Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sunshine


No one ever wants to hear the “C” word in the same sentence of someone they love or anyone else they know for that matter. You hear about cancer all the time especially through emails from people requesting prayer for a friend or family member or even themselves. The disease is a stealthy creeper which seemingly rears its disgusting head randomly and often. Only when it creeps into your family do all those heart-felt emails make sense. You wish you would have gone before the Lord on behalf of those people just one more time because now you finally understand. Now you know, their requests were a lifeline—a necessary and beautiful move towards hope.
This week marked my Mom’s sixth and final chemotherapy treatment. Because of all the interstate between us (916 miles to be exact), I didn’t get to experience hardly any of this seven month venture with her. However, from a distance, I got to hear about God causing others to take the journey with her. The most surprising people who “packed their bags” were a group of ladies my Mom doesn’t even know. Shortly after her diagnosis, she got a call one afternoon from a lady who belonged to a church out in the county. Mom knew of the church, but not the lady. The kind woman said she had heard about Mom’s situation and that her ladies’ prayer group at church had committed to pray AND fast for, get this, FORTY days on my Mom’s behalf. Even with her impeccable Southern manners, Mom could not find words with which to respond. When she called me later to tell me about it, she said, “What do you say to that? How do you thank someone for that? I wouldn’t know them if they walked into the [drug] store.” I didn’t have an answer either.

One Friday, several of her cousins drove from Atlanta to spend a few hours with her. Along with their cheery selves, they delivered a most precious gift- a quilt they had made with pictures of all of them together. It also had sewn in notes of encouragement, words of silliness and declarations of love for my Mom. It’s one of those things that automatically makes your throat feel tight and your eyes sting. Strong family ties in action will do it every time.

When Daddy couldn’t take her to the treatments, there were plenty of friends who made the hour trek with her and sometimes twice a week. I was only able to take her to one of her treatments which was on Christmas Eve. Fa la la la la. Can’t say I ever imagined that. The room where she was given the infamous yet crucial treatments wasn’t exactly what I had pictured. There were “comfortable” reclining chairs lined up in a long narrow room. It wasn’t my idea of cozy but the room was painted from floor to ceiling with empathy. Everyone was at various stages with different types of cancer dealing in their own personal way with the treatments and their situations. Smiles and that “knowing” look came from almost every face. Most patients had a friend or a family member to sit with them through the three hour ordeal. For those who didn’t…. surely there was a good reason. Some people talked, some slept, some read, some shivered under blankets and some just sat in silence. Some were showing off new haircuts, commenting on scarves, admiring new hats and a few could have cared less. However, they were all there for the same reason and with the same hope embedded deep within them. To get well.

Everyone at the clinic found out what I already knew. My Mom is just enjoyable to be around. They’ll miss her. I know. The first person I met that Christmas Eve morning was Nurse Kathy and she called her “Sunshine”. She told me Mom should be the poster girl for chemo. Mom made it through all six sessions without any nausea medication. No need to rewind. You read that correctly. But I knew “Sunshine” also came from her overall attitude and her warm smile which is almost as good as a hug. There have been no complaints, no pressure, no drama, no pity parties. Her example is worth emulating. She has made the seven months easy on all of us.

Anyway, I loved going with her. If I had to pick my favorite part, it would be when my Mom got a text from Daddy asking her if she was okay. Simple, I know, but it reminded me how important it is for my children to witness little gestures of love expressed between parents.

The trip ends good for us. My family has every reason under the sun to be thankful to the Lord for the ending of my Mom’s bout with cancer. He used so many to take such excellent care of her—even from the initial appointment that someone had encouraged her to make. By His grace, the creeper was caught in its earliest stages. Doctors were able to act fast and, now, her prognosis is excellent. Mysteriously, everyone’s story is different. From this side of everlasting, God’s ways cannot be explained and cannot be understood so I don’t even try. I spend more of my energy reminding myself it’s more about trusting in His sovereignty and believing in His goodness even though my Mom had a tussle with the dreaded “C” word. I just know that in my Mom’s case, all is well ONLY because that is, for now, His story for her.
"I know not which is most profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world. That discernment is beyond the power of men or angels, and it hidden among the secrets of your Providence, which I adore, but do not seek to fathom." Blaise Pascal

Psalm 100:4-5
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

With or without cancer.

7 comments:

Alyssa said...

I'm so glad her battle is over. I'll never forget your telling me about the group of fasting women. Truly amazing!

Anonymous said...

She is a true fighter, so many people in this small town had no idea she even had chemo treatments. She would not tell and you could never tell if she felt bad. An incredible lady that I'm proud to call MOM.

Sarah said...

Wow! This is an amazing tribute of how God cares for us all, and especially during trials. What an incredible and STRONG mother you have, Krista!

Anonymous said...

I wasn't that good. You make me sound saintly. If anybody deserves that title, it's your dad. He's been the trooper! Anyway, I glad it's over too. Mom

Beth said...

Thanks for sharing your mom's journey with us, Krista--definitely encouraging and inspiring to read how others lifted her up with their presence, prayers and support.

And, as for the "Sunshine"--love that! Evident in your mom's pictures and her story. Like mother, like daughter. :-)

nikki said...

what a great reminder of loving others- and helping carry the weight of a heavy challenge. glad "pollyanna" is finished with her treatments- and looking forward to seeing her on her next visit!

TJ Wilson said...

Love, love this, that you got it down, and that you all get to see her so soon. A happy farewell to the C word!