Published Essays

My Daughter Died, But I’m Still Mothering Her

In July 2016, when we got the results of my 15-year-old daughter’s CT scan, my friend Babs introduced me to a new term: “anticipatory grief.” The scan showed that tumors in Ana’s lungs were noticeably larger than they’d been three months earlier, and masses in her abdomen had multiplied.

The Hummingbirds Who Lightened My Grief

When my daughter died, I hated the sun for rising without her. I wept as the world turned green and flowers burst open. But the backyard birds were a different story. My 15-year-old daughter wanted to get a hummingbird tattoo before she died, but tattoos are illegal for children under 16 in New York State.

Perspective | Being a mother has not diminished me

Cancer took my nearly 16-year-old daughter in March and now I am the mother of one daughter, not two. My youngest is 13. Her wings are feathering while I anticipate the day she will leave this broken nest. As my friends and acquaintances age with me, my Facebook feed is filling with the triumphs of their parenting acumen.

Perspective | Finding meaning in work after the death of my child

For the past 15 years, I’ve worked from my home office – a tiny room sandwiched between my daughters’ bedrooms. My job requires nothing more than a computer, an Internet connection and a phone. I got lucky.

Finding my strength after my daughter’s death – one step at a time

The last time I set foot in a gym (before last month) was September 2015 when, full of anticipation and a tentative hope for the future, I was determined to lose the 25 pounds I’d gained since my daughter’s cancer diagnosis in 2012.

Perspective | Facing Mother’s Day after the death of a child

I don’t feel much like celebrating Mother’s Day this year. My 15-year-old daughter died 51 days ago, after being plagued by a rare, relentless form of cancer for five years. I’m not sure what the celebration is supposed to look like when I failed at my main task as a mother: Seeing my child safely to adulthood.

Perspective | The last crane: On parenting a dying child

When I was a new mother, I focused on firsts – the first smile, the first step, the first day of school – and all the countless, tiny triumphs in between that are the reward of motherhood. Even so, those years were hard.

How do you enforce bedtime and table manners when your kid has cancer? Sometimes you don’t.

Two weeks ago, my 14-year-old daughter was too tired to get up for school, and I told her to go back to sleep. I went downstairs, informed my husband she’d be staying home and said, “Another parenting decision brought to you by cancer.” Tired for my daughter is not the same as tired for another kid.

Never Leaving Wonderland

Jacqueline Dooley Three years ago I spent the entire month of September by my daughter’s side in her hospital room. From Ana’s window, we watched summer fade into fall as we waited, day after day, for her to be discharged, which finally happened i…

I’m Giving Up on Parental Control, Now That My Child Is Dying

On a recent Tuesday morning, I awoke to a set of tasks that needed doing – getting my 12- and 15-year-old daughters out of bed, making their lunches, taking the dog out and (hopefully) sneaking in a quick shower before driving my older daughter to school 45 minutes away.

How Getting a Puppy Helped My Terminally Ill Teen

The puppy was 10 weeks old and a little over a pound the day we brought him home. He was a fancy mutt, a combination miniature poodle and Yorkshire terrier (yorkie-poo) that will likely grow no larger than five or six pounds.

What Childhood Cancer Has Taken Away From My Family

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This is my second post about it. Why two posts? Because nearly 16,000 kids in the U.S. are newly diagnosed with cancer each year–43 every single day. According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 2000 children and adolescents up to age 19 die of cancer each year.

5 Years of Childhood Cancer Awareness And Counting

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and our color is gold. We gild our profile pictures and status updates with it in solidarity, driven to highlight the tiny warriors in our lives–the survivors, those still fighting and the dear ones we’ve lost.

Accepting Death as a Part of Life

I talked to the hospice coordinator for the first time last week. I’d been putting it off, even after my daughter’s oncologist said it was probably time, even after I met with the pediatric palliative care team over the phone and started asking not-so-hard questions. “Have you worked with teenagers before?”