Celebrating a life lost


To my readers ~ I am sorry I have taken such a huge step back from my blog, I was and still am going through one of the hardest things in my life.

It still feels like a bad dream, I’m going to wake up and be able to go pick my mom up for lunch. Today is one week since my mother passed away. I do not like “she lost her battle with cancer” because she is looking down upon us smiling. We lost her, but she did not lose to the cancer.  She fought cancer hard and long, she was the strongest woman I’ve ever met. Her doctors would often ask me, is she telling the truth or is she really that happy of a person? Most who met my mother would have never known she had cancer, much less stage 4 cancer. I took her to chemo every Tuesday, I took her to chemo about 50 different times since the cancer came back. It was so routine for us, it was just another chemo Tuesday.

My mom and I at the US National Soccer Game July 5, 2013


Today I would be with her at chemo watching a movie, laughing, chatting or just being us. My mom and I did everything together, we used to go to the beach, go hiking but the last year or so we did more movies and lunch because of her energy level. I never cared what we did, I spent every second I could with her. I am beyond thankful that for 35 years I was able to call her my mother, also that my son will always remember his grandma.

My mother and I at my wedding San Diego Bay December 2004

my wedding

My mother Susan always had a smile for anyone, and never said a bad word towards another soul. She was selfless, there were so many “foster kids” my mom allowed at our house growing up. Any one of our friends who was having an issue at home was always welcomed into the Connerley home, and my father was not always happy about it. But my mother wouldn’t hear of it, she wanted not just her children but all children to feel loved. She loved many foster kids over the years otherwise known as my brother and my friends.

My parent’s wedding day St. John’s Church Encinitas April 24, 1971

mom dad wedding


To marry my father she became Catholic, and eventually became more apart of the Catholic church than he was, not any big surprise to any that knew her. I’ve never fought with my mother (teenage years don’t count, right?) her and I were always on the same page when it came to things. I didn’t realize not everyone has a mother like mine. A mother you can call day or night and will be there in a second if you need her. I assumed everyone had the special relationship we shared. But I am beginning to realize just how special our relationship was.

 We all wore her favorite color to the Celebration of my mother’s life May 16, 2015


At her celebration of life we had on Saturday everyone asked how are you? How are you holding up? I said I have my moments. The hardest day yet was yesterday, getting back into my normal life, taking my son to school, going to Costco and making dinner. I normally would have called her on my way home from driving my son to school, just for a quick hi. Then on my way to Costco I would talk to her the whole way, and on the way home I would call her again. Knowing I can’t call her is the hardest, it was my constant and it is no longer there. She is the first on my speed dial, I suppose she always will be, because I can’t bring myself to change it.

Family Vacation September 2014


My friends and family are amazing they really are, and I am so grateful my brothers and their beautiful girlfriends live so close. I would be lost without the support of my husband, friends and my family. But at the end of the day the hardest time is when I am alone. I didn’t realize how often I saw and talked to my mom. She was my go-to for shopping, lunch, movies or anything. Most of my friends work full-time, or are at home with young children. My job was taking my mom to her oncologist, chemo, MRI, and whatever scan she had. It is like I got fired from my job and I can’t even call my mom to complain about it.

My mother and father late 70’s (at least let’s hope it was the 70’s with that mustache)


Just when I think the pain of losing my best friend can’t get worse it does, for my father my heart is actually broken, it hurts. My parents were not high school sweethearts, they were middle school sweethearts, yes that is a thing. They were together for 52 years, and were still very much in love. Having to witness them hearing the cancer had spread to her brain, and she only had 4-6 weeks left to live was… well it was the most horrible moment of my life. Sadly 4-6 weeks would have been a dream come true, she died 4 days later. She was at home surrounded by family, we were all thankful she was not suffering and in pain anymore.

Tower of London April 6, 2015


My mother knew that I loved her, not just by telling her but by my actions. I knew she loved me because even though the cancer had spread to her brain (unaware to us at the time) she still put a smile on her face for our mother – daughter trip to Europe. She died one month to the day after we returned from Paris and London. Thankful, blessed, overjoyed, there truly are no words to describe how lucky I was to be able to experience that trip with my mother before she passed. She was tired and I would often tell her to slow down or lets take a break, but she powered on for me. She wanted me to have this memory, she wanted me to experience everything there was and more in Europe.

Thanksgiving 2013


After her health declined quickly upon our return I wondered if it would have been different had we not gone. What if she had the scan sooner, would it have helped? What if she had upped her steroids? What if this and what if that? I have to stop myself from thinking things like this because there are no what ifs now. There is just the reality that for the rest of my life I will have an empty place in my life, a place no one can fill but her. I am lucky I had the time with her that I did. I am lucky she knew how much I loved her, I am lucky I was able to call her my mom.

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12 Comments on Celebrating a life lost

  1. Caryn/The Mid Life Guru
    May 20, 2015 at 9:58 pm (3 years ago)

    How lucky you were to have that magnificent trip with your mom. You are an amazing daughter with an amazing mom. Hugs to you as you adjust to life without your dear mother close by. She is watching over you. xxoo

  2. San Diego Momma
    May 20, 2015 at 9:19 pm (3 years ago)

    I am just so sorry. I lost my mom to cancer many years ago and I know how devastating the loss is… I’m so happy you had a last trip with your mom, and the pictures to remember it by. My heart goes out to you. I understand how you might be feeling and wish you a lot of peace… XO

  3. Ann
    May 20, 2015 at 6:59 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m so sorry for your loss; having been where you are, I wish I could give some words of wisdom. I know for me–I lost my mom 6 months ago, and I miss her every single day. Prayers to you and your family.

  4. Lindsay santa
    May 20, 2015 at 3:48 pm (3 years ago)

    Ahh Nicole…. I’m so very sorry. There just aren’t good words for all that you are going through. My heart aches for you and your family. Your Mother sounds like an amazing lady and you will continue with all the loving memories you had together.

  5. Cookie
    May 20, 2015 at 1:05 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Nicole. I’m so very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute. Please let me know if there is anything at all I can do to help. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

  6. Coleen Arakawa
    May 20, 2015 at 12:51 am (3 years ago)

    So sorry for your loss. Just read a poem by Harry Scott – Holland that a friend had posted titled Death is nothing at all. Hoping it may bring you some comfort.

  7. Francine Marseille
    May 19, 2015 at 8:33 pm (3 years ago)

    Speechless – your mom to a tee – I am honored and so lucky to have known her – but more – to know you now, as the amazing woman you have become –

  8. sign4baby
    May 19, 2015 at 6:20 pm (3 years ago)

    That photo with everyone wearing yellow is so incredible. I am shedding a few tears reading this as it is clear how much you loved her. Much love and peace in the weeks that lie ahead.

  9. Hillary Yerkish
    May 19, 2015 at 5:59 pm (3 years ago)

    What a beautiful tribute to your mother. She was obviously a very special person. I have a feeling she would say she was lucky to be your mom. I am so sorry for your loss.

  10. Maryann Peik
    May 19, 2015 at 5:08 pm (3 years ago)

    I am so sorry Nicole. It was such a blessing that you were able to take that trip to Europe. What an amazing journey you both had together.

  11. Deborah Mobilio
    May 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm (3 years ago)

    Beautiful Nicole

  12. trinafinton
    May 19, 2015 at 4:58 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

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