I had a bad feeling something big was about to happen. Every morning since Christmas, I’d been waking up wondering if my mom was going to wake up too. Then the blizzard announcement came.
The predicted storm was alarming to most people. For me, it came at a good time. Since the beginning of January, my mom had developed an odd rash all over her face. It was getting severe. I thought maybe a few days at home would do her some good. Plus, I thought it would give me time to do some research in my handy dandy book on Ayurvedic home remedies. I had to figure out what was causing that rash. Maybe it was caused by troubling thoughts? I even thought she might be depressed.
I first learned about Ayurveda (the Science of Life) when I was a sophomore in college. I had just formally declared my concentration in International Relations instead of pre-med. Initially, I had planned on becoming a Dermatologist. I had this weird fascination with pimples. Then my mom showed me a few of her medical journals. The pictures were graphic. My mom said, “Bet you didn’t know pimples could pop up in all sorts of places-not just the face?!” After that, I decided, International Relations was indeed going to be my major. Anyway, I was taking a Russian Literature class and was seated next to my loud, obnoxiously catty friend Eric. He started saying snide things about this girl seated in front of us. He thought her hair was “way too long” and she should “not be wearing that sweater with those pants!” The girl turned around to look at stupid Eric. I apologized. The girl was Mallika Chopra. We soon became fast friends. She told me all about her dad (Dr. Deepak Chopra) and his books on the mind body connection and Ayurveda. Those books changed my life! Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest healing systems. It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on the balance between mind, body, and spirit.
I knew there had to be a reason for my mom’s rash. Was this skin outbreak her way of grieving?
In August 2015, my mom’s older sister, Lucille, died. Coincidentally, Aunt Lucille had suffered a similar stroke nearly 10 years before my mom. My mom and Aunt Lucille had a special bond. My mother often talks about how Lucille was the one who encouraged her to go to medical school. At the time, my mom had been feeling low because the schools she wanted to go to were not accepting women. Aunt Lucille did some research and found a medical school for my mom. She even got her an application. When the acceptance letter arrived, my mom asked Lucille to open it.
Lucille opened the letter and read the good news. My mother was washing dishes. She was so excited she broke the glass she had been washing and severely cut her hands. Lucille angrily rushed my mom to the hospital. She feared my mom had now ruined her chances at going to medical school.
Also, in early January 2016, my mom’s very dear friend from medical school and fellow psychiatrist, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, had a stroke. My mom, my twin sister Akwelle and our cousin Janice (Aunt Lucille’s daughter) went to visit Frances in the intensive care unit. When we got there, my mom was totally shocked to see her friend on life support. My mom was speechless. But once we got home, she would not stop talking about it. The next day we got the news that Frances had died. My mom was very sad. This is when my mom’s rash started getting really bad. I’d never seen her so upset, not even when my dad died.
The weekend of January 23, 2016, we got 28 inches of snow. A blizzard! Monday evening after the snow had stopped falling, my twin sister and I had a marathon of shoveling snow in the front and alley areas of the house. My mom took her nightly bath and afterward said, “Good Night.” About 30 minutes later, my sister and I heard a loud thumping noise from my mom’s room. We ran upstairs and there was Mommy on the floor with her legs folded under her. My sister said, “What happened?” My mom said, “I just tripped over the humidifier. It’s nothing. Good night!”
The next morning, my mom said she thought she might have the flu. She said she was going back to bed. I noticed she was stumbling again while walking up the stairs. When she got to her room, there was a very loud thud. It actually shook the house like an earthquake. My twin sister and I rushed upstairs once again. Our mom was on the floor, but this time she had trouble getting herself back up. That’s when my twin sister insisted that we go to the Emergency Room. My mom said she just needed a nap. But my twin sister said she was going to call an ambulance. My mom said, “No!” Then my twin sister cleverly said, “Why don’t we go to your doctor’s office. He’s in the building next to the hospital. The streets are probably clear over there. Let’s do that!” My mom said yes. The next task was all mine–driving through all that crazy snow! I did not stop for any red lights. I just kept on going– praying I would not crash. Thankfully, we were the only people on the road. Finally, we got to my mom’s doctor’s office. There was a note on the door, “Due to inclement weather we are closed.” I had already parked the car in the parking garage. But, the ER was just in the next building. So we walked.