An emotional essay written by a teenager about the loss of her mother to cancer has gained viral attention, evoking tears from readers.
Ryan Harman, a first-year college student at West Virginia University, shared her English class essay on internet.
In her essay, Ryan recounted the time when her mother’s health rapidly declined shortly after her high school graduation. She described the months she spent faithfully by her mother’s side during her final stages.
In her heartfelt essay, Harman expressed her ongoing efforts to make her mother proud and conveyed her immense gratitude for having the best guardian angel watching over her.
Since sharing her video, it has reached over 13 million views, received nearly 2 million likes, and gathered more than 45,000 comments. One commenter empathetically stated, “Your English teacher is not the only one that cried.”
‘This is so beautifully written.’
In January 2021, Harman’s mother was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer, leading to a year-long journey of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
In her essay, Harman described her late mother as strong, resilient, loving, caring, and the best mom one could ask for. Each passing day after the diagnosis took a toll on her mother’s life.
When Harman graduated from high school in May 2022, her mother’s condition limited her mobility. Nevertheless, she managed to witness Harman’s graduation ceremony, even though it took a significant toll on her.
To celebrate her achievements, Harman embarked on a week-long beach trip with friends. During the trip, she maintained constant communication with her mother, updating her on the adventures and drama. However, on a Friday, her mother suddenly stopped responding to messages and calls, causing concern. Despite contemplating reaching out to her father, Harman decided to enjoy her last night at the beach without pursuing the matter further.
Returning home the following day, filled with excitement to share her trip experiences with her family, Harman was met with a different reality. Her mother was in bed, and her father gathered Harman and her two older siblings to deliver grave news – their mother’s health was deteriorating rapidly, causing significant worry.
Initially, Harman assumed her father was overreacting and that her mother would recover. However, her father took her mother to the hospital, where doctors revealed that her spine had collapsed by 75% due to the rapid growth of tumors. At this point, hospice care was initiated.
Harman experienced shock during the first few days of her mother’s hospice care. ‘I didn’t believe that my mom was going to die when I was only 18 years old.’
As Harman’s mother’s condition worsened, she reached out to her older sister seeking confirmation about her mother’s impending death. Upon receiving the heartbreaking news that her mother had only a few weeks left to live, Harman made a firm decision not to have any regrets during the remaining time they had together.
Determined to cherish every moment, Harman spent precious hours by her mother’s side, holding her hand, while friends and family visited to offer support.
Amidst the overwhelming emotions, Harman struggled to envision what her life would be like without her mother. However, her mother consistently reminded them of her love and urged them to move forward after she was gone.
She encouraged them by saying, “When I take my last breath, I want you guys to dance, don’t cry, dance.” Harman cherished these words, vowing to honor her mother’s request and carry her love and spirit with her as she moved forward in life.
During the subsequent weeks, Harman shared a poignant experience of hearing her mother conversing with her deceased grandmother, expressing the anticipation of their imminent reunion.
Harman shared the immense stress her family endured during that time, an experience she wouldn’t wish upon anyone. They were in a state of lockdown, devoting themselves to being with her mother and witnessing the gradual progression through the various stages of impending death.
By July 7, Harman’s mother, expressing her exhaustion, told her father, “I’m so tired, I need to go. I will see you later,” and closed her eyes.
Harman vividly recalled her father descending the stairs and informing them that it was time to bid their final farewells. Overwhelmed with emotions, she paced back and forth, reluctant to say goodbye to her beloved best friend.
Eventually, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she mustered the strength to embark on the journey upstairs. However, she abruptly halted midway, feeling unable to proceed.
Finding solace in her parents’ bathroom, she allowed herself a moment to weep before finally approaching her mother. Harman gently kissed her on the forehead, expressing her love and promising to see her again.
But her mother later opened her eyes.
‘I was upset my mom was alive. I felt like such a horrible human,’ she wrote.
At that moment, Harman revealed that her father made the decision for her and her siblings to stay at their aunt’s house by the beach. He felt it was best for them not to witness their mother in that deteriorating state any longer.
However, being at the beach only intensified Harman’s thoughts about her mother.
She explained that the beach held immense significance for her mother, who would spend hours there, from 9 am to 5 pm, whenever she had the opportunity. It was a cherished place where she could spend quality time with her children.
While sitting on the beach one day, Harman had a thought that she desperately wanted to share with her mother. However, the realization struck her that she couldn’t communicate with her anymore, even though her mother was still alive. This realization left her feeling vulnerable and unwilling to accept that this could be the end.
In response, Harman made the decision to return home, leaving the beach behind.
A few days later, when her siblings attended a Jason Aldean concert, Harman experienced a moment she recognized as her mother’s “death rattle.” She sensed that the day had finally arrived. From then on, she and her father took turns checking on her mother until around 7:30 PM.
As they lay beside her in bed, they discovered her skin had turned cold as ice. Harman remained by her side until she could no longer bear it and went downstairs.
Around 9 PM, her worst nightmare unfolded. She heard her father’s footsteps and, upon turning the corner, uttered, “I think so, I think she’s gone.”
Harman described experiencing a profound heartbreak and an overwhelming sense of emptiness, unlike anything she had ever felt before.
Harman and her father faced the challenging task of contacting her siblings, who were still at the concert.
‘We called each of them about 20 times,’ Harman recounted. ‘My brother finally picked up and we had to tell them over the phone.’
Upon hearing the news, her sister’s reaction filled the air with screams and sobs. It was at that moment that the harsh reality of the situation truly sank in for Harman.
When they returned home, Harman shared a touching moment with her sister. “We didn’t answer your calls because we were dancing. We were dancing when mom took her last breath, just like she wanted.”
In this revelation, Harman found solace. Her mother had passed away in the manner she desired, and Harman knew that her mother was no longer in pain.
“As I continue living life without my mom, I realize every single thing I do is to make her proud” Harman concluded in her essay.
While she grapples with the overwhelming pain caused by her mother’s absence, Harman recognizes the privilege of experiencing such profound grief, as it is a testament to her mother’s extraordinary presence.
Although she yearns to pick up the phone and call her mom, Harman finds solace in the knowledge that her mother watches over her and observes every step she takes.
“I celebrate her existence every day, and am so incredibly grateful to have the best Angel looking over me,” Harman expressed.
Read Ryan Harman’s full essay about the loss of her mother
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