Thursday, May 6, 2010

A mother

She is kind of like a living legend, this mom who found out last June she had cancer nearly all throughout her body. I hadn't met her, but heard of her through prayer requests and updates, scheduling meals for her family, and wondering. Until this week when she sat in the sanctuary to watch the school performance.

One of the women I volunteered with at the co-op struck up a conversation with her ... one I had wanted to have but didn't know how to start. I'm glad she was bold and asked how this mom was doing, and I stood and listened as she described how the tumors in her belly had been shrunk away from radiation. I listened as she explained the ones in her lungs were also shrinking. And one tumor going from ten to six centimeters. She explained the number of treatments she's had and how tired she gets and how thankful she is for meals sent to her so she can feed her family (Six kids? Or is it eight?). She talked about other side effects and I admired her measured words and peace.

I offered to help her out to her car as a family had dropped off a meal for them. She accepted my help, but first wanted to swing by a classroom to tell her son (who was shadowing a class) where his lunch was. I stood in the doorway as she spoke. Her son, then, got up from his chair to thank her and give her a hug. There was a beautiful unhurriedness in their embrace and I felt so blessed to witness this.

We walked out to her car and she thanked me for the help ... thanked me for asking about her ... and I wanted to thank her for being so strong, so faithful, so loving. I wanted to thank her for her great witness and peace. I held out my hand to her and told her my name. Her handshake was firm and intentional. And me, changed.
The rest of that day I couldn't shake the image of mother and son--frequently fighting off tears. I felt an odd empowerment over all the worthless, stupid junk that nips and bites at me and normally taunts my thoughts. I wanted to bite it back--all of it--shake it off, stomp on it ... because none of that stuff really matters.

But more than that, I wanted to hug my kids.

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