I'm a mamas boy. There was a time when I was embarrassed to say that. Not anymore. I would scream it from the mountain tops, especially if I thought that my mom could hear me. I was her caretaker. I couldn't stand the idea of my mom spending her last days (years) in assisted living. I wanted her to die in her own home, and I wanted to give something back to the woman who not only gave me life, but also loved me unconditionally until her last day on earth. She died on Christmas Eve, 2015. And boy did she ever take my heart with her. I haven't been the same since. Sometimes I will meet new people and they will tell me that I have a great sense of humor. That is hard to imagine. I did have one at one time, I know that, but I don't know where it went.

In 2003 my mom told me that she had been diagnosed with cancer. I can't imagine a more dreaded word. I immediately thought of death. My mom was going to die. My everything was going to die and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I could certainly pray, but we all know that is more of a release for us. People die every single day. People lose their mothers every single day. Eventually that time would come for me as well. There is no avoiding it.

My hope improved somewhat when my mom started taking treatment. It was certainly harder for my mom than it was for me. My mom hated chemo therapy, but for me it was the magic potion that may keep my mom alive. Mom did live, and she went on to fight several more versions of cancer. She always seemed to get the best of it. Mom would say, "No one beats cancer. At best they survive it."

Mom was able to survive each form of cancer but it was the treatment that eventually killed her. Too much medicine. She developed COPD which is what eventually ended her life here on earth. In 2012 I awoke to find my mom unresponsive. I called 911. Mom was put on life support. There were so many things that were killing her that it is hard to list them all hear. Her liver and kidneys were shutting down. She was bleeding internally from a blood thinner that she was taking. Her CO 2 levels were off the charts. She was surviving on a ventilator. She was in a coma. There was a lot more. She had some kind of bacterial infection. She was immediately placed in ICU. I had the discussion with her doctors. At what point do we pull the plug? That is not a very delicate way of saying that but it is quite a reality. No, they don't pull the plug from the outlet. They turn everything off. They would have turned my mother off as though she were a television set.

To make a long story short, my mom recovered. Only through the grace of God and my mom's own will to live. Maybe she could hear me telling her how much I loved her, asking her to stay with me. It's like when you a are a frightened child calling for your mother in the night. Mom's get up and take care of their child. My mom got up again from a very deep sleep. She heard me calling her.

When I could actually look into her open eyes again, open eyes staring back at me, I felt a sense of love that I may never experience again. The look of love in her eyes touched my very soul. And better yet, I knew that my mom would be coming home to me. I could love on her and dote on her till the cows came home. Selfishly, I was even excited about the notion of having my mom for a captive audience. It's not like she would be going aynwhere, right?

It didn't come as quickly as I had hoped. Mom had to go to a rehab facility for a while. And I had a decision to make. Assisted living was suggested and expected. I couldn't stomach that. I wanted to take care of her. No stranger was going to take care of my mother. There was one problem. I had a full time job. I had been with American Airlines for 27 years. I quit my job. Neither Hell nor high water was going to keep me from my mother's side.

I was scared to death. I knew that I was not going to be able to work and take care of mom. I cashed in my 401-K to give me some cushion. Some would say that was not a wise decision. Love makes you do funny things.

The next three years of my life were the greatest blessing from God that I have ever received. My mom rallied a few times. She even got to the point where she could drive again and go shopping. That was her favorite thing. Watching her pull out of that driveway, I was like a parent hoping that the Lord would take care of my baby and bring her home safely. He always did. Still, reality has a way of slapping you in the face. There were many 911 calls. There were many close calls but she always pulled through.

Towards the end of 2015 things were getting worse and worse. Her CO 2 levels would become so high that she could not stay awake, and she would say silly things. Her lung function was diminishing to the point where... really all she could do was die. Her last visit to the hospital was too hard for her. The doctor in ER told me that we could not keep doing this to her. They may be able to patch her up and send her home, but she would be back at the ER in short order. That was not fair to my mom. It was all too much for her weak little body. So, we went the Hospice route. When the Hospice coordinator entered my mom's hospital room to tell her what the next step would be, I could sense a clinical presence about that woman. She may have been accustomed to death but I wasn't. I only had one mom. I asked her to leave the room so that I could explain to my mom what would be happening. I had to tell my mom that she was going to die.

A couple of nights before mom left the hospital for the last time, I entered her hospital room. Her eyes were closed. I thought she was sleeping. I reached out and held her hand. I heard this... "Brett, is that you?" I said yes. She said, "Will you let me go?" I told her that I had no choice. I realize that it is helpful to a dying person to hear the words, but I was not going to lie to myself or to her. I had told her honestly. She than asked me to pray the, "Now I lay me down to sleep," prayer. Her hope was that God would take her when the prayer was finished. My mother had actually asked me to pray for her death.

