September 19th, 1999 – I was in Dorchester, Mass., sitting in one of the old bedrooms in the house where I grew up, but this night was very different.
I was watching my mother, Elizabeth A. Wood, as she fought a losing battle with breast cancer. She had been diagnosed with the disease two years prior, and as she paused between her breaths (for what seemed like an eternity), I felt my world crumbling around me.
My son, Daniel Jr., then six years old, sat with me for a while and sang to her. He was not afraid; he was strong, for this was his Nana. I was full of so many emotions, but looking at him, I felt a sense of pride – a pride that was engraved in both of us by my mother. Painfully, we both watched her – the woman who was, and is, everything that is good in me – slip away.
It was so fitting for Daniel to be there. She helped me raise him. From weaning him off the bottle to potty training, she was there. As he sang, I could see she was letting go of us physically, but looking back, she was holding on to us with every ounce of her soul. I can still remember her final words. As I arrived in the room after flying into Boston from Miami, she said “Oh, it’s Danny! I love you.” My heart broke, because I knew that I would never hear those words again.
September 20th, 1999 – My mother lies peacefully, no longer breathing, but no longer in pain.
It took me more than five years to realize death ends a life, not a relationship. Accepting her death has been a struggle, however, I have realized that I must only accept the fact that she is no longer physically on this earth. I know she watches over me. I know she lives through my children. I realized this through a very amazing experience.
My youngest daughter, Vega, was lying in my bed one night with me. She looked at me, pulled me in close by my face and kissed me. I got chills because this was the exact way my mother used to kiss me. There was always something behind my mother’s hugs and kisses – love, pride, happiness, and many other emotions – and she passed that legacy of love on to my daughters. I will never forget it, and I want to take this opportunity to tell you a few more things about my mom.
My mother was a small woman, not even five feet tall, but her personality was enormous. She gave birth to six children: Bethany, Melissa, Pamela, Me, Brett and Rachel.