To My Mom: A Blog Post

Mother's Day
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by Jemal Yarbrough

This Mother’s day, I failed to give my mom material gifts, failed to organize a brunch at a 5 star restaurant, failed to even give her a card, instead all I had to offer her was my undying love expressed through the beautiful words of my nieces who did write wonderful cards to their mothers. As she sat there, and heard aloud their words, I sorely wished my mom could hear how their words were all of ours.  How 2 sixteen year old’s  managed to capture all of our angst, hurt sorrow and love.    We shared just a few hours with mom, letting her know how much she means to us when in reality if we could spend the rest of our lives thanking her, it would not be enough.

I haven’t made it easy for her, from the sicknesses to my idealistic business plans, it’s always been something out of the norm, and yet she has accept each and every single instance in my life with grace I can only dream to pass onto my children.  Her patience, seemingly limitless, her faith undying, but most of all, her love, always there for the taking with nothing expected in return.  It amazes me how much she takes on a daily basis, and always seems ready for more, weakness something that doesn’t seem to exist in her, strength and love her weapons of choice.

It used to be easy to buy her expensive gifts to show her how much I loved her until it hit me that a single heartfelt hug did more for her than a $2000 LV bag ever could.  Even in gifts, she managed to teach that the only ones of value are the ones that come from the heart regardless of cost.

Thank you mom, for always teaching, for always being there but most of all, for always loving me defects and all.  I love you

Cancer, Myself, Preeti, Writing


1987 Ativan advertisement. "In a world wh...
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Last night was the first time I laid down to bed with a heavy heart not because of her because I already had failed at my promise to post every day.  Although I tried to intellectualize it by claiming I wrote the post in my mind, I could not get past that feeling to not  write is something I can no longer accept.  Actually, I started the post with a bit of a  lie because my soul was heavy because once again the word “Caretaker” had been flung at me, and once again I was made to feel that nothing I do was good enough.  While others were thanked for their time, I was derided for stuffing medicines down her throat and leaving her in a dark room. After more than 2 days feeling like I was at fault, I realized she was right.  In my effort to control the disease by making her as physically comfortable as possible, I had lost sight that a hug could more than Zofran, Ativan or Compazine could ever do.  The problem really was my reluctance between comforting her with medications versus just laying down with her.

The truth is I am scared to see her so uncomfortable and instead of asking the easy question of “Are you Ok?”, I inevitably ask “Do you need medicine?”  I am substituting science for compassion, and I see now that the medicine really is more for me than for her. It is the only way I feel like I can fight the effects of Chemotherapy, but it’s not working.  If I was really honest with myself, she is doing extremely well considering the toxins in her body, and actually handling everything quite well.  I just keep expecting things to get worse  and at the first sign of a grimace, I use the medicine bottles as a shield.

The part that hurts most is the ease with which she thanks others for their care and concern, while I stand across a seemingly un-crossable divide of being the help.  I thought I could be a caregiver, a husband but instead in my fear and haste to make her feel better. I relegated myself to the realm of servitude rather than gratitude.