I would never have thought when my mom was my age that she would only have ten more years of life. Knowing this, there are so many things I would have done differently.
In my youth, I didn’t understand the brevity of life. I was busy making a career for myself, feeling like the top dog, thinking I was all that and a bag of chips. I was proud and selfish. The worst part was that I didn’t even know it. I was blind. At the time, I didn’t have a single mentor in my life. I am pretty sure the only questions I asked of anyone were: “Can you help me get a good deal on this?” “Can you help me get this for free?” “Do you need my help?” I thought I knew everything.
A few short years later, I had my first baby girl. I think my mom desperately wanted me to ask her questions and look to her for what she could teach me and counsel she could pour into me. For the most part, I did not do it. Whenever my mom tried to give me unsolicited counsel, I would not listen. I desperately wanted her to look at me and say, “Good job.” It didn’t take her long to figure that out. She began to bite her tongue and choose silence. I missed out.
There were a few things I really respected about her. One was her frugal attitude. My mom never made much money, but she was a saver. She was able to save quite a bit of money in a short period of time. She paid off her home and her cars. I had mad respect for her ability to save!
I was a young mom when she was diagnosed with cancer. Spencer had just turned four, Chandler was about to turn two, and I had just found out I was pregnant with Kennedi. Those are such exhausting times when your children are little. I desired to lean on my mom for help and babysitting because, by golly, I only trusted my mom. A grandma looks after your children like you would—with ownership—because they are her own flesh and blood.
But it was quite the opposite. I was in the hospital with my mom. My husband took turns being with the kids and being with my mom. I grew extremely pregnant. It was miserable to be in the hospital, so he spent a lot of time with my mom.
We made sure to continue our weekly family meals. Unfortunately our time was spent differently once we heard the word ‘cancer.’ It felt hopeless, terminal, like a death sentence. Our imaginations began to run wild with what-ifs. What would Christmas be like without Mom? How long did she have? Would she just fall over and die? Every time she went to the hospital, we wondered, “Is this it?”
I was thirty-four when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I was thirty-seven when she died. I grasped at every straw I could, every opportunity to be with her, to talk to her, and to love on her. I really respected my mom. She was fun and a bright light. I am so thankful she was a young mom, though she didn’t want to be. She could have ended her pregnancy. She could have chosen another outlet for me. But she chose life. She chose to raise me.
If she hadn’t been so young when I was born, then I would have only been twenty-seven when she died. Knowing what an arrogant fool I was in my twenties, I’m so thankful I grew up a bit first and had an opportunity to truly love her. I am thankful for the years I had because I have friends who lost their moms when they were in elementary school and junior high. Their memories are more vague than mine. I can’t imagine how they feel.
Life is brief. We don’t think so when we are young and invincible. But Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting” (NIV), because when we see someone pass from this earth to the next, the people left behind are reminded of the brevity of life.
Don’t waste your days in your arrogance and pride, being right, defending yourself, being easily offended, putting down others, and judging them. Realize that people who are hurting will hurt others. Just because someone lashes out at you doesn’t mean you have to respond in the same way. It is possible to forgive and forget and to love that person until his or her wounds are healed. I said possible, not easy.