At the age of 13, Mary C. Rosenthol found out her mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
By the time she reached her early 20s, her mother, Mary Ellen Brady, died on Dec. 23, 2001 and a year and seven months later her father, Charles Donald Brady, died from the same disease on July 23, 2002.
“There is a silver lining on every cloud and that while it may be difficult to deal with the death of a loved one, in time you can enjoy life again,” she said.
The Centreville resident’s new memoir “Terminal” discusses the strength and love demonstrated by her mother during her battle with this disease and also offers encouragement and advice for those dealing with the loss of a loved one, particularly young adults.
According to Rosenthol, a lot of young adults who have lost a loved one often tend to get stuck. It is important that they “grow up and move on with their lives” and “not try to live for the person they lost.”
Her book is available at bookstores nationwide, Amazon and through Tate Publishing’s website.
“Terminal” also deals with what to expect during the last days of someone’s life, the decisions that need to be made, and how to gracefully let go of a loved one.
For Rosenthol, going to grief counseling was essential along with not being afraid to ask for help from family members and friends.
Since her older brother was married and living away from home, she often helped her dad with the caregiving of her mom.
The most difficult moments of her mother’s illness came when Rosenthol and her older brother had to say goodbye at the hospital and then deal with the funeral. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you should love everything you have and appreciate it because there is no set amount of time,” she said.
Every year on the anniversary of her parents’ deaths she lights a candle in their memory and she also shares memories and lessons from her parents with her two children.
One of her favorite memories is a holiday family tradition of looking for the special ornament on the Christmas tree before opening gifts.
She also learned much from watching her mother battle her illness. She said that her mother “enjoyed every holiday as if it were her last” and she used humor to deal with her illness.
“She was tougher than I gave her credit for. She was very concerned with what I was going to do when she was gone than she was with death. She was very concerned about my brother and I being taken care of and finding our way in the world,” she said.
Unlike many memoirs, Rosenthol’s “Terminal” was not planned. She started writing in a diary in an effort to release all of the emotions she was feeling. When she sent in the manuscript, she never thought it would get published. However, she received a contract two weeks later. Just two years later, she published “Terminal.”
Her advice for other novice writers is to “don’t be afraid to try” and to send their manuscripts to as many publishers as possible.
Rosenthol has a BA in journalism with a double language minor in Spanish and Hebrew. Currently, she is a journalist with Potomaclocal.com. During her free time, she also enjoys reading, crocheting and running.