Posted by: Kathy | November 17, 2018

10 Years Later

Yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of my mom’s death. It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since I last heard my mom’s voice, saw her smile, tasted her cooking, or spent time with her. I still miss her, and I always will.

I took the day off from work, as I always do, to honor my mom. I didn’t have any set plans. I ended up watching the movie “The Bucket List.” It was playing when I dropped my truck off for service, so I rented the movie when I got home. My mom didn’t have a bucket list. She lived 349 days from her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer until her death. My bucket list was to make the most of our time left together. We had hope that she could beat this horrible disease, but as a medical writer I knew the statistics associated with inoperable pancreatic cancer. My mom’s odds of survival were not good.

Even after 10 years, the pain of loss is still there, especially on days like this one – the day pancreatic cancer stole my mom from me. I talked about my mom with a good friend, and there were a few times I just let the tears flow as the feelings of loss washed over me and I told my mom how much I missed her. But then it was time to pick my daughter up from school, and although my heart was still hurting, on the outside my life went back to my new normal. I never let my kids see me cry 10 years ago. I wanted to be strong for them. I still try not to let them see my cry now.

The last time my mom was hospitalized before her death, she told me her biggest regret was not being able to see her grandkids grow up. At the time, my son was 9 and my daughter was 2. For 11 months, my mom held on to the dream of dancing at my son’s wedding. That was my mom’s hope.

A lot has happened in the last 10 years. My son is a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps. My daughter is in middle school and is an amazing young woman who enjoys dancing and acting. Many holidays, birthdays, and achievements have passed without my mom’s physical presence, but I believe she was there for all of them. My daughter saw my mom when she was younger, and at her first dance recital at age 8, she told me that Grandmom was sitting on the steps of the stage.

I know my mom watches over her family. I have sensed her presence, and at times felt the overwhelming warmth of unconditional love that fills my chest and I know it’s my mom’s love for me. I work to connect to my mom through meditation – it’s not easy (I’ve been working for years to be able to do this). Once I said “I miss you mom” and I heard in my mind “why, I am always with you.” On Thursday night, the night before the anniversary of my mom’s death, my mom left a dime on my bed for me. I know it was from her. This night 10 years ago was the last night I spent with my mom, and a night that I will never forget.

Yesterday, I released 10 heart-shaped balloons in the park in memory of my mom. I chose purple for pancreatic cancer and blue because it was my mom’s favorite color. It was a cold windy day, very similar to the day my mom died and the day we buried her.

For those of you who have recently lost a loved one, know that it does get easier. The heartache does lessen. The pain dulls with time. There are days that are harder than others, even years later, but overall life does get brighter. However, the loss of a loved one is something you never get over. You learn to live without that person in your everyday life. I call it a new normal. You don’t forget. You don’t stop loving that person. You don’t stop missing that person. The hole in your life that was left by the loss is not filled. You keep moving forward with life and get used to that hole being there. I stopped living for a bit after my mom died, I just existed. But I know that is not what my mom would have wanted for me. I’ve learned to live my life without my mom in it, and I hold her memories in my mind and her love in my heart.

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die”– Thomas Campbell


  1. HI Kathy, hard to believe the boy and girl made memory bears for are now all grown up. You’re right it does get easier (Jon’s been gone 8 years now) except on birthdays, mother’s day and anniversary of death. Take care of yourself

    • Hi Bonnie: Nice to hear from you. Yes, they still have the bears. If you’re still doing bears, I would like to have one for myself. I am finally ready. I wish you the best. Kathy

  2. Hi Kathy. What a wonderful way to remember your mom. I began following you while I was coping with my mom’s illness and subsequent death. So many of your posts resonated with me. This Feb will be 7 yrs for me. I rarely blog anymore about my loss and see that as a big sign of recovery. While I’ve learned how to physically live without my mom – my new normal — her memory & love is with me 24/7. Remember, nothing dies that is remembered. Hope you and your family have a lovely Thanksgiving. Jane xx

    • Thank you, Jane. I remember your posts too. I haven’t written a post in over 2 years. But I felt that my mom’s 10 year anniversary deserved one. I also see not posting as a sign of recovery. I will never take down my blog. It is my heart and my tribute to my mom. Good to hear from you. I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving too. Kathy

      • It’s a beautiful and meaningful way to always remember her. Continued healing to us both!

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