I’ve been waiting for the right time to pay homage to my mother, who has been a true savior and partner in my mecca.
Yesterday, my mother posted her first picture of herself since she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma. It made me think- when I have people tell me what a strong woman I am, I appreciate it and I am humbled by it because I feel like I just do what I have to and I’m not sure that makes me strong. I also struggle with weak decisions I’ve made since my separation a year ago- but I’m working through it. Mostly, I think, how can I be considered strong since my actions pale in comparison to my mother’s?
Aside from a lifetime of achievements in her education, career, and role as a wife and mother, my mom (and wonderful, generous, loving father) took my children and I in without hesitation a year ago. She gave us a place to live, and fully financially supported us when my spouse would not. I took a leave of absence for the whole year to take care of my baby so I didn’t have many employment options at the time.
On June 10th, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma. She shed 1 tear, and that was only as a result of the fear of the unknown. From the moment she was informed by the doctors what her journey would look like, she took on this burden with dignity. She went out a bought a wig when she still had hair so she could get something similar. Although she didn’t let us take pictures of her bald-self, she embraced it. She also never complained about the pain. She would go to chemo and lay in bed for two days but get up every second she could to sit and play with my boys. She would hold my baby in her arms even though she was afraid he’d punch her in that despicable port protruding from her chest. When my mother would come home from chemo, she would talk about the lessons she learned from the others around her. At the Helen Graham center, everyone, with all types of cancer, receives the treatment in the same room and on the same tri-weekly schedule. There was a woman my age with her husband who was always at her side and my mom was heartbroken at the idea of someone so young having to endure such an ordeal. There was another woman, older and on medicaid, who had to take the senior bus from Kent County to receive her treatment. This poor woman would wait for hours both for the bus and on the bus to receive her treatment. One day she was denied treatment because her white blood count was too low. This poor woman had to wait hours for the senior bus to return-only to have to make the trip again the next day. My mom suggested to her that she ask to have the blood work taken locally so she doesn’t have to make unnecessary trips to Newark. She listened to my mom and was able to save herself the headache 3 weeks later.
My mom is now in full remission and the last I heard- contemplating whether to return to work with a wig or not. She has worked through this entire ordeal but took the last week off to spend it with us. It is remarkable to me how beautiful she still is. She has aged so gracefully and not added a day from cancer. She is very cognizant of the fact that she received the “better” of the cancer diagnoses one could receive and the much “better” deal than others have been dealt.
I suppose a weak Melanie could have stayed with a lazy, lying, cheating husband and this makes me strong- and I don’t doubt that I have immense strength- just that I am still growing.
What I am in awe of is the example I have set for me. My growth game is strong, and my God, what an example I have.