She was disappointed when the prayer ended and she was still alive. The nurse came in to give her medicine. Mom refused to take it. She said, "Please just let me die." I cried very hard when I heard those words. The nurse actually raised her voice on my behalf, "Your son loves you and you are hurting him right now." Mom asked me if I would feel better if she took her medicine. I told her that I would. The loving mother took her medicine. Not for her sake but for my own. That is unconditional love. Maybe the kind of love that only a mother could give.

In a couple of days my mom was here at our house on Hospice care. She had her hospital bed in the sunroom where she could be surrounded by light. She was my light. It wasn't a long journey. I lost her within about three weeks of starting Hospice. The first time I had to give her morphine was horrible (for me). She slept for a long time. When she woke up she did not know who I was. She asked me my name. I told her that I was her son, Brett. She then asked me, "Do you have a life?" I laughed and said, "Of course." She said, "I don't see how. I think all you ever do is take care of me." I will hear those words for the rest of my life.

The next two weeks were non-stop love and affection. I doted on her like there was no tomorrow. In reality there was no tomorrow. Every night before I would lay down to sleep she would say, "I love you. Thanks for taking care of me."

The morning of Christmas Eve was ominous. I knew that mom was going to die that day. I had called Hospice. The nurse came by and told me that it was only a matter of time. I sat with her until she started to fade, saying, "I love you mom! Thank you!" She would just look at me through confused but loving eyes. At one point she sat up in her bed. She was staring at something up high. She reached out her arm to it, and then she died.

My mom flew away. I walked her to the door. Jesus took her home.

I put her two little dogs on her hospital bed. They curled up next to her and took a nap. We stayed with her until the funeral home came and took her away from me for the last time.

A part of me is gone also. I didn't have a dad, just an incredibly loving mom. That was more than enough.

Now here I am. it is a year and a half later. I hurt as much or more that I ever did. I feel like mom's little dogs are a connection that I have with her. Last week one of them became very sick. She spent the week in the animal hospital ICU. Losing that little dog would have meant losing another piece of my mom, and another piece of myself. Fortunately the dog survived. Just like mom would always live to fight another day, but I know that mom's little dogs are getting old. Just like mom, I cannot keep them forever.

There's the rub. I have had too many goodbyes. When mom died her family rallied around me for a while, but those things don't last. Mom's sisters have their own kids and grandkids. There is a degree of separation there. Friends will walk by your side for a while. They will call you and ask if you are okay, but that ends as well. There comes a point when people think that either you have moved on, or you should have moved on. I think that some of my friends are even reluctant to talk about my mom with me because they feel that they may be enabling me. Again, there is a degree of separation there. My mom and I had no such degree of separation.

In this world I have two little dogs that love me. I also have a broken heart that will not mend. I see mom in everything. I see items around the house and I remember when she bought them. I will look out in the driveway. Her car is not there anymore. No more shopping. I think of Sunday dinners. Mom was a great cook. I remember her laughter. She loved to watch, "Everybody Loves Raymond." She also loved, "Judge Judy," and you could not convince her that was not a real court of law. I remember the loving way she would say goodnight to our little dogs. "I'll see you in the morning." Those mornings are gone.

I was not made to live apart from my mom. I am so glad that she is in heaven now, and that she is not suffering anymore. But, oh Lord, do I miss her. If I could go back in time to when mom was healthy, I would do it in a second. yes, that would be selfish. It would mean that mom would have to re-live all of that again. But you know what? Sometimes we have to be selfish, or we at least have to be honest with ourselves about what we truly want. The feelings are there regardless of whether or not we say them out loud.

I am broken. I am not at all mad at God. I am mad at myself for clinging to my mom for so long. She was my mom, my companion, and in the end she was even my child. I lost all of this at 4:16 pm, 12/24/2015.

I don't know if anyone will read this blog. I don't know if anyone will comment. I just know that this is a story that needed to be told. It's not like I keep these feelings bottled up inside. I cry and pray every single day. I ask for peace. God's peace. I have not found it. That's certainly not his fault. It may not be any one's fault. It's just a casualty of love.

I love you mom. I will shout it from the mountain tops. I will hear it within me every day. You would have wanted me to be happy. I have not been able to do that for you. I'm sorry.

Maybe one day. How far is heaven?

