Losing My Mom – Losing Myself

So for the past six years my Mom, the most beautiful, amazing woman I know, has been battling lymphoma. Until 2 years ago, it all seemed very manageable. Then, her health started to decline and has kept doing so at a steady pace. Recently, she is just a shadow of the woman she once was. I wish I could say I think she is living courageously, maybe in her own way she is. I can’t help but see a broken, scared, frail woman and in her despair I lose all sense of myself. Who am I without my Mom? She has always been my strength, my champion. Whenever there was heartache or doubt, confusion or trauma, she has been there with her quiet strength to support me or to hold me….always knowing exactly what I needed and when in her arms all the world was once again right. In the process of her illness I have found myself floundering in despair, drowning my sorrows with wine, losing my yoga practice and coccooning myself in a self imposed isolation. When I do go and visit her I see her small ravaged form and I hold her in my arms as if she were my child. Her bald head wrapped in the small cotton cap we purchased for her and her eyes dark pools of questioning….when will I be ok? I wish I could reassure her, I wish I could play the game the doctors play … tell her these treatments will work. As they destroy her body and her spirits that they also destroy the ugly cancer relentlessly growing inside of her. I wish my sister lived closer, we are each other’s strongest support. I wish my father would let us help, that he would stop alienating us and trying desperately to do it all himself. I wish … I wish she didn’t choose all of this suffering. Invariably all of this wishing leaves me with the deepest melancholy…and I call to mind the poem by Mary Oliver:

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

And I know that the only life I can save is my own. That my Mother’s journey, hard as it may be to witness, is a testament to her strength. That it is an honor to walk beside her and learn these deep lessons from her…that pain is what cracks the heart open so the light can come in.

And most importantly…that she continues to teach me how to Love.


“Mother”, the most beautiful word on the lips of mankind. ~ Kahlil Gibran

“The heart of the mother is the greatest power of Infinity ever given to any finite being.” ~ Yogi Bhajan