Sunday’s are difficult.
Monday’s are too. Honestly, every morning over the past three months has been.
Twelve Sundays ago my mother died.
Her cancer had returned over the holidays, just as it had the first time, seven and a half years ago; quick and brutally aggressive. This time the breast cancer she beat had essentially mutated and spread to her lungs, but because she fought so hard and beat all the odds seven years prior, I’m not sure I ever truly believed that this time would be any different. Five months later she was gone.
Even though I know my mom is gone; I held her hands at her bedside that Sunday morning she passed, her dying has felt more like a disappearance. For me, death and disappearance bare no distinction: I still look for her everywhere, thinking I will see her car down Greenwich Avenue, or run into her at the Palm Beach Publix, or see her walking into the Carlyle where we have always met for drinks since I was a freshman at Columbia. I pick up my phone to call her every day, a habit and instinct and do not know how to break, and a text message to her is always open, filled daily with links and thoughts, screen shots, and pins. They all hang there stilted, stunted, silent. Unfinished. As if I know that two things will happen should I hit send.
One: I will never know and always wonder if it was delivered. Did she see it?
And two: I will wait for her typing awareness indicator for forever. Just an empty screen where my last text message ends.
An eternity left looking for those three little dots …
I have had many kind requests for copies of the eulogy I gave at my mother’s service. I have been reluctant to reopen the wound and feel the pain that sharing those words again could cause, until last week when at a cocktail party in Maine I happened to run into a friend who repeated parts of my speech back to me. She had not been able to attend my mom’s service, but had recited some of my words that she had heard from multiple friends and her own daughter. She explained to me how despite the many years since her own mother had passed, she still wakes up and goes to bed every day with the same feelings I do. That I wasn’t alone.
Right now, it is hard to fall asleep, but when I do, I do so with the calm of looking forward to a brief fleeting moment in the early morning. It must be that few seconds where you are dangling between an unconscious sleep state and consciousness. It’s that light soft haze, before reality starts to creep in through the light leaks of the window shades. Maybe I’ve been chatting, laughing with her in my dream: she’s sitting cross legged on the edge of her bed, and I’m just staring, smiling at her beautifully tanned slim legs, no longer ravaged by edema and neuropathy, as she paints her toes metallic gold. Or maybe I’ve been off somewhere magical that my mind has created. A place littered with prismatic rainbows, cardinals and blue jays: my mother always loved birds, but in the end became so envious of them and their light effortless ability to bounce around, sing and fly when her once immense vitality, breath, and ability to walk had been drained from her. I’ve been far away, and in those few floating moments before my mind wakes up, my heart does not hurt, and I breath easy for that second or two believing that actually my reality was the bad dream.
Today I’m sharing my eulogy with you all. I do not know if it will help me heal, ease or increase my own pain, or even change anything for me at all. But what I do know is that if these words touch, effect, or even help one person out there feel less alone in their grief then it is entirely worth it and right to share.
I’d like to promise that as of today I will be back, blogging and instagraming constantly; hosting, collaborating and contributing in full force, but I can’t. I’m doing the best I can with each day to get back into the swing of my work and life with every intention to be back in full soon, but now knowing that my whole perspective and life has been changed. And so with that I want this, Fogg of Fashion, to always be a place of refuge, of escape and inspiration and beauty, but I would not be true to the totality of who I am, respectful of my own depth, and of yours, if I didn’t occasionally discuss and explore the tough realities we all face. I hope you will appreciate and enjoy the small additions of lifestyle and life-stance topics going forward.
I’ve provided some links below my words about my mother, should you want to get to know her, as well as a link to her memorial fund, all 100% of donations go directly to the Memorial Sloan Kettering breast cancer research fund.
But perhaps the most wonderful link I have is this video:
The incredible Ann Nyberg of Network Connecticut sat down with my mom, and interviewed her in 2016 when she won Harper’s Bazaar Fabulous at Every Age Contest. I am so lucky to have attended the several day event with her in NYC and shared in celebrating all that she was and had achieved. To have the interview online whenever I need to hear her voice, feel her strength, and absorb the inspiration she exuded is so rare and I’m so grateful . I hope you will take a look.
As always thank you for reading. I know I’ve shared a lot with you today, but if you made it this far feel free to sound off in the comments bellow as I would love to hear your thoughts, reconnect, and thank you for listening.