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Comment by Brett Bowman on April 20, 2018 at 12:30am

Virginia, while I don't know you, I don know this... your mom knew that you loved/love her. And there is a cold reality in all of this. No matter how hard I tried, my mom still died. There was no stopping it. It was like trying to hold back a tidal wave. There was something else that I came to realize. I told people that nothing could tear me away from my mom. I was wrong. God could. That's not meant to be construed as anger towards God. It's just that there are things that we simply cannot control.

I once (jokingly) asked my mom's doctor if he would come live with us. He told me that both of his parents were dead. He couldn't save them, and even if he came home with me and my mom, he would not be able to save her.

There are no storybook endings here. If there were one I would have found it. The Lord knows that I looked for it. If there is anything that you feel guilt or remorse about, please know that I feel that, too. That is part of grief. We search for it. We overturn every rock until we find it. I've found it in spades, but my mom knew how much I loved her. Your mom knew it, too.

At the end of the day, we loved our mom's with all of our hearts, and they loved us with all of theirs. And I will always hold out hope that there is a happy ending. It may not come in this life, though I think we should always look for happiness where we can, but it may come in the next. That is my hope and where my faith lies. That love will never die, and that we will see our mom's again, and there will be no more goodbye's. No more cancer.

I think that they are waiting for us. We will see them again. Until then, maybe all we can do is feel blessed that we loved and were loved so much. Maybe there are things that we would do differently if we were able to do it all again, but the amount of love that we experienced could never change.

Comment by Virginia G on April 19, 2018 at 11:58pm


As I read your blog, I cried and cried.  It’s all too familiar and all too heartbreaking.  My Mom and I did everything together.  I always lived with both parents, but my Dad was always the quiet type that liked to do things alone a lot.  Being an only child, this gave me the opportunity to be even closer to my Mom and I was thrilled with that.

Like you said, when we heard the word cancer, my world fell apart.  Not just any cancer, a rare one with a small chance of long term survival.  We went in the ladies room, and I said “let’s just go be with Granny and Pop-Pop”, who had passed.  She said “we have to try, at least for a while”.  I had always been so terrified of cancer, I couldn’t even watch a commercial about it.  How could I handle the person I adored more than anyone my whole life having this?  Well, I couldn’t.  I quit my job to take care of her, but I didn’t handle it as well as you.  My own ocd, anxiety, and depression took over and I am filled with regrets.  I was always researching the cancer, asking the doctor questions.  I was by her side every minute.  But not emotionally.  My brain was somewhere else.

She had her own positive attitude and I can’t believe the things she went through so bravely.  I wasn’t even brave enough to take care of her.  I am angry, I am confused, devastated, and like you said broken.  I am just a shell existing.  You’re statement, I was not made to be apart from my Mom, is so true for me.  People think I can eventually “get better”.  But I can’t.  Everyone says, she wants me to have a life and be happy.  But she is my life, she is my happiness.  

I can’t and won’t accept what happened to her.  She never did a thing wrong in her life.  She gave me everything and when she needed me most, I failed her.  I belong with her and I pray for that everyday.

Comment by Brett Bowman on August 4, 2017 at 11:24pm

Joy, I have prayed for you since the first time we spoke. I will continue to do so. I already consider you to be a dear friend. You even got my name right!

You said something very powerful. God needs to come first. That is something I have struggled with mightily. I figure that we may as well be honest with ourselves and with God. He already knows us better than we do. Today when I was praying, I felt a real twinge of guilt. Am I asking God to take me home because I want to be with God, or because I want to be with my mom? In my true heart of hearts, who do I love more? I figure it like this. God created my mom. God blessed me with her. God is Love and the love that I received from my mom came from God. What I am trying to say is that God is underrated in the scheme of things. But for us here in the world, it was our moms that carried us in our wombs and nurtured us. It was my mom that I ran to when I was scared or hurt. There is a part of me that feels like God is now saying, "So now you need me?"

Believe me I prayed mightily when my mom was sick. God should always come first, but I also believe that the love that my mom and I had was the very nature of God. Whenever you love someone without conditions, God is firmly right there in the middle of things. What I always called love for my mother was love for God as well. You can't have love without God.

Yes. I would love to be married. I had always been holding out for Scarlett Johansson, but I think I have moved on now (just kidding). My best girl-friend was telling me that I am only trying to replace my mother. Well, sure... in a roundabout way. It's the desire to love and to be loved unconditionally. Is that so wrong? I don't think so at all.

Another part of your post that really hit home. Mom fought a great fight. She did win the race and I am very happy for her. To never be sick again. Today in prayer I asked myself, or maybe God was asking me these questions... "Am I happier that my mom is in heaven, or am I more sad for myself because I don't have her anymore?" I have a long way to go before I can become the person that I should be. It makes me feel very ashamed, but I know that we are as children. And I can be a petulant child. I will always hope that God will forgive me for that.

