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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Checkout (06/09/11)

TITLE: What To Do With Life's Lemons
By
06/13/11


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Stage III colon cancer.

The words suddenly hit Sarah on the stomach as though she had caught the forceful swinging of a boom on a sailboat. It took her a while to process the doctor’s words. She was already suspicious as soon as she heard that an oncologist was being sent to review her mother’s MRI, but this clinched it.

“The biopsy of the tumor in her colon confirms that the sarcoma is cancerous, malignant and it has already metastasized to the surrounding organs,” gravely and with his hands in his lab coat, the oncologist continued, “chemotherapy and radiation treatments are still an option. But I’m not going to lie to you; it is only a matter of a few months.”

“Thank you, doctor,” she managed to weakly utter. Sarah then slipped back into her mother’s hospital room.

“Hey, mom.”

Sarah’s mother looked up from the book she was reading and her face lit up like a child’s on Christmas morning.

“Hi, sweetie!” she jovially said, as she put the book down on her lap. She waved her daughter over as she opened her arms wide to receive her with an embrace, “I didn’t know you were already here!”

Sarah fell into her mother’s arms and broke down weeping.

“Honey, what’s the matter?” her mother asked, as she pulled her away and looked questioningly into Sarah’s face.

“Mom, how can you ask me that? Didn’t the doctor tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“You have cancer, Mom!” Sarah cried out, her voice mixed with anger, frustration and despair.

Bringing her daughter’s head to her shoulders, she reassuringly said, “Oh, I know, honey, I know.” Letting out a sigh, she motioned for Sarah to sit on the chair next to her bed.

Taking her daughter’s hands in hers, she said, “As much as I’m tempted to be angry and question God why this is happening to me, I am very much at peace.”

“Peace?” this time, Sarah was really angry. She stood up and paced the room, “Mom, don’t you understand? You’re dying! How can you be at peace? How can you not be angry at God? He could have stopped this!”

“Sarah Elizabeth Jamison!” her mother’s voice was stern and firm, “Sit yourself down and don’t let me hear you speak about God that way again. I raised you to be more respectful of God than that.”

Sarah knew better than to argue with her mother, especially when God was involved. She sat back down and began to weep uncontrollably with her face on her mother’s lap. Comfortingly patting her daughter’s head, she said in a softer voice, “Who am I to question God, Sarah? Who am I to question what He allows to happen? Am I any better than Job, who suffered more than the physical pain that he did?”

“Sarah,” she lifted up her daughter’s chin to look her in the face. Sarah was surprised to see tears down her mother’s face as she continued, “At least I still have you, even for a little while. I don’t want to be held back by this disease; I want to live the rest of the time God has given me to the fullest. I want to make sure that my life continues to be a blessing to you and to others. I want to run this race well and finish it strong, Sarah. Will you help me?”

“Of course I will, mom,” Sarah said through her sobs, “I love you, mom. It’s just that I’m going to miss you so much!” Sarah’s heart ached with every word.

“Even now you still cannot understand how much I love you,” she countered holding her daughter in the tightest embrace, “but the good news is, we will see each other again.”

* * *

There were hundreds of people at the memorial service. Many of them, Sarah didn’t even know. Despite the pain and weakness from the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, her mother continued to live her life serving others; all three months of it. Sarah took her to homeless shelters, food pantries, visited sick church members and prayed for people in hospitals.

A lady testified, “She was definitely a ‘good and faithful servant.’” There were resounding ‘amens’ from the crowd while others nodded and smiled through their tears.

Sarah looked in the casket at the empty, barely recognizable shell from which her mother had checked out.

“I love you, mom,” Sarah whispered, “I miss you terribly, but I’ll see you soon.”


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This article has been read 224 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bonnie Bowden06/16/11
I cried a couple of tears after reading the story. I don't know of anyone who has never been affected by this disease.

The mother made the right decision, but it is still very difficult for those who have to watch it happen.
Jennifer Suchey06/16/11
Very moving. Very touching how the mother taught the daughter how, with God, one can have peace, even in the midst of impending death ... and one can continue to serve others with the joy of the Lord, making every moment count.
Noel Mitaxa 06/16/11
Congratulations on such a thoughtfully-compiled entry; both for the depth of its message and for the quality of your character profiles. They are so completely believable. This should rate highly.
Charla Diehl 06/17/11
Your title drew me in and I wasn't disappointed. I was so inspired by the mother's attitude, strength and faith. Good job--keep writing.
Jan Ackerson 06/19/11
You wrote about a very inspiring woman--nice job.

I wonder if you could tighten up the middle section--the conversation between her and her daughter--and work more on characterization of the mother by showing us (rather than telling us) some of the ways she filled her last days.

Any of us who've been blessed to know a person like this knows what a blessing they are--thanks for the reminder.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/21/11
This is a beautiful love story between a mother and daughter. You grabbed me in the first sentence and held me to the very end.

It looks like you are working on avoiding tags (like he said) and doing more showing then telling. If you keep writing and possibly not interrupt the dialog with your showing but do the showing in the beginning or end of the dialog it might flow better.

You have a lot of talent and you are doing a great job with areas many writers struggle. Great story and a beautiful tribute to mothers like your MC.