I wasn’t there when she breathed her last breath. I sometimes kick myself for that. Instead of being surrounded by the people she loved and who loved her so dearly, she was enveloped in a cold hospital bed, tangled in tubing and wires, and caught in the frenzy of devoted medical staff trying to bring her back to life. After three failed attempts to shock her back into this world, they called it. And then they called us. Her lungs had failed — respiratory failure was the official cause, but that only tells part of the story.
Diagnosed with Inflammatory breast cancer at the age of 45, chemo was the cataclysmic trigger in my mom’s spiral of decay. Stack the cancer and its treatment on top of two gastric bypasses and a body left weak by malnutrition, and I’m amazed that my mom was able to last as long as she did. She’s a fighter, and I am so proud to call her my mom. Christmas after Christmas, we were told it would be her last only to celebrate six more with her. But her body did grow weary and faint, and the Lord lifted her up on wings of eagles — just not how we hoped. He brought her home where she will never grow weary, where she will walk and not be faint — home to Him. Every month, on October 26, one day after my birthday and one day before my sister’s anniversary, those she left behind celebrate her heavenly birthday. You ask, “How can we celebrate?”
Breast cancer is a terrifying diagnosis, but it is one of many feared diagnoses in this life — some we conquer and some we succumb to. Ultimately, I have learned that the character forged through these trials, the dependence on Christ, the sweetness of His friendship, the closeness of His presence, the reassurance of His Word, and the hope of an eternity with no more tears bears its weight in gold. For in the trials, He shines through. In the storm, He is faithful. When we are weakest, He is strong. And in our story is His glory.
My mom experienced that. She experienced a relationship closer to Christ than most ever will. He was her everything. In her hospital room, if someone walked in, the first question she asked was, “Now honey, do you know Jesus?” Many people were touched by her unfailing devotion to her Lord. He used her right where she was in powerful ways for His kingdom, and her reward is Heaven. What sweeter reassurance can there be? What greater reward?
I may have not been there to hold her hand as she left this world, but I know Jesus was. I know that the angels were escorting her home. I know that she felt a peace about leaving — she told me that she had met Jesus in her room only a few days before she died. She told me that she wasn’t scared anymore. She told me that it was going to be all right. What an incredible gift to know that, ultimately, she was and is in His hands — the most assuredly wonderful and solid place she could ever be. I sometimes wish my mom was here to hold her grandchildren, but I never wish her back. I just choose to share her story and continue reveling in God’s glory.
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31