Not long ago, I had a critical yet honest conversation with my mother. During this conversation, she mentioned several times how now, at the age of 61, she feels she missed out on certain parts of her life. As the eldest daughter, I not only must listen with an open heart but truly understand her as a friend and confidant. While this may seem easy for some, it has been hard to step out of my comfort zone and respond from two very different perspectives. But this has been long overdue since her best friends in life (her sister and mother) passed away just eight years apart.
As most of you know, Christmas this year looked a little different for everyone. My husband and I decided to take our children to visit their grandparents who live nearly an hour away for a short visit. Prepped with double masks and hand sanitizer, away we went. Once we arrived, pleasantries were exchanged and gifts were unwrapped. Shortly after, my father decides to bring me his retirement/pension paperwork to help him fill it out. Of course, the HR employee inside of me jumped up and said “of course!” while the daughter inside of me thought “Uh oh, I have left my husband all alone with his outspoken, sharp-tongued mother-in-law.” Not in the best health herself, I decided to roll with it and move forward.
As we grow and develop, we learn how to identify with many labels or roles, such as daughter/son, aunt/uncle, mother/father, and grandmother/grandfather, to name a few. It seems as though our stories are written before we are born to conform to these labels. In a way, these roles become rituals that comfort us as we agree to them and even expect our lives to go “as planned” based on our social codes and blueprints for survival.
I know I certainly expected my life to unfold much like my mother’s life did with marriage and family. She had seven children, and being the second oldest and oldest girl, I was able to help with all the babies she had. It never occurred to me that I would never be able to have my own children. Little did I know that my helping her at the ages of 9 and 10 with my youngest siblings would be my only times to experience at least part of what a mother does for her kids. I am not sure I appreciated this time because as much as I loved playing mommy, I also wanted to be with my friends.
Today, I again open up PhoebeMD.com for another Meet & Greet event. Remember, this is your moment to shine! This is a time for you all to come together to share your blogs and favorite posts, make new connections, and broaden your blog audiences.
I processed grief over Mom’s struggle with Alzheimer’s through poetry writing. The fact that caregivers—such as myself and many other poets—can relieve grief through poetry supports my belief that poetry is both the memoir of and the medicine for the soul. Poetry is a means to storytelling, witnessing the human condition in a personal way. What am I thinking, praying, hoping for? How am I hurting? What has happened to me? How can I understand it? How can I share it? Who will witness my pain?
Poetry provides a creative outlet for the release of pain, for healing. It explores the soul. Reading the poems of others who have gone through similar experiences as mine is reassuring because I realize that I am not alone. I could also share my experiences of loss and grief.
In response to the worldwide health crisis that is affecting all of our lives right now, I have a special burden for the most vulnerable populations—the elderly and the chronically ill—many of whom are struggling during this time to maintain their health.
I am leading an effort through Pendants for a Cause to raise money to help support high-risk patients at nonprofit California and Texas hospitals. This means that 100% of the proceeds raised through the sale of items purchased through Pendants for a Cause’s shop will be redirected during this time toward preparing essential care packages for patients in need.
While we are no doubt all struggling to get through this time, I ask that you—if you live in the U.S.*—to consider supporting this cause if you have the burden or the means to.
Thank you for making a difference.
Phoebe Chi, MD
*Pendants for a Cause is limited to shipping within the U.S. at this time.
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Founded in 2014 by Dr. Phoebe Chi, PhoebeMD: Health + Inspiration is a health information and literary arts website that aims to inspire, empower, and inform through a curated mix of essential health information, uplifting stories, and original poetry.