Last Thursday marked the last and final of my mom’s 25 radiation treatments. In January, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was absolutely shocking to all of us. A woman who has been so healthy, how could this be? I mean, in her fifties she ran both a marathon and a triathalon – she trained herself to be a runner; although swimming was her forte. Once a former lifeguard, and expert in the butterfly, she walked across the entire country of Spain seven years ago. Growing up, we had “healthy food” regularly for dinners – like pastas, soups, and salads. She would make manicotti, pesto over angel hair, gazpacho, cabbage soup, fresh fruit (and lots of it) – just to name a few.
It seemed so unfair to us to get this news. How could this happen, and why to her? A woman who has been an amazing role model to me, who has taught me the value of hard work, determination, and to never give up. A woman, who has extended kindness and compassion beyond imagination, and touched the lives of many. Before she retired, she was a special education teacher. I now understand the amount of patience she would need each to day to not only work with her own family, but of the many others who leaned on her to believe in them.
The truth is that I really don’t know why this cancer happened. All I know, is that unfortunately, we live in a broken fallen world. I wish that there could be no more suffering, no more pain, no more illness, and no more sickness. But I know there will be hardships. The reality is, as a child of God, he has chosen to keep me here and my mom here to complete the work he started. I know that in Christ, there is hope for tomorrow. He never leaves us, he is always with us, and he is for us… and paradise is awaiting for us. “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)
Five life lessons I learned from my mom:
1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
2. Never give up.
3. Always do your best.
4. Be compassionate.
5. Make new friends, and keep the old.
Ironically, while reading my devotion on her birthday, was the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). I couldn’t have picked out a verse any better for a representation of my mom and her compassion and love for others. She has just “been there” on the bedside of friends and family as they were suffering or hurting or even in their last days. As a child, I remember her inviting fellow students over for lunch at our home. On another occasion, she took a particular student – who’s mother had recently passed away – to the jewelry store to pick out an item in remembrance of her. Without hesitation, on numerous day after Thanksgivings, we or (she) spent making cauldrons of potato soup for a local fundraiser. When I love God above all else, I can love people as he commands.