I have almost drowned twice.
My first experience was when I was around 8 years old. I was a strong swimmer, but my friend wasn’t and her pulling me under by my pony tail in the deep end so she could try and tread water overtook me easily by her brunt force in her panic. I remember my heart racing, taking in water, and wrestling to find my way to the top of the water with a kind of desperation I had never known. Luckily, my friend’s Dad was reading his newspaper by the opposite side of the pool with a cigarette in his mouth and jumped in fully clothed to rescue me.
My second experience was when my Mom took her final breath 10 years ago today. It felt much, much worse than the first experience but so much the same. When she drew her last breath, I in many ways did the same for a long while. You can expect it, anticipate it, even wish for it just to be over. But when it is, the finality of it all drags you under a wave of grief so strong there is no easy way to find your footing again. It pulls you under and desperation for it all to go away and not hurt takes over.
How she’d never meet my husband. It pulls you under.
Never hold her grandchildren. It might as well be a tsunami.
I distinctly remember one night sitting in the hospital with her, writing in my Bible and yelling at God for giving me so many things I would have to face. The day I never wanted to face was this very day….10 long years later.
Will I remember her voice?
Will my life even be recognizable to her?
Can I move on without any guilt of leaving her behind in so many ways?
Could I create a life for myself she would never get to know?
I drowned in those fears at 19 years old, calloused by everything cancer had already subjected me to since the age of 12. I had been treading water for so long through the process.
Combing out her hair after chemo and reminding her I still thought she was beautiful. Treading water.
Changing a bandage and seeing the wounds of surgery. Treading.
Seeing her cry in defeat when she thought I wasn’t looking. Drowning.
Living days while she was sleeping them away. Treading.
Watching her slip away. Drowning.
And being so strong for her that when the moment came and she was gone, I was overcome by the water of the storm that had been so volatile and violent.
He lifts me up out of the grief, even today. He shows me His providence, His love, His compassion, and mostly His patience.
Cancer is ugly. His love is beautiful in spite of it.
If there is anything I have learned over these 10 years without my Mom here, it is that God remains. There is still life he breathes into my lungs every morning telling me there is still a life to live. She isn’t here, but I am here now.
And I am okay.
To know her thru the eyes of others, go here…