16 January 2009

Spin Cycle: What if?

The Spin Cycle topic for the week was "What if?" It was a hard one for me. I like where I am in life and where it seems to be heading. I have a wonderful wife and a great son -- well, most of the time at least. I like my job and I rarely want for anything. As a result, I rarely play the "what if?" game with my life. So I was about to pass on this week's Spin Cycle (please forgive me for even thinking it Jen) and then the one thing that I play "what if?" with came to mind. It's not my usual light fare...

What if... my mother had not refused to go to the GYN for her regular checkups for no other reason than she didn't feel like it?

What if... They had caught the the cancer earlier, before it moved from her ovaries to the rest of her body?

What if... she never had to go through all the pain of surgery and chemo?

What if... She never had to be an inspiration for others by supporting them in the chemo ward and walking in benefits?

What if... I never had to watch the light fade from my mother's eyes?

What if... With the help of some wonderful hospice workers, we didn't have to take care of her broken shell of a body after that light had faded?

What if... I didn't have to go through that dark period of loss?

What if... I never had to see my Grandfather, tough as nails, raised in Hell's Kitchen, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, set aside a book on "Dealing with the loss of a child" when I would go visit?

What if... I never had to realize that not only did I lose a mother, but my grandparents also lost a daughter, and my father lost a wife?

What if... My mother lived past the age of 42?

What if... She had been able to see me get married, dance at my reception, and cry tears of happiness mixed with a wistful nostalgia of when her son was little?

What if... She had gotten to meet her grandchild and spoil him and do wonderful (and stupid) things that her son would then later blog about?

What if... I didn't feel compelled to be on the local board for the American Cancer Society just so I could do something.. anything?

What if... One day there was a cure and no one ever had to write a "what if" about a parent, or a child, or a friend, or a loved one?


Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...


Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

OK, off to read...

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

Man, now I feel like such a snot for being so obnoxious about being first. Cause that was such a touching and real post Jim. You totally made me cry for you, your mom and your grandfather. I wish I could kick cancer's ass so bad, cause I have lost a lot of loved ones to its grips as well.

Here's to there being a cure someday, so our children don't have to lose so many to its hands like we have.

Love you Jim

Keely said...

What if people like you *didn't* help? We might never see a cure.

Thanks for making me cry at work. Beautiful post.

Sammanthia said...

I am so sorry... there are no other words.

Father Muskrat said...

Wow...so sorry you and your family had to go through this. 42? I was 13 when my mom was 42. I can't imagine.

I'm sure she's proud of what you're doing now to try and get rid of this awful disease.

But would she approve of that hat? Hmmm.

creative kerfuffle said...

i held back the tears, barely, and only cos i'm at work. this is a wonderful post jim. i'm sure your mom would be proud. my fave grandpa died when i was 15 w/ cancer and i too wonder what if with him.

Mama Dawg said...

That was touching. I'm so glad you shared. I am sorry for your loss (this is the first I'm hearing that you lost your mother, I'm not sure if you've ever posted it before). The image of your grandfather is haunting and something I pray I'll never have to go through.

Bella@That damn expat said...

Wow that was a beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your loss.
My mom also doesn't go in regularly because she doesn't feel like it.
I should point her (and all other women) to this post.

Badass Geek said...

I don't know, man.... I just don't know.

Let me buy you a beer, though.

Michelle said...

This was worth the wait. Beautifully done.

Sprite's Keeper said...

So powerful, Jim. I'm honored to link this. Everything you're doing now is a testamont to the wonderful mother you had. I need a tissue.

momcat said...

Thanks for the touching reminder. I am the mom who doesn't go in often enough. I must make that all important appointment this year!

Diane said...

I play the 'what if' game about my dad... all the damned time. I feel your pain, my friend.

That was really beautiful... and thanks for making me cry.


Robin said...

I am so sorry you went through this. One thing I do know: your mother is proud.

CK Lunchbox said...

very poignant. I lost a close and extremely charismatic aunt to brain cancer and there were a lot of "what if's" being asked by my mother who took it the hardest.

I don't 'what if' a great deal for nearly the same reasons you mentioned, but they recently discovered a spot on my dad's liver. I really hope I don't have to start asking this question any time soon.

Thanks for sharing such a tough and personal story.

Paula aka. Zani said...

Thank you for sharing that. It touched my heart, and I could not help shedding a few tears.

Thank you also for reminding me to make that call. I often forget. The reminder was priceless.

