Editor’s note: Brian Morissette was 12 years old when his beloved mother, Theresa, died from cancer in 2015. Last year, Brian wrote about the experience of losing his mom for an English assignment. Brian has been receiving counseling services from Care Dimensions to help him cope with his grief. He agreed to share his story to underscore the importance of Children’s Grief Awareness Day, which takes place on November 16, 2017.
It was just another relaxing Sunday. I was playing in my backyard, and the rest of my family members were up to their own personal thing. This seemed like just a normal weekend day until I got a phone call from my dad telling me that my mom was in the hospital.
Worried about Mom
My mom first got breast cancer in 2009 when I was about six years old. Ever since then, I worried about her constantly, which led to me worrying about random bad things that were happening in the world. But with all the things I worried about, my mom was definitely on my mind the most. I worried if she was going to be all right and sometimes even worried if she was going to live or not. Sometimes I could even feel her pain through me. When I got that phone call, I felt like I had just woken up from a nightmare, but the nightmare was real. I knew my mom was pretty ill because about a week before this, my parents told me that the cancer had moved to her brain. I didn’t exactly know what it meant, but I knew for sure it couldn’t be good. I never thought it would have to come down to me visiting my mom in a hospital bed.
My dad and sisters were already at the hospital, so my aunt had to bring me there. I was uncomfortable, and by the time I got to the hospital, I almost felt sick in my stomach.
When I saw my mom in the hospital bed, I didn’t have any words. I just said hi and told her it was me and thankfully she was able to respond. I heard her say, “Hi Bri” in a soft, excited tone, which made me feel a little better. We talked to her for a little bit and then when it looked like she was getting pretty tired, we let her close her eyes and rest. When I got home and went to bed, I struggled to fall asleep because all I could think about was if she was going to be all right.
The next day, my sisters brought me to the hospital. It was a little better because the sun was shining and my grandmother and some of my aunts and uncles were there to keep us company. There wasn’t much to that day. My mom was sleeping pretty much throughout the day and when she wasn’t, we tried to talk to her, but she didn’t respond nearly as well as the previous day. I woke up the next day getting a call from my dad, who told me and my sisters to come to the hospital.
Hearing the bad news
That day was Tuesday, June 16, 2015, and still remains to this day the worst day of my life. My sisters and I drove to the hospital together and walked into my mom’s room where my dad was sitting on her bed. We talked a lot about how she was doing and it kept on getting worse and worse no matter how hard my dad tried to give us any positives about the situation. I knew what was about to come couldn’t be good. At the end of the conversation, I could tell that my dad’s eyes were tearing up a bit. He told us there was nothing else that could’ve been done to help cure my mom, and it was only a small matter of time before she was going to die. We all started crying and hugging each other and it was the first time I’d ever seen my dad cry. My mom was sleeping throughout this whole time, which was probably a good thing because she never liked it when we were sad.
We calmed down after about a half hour and then the rest of the day I sat in the waiting room with my family, my grandmother, and some of my aunts and uncles trying to think of good memories to take away from all the tension in the room. When I got home that night, I was the saddest I’ve ever been.
The next four days were mostly the same as the others, so I’m just going to skip to Sunday morning, June 21st. I’ll always remember this date because this was the day my mom passed away.
It was a sunny day and even though they weren’t there, I could smell my dad’s homemade pancakes in the kitchen. I went down to my living room, ate breakfast, and talked a little bit with my sisters and my aunt. We heard the phone ringing and saw that it was my dad so we picked it up and put it on speaker. He told us that at about nine o’clock, my mom had died. Our eyes opened in shock and filled with tears. After we started to calm down, we drove to the hospital. There, we saw my mom lying on the hospital bed – no machines attached to her, just her and my family. We talked for a while and then said our goodbyes because apart from the wake that happened about five days after, that was the last time my family and I saw my mom’s face. We then drove home from the hospital, and my dad was in the car with us. For the past week, he had slept in a chair next to my mom’s hospital bed.
I couldn’t believe that the worst thing I worried about had come true. My mom had died. All I could think about after that was how bad things were going to be without her. Over the next couple of days, I tried to think about anything good that could from this experience, and then I finally realized that I wasn’t worrying anymore. My mom dying was the worst possible thing I worried about and since it had just happened, there wasn’t much more to worry about. I always worried whether my mom was going to be all right and if she was ever in any pain, but now that she had died, I realized that she wasn’t in pain anymore and that she was now in a better place.
I learned from this experience that no matter how bad the situation, there will always be good to come out of it. So, if you’re ever in a similar situation and are having a hard time with it, just try to find the good in it. When you do, I can almost guarantee you will feel much better.
For additional information, or to sign up for an e-newsletter about children’s grief support services, email Grief@CareDimensions.org.