If You're Taking Care of Your Sick Mother This Is For You
Picture Above via ForHarriet.com Within the span of 2 years, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin Lymphoma and growing lesions on her brain. During the time, my mother, as well as the rest of the family, had to also worry about the declining health of my grandmother. Two women that I view as my parents were both suffering and I, the child, was not sure how to process any of it. I began to see everyone in a different light; view things in myself that I had never seen before or felt before. My worry for my mother became intense because not only did she have to focus on her own health and sanity but she was worried about her own mother. How could this be happening? Why is this happening?
A powerful thing happens to a child when they have to witness the ailment of their parent, especially when the sickness is slow and unpredictable. There is no preparation, no education, and no amount of prayer that could have shield my soul from what we all would have to endure going forward. These life circumstances began to shift the way I view the world; it started to make me question things more and made me more afraid to become closer to people for the fear of losing someone I love was too great for me to handle. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to carry all of this weight. It was too heavy. It still is and I feared that I was beginning to lose my way.
For me, when these tragic things happen to my family and I, I automatically put myself in a bubble. Assuming that this situation, these feelings, this moment only happened to me. I know in reality that is not true but when you are “going through it,” it feels like no one else in the world can relate. These thoughts made the weight of the issue more profound and I was left emotionally paralyzed. I was not familiar with this energy, with this space in time and I wasn’t sure how to be there for myself and others the way I had always been.
My mother is affectionately known as Peaches. Her father gave her that name the day she was born. She is sweet, colorful and reminds you of a warm, carefree Sunday morning. I don’t know any connection closer than the one I have with my mother. My relationship with my mother is delicate and contains its fair share of battles and moments of harmony often based on just the nature of being women. I grew up always finding myself in moments of disagreement with her and as I grew up, I acknowledged that this was caused by our similarities more than by our differences. When she started chemotherapy, I took 2 months off from work. I needed to lay my eyes on her every day. What if I wasn’t there because I was off being a workaholic and she needed me? What if I wasn’t there and things turned out for the worse? Thoughts. They have a strong control over everything.
During this time, the good thing was I was able to see and hear everything going on and the bad thing was I was able to see and hear everything going on. The responsibility of being strong for someone else when you are crumbling is something no one teaches you. There has been so many pieces of my life that I had to learn on my own, you would think I would be equipped with the skills to power through this. I wasn’t. I’m still not and maybe that’s not the point of going through these vulnerable situations. I want to believe that the point of it all is to connect the dots, learn more about yourself and how to live in a space of gratitude. My mother and I talked a lot during her diagnosis. I honestly, never understood how much faith she has. We are not a family who goes to church every Sunday or reads the bible before bed but I can only imagine faith is one of the reasons why many of us survive. The HOPE that God’s true ability will bless us and lead us over the hurdles; help us to make it one more day, one more month, one more year. I never prayed so much in my life. My prayers were specific, consistent and filled with a type of desperation that I didn’t recognize in myself. I needed her to be ok.
The scar that cancer leaves never really heals. Both the survivor and their loved ones shed a layer of themselves and a new life is formed. The new life is both parts fragile and strong and can possess a calming sense of sensitivity for the next phase of life. We become more aware of our breath, our words, our thoughts, our actions…..we learn how to value our time more, take care of ourselves more…we no longer dwell on the people and things that really don’t matter... an obvious shift is happening. Just like failure - trials and tribulations, pain and anguish, love and war, are often our biggest teachers.
God has lifted my mother over this hurdle. After over 2 years of doctors, needles, appointments, tears, and pain, she is in remission. Life isn’t perfect now, as nothing truly will ever be, but I do think our ability to handle life has been met with a level of grace that we didn’t have before. Hugs are a little tighter, making time for each other has become more of a priority and the desire to live a fuller life has shown to be the biggest lesson. My prayers for my Peachy are still as specific, consistent and filled with desperation as it was when she first told me she was sick but now I pray that she feels and understands that because of her, I am.