Thanks again. =]

Weaselmomma said...

That was fantastic! Kudos.

Jamie said...

This was a wonderful post. I feel a lot of the same 'what ifs' about my mom. It's so hard, isn't it? Losing a parent changes you - but it really changes you when you are young. You had to be young if your mom was only 42 (same as my mom when she died). I feel your pain, my friend - So sorry for your loss.

Oh and yet another post I didn't get through with out crying.I am not talking about just a little crying either. I am talking flood of emotions, snot bubble can't see the monitor crying. I need a tissue.

Tenakim said...

what an amazing post! Sorry for your loss!

Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

Cancer is such an awful bitch! That was an incredibly moving post. I am sure your mother would be proud!

The Mom said...

What a great post! Deep.

Khadra said...

wow. Thank you for sharing this with us. Im so sorry you family had to go through this.

Stephanie said...

I'm...speechless. Which is a new experience for me.

I can't get the image of your grandpa and his book out of my head.

Beautifully written.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mother. I am so very sorry you lost her so young in life. You made me cry first thing in the morning.

I am very grateful that I did go the doctor's when I felt a lump in my breast five months after my mammogram and seven months beofre the next one was scheduled. I am grateful that my cnacer was caught just before it hit stage two. I am grateful that I have made it to the 2.5 year mark. I hope someday to be there for my children's weddings and the birth of my grandchildren. I am so very grateful that they don't have to say this one "what if"

IB said...

A beauty of a post. Thanks for sharing your feelings on this subject. If I wasn't a tough-ass dude, I might have cried at my desk, but I didn't ;)


Miss Grace said...

While you're not supposed to make me tear up at work, it was a beautiful post.

Heather said...

Tear Jerking post....as a mommy to a cancer survivor the "what if" questions are ALWAYS there!!! waiting...lurking....CANCER sucks ass!!!

Giggle Pixie said...

Thank you for sharing this touching and inspiring post. I am also looking at ways to become more involved in the fight. The sadness of cancer's destruction is just maddening.

Tracey said...


Very moving...

And tearful for me...

Cape Cod Gal said...

That was a beautiful post. My mother has leukemia. But, they caught it and she is able to control it thru diet and medication.

Every woman (and man) should be wise about going to the doctor and making sure they're healthy.

Thank you for being on the board at your local cancer support outfit!

Julia@SometimesLucid said...

What a beautiful post. I'm glad you decided to write it.

LadyFi said...

That was beautiful and moving... My mother-in-law died of cancer just before Christmas, so I feel your pain.

Thanks for sharing.

Indigo said...

I almost didn't comment..not that it wasn't a touching post. I lost a friend last Dec. I have another one still fighting for her life, I see her sons the handsome little men they are and HOPE. I had a scare just a few short months ago my daughter might of had cervical cancer, Paul my other half testical cancer. Those few months of testing, hoping, screaming anguish...both were fortunate. Yet, still candidates because of what their bodies went through...
Cancer is way too close for comfort these days. I'm not sure if I can take another loss with that fight. (Hugs)Indigo

Chris said...

That was an amazing post. My grandmother was my best friend and reading your story was like living her passing all over again. I'm so sorry that you and your family had to deal with such heartache.

April said...

What a beautiful and amazing post.

Captain Dumbass said...

'What if's' can be so cruel. I think it's better to stick to the 'what now's.'

Laufa said...

You brought me to tears.

Kat said...

My husband lost his mom at a young age to colon cancer, so he has been getting screened for it for it. That way we don't have to play the what if game again. Thank you for writing this post and maybe making someone else take cancer screenings more seriously.

Debbie said...

You blew me away with this one.

Michelle said...

Great post. Made me a bit teary. I think I am going to go call my Mom now.

HeatherPride said...

It was the part about your grandfather that really got me, not that I wasn't getting worked up before then. Sorry for your loss, Jim. My husband lost his mother when I was pregnant with our first child, and it was horrible. I think about her all the time, and how much I wish she was an influence in our children's lives. I know you wish the same.


Errant said...

was this poetry ? was this a song? was this a movie ? .. omg .. these words touched me so deeply .. i'm crying right now ..

you poured you feelings so spontaneously .. right into our hearts ..

but tell you what, you never know .. maybe your mom went to a better place, maybe she was saved not to suffer a greater pain, maybe her loss taught everybody else a lesson .. maybe .. maybe .. just thank God for whatever happen .. he is the all known .. and he knows what is better for us ..

