I think there are various transition periods in all of our lives. I think the first is in grade school, third grade (okay, maybe preschool if our kids go there). Suddenly education gets serious and you have to learn more complex math and cursive writing…it’s not all about puppy stories during library time and arts and crafts and learning the alphabet anymore. My youngest had a tough transition during third grade, she wanted to quit school then and I talked her out of it. She did finally graduate from high school!

Then there’s the transition to junior high school and the freshman year in high school. I think sophomore year is another transition period…my kids wanted to be more independent and their own people separate from me then. They didn’t want me to always chaperon school events anymore or to have all of the social activities with their friends only at my house. They needed to establish themselves separate from me and from our family, they needed to be their own people. I understood that and told them I would never chaperon school or social activities again unless they specifically asked me to (I didn’t get asked often after sophomore year). Prior to that I point I had been involved in all of their school and social activities. They spent more time at friend’s houses and more overnights away from home without my intervention and presence. They needed to experience other family dynamics than our own.

Then of course there is the transition to college life and semi-independence, life away from parents with decisions they are accountable for and responsible for without parental input…a normal part of growing to be independent adults.

Then, for those that marry, there is the transition to independent married life. And later, maybe, the transition to raising children and being a parent.

But even after all of that, there are still transitions. Even without and in spite of a cancer diagnosis (which is a major life transition of it’s own), there are new transitions.

I am at a point of transition now…and I know I am lucky to have survived cancer long enough to have experienced this current transition.

This year has been a year of changes for me. My kids are both away at school, so I am officially an empty-nester…lots of pros as well as cons in that situation. I also turned 50 recently, so am dealing with the fact that I don’t have an unlimited number of years let to explore endless possibilities. I have an expiration date, even without cancer looming in my life at the moment. I also lost my mom and officially became an orphan, a normal transition for most of us at the middle age part of our life.

I think many of us at middle-age experience these multiple transitions. Mine have been within a matter of months, maybe for others the transition is more spread out. Unfortunately hours at my very lucrative job recently dried up too, so for the moment I am unemployed and doing a job search. I guess that was good in that it allowed me to be able to visit my mom downstate during two of her recent hospitalizations and to be home with my kids for Thanksgiving break and now to have finished the Christmas shopping.

In some ways I am kind of depressed right now with all of the changes life has recently presented me, but in another way, I am very hopeful and expectant. Transitions in life always herald a new beginning, a revelation, a new start. Transitions herald growth.

I don’t know where I will go from here, but I am hopeful. Expectant. A new beginning is waiting, and I am ready to dive into that new beginning.

Life wouldn’t be life, wouldn’t be growth, if it weren’t for the transitions.


My mom passed a few days ago, and I was grateful for that. I didn’t have a need to travel to be at her bedside as she passed, probably because if I was in that state I personally would wait to leave until I was secure in the fact that my kids were in their own homes with the people who loved and supported them before I would be able to let go. Most of the dying I and other health care workers have been around have waited to leave until family members went home to change clothes or get a few hours of sleep. They’d already said their goodbyes and said what they needed to say. The dying person used their time alone to finally make peace with their lives here and to leave without traumatizing anyone. I will ask my kids to do the same if I am ever in that state. I don’t want them to ever do a “death vigil” for me.

For me I will need to be alone with my God when I finally let go. And in reality, we all come into this world and leave alone, those are personal journeys we make. We can only make them alone.

I am very close to my mother-in-law, and when she was critically ill and when we were not sure she would survive, we took turns visiting her during the day. We made sure one of us children were there each day when she was hospitalized, but we went home at night. She told me she felt she was sitting in God’s lap, that she never felt alone or afraid. That made me feel so good. So reassured. What can be better than sitting in God’s lap? Being with the all-powerful was better for her than her being with us.

I felt I said what I needed to say to my mom when she was hospitalized the last time. I said goodbye and told her I loved her when she was awake and could see me. I had things I would have liked to have asked her then, to have bridged the gap in what we had (and hadn’t) communicated to that point, but we didn’t, we didn’t have that alone time. But I think we will in Heaven. We were kind of distant in this lifetime, but I think we will be close in Heaven. I will know her better there. We will be the confidants in Heaven that we weren’t in this lifetime, I think.

And I feel I communicated with her from a distance when she was in her “in between” state. I feel that geographical boundaries don’t apply at that time. I played for her “In the Arms of the Angels” on my piano, though she’s never heard me play the piano. I learned to play long after I left my childhood home at age age 17. We communicated more from a distance than I think than I would have communicated with her in person when she was in that dying state. To me that meant more than being physically present at her deathbed.

I have no regrets.