Twenty-one years ago today my mother died of breast cancer (May 20, 1992).
She was diagnosed when she was forty-one years old and fought for five years. She had a partial mastectomy, underwent chemotherapy, and enjoyed remission for a couple of years. The cancer came back in her lymph nodes and lungs. She then underwent extensive chemotherapy (three - one month stays in the hospital). Following this she was given the all clear. All tests showed the cancer was gone... except for the tumors that were growing in her brain. Her doctors failed to check her brain. Six months after being given her clean bill of health, she started becoming disoriented and was losing her equilibrium. A CT scan revealed twenty-five metastasizing tumors in her brain. She went through as much radiation treatment allotted for the brain. It was successful in reducing the tumors down to only two small masses. But, it was just a matter of time after that. Those two masses grew and grew until they finally claimed her life at age forty-six.
I was seventeen at the time. I got to experience one of the most amazing moments in my life to date, the passing of a soul from the body to beyond. I held her hand as it happened. Those of us with her encouraged her to go. She nodded and cried as slowly her energy left her body.
I got to spend some time alone with her after everyone had left the room. I did what I felt I had to do as a young woman. Perhaps it was for closure, perhaps just curiosity, what it turned out to be was one of the most intimate moments I ever had between me, my mother, and God. I lifted her eyelid so I could look into her eye. Nothing was there. Her beautiful blue eye was as a doll's glass eye. Lifeless.
Her soul had left.
Today, twenty-one years after her death, I have been overwhelmed with sadness and tears. Seventy miles separates me and my family from Moore, Oklahoma. All day today we watched as these horrific storm systems have sailed by our home to the East. All day today we have watched in horror as the images on the television have shown us just how small and helpless we are. All day today I have cried out to our Almighty God for comfort for the families, neighbors, and friends who have lost so much.
Yesterday a friend showed up at our home, just back from deployment.
Today we mourned as lifeless babies were brought out from a school. As fellow Okies dug through the remains of their homes. As fellow Christians gathered together in prayer. As fellow mothers and fathers wailed in grief over the loss of their children.
When there's nothing...nothing we can do, we pray.
Today we mourn the devastation. The lives lost. Tomorrow I pray we hear of the miracles. The lives spared.
Many souls passed from their bodies to beyond today. To be joined with God in heaven. They've been taken home.
There may have been some confusion of my perceived callousness regarding the attempt to preserve life by extreme surgical methods.
I am not deceived. This life is a blink.
It is far from the end.
Do not live in fear.
Cherish your days. Cherish your relationships. Learn. Grow. Surrender to God.