Saturday, November 23, 2013

a celebration of life: losing my mom, and loving my sister.

so i'm listening to stevie nicks, and i just discovered that the song i thought was called 'one winged dove' is actually called 'the edge of seventeen', weird. i'm listening to stevie nicks because i'm trying to channel a vibe, and i think it's working. i'm trying to get my brain into the mindset of someone that has lived life for the last 40+ years on the edge of their seat with excitement, determination, and success. i could only channel a fraction of that on my own without some good 80's tunes this morning. why am i channeling the bad hair and bell bottoms you ask? well, because folks, today is a very special day for me.

almost 17 years ago, when i was 11, my mom Nancy died. she had lived on and off for years with cancer. first lung cancer, and they removed her left lung completely, and then 4 brain tumors which most of them they removed sans a tiny piece that was too close to her brain stem. she was living in remission for a few years, and then that tiny piece grew, and unfortunately was what took her life in 1996. i miss her everyday, i surround myself with pictures of my family because they are the most important thing to me. losing her was difficult, and still affects me in so many ways, but it's what made me a better person i believe.

lady whitehead and the queen whitehead circa 1985 
my mamma circa i have no idea, but will you look at that sass face?
wonder where i got it from? now you know ;) 

i remember my mom being limited doing things with me when i was growing up. she had her lung removed when i was just over the age of 4, and this was probably the hardest thing for her. she couldn't do things with me like run around, or play in the yard, without having to stop every few minutes to breathe. just breathe. 

she was, and still is, the strongest person i ever had in my life. for over 8 years she battled with that cancer, never letting it get a leg up on her. she had a family to be with and she wasn't leaving. my maternal family is something i will always be grateful for. they were with her every step of the way, loving her something fierce and watching over me when she'd have to spend 3 weeks at the hospital and one week home out of every month. it was brutal. but, i had them near me, and they reminded me every day how much my mother loved me, and how much of her fight was to stay alive for me. 

the clan Whitehead, circa ... the 1980's! ha.
my mom is the one kneeing in purple shorts, what a babe
and that handsome man in yellow is my Champ!

when my mom lost the battle with cancer, she was just 42 years old. she had lived such a big and bold life, and it ended so quickly. everyone should be able to die old and happy in their bed. and at least for me, that's how i'm determined to go! or maybe i'll have this same fate, you never know, but you live your life each day with a fight that you don't give up on, and that's the damn point.

so why is this day special? well, for one, it's my big sister Shanny's birthday! and for two, she's turning 42, and probably going to kill me for putting that on the internet. but, i don't want to hide that from the world. I WANT TO CELEBRATE IT! my beautiful, smart, loving, doesn't look a day over 28 year old sister is 42. it's bittersweet for me. you see, when i lost my mom, she was 42, she was an elder and .... a mom. you know, you already imagine her as this big towering figure that cares for you and protects you and hovers languidly over you each step of your life. when you grow up, and your sister turns 42 you have a big bite to chew from life. it just does something for me. 

my sisters life is extraordinary to sum it up in one word. she's literally traveled the world, lived on two different continents, and two different coasts of the U.S., she takes life by the you know what's. and she's withoutadoubt the most important person in my life.

Shanny and her "Little" ca. 1991

 i think about her today, turning 42, and think "my sisters life is still going, she still wants so much more", and while i celebrate my sister today, i also hurt for my mom. to parallel them today is just insane. and not to be morbid, but it makes me picture my sisters death and think "oh hell no". it's absolutely INSANE to think that my mom had so much life left to live, now that i see what 42 looks like.

i give every day of my life to my sister (and my dad, too) because she is who brought me up on her wings when i wasn't always going the right way. and i know beyond a doubt that my heart is as big and boastful because of the love she allowed me to take from her when i didn't have any to give.

the sisters, always an adventure!

my sister has this power about her, she leads you toward her with a magnetism i can't explain. she pulls you up from a slump, she brings you a laugh, she lends you something you don't have, and the best is she expects nothing back but for you to pay it forward. my sister taught me about karma and what you give out to the world, the world will give back. 

always having a smile and a laugh :)

so today, she may just be turning 42, but for me she's turning a corner that i didn't think could be turned. every day of her life is a gift to me because if i didn't have her, i don't think i'd be here. and well, i'm a gifted individual and we all know the world would be miserable without me ;) just kidding guys! but, without her in my life, you certainly wouldn't have any books from me, because she's the support behind me throughout this whole adventure.

so please, celebrate someone in your life today. even if it isn't their birthday, just call them up and say, "I'm celebrating you for living today!" i promise you will change their life :) 

"Forever Young"

May the good Lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
surround you when you're far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you'd have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you'll always stay
Forever Young, Forever Young
Forever Young, Forever Young

May good fortune be with you
May your guiding light be strong
Build a stairway to heaven
with a prince or a vagabond

And may you never love in vain
and in my heart you will remain
Forever Young, Forever Young
Forever Young, Forever Young
Forever Young
Forever Young

And when you finally fly away
I'll be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell

But whatever road you choose
I'm right behind you, win or lose
Forever Young, Forever Young
Forever Young ,Forever Young
Forever Young, Forever Young
For, Forever Young, Forever Young 

1 comment:

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

Hi there! I'm one of Shannon's co-workers and she shared this wonderful blog post with us. What a great tribute to your sister and to your mom. Thank you for sharing!