This post has been stewing in my mind for over a year. Since Mother’s Day is fast approaching, I thought this would be an ideal time to share about my mom and our relationship or lack thereof.
Yep, I am a selfish daughter. I was even more selfish growing up. I am the firstborn of two girls, just me and my sister. Growing up, my mom was a servant. She did everything for us girls, to a fault. My sister and I had unspoken expectations of my mother. We expected mom to make our food, clean our clothes, clean the bathroom, clean the house, and any other detestable housework or duties. I did have responsibility for cleaning my room, though. My sister and I were allowed to watch TV, play Super Mario Brothers on our Nintendo, eat for recreation, read our Babysitters Club, and Sweet Valley High books and watch more TV. What a life.
One day at recess in 4th or 5th grade I remember a girl named Stephanie talking about her mom. She called her mom her “best friend”. What?? Kids never said their best friends were their mothers!?! Almost thirty years later, and I still remember that. At the time I thought no way would I be best friends with my mom.
It was around the time that I heard Stephanie’s comment that we got the fateful news. My mom was 37 or 38 years old and found a lump in one of her breasts. I remember my parents talking about how it probably wasn’t cancer. My mom even worked for the American Cancer Society before getting married, but wasn’t good about doing self-checks. Well, the lump did turn out to be breast cancer, and she had it removed. It seemed that simple and easy. The cancer was gone quickly. She didn’t have any chemotherapy or anything at the time.
We moved on from that small cancer blip, and lived life as normal. The next year I entered middle school and started distancing myself from my parents, wanting to wear certain brands (remember Esprit, Generra, Guess jeans and Keds, anyone?), talking excessively on the phone, and hanging out with friends (I did actually have fairly good friends, though). It was all about me, me, me, and that was even before the teenage years rolled in.
To sum up my teenage years, they were busy with things like music, youth group (I had the kind of friends who invited me to church), working, sports like tennis and running, and squished in there my parents got a divorce. A good thing is that we lived just 4 streets away from my mom. I had to make an effort to see her, since I didn’t get the typical daily interaction you get when you live with your mom. I did see my mom at least weekly, but we just didn’t have that meaningful of interactions. We didn’t sit down and eat meals together. I was always rushing off here or there.
After graduating from high school and community college, I went off to a university about 6 hours away. I was in my early twenties then, and the summer before my last semester I went on a two-week study abroad to Guadalajara. God knew that that was long enough. The day I flew back to the United States from Mexico was also my birthday. Let’s just say it was my worst birthday ever. I wasn’t going home just yet. I was staying my with Aunt in Houston for a few days before heading to Seattle. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate flying, so I was already on edge. My sister called to wish me a happy birthday, and also greeted me with the awful news. Mom’s cancer was back, and back with a vengeance.
My mom had lost a lot of weight, and frankly, looked like a cancer patient. At that time they gave her six months to live. I remember seeing a beautiful outlook in North Everett overlooking Port Gardner Bay near Legion Park. I took her there and we watched the sunset. I remember her crying because she knew that would be her last time looking at it, and I couldn’t even talk I was so filled with emotion.
Knowing that our mother was approaching the finale of her life, my sister decided to transfer to my university instead of going halfway across the country, which was against her first desire. It was good that she stayed instate because my mother’s body weakened rapidly. The cancer had taken control and spread all over her body. I remember calling mom, hearing her voice so weak, and thinking ‘this is the end. We’ve got to go see her’.
My sister and I headed home that weekend to see mom for what would be the last time. She was bedridden at this point. It was so hard to see her in that condition. It was hard to look at her because the cancer had overtaken her, and she just didn’t look the same.
We went back to college that Monday, and the next Friday I got a call at 6:30am. No one calls a college student at 6:30am unless it’s bad news. My grandpa called to say that mom had passed into eternity. She was gone. It was the end. El fin. She didn’t even make it to five months. I remember my roommate Shannon coming and hugging me, as I was in a daze trying to process what just happened.
I then called my sister, breaking the dreadful news to her. Everyone deals with the death in different ways. I cried, but I had to have my life as normal as possible, diving back into school as soon as I could. Crying didn’t last long, though. Others question God.
I am in my mid-thirties now (I can still say that because I am 36, right?), and as I look back especially to my upper-teenage years, I think, ‘what a selfish daughter I was’. I regret that about my teenage years. I had virtually no interest in my family. I would always choose spending time with my friends over spending time with my family, and I have had to ask the Lord to forgive my selfish heart. And my mom seriously was the least selfish person I ever knew. EVER. I still have a lot to learn from her.
So why do I share all of this with you? Because I hope you will make the most of every opportunity, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” Ephesians 5:15-16. If you still have your mother in your life, take time and make time to be with your mom, call her, tell your mom you love her, tell her you are thankful for all of the many sacrifices she has made for you. I can’t tell my mom. It’s too late. She knew I loved her, but I know I could have done more. Oh, we can all say that, right?? But I really could have done more, and I know that. I cared more about my life and my friends than to spend time with her.
I am sad she didn’t get to see me graduate from college or get married, although I am glad she at least met Jonathan (she called him a Ken-doll). When I was pregnant with my first, there were so many questions that I wanted to ask only her and couldn’t (I cried more about my mom’s death when I had my first child six years after her death then when she first died). She didn’t get to see her grandchildren. That’s really sad to me, but it is okay, and I am okay. It’s just if you have those opportunities, TAKE THEM! I can’t!
And there are takeaways for me, too. I still am a daughter, daughter to an earthly and Heavenly Father, and now, I am a mom to two beautiful daughters and a handsome son. I have constant opportunities to practice selflessness with my family :). And God is Sovereign and in control, and I am thankful for the twenty-two years that God did give me with my mom.