An health update on my Mom
This past week was a hard one.
My mom has been sick for the last handful of years, and this week we found out her treatments aren’t working anymore. Her doctors don’t have any other tools in their arsenal, and they more or less signed-off on her case. I don’t mean that at all as a slight against her doctors; she’s had really wonderful people caring for her throughout the entire time, and their actions have nothing to do with them being insensitive or negligent. There’s just simply nothing more they can do for her at this hospital.
Cancer is never a fun thing for anyone, obviously, and it’s been a really exhausting almost-five years for our family. My mom has had bouts where she’s been off treatments for good reasons – after her first surgery when they thought they had caught everything, and a bit in between when it seemed like her cancer was lying dormant and not a threat. I guess that helped keep our hopes up throughout it all, and helped my family keep going. Hearing the news on Wednesday that, after all this time, there was nothing more to be done, was a tough blow.
It would be dishonest to say that I have complete peace in the Lord’s sovereignty, or that the joy of the Lord is still a-bubbling away in my heart even in the midst of all this. I guess in some technical, theological way, some would probably argue to remind me that it is, but it doesn’t much feel like it at the moment. I feel like we’ve been running a five-year-long marathon, and just when the finish line was in sight, someone snuck up from behind and took us out with a sledgehammer. I can hardly bear thinking about all the things in my life that are yet to happen that might happen without my mom being there for them. I feel like I already miss her so much even though she’s still here with me. It seems silly to go to work or spend my time doing other things – our time is too precious and short, and don’t I have the rest of my life to do that? I just want to sit with my mom and not let her go. Somehow it feels like if we can just sit together and not do anything, then maybe time will stand still, and she won’t ever be taken away from me.
I think maybe most of all, I feel like a little kid lost in the mall or Walmart or something who suddenly feels like the world around her is much bigger and more menacing than it was before, who just wants her mom to make everything okay again. A little kid who knows that just her mom’s presence somehow changes the face of the world so it’s friendly and interesting and explorable again, even if all she does is stand beside you in it. And I’m not sure how to face the day when she won’t be there to make the world less scary ever again.
I had trouble praying about things right away, as it all just felt a bit too overwhelming and painful to fully face at first. But when I eventually did, there were two images that almost immediately came to mind, images that I believe God placed in my mind and heart. The first was of Peter walking on the water with Jesus, and the second was of the disciples in the midst of the storm. In both cases, Peter and the disciples were desperate with fear, despairing of their lives, drowning and calling out to Jesus in panic. And in both cases, His response was to right the situation and gently scold them for their fear, for losing sight of Him and forgetting that the seas are in His hands, the storms are in His hands, and even the laws of nature are bendable to His will.
I don’t know what that means in a practical sense for my family’s situation. I don’t know if that means Jesus will heal my mom, or if that’s just assurance that Jesus is sovereign in all of this and wants me to keep my eyes fixed on Him even if the storm to be faced is the loss of my mom. The images gave me no premonition as to what God was saying my future would hold.
Except for the assurance that He would be in it.
And I do know I’d much rather be going through this with Him than without. Whether I lose my mom in the next while or in thirty years, whether in this brokenness or in the small instances of it in the everyday, I’m so glad that I have the promise of wholeness to cling to, the promise of redemption, the anticipation of the day when all heartbreak will be healed, all longings fulfilled, all separations reunited under Him. The Man of Sorrows who Himself suffered our worldly brokenness came to restore and redeem it – and came to restore and redeem us. As he wept with Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother (even though he knew in moments he would miraculously bring him back to life), I know Jesus weeps over the death and brokenness and suffering we experience in this life, and I’m thankful that He’s with me and my mom and family in whatever lies ahead. I know I don’t have to feel like that lost little kid in Walmart when my Good Father – the Best Father – really is always with me, leading me on, caring for me, holding me, calming my storms, and keeping me standing on the water as I keep my eyes fixed on Him.
I know many of you are already praying for our family, and we’re so thankful that you are. We’ve been so thankful for all of the support we’ve received in so many different ways, and even though I know sometimes people find it hard to know what to say or do, just knowing you want to show us your love and support at all is still meaningful to us. We continue to ask for your prayers throughout whatever is ahead, through decisions for my mom’s health, for stamina for all of us, and for precious family times of sharing all that we have left with one another.
I really am thankful for the mom that I’ve had, and I guess, in a way, the pain of losing someone is directly correlated with how wonderful and meaningful they’ve been in your life. So she must have been pretty great. I have been really lucky, and, now, if ever, is certainly not the time I’m taking that for granted.
On that note, I think one more way that my family has been really lucky is that this past five years has made us very cognizant of how precious loved ones are, and how precious the time we have with them is. Maybe it took cancer for us to realize that, but if you have loved ones that you think you may be taking for granted, there’s no time like the present for changing that.
Thanks so much again for your prayers, and may God bless all the moments we have left with the ones we love. And, by God’s grace, may He stretch out and multiply those moments for many days to come.