Mom’s Got Cancer – Entry 3 “Total Resentment”

IMG_0394Remember when I mentioned I let go of the role of irritated daughter and embraced compassionate caregiver? Well, I reversed the roles again.

There is a Japanese expression called “wagamama”, meaning spoiled brat, which is what I will use to call myself periodically. It is also a noodle house in London (not a very good one though). I couldn’t handle these two to three hour commutes for treatment and appointments anymore and ujjayi breath during road rage was only taking me so far. I was missing out on my daughters’ lives and their childhood. I started to play the role of victim, e.g. “Why is this happening to me? And why is this happening now when I have two young children to raise and a full time job? What karma am I needing to work through?!” We had been commuting for four years but it wasn’t just the commute that was wearing on me. It was the feeling that my mom’s health relied on her happiness which was contingent on how much quality time I spent with her, which was never enough. (Of course I know that peace and happiness are completely independent of outer circumstances but I still held onto the guilt of not being/doing enough). It was just this past Halloween where I missed picking up our girls from school because of an appointment of hers and told my mom I couldn’t take it anymore. We had to find another solution.

Here’s a bit of background on our relationship:

My mom left my dad when I was 7 and raised me on her own with the help of her mother. My mom had retired from running and worked as a part time secretary. She still ran but not competitively. We were very close. She never dated anyone after my dad and spent the majority of her time outside of work driving me to dance and piano lessons. She had devoted her life to raising me. I was 19 when I left my mom’s place to perform in Germany. For what I thought was going to be a year living abroad, turned out to being six years. My mom lived alone all that time and took care of my aging grandmother who was in a nursing home. She quit her job so she could visit me often. This was probably the turning point in our relationship where she began relying on me and I started to feel responsible for her happiness. She spent two months each year living with my boyfriend and me. Every vacation I took was with my mom and my boyfriend. I ended up marrying him because he was so sweet to her. We split up three weeks after though. It wasn’t until my mid twenties did I begin to see that my mom wasn’t perfect. She was human.

Once I found Scott and was pregnant with our second daughter, my mom left her life in LA and moved close to us. That was nine years ago.

My baba (grandmother in Japanese) was 92 when she died. For about the last 15 years of her life, I helped my mom take care of her when I was living in LA. As soon as I was legal to drive, I was taking her to her doctor’s appointments as my mom had taken on a full time position. I was a teenager then and did not like the responsibility of caring for her. Yes, wagamama. In the Asian culture, we take care of our parents and grandparents even if it drives us crazy.

I continued on the victim path calculating how many years I had without being a caregiver. I became an angry peace activist telling my mom she should meditate and if she hadn’t gotten depressed in the first place, she may not have gotten cancer. I know, harsh and I was/am feeling guilty for having these thoughts and expressing them.

This anger lasted on and off for a while and creeps back up again even now. I feel for my mom and everyone who’s had to battle a life threatening disease. I don’t know what it’s like to have your health deteriorate drastically and to have to accept that this may be as good as it’s going to get. It is a constant struggle for her to find relief. Once my mom was admitted into the intensive care unit at the hospital, I let go of blame and became the loving daughter again.

 

3 Comments

  • Erica Lopez

    Well my dear friend, you have every right to feel every emotion and by pass all the “rules” that were ever created for everyone to grieve in your own way. And yes, I went straight from angry to it’s not fair to why her….why did the Lord want her so bad. I lost faith…2014 took a lot away from me. I felt like everything I taught my kids on relying on God for all answers was like a fairy tale – just not true – and not for everyone. I found my self double guessing everything and everyone. When my Tia Edna was asked by the social workers: “Is this what you really want” my brave warrior/hero Tia said: “Well, who am I to second guess my creator? I feel like if he wanted me to have more time medicine would have done it by now. My family has seen the best of me and I see the best of them and even in the end I know that God has given me a family, a life, loves that will never go away and will always remember me. What better way to go?” And she…SMILED! As I was dying on the inside thinking please fight some more, we will miss you desperately and life will never ever be the same without you. That night she read a poem to me about letting go and in it she read and underlined her favorite part, it said something like: I will never be gone for I am in the heat the sun gives you, the winds that blow your beloved waves and the smiles that melt your heart. I about died that day and thought if she can be this mad for so long and she can be so accepting it is only fair to honor her request. She finished her book and said and at the end she said and when I die play “Let it Be” because there is no room for double guessing only for first impressions and I want my impression to be fabulous. My heart, it couldn’t love, appreciate and be inspired by her any more then at that moment. She is an integral part of my everyday….I still feel like I am going to wake up and she is going to be here, smiling, guiding and spreading her laughter and amazing grace everywhere. And now with my daughter’s bff having cancer I once again have to reach into my, now named “Edna Space”, and remember – the will to live can be as strong as ever- but God already made your path and he hold ultimate control. Silly humans – we think we can control what was already planned so long ago. I tell you this friend – your momma is a legendary woman and her story is within you, within your babies and it will shine forever and always. And you are such an amazing person and shine so bright – I am sure your mommy sees that in you and is forever thankful to call you hers 🙂 Love you – take care and keep posting!

    • admin

      Erica! I am so sorry to hear about your aunt. What a brave and beautiful woman she was and what a beautiful mother, daughter, wife, niece, teacher you are. Your message broke my heart into pieces. “I will never be gone for I am in the heat the sun gives you, the winds that blow your beloved waves and the smiles that melt your heart.” Please keep me posted on your daughter’s friend. My prayers go out to her and you. Love to you and your family Erica. xox

  • Erica Lopez

    Well my dear friend, you have every right to feel every emotion and by pass all the “rules” that were ever created for everyone to grieve in your own way. And yes, I went straight from angry to it’s not fair to why her….why did the Lord want her so bad. I lost faith…2014 took a lot away from me. I felt like everything I taught my kids on relying on God for all answers was like a fairy tale – just not true – and not for everyone. I found my self double guessing everything and everyone. When my Tia Edna was asked by the social workers: “Is this what you really want” my brave warrior/hero Tia said: “Well, who am I to second guess my creator? I feel like if he wanted me to have more time medicine would have done it by now. My family has seen the best of me and I see the best of them and even in the end I know that God has given me a family, a life, loves that will never go away and will always remember me. What better way to go?” And she…SMILED! As I was dying on the inside thinking please fight some more, we will miss you desperately and life will never ever be the same without you. That night she read a poem to me about letting go and in it she read and underlined her favorite part, it said something like: I will never be gone for I am in the heat the sun gives you, the winds that blow your beloved waves and the smiles that melt your heart. I about died that day and thought if she can be this accepting it is only fair to honor her request. She finished her book and said and at the end she said when I die play “Let it Be” because there is no room for double guessing only for first impressions and I want my impression to be fabulous. My heart, it couldn’t love, appreciate and be inspired by her any more then at that moment. She is an integral part of my everyday….I still feel like I am going to wake up and she is going to be here, smiling, guiding and spreading her laughter and amazing grace everywhere. And now with my daughter’s bff having cancer I once again have to reach into my, now named “Edna Space”, and remember – the will to live can be as strong as ever- but God already made your path and he hold ultimate control. Silly humans – we think we can control what was already planned so long ago. I tell you this friend – your momma is a legendary woman and her story is within you, within your babies and it will shine forever and always. And you are such an amazing person and shine so bright – I am sure your mommy sees that in you and is forever thankful to call you hers 🙂 Love you – take care and keep posting!

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