I get so excited when i see you got a new post .. you're such a great writer .. thanx for making our days by writing .. I appreciate every effort you pay to write .. for us .. who love to read what you write :)

Heinous said...

Petra: I think of you as a snot all the time :) We'll beat it someday. Love you back.

Keely: Sorry about the cry at work. Thank you.

Sammanthia: Thanks, babe.

Fr. Muskrat: Thanks, man. I'm sure sure would love the hat. Unlike my wife.

CK: I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather.

Mama Dawg: I'll pray for that too.

Bella: Please do point her here. It's so important to get checked.

BG: I'll always take a beer.

Michelle: Thank you.

Jen: Thanks, Jen. Sorry about the tissue.

momcat: Make sure you get there.

Diane: Thanks, hon. Not a great club to be in is it? At least we have support. XO

Robin: Thank you, I sure hope she's proud.

Ron: I'll send good thoughts your dad's way.

Paula: I'm glad I could help you remember to make the call :)

WM: Thank you.

Jamie: I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. I was 23 when I lost her. Sorry about the snot bubble.

Tena: Thank you.

Sarah: Thank you and I hope so.

Khadra: Thanks, hon.

Stephanie: Sorry about the speechless, it will pass.

PHST: I'm sorry that you had to go through that, but happy to hear that it's been 2.5 years.

IB: Now we won't have to take you dude card.

Miss Grace: Sorry about that.

Heather: I'm with you there, but we'll beat it. Hopefully soon.

GP: I'm sure your local ACS can point you in the right direction.

Tracey: Thank you.

CCG: Early detection is so important.

Julia: Thank you.

LadyFi: I am so sorry to hear that. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Indigo: I am so sorry to hear that. You've had it rough for such a short period of time. I'm glad at least your daughter and Paul are in the clear. My thoughts are with you and yours.

Chris: I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother.

April: Thank you.

Capn'n: I'm with you there.

Laufa: Sorry.

Kat: Now if we could get congress to take them seriously as well.

Debbie: Thank you.

Michelle: She'll like that :)

Heather: I'm sorry to hear about your mother-in-law and thank you.

Errant: Thank you so much for that.

Mariah said...

I'm going to call my GYN and make an appointment - I get lazy with that. Thanks for sharing your story

Kylie w Warszawie said...

Wow. My mother died from breast cancer at age 42. I think about those same "What ifs" quite often. Particularly when it came to seeing me and my sister grow up, and would my dad be an crazy, alcoholic now had she not died.

I post intimate details of my life on the internet and I don't know why.

Tony said...

Dude, I'm sorry to read that. I still remember everything, even the song that was playing on the overhead of the doctor's office when we walked in and my mom said, "they found cancer" - it was a crazy rollercoaster ride of emotions after that.

Dude, you're not supposed to make me tear up when I'm working at the "Tough Clinic"

PhoenixAwakened said...

That made me cry. Thank you for sharing in a brutally honest way.

Krystal said...

All I can say is that your What if's are genuine and show alot about you in a few words. I cannot imagine what you have gone through nor will I say that I do - all I can say is that your mother did a great job in raising you and that this experience has made you the strong man, husband, father, and most of all son that you are today.

To emphasize on what Keely said, we need more people like you. People with a heart to help and love those around him.

I heart you!!!

Vodka Mom said...

What if life were easy and our hearts never had to fill the pain of being ripped in two?

What if we had never had our lovely childhoods with our moms?

I feel your pain. The loss of a mother changes your life forever, and your heart is broken, even if just a little, all the time.
I feel your pain and lift a glass to you, my friend. That was a haughtinly lovely post.

Mary Moore said...

Thank you for your post. It was very touching.

I just wrote one yesterday on cancer and kids. Check it out if you have the chance. I think yours is much more eloquent.

nonna said...

just 3 words:




Laura said...


Thank you for sharing that...as far as just "doing something"?

You just did. Well done, my friend.

Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub said...

It is very difficult to write a comment while wiping away the tears... My husband lost his mother to cancer when he was only 20, so this is a "what if" that I am sadly familiar with. That is wonderful that you want to make a difference now and your post was a beautiful reminder of all the families that have lost members to cancer too soon.

Anonymous said...

Well done and very heartfelt.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Great post. I "what if" on what might have happened if I'd figured out antithrombin might have helped my dad survive sepsis. (It would have and he didn't).

