I could talk for ages about the woman who was my mother. Things you probably already know. Her kindness, her grace, her intelligence, her talents. I could go on forever. But standing up here now at her memorial, you know what I can’t get out of my head?
This isn’t fair.
We shouldn’t have to be here. We shouldn’t have to be mourning her loss so soon, from a sickness that made her suffer so much. When talking of cancer, there’s no such thing as deserts, but God, there was no one who deserved to go through that less than she did.
Because she was so good. Every thing I try to be, I try as an unformed imitation of my mother. From the way she threw a party or baked a pie, to the way she picked up a new skill seemingly without effort, to the ceaseless kindness and forgiveness she had for the world. Anytime someone notices that I’ve managed some small effort in what she taught me, I can only think, that’s nothing. You should see how my mom does it.
We were blessed in many ways, and one way that we were a close family. There were no old wounds between us, nor any important words left unsaid. But there was so much more life for us to have together.
For my part, I haven’t yet done all the things I’m going to do, things I wanted her to see, and be proud of me. I wanted her to see me get married, and help me raise my children. I wanted to learn how to be the kind of mother she was, because who else in the world could teach me that?
I know that her passing came as the end of her suffering, and she’s with God as she was always meant to be. But she should have had it all—she should have had that, and the rest of her life. And I am so angry that she didn’t get it.
But such is life. Such is the world God made for us. And we are not children, who may hurl ourselves in rage against the things we do not like.
So what then? What do we do? In times like this, people often encourage us to find the good that can be taken. As if, no matter how dark circumstances have become, there’s just some good that’s just there, and all we have to do is see it.
But I believe that in times like this, there is no grace or blessing that’s handed us to. If there’s any good to be taken at all from being eaten alive by cancer before your time, it’s up to you to make it. Because you don’t find it— you make it. And my mother did.
The burden laid on her was enormous. It would have been an easy thing for her to lapse into self-pity and despair, or to just give up. But she never did. She still took my calls ever day and listened to me go on about the silly details of my life. She still used her many creative talents to help me with my projects whenever I asked. She stayed the person that she was always was, as selfless, as giving, and as strong. She stayed my mother.
She loved to say to me, “You don’t know what you can do until you have to.” But every day, she had a choice. And every day, she chose to carry on rather than give up and let it make her less than she was. She didn’t allow her suffering to be the end of all joy and hope and goodness in our lives. Because she loved us. She held on to that for us.
That is the good she made of this. She allowed us, her family and friends, to see what that kind of strength and grace and love looked like. What a gift that was! I cannot doubt it, can never believe that it’s not possible, because I saw it with my own eyes.
It isn’t often that we get the chance to really show our quality. There aren’t many chances given to be a hero. To show just how deeply you love. But in times like these… it reveals you.
So I will look to that in the years to come, in the darkest moments when I won’t have her here to turn to. I will think of my mother, and how much she endured to show me what real love was. I will think of my father, who took better care of her than anyone had ever seen, all because he loved her. There is Christ in those things. And that will be what carries me through the sadness and unfairness of having lost her. It has put iron inside me, which I hope one day will be forged into my mother’s steel. That’s the good I’ll make of this.
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