5 PM. My mom's voice was tear-stained, broken.
I sat down in my den, and tears began to fall.
Baby girl sat quietly on the couch.
There weren't any real details, yet. Just that the biopsy showed cancer.
We had been through this almost 15 years ago with my dad. And then his heart ten years ago.
Not my mom. She is one of the genuinely good people.
I hung up, wanting to see her, to touch her face.
Tears flowing and sat in front of baby girl.
Her beautiful face still, stoic.
And I remembered all my years of keeping my emotions in. Swallowing hard, afraid that I would be seen as weak. 25 years later the same type of little girl sat in front of me. Inside her heart breaking for her Nana.
"I know you aren't a hugger, but since no one else is here and your mom could use a hug, would you?"
We crumbled into one another, her strong arms around my neck.
That night my husband prayed over us; he asked the Lord to heal my mom, if that is His will.
My eyes opened, and I knew that wasn't a prayer I could pray. I wanted her healed, regardless. I couldn't truly ask for His will to be done unless it was the will I wanted.
So I borrowed a line from Corrie ten boom, "Lord, please listen to him because I can't pray that right now." And I didn't. I couldn't pray anything but make her well, make her well over and over again.
People have long said that the marriage bed is the most intimate of places, where two become one. Never more true than that night, not because of laughter or lovemaking but because long after the lights were out there were fresh tears and a wail from deep inside, flood gates I couldn't dam. And there in the dark of night, his arms found their way around me and my head to his chest. My hurt revealed, broken hearted. Knowing my husband would take the pain from me if he could.
All I could tell him was that my mom was the last person who believed there was good in me, when no one else did. What would I be without her?
Sometimes your community proves to be different from what you would have thought.
My old college buddy and his computer friends raised their glasses to my mom on their payday night out; my acupuncturist asked for her name, so she could call on it in prayer. My now friend, a college roommate's kid sister, stopping what she was doing to pray right then and overnighting me a bottle of sacred frankincense oil that I could take to my mom. A friend in South America, her own plate full with a foreign language, a foreign church, her own family, praying. My gorgeous, world-travelling neurologist friend (who by the way, just discovered she had cellulite. I told her that was only fair. If she was going to be a gorgeous, jet-setting doctor, she needed a flaw) Church members, friends, and family sending texts, messages of encouragement. Love notes from my mother-in-law. My brother-in-law offering an appointment with a specialist at his hospital. My beautiful friend with all the tattoos and the loving soul who asked how I was and told me it was OK to cry as long as I wanted, that it was my momma.
In those moments I knew what my mom's greatest gift is, that she always believes there is good in people and goes above-and-beyond to find it. Not in a naïve or Pollyanna way, but because she knows there is some part of everyone that Jesus loves. She would have seen it in all my friends long before I did. And she knows that Jesus commands us to love them too.
My mom does this with ease and grace.
And seeing my friends' hurt for me and lift my mom up in prayer reminded me that we all try to do the same, to love one another, to pray without ceasing.
Just too often in the day-to-day we forget that there is Jesus in everyone of us.
And it can take tragedy to make us slow down and see it in each other, our friends, and ourselves if we look.
I got up from the bed only because the days continued. We were almost out of toilet paper; baby girl still had school. People needed to eat. And so we went about the business of life, without living at all for a few days.
And then Friday night I saw her; her face the same. Her spirit strong, if not a bit subdued.
My strong daddy, who only said this is so much harder than having cancer yourself.
And I hugged her neck and touched her face. And told her and Dad I would be with them every step of the way.
So when it is cancer, it is a long road.
But not one we are facing alone.
Thank you to everyone who has prayed and wept and loved on us all.