By my count, there have been about five times that I thought I would have to write this post. This is both longer than I thought I would be and so, so, little time than I thought I would have.

Hi. We haven’t met. My name is Kate. I’m Jen’s eldest and only daughter.

To cut it straight to the chase, she doesn’t have long left. She’s been fighting almost 10 years. This week, we start home hospice. I’ve known this would be coming for a decade now but I find myself listless. In shock. I don’t know how I go to work or begin a new semester or go on with my life tomorrow, even though I know full well that I don’t really have much choice. If my mom knew I was even thinking about dropping out of paralegal school because of her, she’d be horrified.

I was 14 when she was first diagnosed. I remember the day clearly still. It was my first day of spring break. We were gonna go shopping. She got a call during our drive to the mall from the hospital, telling her to come immediately.
I’m 23 now. She lived long enough to see me get my college degree, something that her doctors nine years ago thought was a long shot.

She’s told me a lot of things since her diagnosis. She’s said repeatedly that she wants her funeral to be a party. That she did not want to be a “vegetable” under any circumstances. She asked my brothers and I constantly if she was a good mom.

We’d always give her the obvious answer. She was the best mom I could’ve asked for. She has never once doubted me. Once it was made clear that I wasn’t gonna be a rebellious and terrible teenager, she trusted me to make my own decisions. Even when I was a teenager, she never talked down to me.

I want more time. I’m greedy and got five years more than they said I would and I want more time. We had things we wanted to do. Just a month ago she was fine. We wanted to check out this Taiwanese restaurant. We were both itching for a trip to the beach. We were gonna go to New York. I want more time. I’m struggling to remember our last conversation where she was fully coherent. It was probably complaining about my food service job. I thought I’d be doing that at least a hundred times more.

If I could ask for anything, it’d be one last conversation. She’d be awake, and could understand what I’m saying and reply in kind. I don’t know how much time I have for whatever higher power that exists to make it happen. Right now, as I type this, none of those things are true. I’d say she’s an amazing mom. My best friend. And I have no idea what I’ll do without her.

15 thoughts on “mom

  1. Beautifully written, Kate. Yours is an eloquent post and speaks volumes of the love that you and your mom have between you. I have been hoping for a much better outcome and am so sorry that you and your family have to say “aloha ʻoe” to such an incredible wife, mom, and friend. I am sending all of you big aloha hugs from this side of the ocean.

  2. Many of the things that you have expressed here have been felt by a good many whose parents are going along this path. I remember the times I talked to my ma, and my pop, in their last days. I remember the moment I realized what you said here – “To cut it straight to the chase, she doesn’t have long left”. But if there is any solitude to the voyage you are on now with your mom, remember this – cancer might be the villain that takes away your mom but your mom will always be in your heart long after. And as long as that is where your mom will be, she is always around. I keep my parents in my heart and know that while their physical manifestations are gone, the memories of them and the lessons they taught me, will never go away. It’s going to be up to us who are the children of our parents to relay these stories in as clear of detail as possible, to our progeny, for them to also have the life spirit of them, continue.

    Your family is in our prayers at this time.

  3. Oh Kate, that was so beautiful. I cried when I read what you wrote about needing more time. I fully understand. My dad died way too soon too. Cancer is so cruel. Your dad has been so gracious in sharing his family with all of us. I met him and your mom years ago in the mid 90’s at an Alt. Culture,Hawaii picnic. I flew in from Maui to attend it. Your mom and dad were so in love and so adorable! And through your dad’s writings, the love and adorableness remains today. I will always keep that in my heart when I remember her.

    Your mom will be at peace and out of pain soon. Still, I know it will hurt to lose her. Please try to stay strong. We will all be with you.

