Keri Marie Kruse Gavit, My mom. She was an Inspiration, a Hard Worker, a Loving Wife, Daughter and Mother, a Creative & Talented Person, and so much more.

My mom would pick me up from elementary school in her bright white Geo Metro. She would always ask how my day was and was genuinely interested in hearing what happened. I always enjoyed our car trips home, as I got to listen to my mom’s music. Usually it would be the soundtrack to The Big Chill, I knew Jeremiah was a Bullfrog long before anyone in my grade had even heard of Three Dog Night. This too was my first encounter with Marvin Gaye, and I still cant get enough of Grapevine. Sitting in the back of the car, I loved singing along to these songs. They were cool to me because its what an adult enjoyed listening too, and my mother could jam!

Bette Midler was introduced to me at a very young age as well. My mother adored her, her music and her acting. Beaches was one of my mom’s favorite movies, and although I try to watch it once a year, it always gets me to break out sobbing.

My mother was very active with all four of us kids classes. She was the home room mother, she always volunteered for field trips, school events, and when the new elementary school needed someone to help organize and get the yearbook made, my mother took the lead. I was very lucky to have a mother who cared so much, and was always so full of love. My mother had an energy about her, from the moment she walked in to a room, everything to brighten up. Don’t get me wrong, she was the most loving person, but if you ever tried to mess with her kids, she would make sure it was the last time you ever did.

The Photographer. My mother loved taking photos and that was quite easy to see by the book cases full of photo albums. She loved to photograph everything that we kids did. Softball games, birthday parties, field trips, first day of school, last day of school, Halloween, Christmas, Easter…In Texas it is common for families to take photos in bluebonnet fields around Easter time, and we would do it every year.  If my mom would have finished college, I think she would have been a fantastic and successful photographer.

Church. We attended Palm Valley Lutheran Church every Sunday. My mom was very active in the church, and it felt like a second home at times. Although I am not religious at all, my mom had a strong devotion towards God. Helping those in need was always a top priority for my mom, and the church was a good venue for this.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a short time after I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. She was told that she would only live another 6 months, but as my mother was an incredibly strong woman, she lived another 2 full years. I remember spending so much time visiting her in hospitals, where she always kept up her great attitude and assured us kids that everything would be ok. Her indomitable spirit continued forward, making every day a success.

The medical bills were adding up, and my family eventually moved in with my grandmother, so that my mom could be close with her mom. It was very tight have 9 people living in a three bedroom house, but we made it work. Mom was soon confined to her bed, which was set up in my grandparents living room. Each day though, when we got home from school, she would want to hear all about what happened. She couldn’t eat much anymore, as she lost her appetite, but she would eat yogurt, and I remember how in the last few months, the refrigerator was always stalked with yogurt. Her energy was starting to fade, and although I did not realize it at the time, looking back I can remember how some days she just couldn’t wake up, and other days she was in so much pain, she couldn’t sleep. It was hard for all of us kids, and we all coped with it in our own ways.

The night my mother died, my brother and I were spending the night at my uncle Harvey and aunt Rita’s house. Kyle and I built a fort in their living room, and Aunt Rita took us to the movies that evening. When we got back to their house, Uncle Harvey took Aunt Rita aside and then they both got us in the car and started driving us back home. It was a chilly evening, I remember being able to see my breath on the window in the back. My mind knew something was wrong, I might have already realized what had happened subconsciously. The entire car ride, all 4 of us sat in silence. When we pulled up in front of the house there was an ambulance parked in the front, a few other cars were there as well. I noticed the pastor from the church and I jumped out of the car and ran inside. Two thoughts ran through my head, either mom was cured of the breast cancer, or she had passed away. I knew that a cure wasn’t possible, but I needed to have some sort of hope before my life was altered forever.  My worst nightmare had come true. My dad caught me as I was running towards the front door and he held me tight. I couldn’t be controlled, the emotional grief was too much. I know people die everyday, but when your 9 years old, your mom shouldn’t be one of them.

The Pastor tried to help and asked me to recall some of my favorite memories we shared, but I didn’t want the memories, I wanted my mom back. Over the following weeks, I was in a deep depression. I didn’t go to school, didn’t watch TV, I just slept pretty much non stop for a week and then laid down staring at the ceiling for another week.

Eventually I had to return to school, and life started to go on again. Nothing was “the same” and it would never get back to “normal” but I learned to function again.

Breast Cancer is a horrible disease and no one in the entire world should suffer such an ordeal. If you are able to donate, please do. If you are a woman, make sure to do monthly breast exams, and at least once a year have a doctor do an exam as well. If you are a man, encourage every woman in your life to do exams. Catching it early can make a world of difference. Hopefully one day there will be a cure.


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