I pray for God to give you strength and peace. Thank you for your prayers. And I thank you for being a part of this journey with me. Please allow me to walk with you as well.

Comment by Joy on August 4, 2017 at 9:39pm

Evening Oatmeal,

You seem like someone who knows the word of God. I myself have read the Bible a number of times. I am no means a Bible scholar, but I have read and studied enough to know that suffering is a common theme among God's children. It's easy to have faith when things are going well but when

difficulties arise (including the death of a loved one) that is not the time to doubt God. He has to test our mettle and as you know He will stop at nothing until he refines us and makes us like his dear son Jesus. Having faith during trying times is easier said than done, but everything we do is a choice. We can choose to believe God no matter what or lean on our own understanding and go by how we feel and doubt God. Yes, I agree with you it's hard being single but it is hard being married and suffering loss. That's the human condition in a fallen world. Just because you're single now doesn't mean it'll always be that way unless it's your choice. Sometimes I think God may have delayed marriage until our moms were safely home. You may be ready to be married and He may help you find someone - remember how a wife was found for Isaac and she comforted him after the death of his mother?  We have to pray and ask God for strength and until then He will have to be the support we need. He has to be first, but I think you already know that.

Our mothers gave us a good foundation but they've fought the good fight and now they've entered into eternal peace. They lost their mothers too and yet they persevered.  I think we can do the same although I told God today that I don't think I can continue like this. I'm like you I want to go home. How can I live without my mom? The same way she lived without hers, with God's grace.

I pray that God will strengthen you during your grief and I ask that you pray for me because you have no way of knowing what good things He has in store for you here on Earth before He takes you home to be reunited with your mom.

Comment by Brett Bowman on August 4, 2017 at 9:00pm

Joy, I am just reading your last comment. It is very well written and very true. This could make my faith stronger or it could destroy it. The latter is hard for me to imagine but I know that it is very possible. I am going through more now than I ever have in my life. I pray and I pray, but it still seems that one bad thing after another occurs. In the past I would have leaned on my mom in regards to all of these things. I cannot do that now. I cry and I pray. If you are like me (single. no kids), it can be very hard to find a support system. I mean, I have friends who love me but they have their families of their own. So I rely completely on God. Not that I mean God plays second fiddle by any means, it's just that I am completely reliant on him. I believe that God often provides us comfort and support through other people. If I can't have that, my hope is that God will help me directly. That's where faith comes in for me. Do I believe that he will actually help me? I must believe because I never stop praying. I never stop hoping. I think anything is possible through God.

My minister reached out to me last week via e-mail. He had heard about some of the things I had been going through recently and he asked me to make an appointment with him next week. I wrote him back and told him that I would do that, but also asked that he would call me. He did call me the next day. He prefaced by telling me that he had to be in a meeting in a few minutes. I have to admit that hurt a little. I was not mad at him by any means. I understand that we have a huge church and that he is very busy. Still, it did hurt a little. I didn't want to keep him so I didn't say much, Just told him that I was struggling with my faith. He prayed for me. I have an appointment with him next week but I cannot schedule my grief. It doesn't work that way.

I am just really confused. On one hand I believe that we have to be careful about having too much faith in people. On the other hand I believe that it may be through those very people that got comforts us.

I just don't know. I will keep praying and keep hoping for peace. I love The Lord but am the first to admit that I do not know how he works. I don't mean this to be flippant. We have all hear that old saying, God always answers our prayers, it's just that sometimes the answer is no." The part of me that lacks faith says, "He seems to say no an awful lot."

I won't give up though. I'll keep praying and I will keep hoping. It's like Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, where else would we go?" Like Peter, I don't want to go anywhere else. Here's where I make my stand. I pray that he will lead me home.

Comment by Brett Bowman on August 3, 2017 at 7:07pm

Never be sorry for grieving. I think it is very important that we be honest with ourselves about our feelings. If you ever feel angry at God, let him know. Believe me he can take it. 