  4. Much love Kate. Your words speak to all the moms out here. Keep loving and keep writing.

  5. So eloquent, so thoughtful, your mom would be so proud… Hold onto your dad – he’ll need you more than he will admit and you’ll need him too. Do the things your mom always wanted to do, but didn’t get the chance. Do the things YOU want to do because (a) your mom would want it that way and (b) life is short: we never know when our time comes: I know – I got the same call. Aloha ‘oe to your mom… Paddle out…

  6. Aloha Kate, we’ve never met but I just want to send my aloha and strength to you, your siblings, and dad at this time. I was in my late 20s when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer; we had 2.5 years to battle it and two final months of lessons on acceptance. I went through this as an only child, trying to support my dad (but not knowing how) and am forever grateful for the couple of friends who had experienced similar losses. They walked with, sat with, and supported me with quiet, knowing understanding as I struggled to process everything I was going through.

    I am grateful to home hospice because it allowed our family to share the experience of caring for someone we all loved. Family friends came by. I especially appreciated the ones who came with lighter memories and fun stories that I’d never heard of my mom in her youth, or who shared a different side of her than I’d known. In the difficult evening hours, I held my mom’s hand, massaged her feet, and read her books and shared news. I went on a lot of walks in between, to let out my frustration and fears so I could come back and be strong. I don’t remember the last coherent conversation I had with my mom. I do remember the important, meaningful ones that preceded that. I too wish I’d had time with my mom, to get to know her as a person beyond mom-figure.

    These days, when one of my friends comes to Oahu, we have our “mom ritual.” We do things our moms enjoyed in life and would have enjoyed doing with us (going to the farmer’s market and eating at hole-in-the-wall restaurants), and it gives us both joy to celebrate our moms. I won’t lie- it took a while for me to get to this stage, but now my mom is with me whenever I need her: I can hear her telling me to mince the garlic finer, and know my mom is rolling her eyes at ridiculousness, or getting excited about a new book or recipe. I often think, “what would Mom do?”

    Your mom is part of you and will always be with you.

  7. Kate, you’ve beautifully captured what so many of us who have lost or who are losing people feel. Please let me know how I can support and help you and your family. Sending you strength and love.

  8. I’m hoping and praying for you and your family. I can’t find the words to express what I want to say, but please know that there are people who care about you and your family and personally my heart is breaking.

  9. Kate…

    Your mother is such a sweet and beautiful woman. Her kind caring words and funny sense of humor always shined through. I see a lot of her traits and mannerisms in you. I’m sending her… your dad and you and the boys all my love from the mainland. I know you have 100’s of people who love and support your entire family… but if you need anything please don’t hesitate to reach out. Much love always… Angel, Amber, Xavier & Cameron.

  10. Aloha Kate,
    We’ve never met but I’ve followed your family along your journey, from when you guys were much smaller until now. I’m pretty sure your dad was the first person I followed on Twitter and loved your mom’s Instagram account. She has a way of capturing subjects in such an interesting way.
    My biological mom died when I was 18. It’s never the same for anyone, losing someone close. The pain, grief, and also the love and happy memories will come in waves, over and over, sometimes stretched out sometimes close together.
    Thank you for sharing with us and know there’s a lot of people out here sending you love and support.

  11. Oh, Kate, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through! I’m a stranger to you, but hope that you will accept my prayers and virtual hugs. I’ve been following your mom’s journey since the beginning, and you will all be in my thoughts as you walk this road.

  12. Kate..I read this beautiful post soon after you posted it. You have certainly inherited both of your parents writing skills. I planned to reply immediately but couldn’t find the words to start. Nor to end. The middle also evaded me. I wish there was a magic wand I could wave, a hoop I could jump through, a favor I could call in, ANYTHING to make all things right with the Ozawa family again. I’m so glad your parents, especially your dad, documented your family life from day 1. You, Zac and Alex have a plethora of priceless memories to call on whenever you need them. I’m now at a loss for words to end this comment. Just know how much your entire family is loved, respected and supported.❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  13. I don’t know you or your family at all except through social media and of course their LOST podcast. I have so much love for you and your family and unfortunately am going through some similar difficult health issues, but nothing like you guys are having to deal with. I am hopeful that things go as smoothly, as is possible, and wish you and your family peace in the coming weeks and months.

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