July 4, 1992. I remember this date well. It was 10 days prior to the 1 year anniversary of my mom’s death on July 14, 1991. I was on my way to a 4th of July celebration and suddenly broke down in tears. One thought came to mind that completely terrified me... What if someday I forget her?” It really upset me. So much so, that I turned the car around and drove back home.
Fortunately, my oldest brother and sister-in-law were in town that week visiting. I got home and she was there. Marianne understood. Her mom had passed away when she was 15. I told her why I was upset and she wrapped her arms around me and reassured me…You will never forget.
I was 18 when my mom passed away from breast cancer. I’m coming up on the 18th anniversary of her death this July. Half my life now has been lived without my mom here on earth with me. Thankfully, Marianne was right; I haven’t forgotten her. All these years later and I have so many incredible memories. I have come to deeply cherish these. I’m beginning to see that all these memories still have an amazing ability to shape my life today. Sure, I would much prefer the real thing, but I have come to appreciate the fact that my mom’s illness and her death was part of a plan to make me into the person I am today.
I started thinking about my favorite memories. I have picked three of them to share.
First, Scrabble, Scrabble, Scrabble…my mom and I loved playing Scrabble together. Did I mention we sort of liked to play Scrabble? In the summer, we would sometimes play several games a day. So much fun, so much laughing.
My second favorite memory was when my mom would meet me after school on Fridays at Carl’s Jr (a fast food joint in Arizona) and we would both order a coke and share an order of fried zucchini. I was in the marching band and during football season, I always had time to spare in the afternoon before I had to board the school bus and leave for away games. So, to pass the time, we would meet and talk about our day. This is an interesting memory for me. I always felt a little sad when we were done and I would have to go back to school and leave for the football game. I simply loved hanging out with my mom. But I was also at that age in life when one starts venturing out and doing things independently. I always felt slightly torn between two emotions running through me…wanting to stay mom’s little girl and wanting to grow up.
My mom was an amazing woman. (I know I know being her daughter makes me slightly biased.) But she really was incredible. My mom had a faith that was truly contagious. Her faith just seemed to grow stronger and stronger the more advanced her cancer became. She lived her life with complete confidence that because of her relationship with Christ, the pain she was experiencing was truly temporary and that God had something SO MUCH better in store for her.
That brings me to my third favorite memory. Ironically, it was the day she died. I still remember vividly the hours before her death. I sat by her bed side holding her hand. At one point she lost conscientiousness, and I had to call to her several times before she woke up. I will never forget the story her eyes shared with me when she came to; it was a story of joy and hope. I have no doubt that when she saw my eyes looking back at her they were telling a completely different story. Fear, fear and more fear. But her eyes were filled with confidence; complete confidence in a Savior who is forever faithful. If that weren’t enough of a great memory she went on to reassure me with these incredible words “You don’t have to worry about me, I am going to be fine.” She went on to recite Psalm 23.
I absolutely love this memory. It’s just amazing to me that, even in what we sometimes consider a dark hour, the Lord can use that moment of despair to remind us of the hope that is to come. In the midst of watching my mom’s long battle with cancer end, I caught a glimpse (and I’m pretty certain she did too) of “an eternal glory that far outweighs it all”.
It was a privilege to know my mom and to have her in my earthly life for the time that I did. The Lord is continuing to teach me things through my memories even 18 years later! Maybe I’m just a slow learner. :)
I love you Mom. Looking forward to a perfect game of Scrabble with you!