Yesterday was a sad day of realizations for me. I’m not sure where they came from or why they kept popping up in rapid succession, but I do know that they made me think.
I’m turning 30 in 2 months. Perhaps that was the reason for the thought process. August 26th is one of my “unbirthdays.” In two months from that date, I would be 30. So, naturally, I thought about my 30 by 30 list. However, I also thought about the dark side of 30.
My mother passed away almost 11 years ago to colon cancer. When the doctors finally found the tumor, it was huge as it had steadily been growing since she turned 38. They removed it, which bought her about 8 months of life, but there was no hope. She was in stage 4 by the time they finally listened to her complaints and found the true cause of all her digestive issues.
Having a close relative, like a parent, with cancer tends to increase the risk of you developing it as well. In my case, I not only have colon cancer on my mother’s side through my mother, I also have it through one great aunt on my mother’s side and one great aunt on my father’s side. So, basically, I am screwed.
As such, the doctors told my siblings and me that when we turn 30, we need to get a colonoscopy every year. I’ve been dreading this day for almost 11 years now. My sister jumped the gun a bit and had a couple of colonoscopy’s before she turned 30, and then one after she turned. The last one she had, the doctor told her she didn’t have to come back every year anymore, to just come back again in a few years.
I was 19 when my mother died. I’m over halfway to spending more of my life without my mother than I was able to spend with her. That saddens me. So much happened in the last 11 years that I did not get to share with her, and sometimes, even though so many years have passed and I’ve accepted it, I still find myself angry and sad to not have had her during this time. It is especially hard because I don’t remember a lot from the years I had with her because I was simply too young. The hardest part; however, has been raising my daughter without my mother. My father was not around much when we were children, he’s not around much these days either, so I lacked the motherly advice so many others complain about. I wish I had the ability to complain that she was overstepping her boundaries and that her advice, while appreciated, was unsolicited. But I don’t have that luxury. I don’t have the luxury to fight with her about my lack of parenting skills, and I feel crazy sometimes for wishing I did.
My mother was 45 when she died. My next realization is that when my mother turned 30, she only had 15 years left of life. Tied into this realization is the fact that my entire family comments on how much alike we are. So, for reasons that I acknowledge are purely illogical, I feel like I’m facing a terminal sentence of 15 more years of life myself. While I know that it’s unlikely that I’ll suffer the same fate as my mother (I mean, I’m so focused on preventing colon cancer, I’m sure there will be something much worse that I’ll miss, right?), I started thinking about something I could do in tribute to my mother, and also to make sure that if something does get me by age 45, I’ve lived as full of a life as I can in the next 15 years.
I made a 30 by 30 list that I’m about halfway through. I’m hoping to get at least 20 of the items done by my 30th, but I think it would be more interesting to create a 45 by 45 list, or a “bucket” list if you will, in honor of my mother. Instead of simply focusing on things *I* want to do in the next 15 years, I will include all the things my mother wished she could have done and find some way to include her memory along the way.
I haven’t made the list of 45 by 45, but I plan to within the next few days. I think this will be a nice tribute to my mom and a way to feel like I’m fully embracing life. I’m pretty excited!