I was crazy to get pregnant, and when I found out I was pregnant, on Mother’s Day Eve, 2012, I felt the most fulfilled woman of the earth. But when we got the news about my mother’s disease, four months later, it was a shock. She was young, only 55, but her health condition was serious: lung cancer. For more optimistic we were, from the beginning we knew we would have no way.
Lucia Maria is the name of my mother. I’m like her, only I am a redhead. I have the colors of my father, but I’m like my mother. People are very impressed with this similarity. Every time I visit my grandmother and I meet my aunts, who are sisters, they say, ‘You’re all Lucia, I can see Lucia here.’ I think that is why we had so many argues when I was young – because I was her mirror. But it’s amazing how we understand our mother when we become a mother and also being like her nowadays is a gift to me.
When I was six months pregnant, I thought, ‘Man, my mother will not have a long time to live, so I will be around her so she can follow my pregnancy and enjoy my son as much as she can. ” So I decided to move from Botafogo to Jacarepagua, West Zone of Rio de Janeiro, to a house next door to her that was available at that time. It was crazy, I organized all the moving. And I remember going and coming back from work by bus everyday, with that big belly, after an hour and a half, very happy though.
I think the strength I had was unexplainable. I dealt with life and death daily. But I had something to protect me: The external part of me was dealing with my mom, suffering and fighting with her while the internal part of me was generating a life. And I believe that my pregnancy also helped my mom in her fight. I am sure that she lived a little longer only to meet Vicente and to teach me hot o be a mom.
I did not cry so much during this period. Maybe a little later that year, when I realized that this would be our last Christmas, it left us depressed. And on the path to motherhood I collapsed. It was like a movie in my mind and I knew that nothing would be as it was before. And I keep good memories from this time living near, being neighbors: We made Brigadeiro, sat at her room and ate a whole pan while we talked about many things. It was something that belonged to us only and I miss those moments so much. I miss being happy only.
Then Vicente was born and when I came back from the hospital I didn’t know what to do with that little creature that depended on me. But on the following day in the morning my mom was there with me, in spite of all her physical limitations because of the cancer. All that initial panic, that every mother has, of how to deal with the baby on the first days and months, and you don’t believe in yourself and you get very insecure – all this vanished because SHE was there. My mother cut my baby’s nails for the first time, she gave him his first bath. As my husband travelled a lot I put my son in the sling and spend the whole day with my mom. I have a video in which you can listen tom y mom’s voice singing to Vicente when he was 3 months old. He laughed and she also> Nowadays when he sees a Picture of her in the living room he says “grandma Lucia, grandma Lucia”. I Always talk about her to him.
When Vicente was three months – and I was already doing everything very well and easily- things began to change, worsening very much. At home, the doctor told us that my mother was very sick, and that those would be her last days. I collapsed into tears, but then I called my aunt and said, ‘call everybody, call grandma, because I do not know how long my mother will still have to be here.’ And in fact her body was beginning to show signs of failure. I gave her a bath to wait visits and put a plastic chair in the shower, for her to be comfortable. She was having some absences (lucidity) and the doctor said that although it was difficult for us, it was good for her to take a break. At the end, when I was drying her, she called ‘Mother!’. And I said ‘I’m here, daughter. It’s okay.‘ Here the roles were changed and I was also the mother of my own mother.
Soon after bathing, visits arrived and it seemed that my mother had a breath of lucidity. She laughed, teased, made fun of my grandmother – it was a real farewell. And when everyone left she got worse. That morning she went to the hospital and died 24 hours later. It was Mother’s Day eve.
I realized things gradually. Just when she died, the first thing I felt was something like ‘the world is not fair. But now I see how she was extremely generous with me to expect me to feel safe before heading her way. The feeling I have is as if it had been a baton pass, understand ?! That was a gift. Besides, she left me so many lessons, but so many lessons in life that inspire me every day. Even the fact that she had discovered the disease and died soon after it, made me stop to think that life is now and it needs to be worth it.
In the first year of her death anniversary, I was exhausted, I weighed 49 kilos and was very depressed. I tried to understand when life had become so hard. And I felt very lonely. That’s when I decided to simplify life. Travel light, as people say. I saw that it no longer made sense to live far away from work. And that if I lived near work I wouldn’t even need a car. And so I moved back to South Zone of Rio. I also looked into my relationship and I saw that it didn’t make sense any longer. It was not easy to make the decision, especially with a small child, but the choices of my mother and all her courage were also inspiring at that time.
Sometimes I think about what my mother was thinking of things I’ve been doing. I think she’d be happy because I’m fine, I feel I am making peace with my life. I say that I am phase in which I complain less and thank more. There is a wonderful text that talks about it, ‘Embrace and thank’ have you heard it? It’s great, I’ll read it for you:
EMBRACE AND THANK
Thank and praise.
Praising the womb that carried me
The Orisha who took me,
And Oshun’s sweetness that consecrated.
Praising water in my land
The ground that supports me, the ground, the black clay,
The edge of the abyss,
The scary dagger every day.
Thank clouds that soon will be rain,
Clouding the senses
And teach life to revive.
Thank the friends I made
And that keeps the courage to like me, for me …
Thank the joy of children,
Butterflies playing in my backyard, real or not.
Thank each sheet, the whole root, the majestic stones
And the little like me in Aruanda.
Thank the sun striking the day,
The moon just like God spreading the light
And turning my dreams upside down.
Thank high tides
And those that lead to other timbers all evil.
Thank all singing in the air,
Into the bushes on the sea,
The voices that sound thin ropes and break crystals.
Thank you for welcoming and applauding this miracle.
I have to thank.
Praise and embrace!
My mom is still with me as she has Always been. In her image reflected in the mirror. IN my musical taste. In my courage facing life and in being stubborn and fighting for happiness.
Thank you mom.
Mariana is 31 years old, she is a planning manager, she lives in Rio de Janeiro, Vicente’s mother, daughter of Marcus and Lucia.