But Jim, you've got some great "what ifs" too. What if you'd never met your wife? What if you'd never adopted? What if you hadn't started writing? What if, God forbid, you had been an investment banker with Bear Stearns?

Not to be sappy but it's Friday, I'm having a drink, no one died in that plane crash, . . . so I'm sort of gratituding at the moment.

Good job.

Tony said...

A very well throughout post. I really enjoyed it. I try not to play the, what if thing. CARPE DIEM. No regrets brother.

Casey said...

I'm so sorry that you lost your mom at such a young age. We struggle with some of the same "what if's" about my MIL, who never got to see his son get married or have children. She would have been the spoiling kind too, from what my husband tells me (I never got to meet her). Great spin, Jim.

for a different kind of girl said...

Wow...so fantastic. That's all I can say...

steenky bee said...

Tear jerker. This post just killed me. I can't imagine what it was like to lose a loved one at such a young age. This was a wonderful tribute.

Threeboys1mommy said...

Weeping... the absolute worst time of the month for me to have read that... (tmi!)... F**k Cancer.

Hopeful Spirit said...

I just discovered your site and this writing exercise. I couldn't resist joining in and plan to do so in the future, as well!

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~ said...

Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt part of your life. I love believe that someday we will find a cure to this terrible disease.

Marinka said...

You know, we read each other's funny blogs, and we laugh, and this really made me sit up. I'm sorry that you've endured such loss. Thank you for writing about it so beautifully.

(and if you don't forgive Petra for her first comment, I'm available as BFF!)


followthatdog said...

You have just motivated me to do two things. First to schedule the Gyn appt I've been putting off and second, to donate to ACS.

I'm so sorry for your your loss, but your actions are going to help save others.

Maura said...

That was beautiful. I rarely play "what if" either, but I suppose sometimes it can help us put things in perspective, can't it?

I'm sorry that you lost your mom so young, but I think it's great that you do the things you do because of it.

Anonymous said...

How sad, yet beautiful! My mum's had cancer twice breast and uterine. I go for yearly check ups it's never to early. Sorry for your loss. I bet she's watching over your family.

Anonymous said...

wow. how insightful with only questions.

Bibliomom said...

I lost my Mom two and a half years ago to kidney failure and diabetes. She was lost to us before that and her illness and fading took two years and I feel like I've been without her for so much longer. There are so many what ifs that always go through my mind and I'm just finding myself angry with her for some of the choices that she made in her life. I wonder if she would have stopped smoking if it meant that she would have one more day with us. If she would have controlled her diabetes better if she knew it meant that she'd be present for the birth of her second granddaughter. Mostly I wonder if she approves of the choices I've made for my life without her here.

Thank you for your eloquence.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really felt that one. I'm just sitting here kind of floored right now. You gave a lot of yourself and I'm touched.

Kirsten said...

That was hard for me to read. I lost my father to lung cancer when I was eight and he was only 37. By the time he went to the doctor, he had developed a brain tumor. It has shaped who I am today in so many ways.

Having kids brings back lots of emotions sometimes. He would have loved his grandkids.

Thanks for writing this.

Heinous said...

Mariah: Thanks for making the appointment.

Kylie: I'm sorry to hear about your mom. Hopefully getting it out there helps.

Tony: It's remarkable how time stops like that. Just tell the guys at the "Tough Clinic" you were toughening up by macing your eyes for fun.

Phoenix: Sorry about that.

Krystal: Thanks and you know I heart you back, right?

Debbie: Thanks, babe.

Mary: Yours was wonderful. Thank you for sharing your story as well.

Nonna: Thank you :)

Laura: I'm glad you think so :)

Amy: I'm sorry to hear about your husband's mom. I know how he feels.

Lisa: Thank you so much.

LM: I always remember the good. No worries. I'll have a drink with you.

Tony: Amen to that. It all brings us to where we are.

Casey: Thanks, it's funny that I feel like it's more so my son that is missing out now.

fadkog: Thanks, hon.

Jen: Thanks, Jen. (It's nice to see you back.)

3B1M: We'll beat it eventually.

HS: It's a great thing that Jen does for us. I'm glad you're going to join in!

SDCG: I think we will too.

Marinka: Thank you, Marinka. The funny stuff is healing too. I'll get back to that :) (This should at least keep Petra on her toes.)

ftd: Good for you. I can only hope my actions do help.

Maura: A little perspective is good sometimes. Thank you.

