When your children are far away

I actually planned this to be my first post on ‘Mothers with Cancer’ but ended up writing about ‘Pink October’.

On the 4th of September 2010 a 7.1 earthquake shook things up in the South Island of New Zealand. 

What does this have to do with ‘Mothers with Cancer’?  I am a IBC survivor and I live in Auckland, towards the top of  the North Island of New Zealand.  MD (my middle daughter) ,22 years old, lives at the army camp just outside Christchurch with her fiance who’s in the army (she is training to be a teacher) She lives near the epicentre (these pictures from my personal blog are of the aftershocks surrounding her on the 4th and the 5th of September).  We got woken by a phone call just after it happened.  They were fine but a little ‘shaken’ emotionally.  But this event really hit home for both of us how far away she lives from us about 1600kms (1000 miles) and seperate islands.  My first instinct was to jump on  a plane to go down there or get them on a plane up here.   Both she and SB had commitments down there so them leaving wasn’t an option.  MD and I kept in touch talking several times a day but it did effect me emotionally not being able to physically give her a hug.  

We ended up having quite an interesting discussion towards the end of the first week of aftershocks (they are still happening 4 weeks after the event)  about the fact that as much as both of our first reactions had been to want to be together, I had brought her up well enough to be able to stand on her own two feet emotionally without me physically holding her hand.  these events have made it  even more evident that mothering doesn’t stop when you have no children living at home.  No matter how old they are, I am still a mother to my girls.

She shared that when she tells new friends she has made down there about my cancer and the fact that I have had a recurrence since she moved down in July 2009 when  I was in remission from the initial diagnosis - and that when the earthquake happened we were awaiting results from an echocardiogram, CT of chest, abdomen and pelvis, and MRI of my brain to investigate ‘niggles’  – all clear thank goodness! - their reaction has been one of ” Why on earth did you move down here when your mum is going through all that?” 

When I first got diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer and found out how aggressive and potentially life- threatening it is I very quickly came to the decision that I didnt want my older girls to put their lives on hold for me.  At that stage they were both in University study and I told them I didn’t want them taking time off their studies, but even more than that I didnt want them to change there dreams and plans for their lives.  As much as I hope to be alive to see them get married and have children I dont want them to fast track anything just because of me.  Them living their lives and dreams just the way they want to will ultimately make me the happiest.  Its hard sometimes but we all agree with it. 

We did the Dove Pink Star Walk last night and I know MD was disappointed not to be part of the ‘Get Out Gertrude’ team.  She is flying up next weekend to spend sometime with us to celebrate her 23rd birthday and has volunteered to help me out on the Friday at the Pink Ribbon Day street appeal so she feels like she is involved somehow, that she has done something to support me.

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