Every year, I rack my brain with what I will get my mom for Mother's Day. This year I was thinking of a pair of earrings. If I ask her what she wants for Mother's Day, she would say "for you to be good."
That has been the answer she has given for Mother's Day, her birthday and Christmas for as long as I can remember. And yes, even at 26 years old, that's still her answer.
Three years ago, almost to the day, my mother, Yackdale (Jackie) Ruiz, was diagnosed with breast cancer. From that moment on, the meaning of Mother's Day changed for me.
The new meaning of Mother's Day
Before my mom's cancer diagnosis, I had always thought Mother's Day was all about her and showing her how much I loved her. In reality, Mother's Day is about me.
Yes, I said it. Mother's Day is all about me. Why? Because Mother's Day is a day to remind me of what a blessing my mom is in my life, how lucky I am to have her and that my life is worth living because of her.
My relationship with my mom is one of those myths you hear about: we are best friends. So to say I was devastated about her cancer diagnosis would be understatement. I cried. I was angry. I didn't understand why this was happening her. And I questioned my faith.
How a TV show changed us
All this changed, thanks to a TV show.
My mom was resting in her room, and I walked in and changed the channel. I told her we were going to watch something I liked. An hour later, she was hooked on my favorite show, and watching it together became our Sunday tradition.
Watching TV allowed us to temporarily escape from cancer treatment and the fact mom was sick. It helped us focus on spending time together as mother and daughter, doing something we both enjoyed and could bond over. It was something that was ours.
After that, I decided to focus on making moments turn into forever kind of things. This helped both of us get through her treatment because we look forward to the next moments we could multiply into forever.
Bonding during visits to MD Anderson
We even saw chemotherapy appointments as forever moments. I accompanied my mom to several chemotherapy treatments at the MD Anderson Regional Care Center in Katy.
During one appointment, I again hijacked the television remote. This time I made her watch one of my favorite trashy reality shows. She was hooked, and when I left for graduate school, we talked every week about the reality family's latest escapades.
A few months ago, I joined my mother for her check-up. I was surprised by how much the care center had changed since the last time I'd gone with her. But, while the Katy care center has grown and expanded and nothing is where I remember it to be, the halls are still filled with the sound of our laughter from our television guilty pleasures and the warm smiles and encouraging love we received from the staff.
Making memories last
Now that I am living back at my parents' home, we still do pizza on Friday, movies on Saturday with Chinese food, gossip about that reality show and countdown until the season premiere of our new favorite show. We've turned countless moments into forever habits.
It has been three years since my mom's cancer diagnosis. That is three years of moments that we'll always carry in our hearts and are embedded in our souls.
Needless to say, this Mother's Day, I'll be thinking about how blessed I am to have my mom, how lucky I am to have her and that my life is worth living because of her.