I decided to end my life before CANCER ends my mother’s
People say that life is precious. We speak of its temporary, yet beautiful nature, and how we use the time during to learn lessons and experience love. I believe sometimes life forces us to forget this, only that so we may remember.
My name is Namrata, and I am happy. Today I experience a life full of purpose, humility, and love. Days are filled with gratitude for the time I get to spend with family, and with myself on this journey. However, I didn’t always maintain this mindset of health. I’ve come to find the blossom of health is derived from the seed of darkness.
There was a time not too long ago when I would have given up on it all. It all began five years ago when my mother was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.
Shocked echos an understatement. We never see these things coming in life. They tend to seem as if they’re transpiring at the worst times, in the worst possible ways. This was the case with my mother. She happened to be diagnosed with her cancer during my time as a software engineer, working for a multinational company.
During this time I had dreams of working my way up the ladder, to be able to say I had once gazed above the mountain tops. We all have these hopes and dreams for ourselves, however, sometimes life has something different in store for us. It’s up to us to trust the process, which in my case, was easier said than done.
Though in my twenties, living at home with my mom and dad, helping out where I could, this didn’t feel like enough for me. I knew I wanted to help my mom more, so in an act of love and passion, I quit my job. Fueled with a desire to heal and care for my mother, I quickly began to recognize that an essential aspect of the fuel, was a stable income.
She needed financial security for her health and care. Torn between the two worlds, I decided to consult my job. I informed them of my particular situation, and together we designed a special situation for me. I would work as much as I could when I could, and when needed, I could go home and take care of my mother. It worked until it didn’t.
Around a year later, the balancing act that was my life began to rot from the inside out. Though I appeared to be doing it all, there was an entire aspect of care that was being neglected; my own. It began to feel as if I was losing my mind. As my mental health declined, so did my voice.
I buried this truth deeper and deeper until it was so deep that I began to feel numb. It was as if my in denial was acting as a numbing to my pain, and I began to lose interest in life. Turning my head towards the fact that I felt scared, tired, hopeless, and forgotten by myself had finally gotten to me.
Somewhere inside of me, I knew there was a reason to keep going, but this reason was so far clouded in the illusion of my own sanity that I was struggling to find it. At what felt like my last straw, I decided to open up to the one person who I felt least deserved to hear what felt like shallow, sulking pity, my mother.
It was raining that day, and something about the way the rain smelled was causing my eyes to swell. Perhaps this was natures way of reminding me that it’s okay to cry. Sitting next to my mother, tears began to fall as raindrops trickled down our window, racing down the glass that was my cheeks.
Strong, yet fragile, I crumbled. I couldn’t tell if it was pouring, or if it was just me sobbing, but one thing was for sure- nature was taking its course. Helplessly crying, I heard two words that were the catalysts for my shift in perception.
“I’m sorry!” My mother whispered.
At first, guilt flooded my mind. How could SHE feel sorry? What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just be strong for the family, and stop making this about me? These thoughts circulated, eventually forming into words of,
“how could you be sorry? Your suffering is so much greater than mine, it’s nothing compared to yours.”
To which my mother responded,
“Dear one, we are both struggling. We are both going through the same thing, we are suffering the same emotions. We simply have different reasons. The emotions feel strong because they matter. We matter. You matter. I want to heal this cancer because I want to survive. I want to survive because I want to see you grow and live a normal life with your loved ones. I’m fighting for you, and you are fighting for me. We are fighting for each other, together. You are not alone in your emotions love, because I am right here, feeling them too, for you.”
After this, something in the air changed. The rain had stopped, and so had my tears. A flash of hope beamed through the window, and suddenly it was easier to breathe. I no longer felt numb or in any particular pain. I felt shifted as if my mind had adopted a new reality, a reality of hope and care.
I began to see my emotions, not as a hindrance, but a compass directing me to what needed care, which was myself. I continued to care for my mother, however now instead of only checking in on her, I began to check in with myself, too.
I began to make times that made me feel good, and that I knew were good for me. Yoga, meditation, journaling, affirmations, art, and community all held my hand on this journey. They became very useful tools in my healing. Oddly enough, I found that when I took the time to heal myself, I became stronger and thus, more capable of healing my mother.
Not too long after this realization, things began to change for the better. My mother’s tumors began to shrink until eventually, they were nothing. Nothing but a beautiful lesson of love, compassion, and acknowledgment of the truth.
The truth is that it takes a certain kind of strength to care for a sick loved one.
A kind of strength only found from a full cup. In order for us to care for someone, we must also care for ourselves. A year later I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.
Artscape, a mental health organization, recognizes this truth. The truth that art, yoga, meditation, love, and community help caregivers help themselves on the journey of being warriors for those they love.
Artscape believes that everyone should have this opportunity to create a toolbox of self-care, and because of this we provide services to those in need of support and care through financially accessible art therapy.
There is a way, always. Sometimes we just need a nudge in the right direction.