I removed this ring from my mother’s finger minutes before she was taken away for surgery. She was fighting cancer, and had been winning, against the odds, for so many years. She was so strong I never actually thought she could die.
The nurse asked me to take the ring off. I have no idea where my mother got it or why she was wearing it at the time. It looks like the kind of ring a child would wear, having gleefully won it from one of those candy/toy machines they have at the super market. My mother had this incredible childlike way about her. She lived every day with incredible passion for life and the things she loved.
It was probably her 10th major operation in 12 years. I tried to be there for all of them. We used to play this game when she was about to be taken away where I would say something to her and we’d see if she could remember it when she came out and woke up. She always could even though her mind had been worn down by so many years of chemo, “chemo brain” she called it. This time we couldn’t play because she was already unconscious, in a coma.
Usually when she came out she’d be so loopy for days. We would sit with the TV on, watching The Guiding Light or All My Children, and she would say the oddest things that we would all laugh about. I always looked forward to taking her for walks around the hospital. And sneaking her ice cubes when she wasn’t supposed to have them yet. She hated the hospital food so we would bring her back Taco Bell and Cherry Coke, her two favorite things.
My father and I spent the next month at the hospital talking to her and trying to encourage her. It was the only thing we could do. The rest was up to her, the doctors and the nurses said. Some days it looked like she might recover. There were days when you could see her personality break through the coma because her face would react to certain keywords, like “horses” or “Mexico”. And there were times when she had the strength to push herself up in bed to make herself more comfortable. And her face would sometimes turn cross when she heard something she didn’t like being discussed. We had hope.
She died October 18th 2005. My father and I were both with her. This ring reminds me of every minute I shared with her, good and bad. I have it with me all the time now. We got the grant to create this website the same week she went into the hospital. Her death gave this project much deeper meaning for me. This website is for her.
Tags: cancer, chemotherapy, coma, hospital, life, mom, mother, ring, strength, surgery
Other People's Thoughts
I want you to know how much your story moved me. My family is helping my mother fight an ongoing battle with a cancer that has spread beyond all control. My mother has been a powerful example to us all through this time. Her courage and strength has shored up my family as I am sure your mother did for yours.
It’s hard to think about these things and it’s so surreal to go through them that you get numb. People say over and over how it’s good to cry and to “let it all out” but it is so hard to do that when everyone around you is hurting so badly.
My point is this: I wondered why I was being drawn to such sad things: TV shows, sad movies, this site. I think the answer is that I needed some kind of catharsis. I needed the good cry that I am having right now and that I have been dying for without even knowing it.
Thank you. My heart is with you and your family.
— J. Monday May 1, 2006 #
— lelly Monday May 1, 2006 #
Beautiful site Matt.
My condolences to you and your family.
Your mother always sounded amazing when you would tell me about her.
— Dan Monday May 1, 2006 #
Sadness is my constant companion. My mother died in my arms at home-grew up never knowing her as a well person. Years later, my father coded while I went on duty in the ER, at another hospital. I arrived in time to call the code and thank them—for whAT,I tried telling them 12 hours before there were problems/complications they were ignoring, but he asked me to go home, get some rest. Leaving him that nite is the saddest moment of my live. Two weeks of 4 hours sleep had taken their toll on me, and made me dolice, when I should have made demands for his care. Regrets—I hate them so. There are seldom no do overs in life.
— Noran Monday May 1, 2006 #
I lost my mother to cancer 5 1/2 years ago. It was honestly the worst experience of my life and that includes my own battle with cancer two years ago. I too have jewelry that belonged to her, some of which I wear from time to time; I feel it brings me closer to her. Thank you for posting this and for starting this site. It’s beautiful.
— ScrappyCat Monday May 1, 2006 #
You are doing a very beautiful thing, Matt.
I have started reading through every story in this website on the night of May 1st, 2006, and finally came to yours.
