• R. Barrow

Checking In *Content warning: Cancer, Death*

Updated: Jun 2

The past fifteen months have been a roller coaster of emotions. January 2020 started off like any other—I rang in the new year at home, wishing I was in the crowded streets of New York as I watched the ball drop.

By mid-March my family and I were in full lock down mode due to COVID precautions. Weeks became months and while my husband, my kids, and I adjusted to being together 24/7, I learned a lot about myself. Mostly that I was a workaholic (to a fault). I’m someone who overcame generational poverty therefore the “rise and grind” mentality is basically coded in my DNA. I also kept a small circle on purpose and never made enough time for things that truly mattered.

That all changed with a text message. After surviving the pandemic unscathed (health wise) I received a message from my mom asking me to call her. I immediately felt something in my gut wasn’t right so I took a break from whatever I was doing at the time and dialed her number. My fears were confirmed when she spoke a single word. Cancer. I only recall fragments after that because I was so shaken up. But Mom was confident that she’d be alright “Don’t worry.” She said. “After some chemotherapy I’ll be fine. About 6 months and the cancer will shrink.” I was still worried but decided to pray and trust God just like she told me to.

In November when my husband and I visited Momma, I noticed she couldn’t get around the way she normally could. She was very weak so I dug her walker (that she refused to use) out of the living room and teased her about being stubborn like I am. It felt great to see her smile. Three weeks later she was hospitalized and from there her condition deteriorated fast. The cancer was inoperable due to it growing around an artery and she couldn’t endure the side effects after her chemo sessions. In three months’ time, her body withered away as the vicious disease left only a shell of the feisty woman I know and love. It broke my heart.

January 10, 2021 Momma passed away, just two weeks before her 59th birthday. In the simplest terms, she and I had a complicated relationship. I know extended family may not understand the full scope so I'm sharing this because keeping secrets was something we mastered in my household. There were many resentments I held against my mom stemming from the abuse she allowed herself, me, and my siblings to be subjected to at the hands of my father but no matter what, I sincerely loved her. This was the same woman that nurtured my passion for reading by taking me to the library when we couldn’t afford to buy books. The woman I’d call and watch awards shows or Lifetime movies with over the phone. The woman that openly showed more affection to my children than she ever did to me when I was their age. The woman who gave me the gift of music—every night and weekend R&B and soul classics from her boom box would fill our house. So many of the songs I know and love today are because of her. I really miss my mom. There’s a hole in my heart that will never be filled and the earth beneath my feet is still a bit shaky but I’m comforted knowing she’s no longer suffering and she’s at peace.

Thank you to everyone that has reached out to me. I changed my phone number a few months ago but please know I appreciate all of your thoughts, kind words, and prayers.

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