This piece is an Editor's Pick for the cover of Open Salon...

My mother was a complicated person in life and in death. She died when I was nineteen, after a long battle with breast cancer. Actually, calling her struggle a “battle” isn’t entirely accurate because she never once saw a doctor. A Southern-raised African American who became a hippie in the 1960s and 70s, she didn’t believe in Western medicine. So, when breast cancer ravaged her body, over the span of a decade, she relied on ineffective herbs and natural healing practices to fight the metastatic cancer.

My teenage years were spent caring for my mom at home, at the same time I tried to live a “normal” teenage life. I’d leave the house after helping to feed my bedridden mom or change her bedclothes. Then, I’d get dressed and try to live a regular teenage life. I hung out at the beach with friends, I went to high school. As you can imagine, my mind was a million miles away.

I waited until my mid-thirties to have my first child, in part because I was terrified of having a baby only to leave it motherless.

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