For my mom, For her words, and a few of my own.
Silence , I discover, is something you can actually hear.
It’s been two weeks and two days now without my mother. When she passed away I can remember squeezing her hand , holding on so tightly as if the tighter I held on would insure she wouldn’t leave : that she would pass into me instead of going somewhere I couldn’t find her. Somewhere I couldn’t hear her. So when I didn’t feel her immediately , hear her voice instantly inside my head, I was terrified. I suddenly found myself outside, walking towards the beach In search of sound. The surf I thought. Maybe I could hear her there.
But Sunday morning off-season in Palm Beach is eerily Still and oppressively Silent. A Ghost town. Just where had she run off to OH SO quickly And entirely too soon? Late that evening , I left the house to get some air. My mother always loved to walk Worth Avenue after dinner and catch the moon shining out over the ocean. As I walked her usual route It became frighteningly clear that I was, quite literally, Absolutely Alone. I walked for 40 minutes under a fullmoon ripped from a movie set, surrounded by complete and utter silence. I didn’t see one person . Not a single car, not a feral cat, not even the soft train whistle always in the distance. 43 minutes, and Not a Soul. Not a Sound.
I couldn’t understand: “Where was my sign? “ “Where in fact was Anything at all?” Then again .. this empty quiet answer. The next morning I woke up to a lifeless phone. It was the first morning ever without any notifications from mom. No funny corgi pins, no latest runway looks, no emails about writing , no texts about her weekend, or a slice of Greenwich gossip. Deciding to turn a blank screen into a filled page, I opened up the journal I write in every morning. There is always a quote written at the top of that day’s page. This particular mornings happened to read:
Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear
Silence again. Well This silence, I thought, This silence is deafening. Heavy and still. So dense, the ringing so painfully loud that it paralyzes your whole body. How could “silence” THIS silence be my sign?
A few days ago I was alone in my kitchen obsessing. This obsessing quickly turned to panic because for some reason I couldn’t access the memory of my mother’s voice. It seemed I had a mental block and I just couldn’t hear it. I frantically grabbed my phone searching for any video with her in it, but inexplicably at that moment my phone couldn’t find anything – you can understand the improbability given that as a blogger I pretty much record everything. Tears filled my eyes – overwhelmed by a mix of complete exhaustion, fear, and hopelessness – I looked out across our living room as the late afternoon sun hit our coffee table with a soft warm glow. And sitting alone in the center of the table was this (I held up a copy of my mother’s book) my mom’s completed manuscript.
Her novel. Her words.
Her life, thoughts and true perspective, weaved throughout the many pages and prose. More answers than any milky gossamer mist or dreamlike visitation could offer: Her Voice. Her voice not faded by time and distance, or weakened by cancer. So full. So alive. So present. Documented forever so that It can be heard Time and time again each instance someone sits down to turn those pages and listen. And if I ever want to hear her All I have to do is open the cover and she is here.
Silence no more.
And if I ever wonder where she has gone, I think she’s left me a pretty good clue:
An excerpt from her novel:
Walter stepped away and took a deep breath. Mother rested her arm protectively on his. “But where will they go?” I looked at him. His rosary caught the light of our table lamp as he made the sign of the cross. “They will be well cared for, Heddy.” He didn’t take his eyes from mine. He had finally used my chosen name to put an end to our past. He was asking my permission to exit our family circle just as I had once done. I had always seen Father, Mother, and Walter as the people who had held me down. I had been their point of light, but now it was me who was holding them back. I would let them go, but not until I heard the words from mother, the one that mattered most. “Hold on, Father.” I met Walter’s eyes and raised my finger to my lips.
“Where will you go, Mom?” She stood with her fists on her hips in her familiar boss-lady stance and pecked Father’s cheek, causing him to laugh and wrinkle his face. Then she swept me up in her arms with a vigor I remembered from when her heart was strong and her legs shone toned and freckled from the hours she’d spent pulling cabbage from our fields. “Floo-ri-da!” She raised her arms over her head, joining them in a circle making the shape of the sun.
Darcy Fogg , June 6, 2019.
Some Extra Links:
Palm Beach Daily News Harpers Bazaar Cancer Survivor Style Icon Janis Jones
Janis Jones: Harper’s Bazaar Fab at Every Age Winner