Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Part V: The Questionable Viscosity of Blood

I continued to forget that my mother's brother, sister-in-law, niece, and mother were also "family," and I was regularly surprised when they participated in the "family" traditions (viewing the body before visitation, staying for the closing of the casket, sitting at the front of the church, etc.). They hadn't wanted anything, or at least not much, to do with her for fifty years, and upon her diagnosis and death, they became family. These are the people who didn't meet me until I was a preschooler, despite living an hour away. These are the people who berated my mother for struggling with post partum depression after my brother's birth. These are the people who inspired her work in domestic abuse awareness and advocacy, not through their convictions but in response to their actions. I am confident that they don't know their role in her award winning work.

And now, I feel as though I'm in a position to decide whether to contact the Catholic Social Services agency through which my mother adopted out a child when she was a teenager. My hope in contacting them would be to communicate to the woman that her biological mother died young of a particularly brutal form of breast cancer. That woman is in her mid-30's now, and I find myself obligated to provide her with the opportunity to learn that crucial piece of her medical history. The truth is that my father has always been particularly opposed to trying to get in touch with her, and Mom said that was something she didn't need to do. I continue to respect her wishes although I have some curiosity about this woman, primarily how much we may look alike. Still, there is some kind of moral imperative driving me to fret about this decision. I believe she has a right to know what might kill her. With any luck, I can get this information to her without either of us knowing anything else about the other.


At 11:39 AM, Blogger Amy said...

I was adopted from birth through a closed adoption. Learning in my adulthood of my biological mother's own intense cancer history changed my life choices and outlook in every way. I treat any physical change in my body with the seriousness it deserves. I no longer blow things off with the feeling that I am invincible, as I did before.

My heart goes out to you and your sadness. Much love to you and yours.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger That one chick said...

I'm a lurker of your site (NTM), I've been reading for a few years. My mother was adopted, we know nothing about her medical history, I'm hearing impaired and luckily none of my siblings were, she's prone to skin cancer, my little brother has the worst asthma ever,she has thyroid issues as do I. I can honestly say that if my mother had a chance to at least know her medical history she would jump at it. It would be nice to know if any of this is genetic and what else we need to watch out for. I say go for it, if you can, everyone deserves to know something about their medical history!

At 8:30 AM, Blogger That one chick said...

I just realized how old this post is, am feeling stupid now..this is where the link on NTM took me...


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