— Laura Monday May 1, 2006 #
Thanks everyone for your kind words. I just want to be clear though that this site is the product of 3 people’s hard work. Without their contributions and the support of turbulence.org this site would not exist. See the About page for more info on the project and it’s creators.
— Matt Monday May 1, 2006 #
I absolutely marvel at all of the stories on here, each one moved me immensely. It seems that it is the tokens that we carry with us to remember immense grief, loss and tragedy, which at simply a glance or thought immediately stir the soul to remember all that is great in life, how fleeting it is and how precious it is. Thankyou especially to the creators of this site for making it, it’s a genuinely brilliant thing. My condolences and sympathies to all whom have suffered loss, and may those now gone forever live on in our stories and memories.
— James Wednesday May 3, 2006 #
I don’t have to tell you what a beautiful thing you’ve done – you already know that – but I’m going to, anyway. : . )
— Adam Wednesday May 3, 2006 #
i wear my moms diamonds in my ears- the only thing that still was recognizable as “her” when the cancer finally ate the rest of her away after four years. She faded with the sun in her bed 2 days before Valentines Day 2005- with me, daddy and Jas beside her. Hardest thing was watching my strong and beautiful mother turn weak and childlike within the matter of two months. I have the most horrific memories balanced with the most beautiful ones and a wisdom of what I’ve truly lost.
— Kylie Monday May 8, 2006 #
My Mom was fighting breast cancer, which spread to her bones and brain, for 8 years. A little less than 2 weeks ago, she passed away. I saw a lot of my memories and moments with my Mom in your story. The day before she passed, we removed the wedding ring that my Dad had given her, and I have been wearing it ever since. Even in her last moments she was graceful and strong, despite what the cancer had done to her body. She could no longer express herself easily, and she was no longer mobile.
— Sarah Sunday July 2, 2006 #
YOU HAVE DONE A BEAUTIFUL THING AND I NO YOUR MOM IS IN HEAVEN SMILING DOWN ON YOU AND EVERYONE SHE LOVED..YOUR STORY TRUELY TOUCHED MY HEART
— MARYANN Tuesday July 25, 2006 #
Very Heart Touching Tale
— dewalt Monday March 5, 2007 #
Hi, I am only 13 but this true life story is heartbreaking. I started bawling and went and gave my mom a hug!
— Elisha Thursday April 5, 2007 #
this kinda reminds me of me aunt i am kinda young but i understand completly what you mean and this is so sweet i love this story!!! i will pray for you i know you miss your mom!!
— jamie alley Friday June 8, 2007 #
Is it coincidence that today is the 18th of October…the two year anniversary of your mother’s passing? My mother died 12/13/2005. It is so hard still. My mother was not perfect, but she was a GREAT mother. She and daddy had 12 children. Daddy died in 1985. I miss him too, but with a mother, it is so much harder. I have three children and my heart breaks for them. I don’t want them to feel the pain of separation that I feel, almost everyday that I live. I am healthy as far as I know, but I know one day the inevitable will happen. As a mother, I would hate to know that they are hurting like I am for my mother. Even that thought saddens me, because it’s like she doesn’t know how much all of her children miss her and want her back…my heart breaks.
— AUDREY Thursday October 18, 2007 #
I lost my mother last year 29 November 2006. She took her own life. I think no matter how a loved one leaves us it is still very hard. I wear my mothers wedding band and every time i think of her it breaks my heart. My children always remember her and mention all the wonderful times they spent with her and I can see how they hurt from missing her so much. Last christmas was very hard to go thru and one would think the next one would be more bearable. But it is still just as hard. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family Matt.
— Samantha Thursday December 20, 2007 #
You are doing a great thing for everyone with this website….
I really like it and im guessing everyone else does too!!..
— Madelyn Monday March 24, 2008 #
I really like this website….
You sound like someone i could get to know and like someone who really wants to live.