Comment by dream moon JO B on August 3, 2017 at 5:39pm

wish i new brett

i wz a daddys grl till i loss him in 2012 idid bean bad 5 yrs or so nw mom sil alz/dem beat brest c jtus wish she cud of beat alz/dem

nt bean  wel my slf i feal lk a rebl dorter i do dnt wnt 2 go in 2 dtale all i no i feal lk a bad persn i do

bt evry 1 on hears bean grt 

weid thngs is ony 1 t got me wz my cat of 16 yrs i had 2 pts lst yr she undstid me nevr ufe way i grief she did not

iv 2 11 mths cats nw wish im pld i ahv i dod do

iv yeld it god

swore it god

felt lk givin god a slap 

givin god a beatin 

i no it well get me no wear

all i no 2017 ben a bad 1 

 mom bean ill

me bean off coz of lot thng s goin on

if i cud get on a trane 2 heven or a paln 2 hevn or a fery 2 heven or a bus 2 hevn sad htng 2 d say for me it be 1 way tickt it wil be 

coz i miss mydad  if he cum bac om mom wud be ok agan id be ok agan my lif wud be ok aga 

sorry id im sayin wong thns bret or typo erors gt umnes in my hnd i hav  pls nt grt it spelin

all i no evry tim i sea mom nw im mad it my slf fr not doin mor mad it god 2 onoff mad it sptl for etin her get lkths  mad it lod of stuff




Comment by Joy on July 28, 2017 at 10:17am

Brett, we are very similar in our views. I want the same kind of connection with God. I thought it was very strong while my mom was alive and then she got sick and I wavered. Now I have to stand on that faith and can't use mom as a crutch. I believe He tests us because he wants to take us further and develop our faith. It may seem that we are losing our faith when in reality it may be growing stronger. Without the adversity we would stagnate and stay in a comfortable bubble.

I think like he did with Job, God will allow the suffering to a point in our lives and then out of the blue, He'll shine through in our lives. I think we'll always miss our mothers until we see them again and what a reunion that will be.

I appreciate the friendship. Grief can have two effects, it can bring us together or tear us apart. I think our moms would want us to finish the race as they did and not quit (even though we feel like it). Take care of yourself and let's stay in touch.

Comment by Brett Bowman on July 27, 2017 at 10:04pm

Joy, I am having a faith crisis but it is a different kind. My sister was very angry at God because he took mom on Christmas eve. The reality is that she would have been angry at God regardless of the day. I am the first to admit that I do not understand God's will. So many times when mom would pull through a crisis, I would give so much praise to God, but I also knew that mom was very sick and that sooner or later I was going to lose her. I don't think that God gave my mom cancer. I don't think God gives anyone cancer.

My faith crisis is just that I feel alone. It's been so hard to not have the unconditional love that my mom gave me. I feel very much alone now, and I always pray that the Lord will comfort me and love me. I want some kind of connection with God, Jesus, and  the Holy Spirit. I want to know that God knows what I am going through and that he is here for me. It would mean so much. It would mean everything. I would still miss my mom terribly but it would be such a comfort.

I am afraid of becoming jaded. I always want to run to God when I am sad. I just hate feeling like, "Well, I can pray and he will listen, but he's not going to do anything to comfort me." That is a horrible and hopeless feeling. Beyond all of that, I don't want to have a falling out with God. I have enough troubles already.

Joy, of course I do not know anything about your relationship with your mom, but I will bet my last dollar that your mom loved you dearly. I bet that your mom loved you as much as my mom loved me. I could write a long list of all of the ways that I disappointed my mom, but she never loved me any less. I am sorry for so many things, but more than anything I just really miss my mom. God, do I ever. Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach tied in knots and I can't get back to sleep. Sometimes I will just stop whatever I am doing, roll up in a ball and cry my eyes out. I just can't make it go away. The biggest, best part of my life is gone and I can't have her back. All I have now are a lot of memories. 

I remember when my mom died. I told myself, "I will never have to experience anything like this again. I only have one mom." I was so wrong. I experience it every single day.

I wish there was something that I could say to you to make you feel better. I can't even find a way to make myself feel better. Let's do this. When I pray tonight I will ask God to tell your mom that you love her with all of your heart and that you miss her greatly. Please do this for me, too. Maybe our moms will hear. I bet they already know though. Still, it's always a nice thing to hear.

Blessings to you my friend. And you really are my friend. We may be a couple of orphans but we are not alone. There are so many who are experiencing the loss of their moms. I know you love your mom. I can feel how much you love her. We can't hug our moms but we will keep them forever in our hearts. 

Comment by Joy on July 27, 2017 at 1:48pm

Thanks Brett and God bless you.

I agree with you about not having peace since the passing of my mother. I'm not sure if I ever will have peace. Unlike you, I've have been angry with God because he took her. I still needed her.  I'm having a faith crisis. I have also been angry with myself because I wish I had been a better daughter meaning, I wish I had done more for my mom. I thought I did the best I could, but I realize now it wasn't enough. I'm glad she's not in pain any longer and I know God did what was best by taking her out of her misery and giving me some much needed rest as caregiving is so exhausting. I just miss her presence so much I feel like screaming some days from the pain.

I know life will never be the same again.

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