Kirsty: Let's hope for nothing but the best for your mum from here on out.

SAM: Thank you. It's a good exercise.

Bibliomom: I'm sure she does. It took me a while to get over my mom's choices. Forgiveness is easiest.

blueviolet: Thank you.

Kirsten: I am so sorry to hear that. That's such a young age to lose a parent at.

Mo Fabulous said...

Wow. So touching. Thank you for reminding us who still have their parents to be thankful everyday. My mom was diagnosed with brain cancer (grade 4) 3 years ago.....after 5 surgeries and 2 straight years of chemo - she's still with us - and cancer free. I'll be damned if she doesn't make it to hold my babies. This post made me cry for you - and made me cry for who I almost lost. Thank you for your honesty.

Lee the MWOB Queen said...

I've been a little slow to come back around and wow what a post i have just read. This one was gorgeous and brimming with so much life (even in death) that I am touched. And it's a post I will remember - and I love when that happens...

Your mother is in you...it seems so clear.

SweetPeaSurry said...

Wow, that was incredibly poignant. I am sorry for your loss.


mo.stoneskin said...

Dude I feel for your loss. God bless.

he calls me gramma said...

what if your mom never had met your father and never had a son such as you, i think that too would have been a great loss, i'm sure your mom is looking down with a smile to have such a kind and loving son such as you, your words were very strong and hopefully it will send a message to all your readers who don't go in for regular check up's. my mom had colon cancer and i thank God every day that she went in when she did, or I would have been saying "what if"

Heather said...

Having lost both my parents to cancer my mum at 49 (breast cancer) and my father at 69 (bladder) I often go through the what if's concerning their grandchildren. Oh, this is just making my eyes fill up typing this.

I am sad that neither of them got to see my children and my mother didn't get to meet my wonderful husband.

A great post Heinous

The Stiletto Mom said...

Of all your posts, this one was the most beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss which sounds like it must have happened at a very early age for you.

And I am now reminded to make my OB/GYN appt tomorrow to stay on track.

You're awesome.

Lola said...

Sorry about your mom. That just sucks. My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was pregnant, but they caught it early and were able to just take it out, fortunately.

I've played the "what if" game my whole life, since my father died when I was two. It's an endless amount of what if's.

I played it again when my mother-in-law died at 52 from something that could have been taken care of in ten minutes if we had forced her to go to the hospital.

The what if's will always be there, but I just keep on moving.

Oh, and thanks for making me cry!

Queen Bee said...

I can't imagine losing a parent at such a young age. I'm glad that you remember your mother and your loss and use it to help others who are going through the same thing. You're a hero to many.

Anita Ovolina said...

Very touching Jim. Sorry about your loss.
Sending you positive thoughts

Heinous said...

Mo: I'm glad to hear you mom is doing well.

Lee: Thank you.

Surry: Many thanks.

Mo: Thank you so much.

gramma: Thank you, the checkups are so important.

Heather: I'm so sorry to hear about your parents.

Mary Anne: Thank you and make sure you make that call.

Lola: Thank goodness your mom was diagnosed early. I'm sorry to hear about your father and your MIL. Sorry about making you cry.

Queen Bee: I don't know about hero. Friend is good enough.

Anita: Thank you :)

Mustang Sally said...

This post took me by surprise. I believe she's still with you and very proud of you, your wife and your child. Even if you can't see her in the physical sense, I bet you still see her in a lot of things. That's no accident.

bernthis said...

Thank you for reminding me how fortunate I am to still have my parents around and I am 43. I'm now going to call them and tell the that I love them.

Big hugs to you

Me, You, or Ellie said...

42? That's criminal.

Heinous said...

Sally: I do and think about her often.

Jessica: Thank you. Keep your parents close to you always.

Ellie? Beth? Jacquie?: I'll brook no argument there.

McMommy said...

Hands down the most eloquent post I've ever read. I have two sons and I couldn't help but read this with them in the back of my mind.

Tugged at the heartstrings without dripping in sappiness...this is the kind of post that lingers in the mind for awhile. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

TheCynicalOptimist said...

Wow, great tribute post. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. I imagine there is little else that would be as tramatic.

THanks again for stopping by- Beth

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Anonymous said...


An Old Family Friend said...

I think of your mom all of the time. The amazing thing is that her hard lesson challenges me to insist that others pay attention to the little signals the body gives us and that regular check ups are a must for the diseases with silent signals. She would indeed be proud of you and the man you have become.