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Teen’s heartbreaking essay about caring for mum dying of cancer leaves readers in tears

Below is an emotional essay that takes the reader on a profound journey through the author’s mother’s battle with Sarcoma Cancer and her eventual passing.

From the initial joy and excitement of high school graduation to the heart-wrenching moments leading up to her mother’s last breath, the author beautifully portrays the love, strength, and cherished moments shared with her remarkable mother.

The essay highlights the author’s determination to fulfill her mother’s goals, the pain of saying goodbye, and the lasting impact of her mother’s selflessness and love. Ultimately, it is a powerful tribute to an extraordinary woman and a reminder of the enduring presence of a mother’s love.

An early photo of Ryan with her mother.

TikTok | @ryanharmann

My Beautiful Mother by Ryan Harmann

It was May of 2022, when my life was supposed to be at its peak, until one day it wasn’t. I had high school graduation and senior week at the beach with my graduating class. I was starting my adulthood and my college career and I couldn’t have been happier. In January of 2021, my mom got diagnosed with Sarcoma Cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

From the day she was diagnosed, she lost a different part of her life everyday. She was strong, resilient, loving, caring and most of all the best mom anyone could ask for. She never asked the doctors for a time expectancy, she wanted to live the best she could with her 3 children and her husband.

My mom had a goal from the start, to watch me go to my senior prom and to see me and my sister, Madeleine, walk across the stage at graduation. She achieved both of those goals.

May 26, 2022, I walked across that stage at graduation, with my mom in a wheelchair watching proudly. The first step I took on that stage, I felt her overwhelming amount of love and knew she was so proud and that was all that mattered in that moment.

After I graduated, I received a text, “I love you so so much and am so proud of you.”

Ryan giving her mom a tight hug.

Courtesy of Ryan Harman

Those words felt like I just won the Superbowl. She didn’t get out of the house much so her being able to attend graduation was a big accomplishment and it took a lot out of her. We had a celebratory dinner at home and she was too exhausted to stay awake for dinner. Although it was upsetting that she wasn’t at dinner, I was just thankful she was able to be there and meet her goal.

I was looking forward to going on my week-long beach trip with all of my bestfriends that night. All week long while I was away, I was texting my mom, telling her all of the drama going on with all of my friends and facetiming her.

Until Friday came along and my mom stopped answering my texts and my facetime calls. I was a little worried and debated texting my dad to see if she was okay, but I let it go and continued on with my last night at the beach.

I was excited to get back home and tell my family all about the week I had. Instead, I came home to my mom in bed and my dad sat me and my two older siblings down and told us that our mom wasn’t doing well and he was very worried.

Mom lovingly kisses her beautiful daughter.

Courtesy of Ryan Harman

At the time, I was thinking my dad was freaking out and exaggerating and that she was going to be ok. After a lot of thinking, my dad decided to take her to the hospital. She walked from her room, downstairs and into the car.

At the hospital, they told her that her spine is 75% collapsed because of the tumors growing rapidly. I thought to myself that my mom was a superstar, she just walked on a spine that almost was completely collapsed. From that point on, my mom entered hospice care and did not get back up from her bed.

Ryan's mom attending her graduation.

TikTok | @ryanharmann

We called all of our family and friends and let them know that her life was coming to an end. The first couple days following her entering hospice care, I was in shock, I didn’t believe that my mom was going to die when I was only 18 years old.

I remember sending a text to my sister, Madeleine, and asking “Is Mom going to die?”

Her response was, “In a few weeks, yeah.” My heart shattered into a million pieces. I knew from that point on, I was going to take advantage of the time left with my mom and not have any regrets.

I did not want to look back at the last few weeks I had left with my mom and think “I wish I spent more time with her” so I did everything in my power to protect my future self from regret.

As friends and family members were coming by, I was laying in bed right next to my mom, holding her hand. I couldn’t imagine what my life was going to become. My mom reminded us daily that she loved us and that when she passes, she wants us to move forward.

She told us, “When I take my last breath, I want you guys to dance, don’t cry, dance.”

Days started to blur together as my mom went in and out of consciousness for the next couple weeks. I remember sitting in bed, with my door open and my parents bedroom door open too, scared that I would hear her take her last breath. She started talking in her sleep and talking to her deceased mother telling her that she would see her soon.

Ryan by her mom's side.

