This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 at 9:57 am and is filed under Thoughts, parenting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
This is a re-post from last year on this day. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE you mom!!! Happy Birthday!!!!!!
It is early morning, the house is quiet, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee and my thoughts, looking out the window at the snow falling and swirling every time a gust of wind veers it off its vertical course. The snow is deep, probably around two feet, and it hasn’t stopped descending. While I was loving it days ago, I feel it’s about time it stopped.
Today is my mom’s birthday. I did not need to read through my journals -although I did read a whole lot yesterday- to recapture the emotions I have been going through the last four years. Since childhood the dynamic energy of our family has been held together by this peaceful, calm and loving woman. She has sacrificed her youth to us, mothering, cooking, making peace, taking us places, admonishing tenderly when we needed it, teaching us songs, reciting poetry, raising five kids with strong personalities, to be kind, to be loving, to be polite, to love God, to think for ourselves and not give in to the peer pressure around us. Reminding us that mother, father, sister, and brother are one’s true best friends. She has been silly when we were silly, cheerful when we were cheerful, encouraging when we were sad, no matter how inconsequential (from an adult perspective) our hurts.
As we reached adulthood and started families of our own, she gathered us back home on Sundays, cooking up a storm, waiting on us, holding and playing with the grandchildren so we could eat while the food was hot. She babysat on weekends so that the five of us kids with our spouses could go out to dinner together. She babysat during the week when we were in school or at our jobs, caring for and loving her grandchildren with the same patience and dedication she had shown us.
And then cancer struck. Out of nowhere, no indication. It took my breath away, and I, who had believed myself strong and optimistic and unafraid, couldn’t stop crying and began to fear every phone call and every shadow. I became moody and short-tempered and found fault with the littlest, most unimportant thing. I am sure I was a nightmare to my husband and my son. And for the first time in my life, I blamed God. How could He do this to her? To her?? I could name two dozen people who deserved it. But her? What had she done?
Sensing the pain and disillusionment of her children, she stood strong and unwavering in her faith in God. She’d never complain, not even when the chemotherapy and radiation left her weak and pale and trembling. Not even when she lost her hair and her eyebrows and her eyelashes. When every breath she took must have hurt her to the core and every step was an exertion. While her heart must have cried out to God and possibly to my father, she was her faithful, encouraging self to the rest. She knew how frangible we were.
I cringe when I reflect upon my immaturity. She, who had encouraged me for years and years, could barely get any words of encouragement from me. I was too afraid to linger on her illness. I was too afraid I’d come undone. I couldn’t find the right words. I didn’t know if the right words existed. Everything I came up with sounded empty and pathetic, a screen to keep the real feelings in. I didn’t even know what my real feelings were, other than a jumbled up and chaotic mess. Besides, I was busy being selfish and busy blaming God. I wallowed in self pity day after day, wondering what would become of me, were she to die. Wondering what would become of the relationship between my sisters and brothers and father. She was the glue between the parts, the filling between the cake.
The winds of despair blew me in many directions. I reflected about the church I had been brought up in and how it had become a millstone around my neck with its formulas and laws so intent on punishment. I fell victim to my newfound occupation of holding everyone but myself responsible. That inner voice that I had always attributed to God, had become less and less dependable. All the things it was telling me seemed to be meant for someone else. Angrily, I just stopped listening. And then one day my mom said something I had often heard (yes, even in my head): God rains His blessings on the just and the unjust, and we have to be strong in our faith and take the good as well as the bad. It isn’t for us to question, and not because we don’t have the right, but rather because it keeps us from seeing the grace of God and the miracles He works in our lives.
I wish I could say I went home and got on my knees and prayed for repentance. I wish I could say that hope and courage and contentment and selflessness became such a part of my life that I never questioned God anymore. But I didn’t fall on my knees. And, I didn’t become a better person. Instead I became angrier at God, and (I’m ashamed to admit this) even at her, for saying such simplistic things. It was all well and good for someone to dole out the advice, especially if there had been no major suffering in that person’s life, but how could she just sit back and believe it? And not just believe it, but repeat it?
Yet, my mother is a wise woman. She knew what she was doing, she felt my uncertainties and my need to be uplifted. She knew those words would slowly work their way under my thick skull and turn me in the right direction. She has unwavering faith in God to hold her up and knew that I was lacking. Slowly faith has worked its way back in.
But it isn’t easy. Even now, day by day, I have to remind myself. To pray. To hope. To lift up my head and stop focusing on the mud and dirt around me. To stop looking for faults in others while just noticing the good in me. Sometimes all I can offer to God is a please or a thank you, because words fail. My mom’s health has improved. The peace within me has increased. The love between us all has deepened.
I love you mom. More than I can possibly express in words or deeds. For all that you were and you are and you will be. I love you and thank God for each day we are together. Happy Birthday!