment...there are tropical island pictures on ceilings in treatment rooms, and snacks, drinks, and TV's to watch while you wait. There were nurses who actually sat down next to me each day and just visited. There were homemade blankets to take as needed, and plenty of love and understanding to go around for all. I thought a cancer center would be all doom and gloom...I didn't want to be around dying people, I didn't want to think about it, or see it. How very wrong I was a year ago. There were NO dying people in the cancer center, there were only people filled with hope, teaching everyone around them how to LIVE, while living with cancer.

At the end of treatment, there was a special ceremony my mom was given by the entire staff. There were balloons, cookies, bell ringing, clapping, and support from fellow patients and staff. I was no longer able to be angry. How could anyone be angry surrounded by so many people who cared?

Recently I have sadly felt that anger parents are could they leave me and their grandchildren? It wasn't their choice, nor did they lead lives that would lead to this outcome. They were good people, loving people, but cancer and death do not discriminate.

My parents loved our kids as well as their lovely exchange student Steffi who became a part of our family. Steffi loved and adored them, and my folks even visited Steffi in Germany where her family welcomed my parents! Why did they have to leave us all?

Here are the kids, Steffi, and myself in Maui on a family vacation with my parents in 2005.

My parents won't be able to take the trip to Portugal they planned with Steffi and her family...they won't see our children graduate, or get married. They won't be at recitals and birthday parties. They will no longer be able to give me advice and guidance if the children misbehave or meet inevitable life challenges. What if cancer finds me again? I won't have parents there to support me...these have all been selfish awful feelings, but feelings I must address, and perhaps are feelings others have experienced as well.

I miss my parents...

My dad's funeral...2006. My mom said at the time how much she missed and loved my dad, but she wasn't ready to join him. Just last week, we were back at this same grave site, to bury her...much too soon.

Grief takes on many emotions, and today I felt some of the ugly ones I had hoped were put to rest. I know that hope and faith will always return, and today during our visit to the cancer center,I felt that comfort once again that my mom and I both felt during our 6 weeks of visits. On this Monday of mourning, I let myself feel all those emotions once again... anger, sadness, and again...hope. Just like the patients we saw today, everyone was busy living...I too need to focus on the act of living. Sure, cancer may find us once again, or some other disaster or unknown..but in the end, there are kind, caring, and loving people to support us, to offer hope, and remind us that there is no time for dying...only living fully today!


Kim said...

Thank you for being willing to open up and share your real feelings in this post. I think even more of you for telling about your angry feelings which are oh so natural. You worked through that emotion and gained much from being open to doing something very hard but very beneficial to your mom. As always I think you are incredibly amazing!
Your friend forever....

Lorri said...

that's a girl...keep writing! We have much to learn from you.I pray this blog becomes a healing tool, for your heart and for your readers as well. Love, Lorri

Beth said...

What a powerful post... Hang in there honey! God is right there!

LvPoohBr2 said...

I love the way you are able to express the feelings you are having. I have a hard time with that. I think it is good to get all those feelings out whether or not they are good or bad.

I just know that what I've learned from you so far will help me when I face lifes challenges an hits. You are an inspiration to me to help keep thing in the righ perspective. Take care and keep on pushing through! God is with you and always will be.

God Bless,
Syndee Ü

Lucy Marie said...

You are always so real and open in your posts. I appreciate that. It is not easy to share those feelings with the world. Always praying for you.

nini said...

Denise - your honesty and openness are always incredibly inspiring. I agree with you, negativity (of any sort - including anger) is highly contagious. Thankfully, if you surround yourself with people who find joy in the midst of chaos, or people who can find the silver lining in any situation - a positive outlook is just as contagious.

You, my blogging friend, are as great an example of this as you can find. Your positive outlook that you shared on your blog this past year has been so uplifting to the rest of us. Whether you are happy or sad or just plain angry - you have a way of finding the good in all of it. It is a gift - one that I am thankful that you share and that I get to read!

glitzen said...

Again you show us the grace and dignity I so love about you. You are experiencing shadows and sorrows, but your faith truly shines through. It does. And you cannot fully grieve and heal without allowing yourself EVERY emotion that comes along. Your wisdom overwhelms me, and makes me tear up. I am so touched by not only your loss now, and the loss of your dad so recently, but the way you can express so perfectly what they meant to you.
The way you describe the love in the people around you, the compassion, the support, the laughter, the cheer-leading, the celebration of both small steps and large, it really touches me. It give me hope for the inevitable pain of life.
Much love! And continued prayers.

Sue said...

Denise, your words are so honest and open... a true blessing to us all. Thank you for being willing to open up and let us see and love even more of you.
Even if you feel alone, know you are never alone. He is with you every step of the way.

Love you,