It takes courage to heal.
I recall sitting on the cold edge of her hospital bed. This wasn’t the first time that diabetes had brought us here. Over the years we had taken this trip more times than we could count. Only this time we rode the sugar train. My mother’s blood sugar was over 600. (That’s dangerously high just in case you’re wondering.) There she was, lying under a thin white linty blanket that never kept you warm enough in the arctic hospital air. She looked up at me and said, “I am so proud of the woman you have become.” I smiled and expressed to her how I am who I am because of the wonderful job she did raising me. I was proud to belong to her.
Shortly after I was born my mother gave birth to this disease and never let it go. I grew up an only child, but diabetes felt like an unwanted adopted sibling. Always present and always fighting for my mom’s attention. We didn’t fight much like normal brothers and sisters. We barely even talked and for most of my adolescence I ignored its existence. After all, I was her favorite unplanned child. Lying in this hospital bed she confessed to me that she always thought God would take diabetes away. When He didn’t, she became angry.
February 19, 2015.
My granny called me. She never calls me. She sounded frantic telling me that my mom wasn’t responsive and that I needed to get over there right now. I raced over to the three bedroom brick house that I learned to ride my bike in front of. Getting out of the car, my legs felt weak. As I walked in the door my heart pounded the way it used to back in high school when I would sneak in past curfew. I walked down the hallway past the room I had my first heartbreak in and found my mother lying in her bedroom. I could feel my heart breaking all over again. She’d had a stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke. My aunt Janis and I lifted her out of the bed and carried all of her 98 pounds down the hallway into the living room placing her on the couch. The same couch that I used to take naps on as a teenager. All of my memories in this house were shifting right before my eyes.
The ambulance arrived. The room got smaller. I felt like a child again. Helpless.
I can’t remember the last words my mother said to me, but she never spoke again after that day. She carried me for 9 months before she heard my voice and then God gave me 3 months to say goodbye in silence. It kind of sounds unfair huh? But I tend to think it’s a bit poetic.
For three months I took every chance I had to tell her how grateful I was to have been raised by her. I told her things like “I’m so proud of you,” and, “You’re so brave and strong.” And while my words were fighting for her to stay alive, I knew in my heart that this was the end. I’d hold her hand standing by her side and whisper into her ear, “It’s gonna be okay.”
I spent the last few days of her life reading The Alchemist to her. She would squeeze my fingers at certain parts to let me know she was listening. My mother was a teacher. She loved her purpose. She taught me to love life.
May 23, 2015
She passed before I completed the book but not before she completely gave me all of her. She poured into me everything I needed. For that, I’m grateful. I am parts of my mother personified and I know she is with me every single day.
My mother was now a part of the 12 percent of people in this country that die from diabetes. The only sibling I knew.
Good grief, grieving is hard. My mother passed three days before The Kid’s birthday. He was her only grandson and just like me, he shared his time with her and diabetes. I never stopped moving after she died. I planned a funeral, left town the next day, came back and jumped straight back into working. I kept busy. It’s what folks do instead of deal with emotions, right? (Why do we do that?) I never stopped to breathe or cry much. This was a big mistake. Every tear that I held back in 2015 forced its way out the following year.
People say that there is no wrong way to grieve. A LIE!! I wasn’t allowing myself to feel much and this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you grieve the wrong way. It found me and it forced itself on me like a winter storm. I felt cold, isolated and alone. I rejected love and sympathy from others. I had forgotten that love is healing. I had also forgotten that my mother was a fighter…so I fought. I went to see a grief counselor. I don’t know what black folks have against counseling but y’all have got to stop! By all means pray and when you get up off your knees, get yourself some help. Your friends and family listening and giving their biased and ratchet opinions is not quite the healing you need.
I allowed myself to feel whatever I was feeling at the very moment it came to me. No matter where I was or how little control I felt I had over myself. I just released it. It didn’t matter if it was anger, sadness, fear or frustration. I just allowed these feelings to leave my body when they came up. And while grief looks different for everyone, the one thing that’s the same for us all is that our bodies know what we need and when we need it. It takes courage to heal. We all should practice listening to our bodies and maybe then we’ll start bending our will to help us heal.
I started writing again because it’s how I deal.
I started writing again to help me heal.