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Independence Day

My mom taught me love, hope and forgiveness.

She also taught me perseverance: going on when you don’t feel you can go on anymore, which was how she felt almost every day of her life.

She was candid that she would have killed herself if she thought she could do so and still be reassured my siblings and I would be safe. Because those reassurances did not exist, she hung on, trying to find enough light to keep going.

She was mentally ill in her later life. I didn’t understand how bad her illness had gotten until months after my youngest sister moved in with our godmother.

The day my youngest sister moved out was the day my mom snapped completely.

It was the day my mom no longer had to keep trying to keep it together for us.

She was free. And then, when she died of cancer, that freedom became total.

It was beautiful and brutal. I wished–and will always wish–such kinder freedoms for her.

For me, reading this is a new kind of freedom: knowing there is someone not my sibling who understands. Who could have loved my mom for everything she was: broken, ferocious, tenacious, beautiful, and forever–in her yearning, her striving, her candor–the most inspiring woman I will ever know.

Her striving paid, in part, for my independence.

I am sobbing, and I am thankful.

Behind the White Coat


“Have you been taking your meds?”

“Uh, no.”

“What have your blood sugars been running?”

“Yeah, I haven’t been checking them.”

“Blood pressure?”


I paused for a moment to regroup. She was 8 months overdue for her office visit. Still, better late than never, right?

“Doc, I decided that I needed to start taking my health more seriously. I promise I am going to do better. My baby mamma… well I call her that… died last night. She had lupus, had been really sick. She has a teenage daughter…”

“Wait. What’s her name?”

She told me.

She was gone.

It was over, then.

Over two years I had watched her pain grow, her eyesight fade, horrible wounds opening up, infections, blood clots… suffering upon suffering upon suffering.

We knew it was going to happen, she and I. She wanted to die except that it would leave her daughter alone…

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 2, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Thank you for the reblog. You have such eloquence here that my piece pales in comparison.

  2. July 2, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    A powerful reminder of just how much ‘holding it together’ costs. My mama too. Thank you both – you have made my eyes leak in memory.

    • July 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      I pulled over to write this post on my phone. After I started driving again, I thought of all the people who judged, changing nothing.

      The real travesty was not my mom’s individual slips but that my mom (and others like her) were told all they were doing wrong without substantive support to do it “right.” It’s already hard to do the right thing most the time with solid support systems. Without those support systems … rare is the person who could bear that weight.

  3. July 2, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    As always, I love you so much, BLS. Those conversations with mom were so heartbreaking, but I remember as a child being so grateful. Even though mom wore her hurt openly with us, she always felt like a giant, standing between us and the abyss of torment we would have endured at the hands of our father. Her love kept us warm, and gave us a light to see by, even when she no longer walked alongside us. I have no doubt that that love is what saved us. And, I think her honesty did, too. Some folks have said it was a form of abuse, that she was so candid with us, but I say not. She guided us through her darkest hours, so we would learn from her errors. ❤

  4. July 3, 2015 at 1:44 am

    Between this post and a book I just read about helping people through times of grief, I ended up writing a blog. It’s a long post and very similar to one I wrote when I first joined WordPress, but more in depth. I love you guys, Deborah the Monster Closet and R.R. Wolfgang. My big sis’s. Thank you Victo for your posts. Actually you three are the only blogs I regularly follow.

  5. July 4, 2015 at 9:55 am

    No words.

    Much love, though. Please feel free to take and use however might meet your needs.

  6. cardamone5
    July 7, 2015 at 11:19 am

    After a sad and joyous weekend celebrating my grandma and mom, I can relate!

  1. July 22, 2015 at 6:50 pm

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