Permanent overlap in my emotional memory

On June 02, 2020 my mom, Dona Faye Elrod passed away after a 5 year battle with breast cancer. She was diagnosed stage 4 in early March of 2015—an unrelenting succession of grueling treatments began shortly after. During this entire time, her attitude remained positive and her emotional and physical availability for us never wavered—even during the final days of her life. If you got to meet her, I’m so glad to know you had the opportunity to feel the positive energy that literally radiated from her soul. I’m confident this energy continues to radiate somewhere out there in another form, no doubt improving the lives of people, animals, and plants alike. I am profoundly grateful to have been with her, my spouse and immediate family during the final days of her life.

She was at home—in hospice care for the final 5 days. As a family, we experienced unbelievably intense waves of emotion multiple times a day—with her and amongst ourselves—sadness, gratitude, loss, anger, laughter, connection (to name only a few). I didn’t know emotions could be felt so deeply. My mom is the most brave and sincere person I have ever known—her soul lives on in my heart as pure positivity and I am committed to sharing her good vibes with everyone around me—I’m 100% sure she would approve. Her last advice to me came during a phone conversation when I was stressing about something I should have been super excited about. She told me with nonchalant confidence in her voice to “relax and let yourself enjoy good things that come along in life.”  I am forever grateful for that final lesson. 

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd, a black man was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer in broad daylight—days of riots and protests ensued shortly after. This was the backdrop during the majority of my mom’s 5 days of hospice care. Even though these events aren’t objectively related, it’s impossible for me to separate the two now because of their permanent overlap in my emotional memory. The most difficult truth I had to face with my mom’s illness was coming to terms with my complete inability to do anything to stop the cancer causing her body to shut down—this was a soul-shattering frustration everyone in my family experienced. I was in total shock when I saw the footage of George Floyd’s murder—it brought up the same sickening feelings of hopelessness and anger I was concurrently feeling about not being able to help my mom. Witnessing the blatant intentionality of the perpetrator coupled with the complete inaction of their accomplices was horrifying. 

Things like this should never happen, but sadly these events are common occurrences in the United States. The very recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks (to name only a few) shamefully add to a robust legacy of racism in this country. I’m grieving the loss of my mom, and at the same time I feel an overwhelming avalanche of sadness for the collective multitude of families who have lost loved ones or have in some way been impacted by senseless acts of violence as a result of racism in this country. I am a white male sitting in a position of privilege. Because of my position, I will never be able to fully understand what it feels like to be discriminated against based on the color of my skin.

I am working to develop a deeper understanding of where we are now, how we got here, and how we can individually and collectively improve our society through mitigating discrimination and elevating equality in this country. I am dedicated to being a supportive ally in promoting equality in any way I can. I stand in solemn support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and am in favor of moving through the process of dismantling and collaboratively re-building current institutions in this country that were intentionally built on foundations of discrimination based on not only race, but also gender, and sexuality as well. Lastly, I’m voting my ass off in local, state, and national elections in hopes of ushering in leaders that collectively envision a more equitable and sustainable future for this country—I hope you are too

I felt it was necessary right now to share this collection of heavy thoughts. My mom was a person who universally valued life in every way—she taught me it was ok to feel and share feelings sincerely. There’s no way to express how much I will miss her.