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Making Strides 2018

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in the nation, with more than 1 million passionate participants supporting the noncompetitive three-five mile walks each year.

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It’s Time to Share

J Robinson

 

October is always an interesting month for me. A few years ago Sarah Farley approached JustMyMemphis asking if we would team up with the American Cancer Society as a media partner for the upcoming Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Her request was by far the biggest media sponsorship that JustMyMemphis had done at the time. I said yes without hesitation. There was no way that Sarah could have known why it was so easy to get me to agree to this. It turns out there were a number of reasons for me to do this and it all started with a phone call at the end of a very long surgery for my mother. I still remember that moment like it was yesterday. The phone in mom’s room at Methodist University Hospital rang. I was expecting the surgeon’s call so I answered. As I said hello, suddenly screams rang out up and down the hospital floor. There was yelling everywhere.

October 3rd, 1995.  The screams heard around the world . . .

 

On Oct. 3, 1995, after a televised criminal trial that captivated the nation, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the gruesome double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ron Goldman.  People all over the world sat by television screens waiting for the verdict.  The phone rang in my mother’s room with her surgeon calling at the same moment.  Her surgeon had to wait a few minutes to tell me what had just happened during mom’s surgery to remove her ovarian cancer.  But once everything got quiet, the doctors words came clear and fast.  With mom’s sisters and my sister in the room, I was about to have to tell everyone that mom had only three months to live.  The cancer had spread and the doctors had done all they could do.  Mom had gone into surgery with a very large mid-section.  She had been told she needed to lose weight.  But I would get to see her within hours and the woman I would see was not even half the woman she was just hours before. During that surgery, the doctors removed parts of multiple organs trying to rid her of the cancer and stopped when they got to her liver.  They said we cut everything we could.  As mom recovered, her abdomen was now almost flat.  How could there have been so much cancer?  What happens now that she has only three months to live?  The hardest question for me at the time was, “Why God have you done this to me?”  I hate this woman.  I now have a life of my own with a wife that I love.  Why do I now have to help this woman who I hated so much?
October 9th, 2004.  How is she still alive?

 

Mom outlived the doctors timeline.  Instead of living for only three months mom would live for nine years.  On October 7th I got a call from the nursing home that mom had been in for the last few weeks.  Mom was screaming in pain.  Nothing was stopping the pain.  On the morning of the 9th, I had asked the doctors to meet me at the nursing home.  I was hoping we could find a way to give her some relief.
When I walked in Mom’s room she heard me speak and looked my way.  It was a very odd look.  It was as if she did not see me, but she knew I was there.  Her eyes seemed to look through me instead of at me.  Then she laid back down looking straight into the ceiling.  One of my aunts was a little upset.  Mom’s brothers and sisters as well as her mom were all in the room and Mom had not acknowledged them being there.  But when I came into the room she looked my way and then laid back down.  As I walked out of the room, I was not prepared for what was about to happen.

It’s Time to Share

My sister and I talked to the doctor for a moment.  The doctor told us, “Your Mom should not be alive”.  It’s like she is waiting on something.  In my mind the next few seconds felt as if time itself had been frozen solid.  I knew why mom was still alive and I knew what was about to happen.  Mom had told me years before that she wanted all of us around her when she died.  When she sat up with me walking in the room.  At that moment, the wish she had for her death had come true.  We were all there.  My niece, Courtney came running out of the room calling for her mom, my sister.  She said we had to come now!  I knew what this moment was, my mother had gotten her wish.

October’s march of sadness . . .

 

But the month of October was not done with me yet. A few years passed and I had slipped into a deep depression.  I pushed everyone and everything that meant anything away.  Then came news that I never thought I would hear.  My wife and I were expecting a child.  But something was not right.  My wife didn’t want me to tell anyone about the pregnancy.  She went to all her doctors appointments without me.  We had a business and she wanted me to take care of it.  This did not seem like an unreasonable request.
But then October would come again.  It was the two year anniversary of mom’s death and I had a couple of parts that night at my congregation.  My wife had a doctors appointment and she insisted that I take care of my assignments.  Even though she told me not to tell anyone about the baby, there is no way I could keep that completely quiet.  So I had shared the news with the elders in my congregation.  I had even asked if I could share the news with the congregation that night.  But when I spoke with my wife, she simply asked if I would call her when I was done with my assignments for the night.
That night I would learn that the child I thought to be mine had died.  Within days came the questions of how the child died and who’s child was it that died?  Depression was waiting, knowing that I would let it take over my life.  On the outside everyone thought I was okay.  A closer look would reveal that things were not okay with me at all.
May 8th of 08!
 

On May 8th the storm clouds would disappear for a moment.  My wife had gotten pregnant again. I remember this like it was yesterday.  Our little girl was coming today.  She was a daddy’s girl from the beginning, this little lady who at first supposed to a five-month-old premature baby, was now late.  As a result, I could schedule her birth.  Oh this was perfect.  But as my little princess came into the world.  I was terrified.
But as soon as I saw her, this strange feeling of Mom’s presence came over me.  A feeling of heat cascaded from the top of my head to my feet.  Finally, she was here.  My little princess Sky was born.

 
 

Finally came Divorce . . .

 

Eviction after eviction.  Lights turned off.  No running water at times.  A husband that would sit for weeks in his office in darkness until there was no office left.  Vehicle repossession after repossession.  Sparks of life would show and then another crisis.  The only ray of light was the little girl that somehow had come to life as a result of this marriage.  Who in their right mind would expect a woman to stand beside her husband when he is struggling in so many ways.  I got a phone call one Sunday evening that I had grounds for a divorce and I was free.  I was told that she would accept nothing less than 50/50 custody.  There it was, the end of a twenty three year marriage.  A phone call that lasted less than four minutes is how the marriage would end.
It is Time to Share . . .

 

I get these text messages constantly from my ex-wife’s new husband.  Loser this, loser that, I’ll spare you the details but it’s nothing short of an attempt to bully a grown man. I don’t judge people, I don’t know what anyone else is dealing with but I do know when the messages have meaning. Or, I would block the messages, but it is the only way I can communicate with my little princess. So I’m always sifting, looking for her name, my glimpse of hope.
But this story is not complete.  I have not talked about my dad or why I so hated my mother.  I haven’t talked about my ADHD or my depression.  I haven’t talked about why my ex-wife would have to promise in court to protect our little girl from the married man that would soon be Sky’s step dad.  I have not shared how despite all of this, I find myself celebrating life everyday.  The time will come for all of that.

It’s your turn to share!

This is Part 1 of 4. I decided to share my story in the hopes that others would follow. Please help us support the American Cancer Society and other local organizations by telling your personal story of overcoming the odds. Your words have power and can change lives. Please share your story today and invite others to share theirs.

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By Sharing You Can American Cancer Society or other Local Organizations #BeAmazing

 

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