My mom died from chemo 1 and a half years ago, it was a hard struggle for me and my family, the only thing i could do was do my best to hold them together after she died she was like the key to love in my family, and everyone including me took her for granted…
Now there is nothing i can do to get her back. Now I donate 200 hundred dollars a month…
Thats all i can afford but in the long run it makes a big difference in the hospital and in my heart.
— Jacob Monday March 24, 2008 #
your website is really sad but I like it…
— Madelyn Tuesday March 25, 2008 #
I came upon your website by accident. My mom passed December 15, 2005, also from cancer. What a wonderful tribute to your mom to share your memories, however bittersweet, with the world. I’m sure she is looking over your shoulder so very proud of you!!!
— Nancy Saturday April 12, 2008 #
My grandpa died to on thanksgiving morning from cancer.
— zac Thursday August 28, 2008 #
Beautiful story. My mother died 2 and half years ago when I was 21 years old. She had cancer for nine months. It was truly the saddest thing I have ever gone through. It was the worst time of my life. Just remember that your mom will always be in your heart like mine is. Like you I mourn everyday she is gone but the thing that keeps me going is that I know we will meet again. If you ever get a chance you need to read the poem a mothers pathway.
— Joseph Stavole Thursday September 4, 2008 #
this story is so sad
— Elajae Golden Wednesday October 29, 2008 #
i really thought this website was moving .. i have not lost anyone in my family to cancer but i have just lost one of my good friends .. and i want this bit for her.. she was such an amazing girl.. one to idol for the battle shes been through im so very proud of her and i know she will be in a better place i guess its justhard to let go of someone that special and i dont think its very fair that god takes away the niciest people :( rip heather babe never forgotten (yn) xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
— fiona Sunday November 2, 2008 #
I’m sorry your mom died, I wish heaven wasn’t that far away…
— Heather Saturday November 29, 2008 #
This is a wonder site. It was very touching when I was reading all of these stories. My mother passed 1/14/09 of cancer. Being the only child it is very hard for me to deal with it. I have her wedding ring that I wear around my neck, and I think of her everyday and miss her alot. It is so hard to deal with such a lost as this. My mother dealt with her cancer for 2years. I miss her so!!!
— Melany Tuesday February 3, 2009 #
Matt I lost my mom on August 7th 2007 my brother August 27th 2007 and my grandmother on January 17 2008 all to cancer. And I to have a ring from my mothere. The story was wonderful very close to home
— Melanie Graves Saturday May 16, 2009 #
my dad was fighting cancer may of 2007. he almost died but i always told him too ostay strong and do the best he can. HES NOW A SURIVOR OF CANCER!!!
— gabrielle Sunday December 6, 2009 #
I lost my mother when I was 23. She battled with Cirhossis since I was 17 and I feel like all my memories of her are of when she was sick. I miss her so much, its been 11 years and there are times when my sadness is just immense. What I regret most is going for a smoke when I should not have. What I also regret is the fact that my father, sisters and I did not have the courage to see her die and left her alone to die in the hospital. Sorry, I cant type any more.
— Gaurav Monday February 8, 2010 #
I recently had to take my mother’s ring off her finger because it was swelling and she was in the hospital and dying. When I was sad about this and telling my sisters they said that I should keep it. All 3 of us went into her hospital room and even though she was no longer able to communicate (shallow breathing, no eye movement, etc) – we told her about the decision that I have her ring – my sisters would wear the two gold bands that also came off her finger. I told Mom that the rings would be like a thread connecting us to each other – a reminder that we are committed to putting our differences behind us to show our love of her. She took 2 unusually deep breathes and then died. We knew that was her way of telling us she heard us – also the nurses had felt that she had been hanging on for some reason – I think with our promise to love each other she knew she could let go.
— Kathy Monday May 17, 2010 #
The Saddest Thing I Own is a 2005 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It is supported by the Jerome Foundation in celebration of the Jerome Hill Centennial and in recognition of the valuable contributions of artists to society.