We are honoured to share this Mother’s Day reflection from Renee Kaiman Levy. Please note this is an honest and raw piece by Renee, Mom of 2, Stage IV Breast Cancer THRIVER. The content may be extra-sensitive for some. You can find and follow her on her blog My So Called Mommy Life and on Instagram @mscmommylife.
I remember my first Mother’s Day so clearly. My daughter was 8 months old and I just wanted it to be spent with my new little family- myself, my husband and daughter. My husband worked so hard on special and meaningful gifts. We went out for brunch, and then headed down to the Beaches area and hung out together at the park on a picnic blanket. My daughter was enjoying crawling around on the grass and swinging on the swings. I remember feeling so happy and so blessed about the family we had created. Everything just seemed so perfect.
At the time, I couldn’t have imagined what my Mother’s Days would feel like years later.
I was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer at the age of 36 in October 2017. My kids were 6 years old and 4 years old at the time. Being diagnosed with terminal cancer as a young parent instills a fear of missing out and not being around to celebrate life events. Knowing that I could potentially miss out on major life milestones such as birthdays, graduations, wedding etc are often too hard to think about.
But for me, it’s also those smaller minute moments that I know my kids will miss out having a mom around for like helping with homework, cheering them on while playing a sport, watching my daughter dance on stage, helping them solve a problem with a friend, snuggling on the couch or comforting them when hurt.
And then there are “Hallmark Holidays” as they are often referred to. Mother’s Day being the one that would affect my kids the most as so much value is placed on Mother’s Day being the perfect day to spoil your mom. Well, what happens when kids don’t have a mom to celebrate because cancer has killed her? Over the past few years, I have envisioned my kids bringing school-made items to my grave. Having them place handmade cards on a grave instead of giving them to me and watching me beam with pride at the love that went behind each item. That breaks my heart.
Since my diagnosis, my husband and kids try to make the day special but instead of the feelings I felt as a new parent all these years ago, has been replaced with a feeling of fear and anguish of one day what could be and almost the indifference about celebrating Mother’s Day. And then add a global pandemic on top of Mother’s Day this year and to me it’s just like any other day with a few special additions. I treated myself to a new romper and told my husband it’s from him! I know my kids are making some special things that will be kept a secret until Sunday. We will take out dinner and enjoy an ice cream cake! Yes, I’ll be celebrated, but it’s not as big as a deal for me as it was so many years ago.
I don’t know if this year will be my last Mother’s Day. With every life event that passes, I hope that I’ll be around to celebrate the next one. There is one gift I’d love to receive from my husband and kids but that is a gift that sadly no one can give me- the gift of time.
My reality is that when you live with a terminal illness, every day is celebrated.