My mother came back into my life when I was about twenty-three. I was homeless and struggling with addiction and I had nobody to call. My father had died, and I was all alone. I felt like at the time she was the only person on the planet that would not turn their back on me. I was right. My mother became my biggest support from that day forward. It took me some time to finally get into recovery and I put my mother through the usual turmoil that we do when we are active. She always told me she loved me and believed I would get better.
When I finally entered recovery in 2013, my mother was there. She spent Christmas with me in my halfway house. She brought me a Christmas card and a present. Our relationship continued to grow. My mother helped me set up apartments and when I became a mother myself she was there. When I became a single mother, she helped me care for my daughter. My mother cleaned my house and washed my dishes and did my laundry because I was working around the clock to pay bills and support my little family.
My mother was diagnosed with liver cancer about two months ago. She put up her best fight, but her cancer team decided after one round of radiation that the most compassionate thing to do was to stop all treatment and call in hospice. My mother is dying.
My sister and I have teamed up to care for her. It is a beautiful experience for us right now to love and support each other. Some moments are calm, and others are chaotic but I’m grateful we are walking through this journey together.
I am full of feelings. One moment I feel sad. The next I am angry. I feel alone, and I feel surrounded by love. Nothing feels okay and I feel at peace at the same time. Sometimes I don’t know if I feel anything at all.
Part of my care for my mother has involved narcotics. This afternoon, I was helping prepare her medications and I looked down and realized that I had an oxycodone in my hands. I was holding this tiny white pill in my hand and I became very emotional – not because I wanted to take it – but because I realized that I didn’t want to. This tiny white pill had been exactly where my battle with addiction had started. Something so small had been the reason that I ran my life into the ground. I had completely given up my family, my friends, my education, my home and my soul for a substance that was now in the palm of my hand. And I am okay. I am not thinking about using.
My mother is dying, and I don’t want to use.
I have been asked by a few people in my network if I am okay being around the meds and understandably so. Part of me almost felt like I should be affected by it. I recognize that as the part of me that is afraid of success. I remind myself that it is okay to be okay. It is okay to be going through difficult and emotional moments in recovery and to be spiritually and emotionally stable enough to cope with them. It’s okay that I am experiencing heartbreak and I do not have the obsession to use. What I am feeling is healthy, and for me, healthy is a new development.
In recovery I have build this beautiful new life for myself that includes family, friends, and motherhood. Today is rough. The coming days will be rough. Soon my mother will die. But I will be there. I will be accountable to her and I will care for her and I will be present. These are the things I got sober for. I wanted a family and to be able to truly live again. Today my mother told me that she was so glad my sister and I were here and that she was so blessed to have children who care so much for her – and for that I am grateful.