I find it fascinating how our minds will choose to remember things. I read a post this morning written by Jeff Goins called How Death Taught Me To Overcome Fear and Really Live. Please take moment to read it. It’s a very thoughtful piece about loss, life and acceptance.
After reading his post, my mind went back to my greatest loss. I didn’t know what I was going to blog about today but Jeff’s blog post triggered a certain memory. When I was teenager my mind had a way of protecting me from hurts. Growing up, I naively believed tragedy struck other people. Bad things like death and cancer happened to other people or even characters in a movie. For some bizarre reason when I was a kid, I just couldn’t grasp the idea that cancer or death would ever shake my world.
When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 13, the thought of her dying didn’t even cross my mind. Tragedy and pain like that happened to other families…not mine. Even as I watched my mom endure rounds of chemo and radiation, my little fairy tale life was still playing out just fine. I wouldn’t let my mind even entertain an alternate ending to the story in my head. Then when I was 17, my mom’s cancer came back. This time is was in the bones. Even after this news…my mind refused to go to that dark painful place. This was my mom. This was my family. That wasn’t how the story was supposed to play out.
Reading Jeff’s post this morning, took me back to the night when my fairy tale life crashed down all around me. A couple months before my mom passed away, I woke up in the middle of night and it’s like someone flipped the truth switch in my brain. The truth of my reality hit me and, at that moment, my mind went to that place.
My mom was going to die.
A flood of emotion hit me with such force. I tried unsuccessfully to hold it all inside. I remember trying so hard not to let the rest of my family hear my sobs. My bedroom was upstairs and my parents’ bedroom was downstairs. However, my oldest brother was home visiting and was in the next room. I tried so hard to hold back the pain but I couldn’t anymore. That protective dam that had been holding back the flood waters in my mind finally broke.
This morning I started thinking about what happened after that. My brother heard my muffled sobs and came to my room. He knelt by the side of my bed, wrapped his arms around me and held me.
This memory always has a way of bringing me to tears. I realized today that what makes me cry now about this memory is not the loss of my mom, but rather the act of love I experienced from my brother. I look back now, and I am so thankful that I had people in my life to love and support me through the greatest loss I’ve known in my life so far. I not only had the love of my family who had experienced this loss too, but God had even lined up new friendships, friendships that had formed just a few months before my mom’s death. To this day, I am so grateful for these perfectly timed friendships!
I think back on that moment of crying in the dark and I so wish I could go to that young girl too. I want to console her too. I want to let her know that she is going to be okay. I want to tell her not to be afraid. I want to reassure her that although she’s confused, that God has never and will never leave her. I want to tell her that it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to grieve. I want to encourage her and let her know how much life is still waiting for her on the other side of her pain.
And, I want encourage anyone reading this who might be in the midst of their greatest loss. I want to give you hope. I want you to know that there is joy and there is life to be found after tragedy and loss. I want to wrap my arms around you and reassure you that, despite your questions and your confusion, your Heavenly Father loves you so much! Let Him comfort you. Trust the God of redemption to redeem your pain.