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Common Bonds | Pervanche McGeehorizontal rule

photo of pervanche mcgee
Pervanche McGee lost her mother one year ago. Being in law enforcement, she has found that her colleagues are impatient with her grief. "They want me to get over it, but I can't. As a black woman, my role was to care for my family. I don't have a role anymore." Her mother was cared for at the Zen Hospice Project, which was founded by Frank Ostaseski.

On Her Mother's Diagnosis
The doctor told me over the phone. We had done some tests the week before and I was waiting for him to call me with the results. He had called and we played phone tag for a day and I finally was able to reach him the following day. He just let me have it between the eyes, that she had stage four, pancreatic cancer. There wasn't much of anything that we could do and he was really recommending that we not tell her. I sat down on my bed and my mouth was just literally hanging open. I was like a fish out of water. My mouth was opening and closing but nothing was coming out. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that that's what was wrong with her. He was saying, hello, hello on the phone, are you there? And I said, excuse me, but you've just dropped an atomic bomb on my head.

On Grief and Loss
I've seen so many little old ladies that look like my mom. I just have to pull over and let it be what it needs to be until it passes, because I can't function. I don't know whether these people are sent to cross our path, in a little way, to give us some comfort. It's like we're seeing our loved one again, even though you know they're not there. Or just this abject feeling of missing them so dearly and so deeply that you're beginning to see things that aren't really there. You're just paralyzed. You have a moment. I call them having moments. I'm having a moment, until it passes and I can function again. I've had to pull over if I'm driving my car.

On Living Well
It's just what I was talking about earlier of being the most vulnerable you've ever been in your life and having compassion and just being open and then given the circumstances whatever they are that you have to be, I don't know, cold. I find that I don't have much tolerance for things that aren't meaningful to me. I don't have time for fluff, as I call it, from people because my time is precious. I know how fleeting life is and I want quality. I want hugs. I want kisses. I want someone to listen to me and not give advice. I just want somebody to be there.

On Healing
It's still going on for me. Trying to find out what is healing in this whole experience for me because my whole family is gone and my mother was the last member of my immediate family so it's really a prominent issue for me. As my mother used to say, I'm not going to let this wipe me out but everyday it's trying to find something positive in what has happened. I don't have the answers. I don't even think I should ask why. I can't deal with why, because I'm here right now. It's definitely a work in progress and it's everyday. And some days are better than others.

Next: Paul McVetty

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