TikTok | @ryanharmann

The stress that my family endured was something I would not wish on anyone. We were on lockdown, spending time with my mom and watching her slowly go through the different stages of death.

I was in a mental block, I wasn’t eating as much as I should’ve, my main focus was spending as much time as I could with her. On July 7th, my mom said to my dad “I’m so tired I need to go, I will see you later.” as she closed her eyes. My dad came down the stairs and told us we all need to go say our final goodbyes.

My older siblings went up first. I started pacing back and forth, I did not want to say bye to my best friend. I started my journey up the stairs, with tears rolling down my cheeks, and I stopped, I couldn’t do it.

I walked into my parents bathroom until I built the courage to go and say goodbye. I walked to my mom, kissed her on the forehead and told her I would see her later and that I loved her.

Mother and daughter holding each other's hand.

TikTok | @ryanharmann

When the news spread that it might be the day she passed, family members were coming to say their goodbyes, until my mom randomly woke up. At this point, she has been in hospice for 4.5 weeks.

When she opened her eyes, I was upset. I was upset my mom was alive. I felt like such a horrible human. I walked outside with my heart in my stomach as I saw my dad leaned over crying talking on the phone. I couldn’t imagine going through the process of saying goodbye again.

My mom was up and talking for about 5 more days until she went back into a state of total unconsciousness. My dad decided to kick me and my siblings out, and send us to our aunt’s house at the beach because he didn’t want us to see her in that state anymore.

The beach was my moms favorite place. She would sit on the beach from 9am-5pm every chance she would get. She would take any chance she got to go to the beach, especially since it meant spending more time with her kids.

She always had a Grapefruit Crush in her hand and soaked up the sun. She looked so beautiful on the beach and she was in her element. I was sitting on the beach, and had a thought that I needed to tell my mom, but realized I couldn’t.

My mom was still alive, but I couldn’t talk to her. I felt weak. I didn’t want this to be the end. I had tears in my eyes as my sister said “Ryan, me and Tommy (my brother) are going to go to Jason Aldean on Sunday, do you want to go?” I wanted to go, but for some reason the word “no” came out of my mouth.

From that moment forward, all I could think about was my mom. I told my siblings I wanted to go back home that night, I couldn’t be away from mom anymore.

When we got back home, there was no change in my moms status. We were told, by hospice, to leave her be and she will go on her own. A few days after returning home from the beach, I woke up and my siblings got ready to go to the concert as me and my dad stayed home with my mom.

Around 3pm, I took a nap and woke up to my dad coming out of their room and said “can you go check her breathing?” I went in and she had the death rattle, I knew today was the day. From then on, my dad and I alternated going in and checking on her until about 7:30.

We layed in bed with her and realized her skin was ice cold. I layed there until I couldn’t anymore, and I went downstairs. Around 9pm, my worst nightmare came true. I heard my dads footsteps, and turned the corner and said “I think so, I think she’s gone.” I had never felt a true heart break and such emptiness ever.

We then had to call my siblings at the concert. We called each of them about 20 times. My brother finally picked up and we had to tell them over the phone. I heard my sister scream and sob, that was the moment where I realized this is real life.

Friends and family members started trickling in, I met my siblings outside and hugged them in the driveway as they came home from the concert. My sister looked up at me and said, “we didn’t answer your calls because we were dancing. We were dancing when mom took her last breath, just like she wanted.” I felt relief in this moment, my mom passed away just the way she wanted to and I knew she wasn’t in pain anymore.

As I continue living life without my mom, I realize every single thing I do is to make her proud. I have matured and grown as an individual.

As I am constantly paralyzed by the pain that is caused by her death, I remind myself that I am lucky enough to feel this great amount of pain because my mother was such a phenomenal person. There is nothing I wish more than to be able to pick up the phone and call my mom, but I feel peace that she is watching over me and sees my every move.

She fought her hardest fight for a month and half to give us the time we desperately needed to say goodbye to her, and for that, I will forever be grateful. I celebrate her existence everyday and am so incredibly grateful to have the best Angel looking over me.

In honor of truly the best Mother…

@ryharmannIn honor of truly the best Mother♬ original sound – cory monteith lovebot

About the Author:
Hi, I’m Ryan! I’m 19 and go to West Virginia University. My mom recently passed away and I shared her story to help others. If you want to follow my journey, I am on Tiktok and Instagram.

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