Just a few short days ago, my mom passed away. I’m still grappling with that fact as it still doesn’t seem real. To think that we’ll never FaceTime again; we’ll never watch a movie together again and I’ll never be able to call her when life has thrown me for a loop. My mom is gone and I am devastated.
At just 50 years old, it doesn’t seem fair. Her death came just 83 days after her stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis and even though she attempted chemo, the cancer was just too aggressive. I prayed for her from the day of her diagnosis. I prayed for healing. I prayed for more time. I prayed for a miracle. And ultimately, my prayers weren’t answered in the way that I wanted them to be.
Just days before she died, she had a visitor- a distant relative whom she occasionally spoke with. I was happy to see someone make the effort to visit her because, at that time, we knew the end was near. This relative was present when the doctors told us that there was nothing else that they could do. She had suffered so much through chemo already and it would be brutal to try to put her through it again. The truth was that my mom didn’t want to do chemo anymore. She suffered with nearly every side effect possible and spent her last few months mostly in the hospital. I wasn’t surprised when the doctors told me this, as my mom had become delirious in the few days prior. I knew that she was dying. And I knew that it was time to let go. Any attempt that I made to beat this cancer would only prolong the end result- death. She had suffered enough.
I’m thankful that we had discussed these difficult things the week after she was diagnosed. It’s because we had that hard conversation that I knew my moms wishes. I knew that if she was, otherwise in good health and suffered a complication that would require life-saving intervention, that she would want it. But, I also knew that if she wasn’t in good health, that she did not want it. She saw her sister battle cancer until she was skin and bones and she told me that she didn’t want to go through that. And I don’t blame her.
When the doctors left the room, her relative looked at me and said, “You might think that I’m a lunatic, but I don’t believe a word that they said! I believe in my God and I believe in miracles! Lisa will be healed.”
It was in that moment, that I would’ve liked to do something that would likely end in criminal charges.
How insensitive that comment was. How ludicrous. How biblically inaccurate to expect that mankind’s definition of a miracle was the same as Gods.
What this relative was forgetting was the fact that death is also a miracle. My mom was saved. She was a believer and I know that she is at peace. She lived a hard life where the people who were supposed to protect her, did not. She struggled with familial dysfunction- not meeting her biological father until she was a mother herself. She struggled with disappointment and abuse and neglect. She was dealt a bad hand.
But even through her suffering, she managed to overcome. She managed to become the best mother that she could be and the best Nona to her grandchildren that we could’ve asked for. She knew she wanted better for her own child. She knew that her experience was not normal and she vowed to break the cycle. And she did.
That is her greatest accomplishment. She broke the cycle. She gave me the best upbringing possible that didn’t even come close to resembling her own. The differences were night and day. I grew up with love and compassion and encouragement. She was my biggest fan; my loudest cheerleader.
My mom didn’t have many earthly accomplishments. She didn’t graduate from a fancy college or climb a corporate ladder. Even as an adult, she struggled. But, I know that I am her greatest accomplishment. Her grandchildren are her greatest accomplishment. I know that she would sacrificed it all for us. Her legacy isn’t in an expensive piece of paper or in the number of people who attend her memorial. Her legacy is in us.
She broke the cycle of abuse and that is a miracle. She is no longer in pain and that is a miracle. Her cancer died with her and that is a miracle. And while it doesn’t feel like a miracle right now in our grief, God tells us over and over that death is a miracle.