No one wants to hear these words during the time of year when hearts are light and the world is bright with lights of green and red.
You have cancer.
We knew there was a possibility but we had prayed and hoped for another diagnosis.
It is a rare form.
I looked to mother to see her reaction. Her eyes were glued to the doctor’s. She stared without flinching. No emotion of fear or tears.
The entire stomach has been engulfed with the tumor.
I looked to my husband as he, too, intently looked at the doctor. Were we hearing these words or still sleeping and caught in a nightmare?
I have only seen this type of cancer 3 times in my career.
I kept my eyes on mother wondering how it felt to hear those words. It was difficult to hear them myself.
There is no cure.
God, No, not this. Not now. Not ever. Please, God.
We have two options. Remove your stomach or chemo.
I wanted to run from the room but my body would not move. I felt nauceous. I wanted to scream. I could not swallow. It was hard to breathe.
But I don’t think you can survive either one.
There it was. The death sentence. My precious mother-in-law had been given the worst news anyone could ever hear.
I am sorry to have to tell you this.
Mother finally speaks. "I’m sorry you have to tell me this."
Always mother -- feeling sorry for the doctor who had to bring bad news. A long silence. Then a sob from the depths of a soul filled the room. It was me. I stood and crossed the room to mother and hugged her as tears wet her blouse. My husband – her son – caressed my back as I knelt to hug the only mother I ever knew.
Do you have any questions?
As I sat back in my chair, the only one I could think of was “Why God?” No one asked that question. Other questions filled the air. Then someone asked – I know not who – the one question you don’t want to hear the answer to.
Six months to a year. Maybe.
I was too shocked to say anything. I stared once again at this wonderful woman who I had been blessed with more than 37 years ago. She filled a void left when my mother abandoned our family when I was six. She had three boys and I filled a void for her and became the daughter she never had. My head said, “Don’t abandon me, please.” I may be in my fifties but those feelings of abandonment came back hard and the devil was beaming with delight.
Do you have anything you need to say?
Mother adjusts the sleeve to her coat she has thrown around her shoulders. She suddenly became very cold. A clearing of her throat. She sits up taller than before and says, “Well, it is what it is. We will just deal with it. I can’t change a thing.”
Go and live your life to the fullest. You are an intelligent woman. You have your faculties. You are in no pain now. Enjoy your time and we will get back together after the holidays to see how you are doing. We will deal with complications as they come up.
Thank you, doctor. Hand shakes. Hugs. Check-out. Make appointment. Walk to the elevator. Feel the warmth of the sun as the exit doors open. Focus on walking to the car. “How do we tell the children? They love their grandma so much. This will devastate them.” My heart was hurting. Nothing else mattered. The world was moving, people were shopping, and I wondered how they could continue on when our world had just crashed in on us.
Help mother into the car. Kiss my husband goodbye as he goes back to work. I don’t know what to do. My hands are on the steering wheel but I am not sure where to go.
Then she says it, “I’ll be okay. I asked God this morning to let me accept whatever he wanted me to go through. I don’t fear what lies ahead. We will get through this.”
Fear – that is what I had felt from the moment the doctor began to speak. And here was mother giving me comfort as she faced the worst news a person can hear. That’s why I love her so much and why I wanted my friends to know her.
In the days and months to come, we will help mother go through her walk towards heaven. This may be the last Christmas with her. I thank God for the gift He gave us to know that she may not be here next Christmas. That may not appear to be a gift to some but it is to us. We have time to make amends. We have time to enjoy every day with her. We have time to love on her and give her all she needs to be comfortable through this journey. We have time and we will fear not because she is going to a better place than this world could ever hold.
Hug your family members. Repair a broken relationship. Let others know that the one who gave my mother in law courage to face her illness can help others face theirs. Know that the world may be in turmoil but fear not -- Baby Jesus came to earth and secured our liberties for us. Men and kings may try to take away our freedoms but he set us free and they have no power over us. He brought a light to a darkened world and His light still shines today. Fear not.
Please pray for Frances, my sweet mother in law, who heard this news yesterday. If you met her face to face, you would adopt as your Grandma. She just has that way about her and is loved by all who come into her presence.
Merry Christmas, dear friends. Enjoy this little Christmas song. Mother loves the Gaither Band so this one’s for her!