Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. She passed away at the young age of 67. Liver Cancer was the diagnosis and it claimed her in just a few short months. I say the diagnosis and not her diagnosis for a reason. A diagnosis is defined as “The process of identifying a disease, condition, or injury from its signs and symptoms”. My mom didn’t have any signs or symptoms of the Stage 4 Cholangiocarcinoma (Cancer of the Liver Bile Ducts). There weren’t symptoms to help diagnose. It was a fluke discovery when something was picked up on a blood test. Additional tests were run to figure out what was so confusing on the blood tests. She was given a diagnosis that was unheard of. At least we thought so. Stage 4, radiation and chemo wouldn’t help as it may cause more harm than good, surgery was impossible and the goal would be to make her as comfortable as possible focusing on Palliative Care in her final months. Months. They gave her only months. This diagnosis was confusing and hard to accept for my sister and I. Our mom smiled and held our hands and said she was always ready to meet Jesus.
When you look at someone who possessed as much pep and joy as my mom did, Cancer didn’t fit into that picture of who she was. There was no room. She had someone who needed help, a phone call with words of encouragement that needed to be made, a plant for a friend that needed to be watered. She had bread that needed to be baked as a gift and pretzels and chocolates that needed to be made and packed for the next wedding reception that she would attend. Cancer simply needed to take a number and get in line. Because our mom didn't ask for it, didn’t need it, and had places to go and people to see.
I reminded her that to be absent from the body meant she would be in the presence of her King. She smiled and patted my hand and drifted back to sleep. Our mom loved deeply right up until her final moments here on this earth. She prayed for others, held other people’s hands and made sure that everyone knew they were loved and she was thankful for them. She was ready to be in the presence of her Savior.
Today, I miss my mom, but the joy that sweeps over me when I know she isn’t in any pain, and she is where she was ready to be. I will always miss her. That will never change. But today, I have shed only a few tears remembering her. I walked a back alley in Minneapolis this afternoon on the way to a client’s home and thought how if she were to be walking with me, she would have noted how pretty the grass was growing in each crack. She would have pointed out the overgrown trees and how she loved the wood-paneled Datsun sitting in a driveway. She would have talked about all the things she saw and what she was thinking about. She surely would have spoken about Jesus. Because how could she ever contain and not talk about the Love that she has for the lover of her soul?
Happy Birthday, Mom. You are missed, you are treasured and I take joy today in remembering you.