Today marks the two year anniversary of my mother’s transition, when she finally gave in to the disease. She lived with cancer for 39 years. As many of you who have experienced the depths of grief, not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and contemplate our life’s journey with her.
I see a lot of derogatory remarks about cancer and its injustice all around me every day in our society. In social media I see it. On bumper stickers. At cancer awareness rallies, walks, talks, etc. Even through all the chaos that my family and I have gone through — and went through for so many years — I don’t agree. There’s another side to cancer that I think we should reflect on. When she passed and after it was all said and done, I was able to see the whole picture. I saw that we were able to find strength and love in the face of this adversity.
All the years, since I was a child at the first diagnosis of her disease, I had watched and learned from her to call on my faith to persevere through the difficult times, and to trust. She taught me resilience as she pressed on, battle after battle. Through cancer, she couldn’t have provided me a better example of how to grow my spirit strong.
When she let go my family became closer because of cancer. My brother, sister, and I began to connect on a deeper level than we ever have before. My dad opened up to us a side he had never let us see.
People came from our past and present lives to shower their love on us and on my mother. Prayer chains had been going on via social media, emails, and texts — all for my mother and my family. My mother’s adversity caused this outpouring of love.
My mother’s beautiful friends — dozens of them — flooded us with compassion, they brought us meals made from their loving, nurturing hearts. They all visited her, sang to her, prayed over her, talked about what a wonderful woman she had always been to them. Tons of sympathy cards with beautifully handwritten, heartfelt messages arrived every day.
My heart swelled.
My own friends and colleagues — some who knew my mother well and some who did not — were right there beside me, showing their love and support for me and my family, arms wide open, embracing us. Friends from my past who I hadn’t talked to in years showed up, right there, ready to give to me anything I needed.
My mother’s cancer brought us all together. It showed us the connection we all have with each other. All of our relationships — inside and outside of our family — came full circle. We were all present, physically and emotionally to help each other, to show our love for each other and the connectedness we all share. Living through this disease we solidified our faith, realized our strength, and overcame. Cancer did that.