I turned my calendar to July this morning, and it hit me - one year ago this month my mother went into the hospital and was told she had cancer. The initial prognosis was not good. One doctor actually had the nerve to tell her she should start "getting her affairs in order". Now here we are, one year later - she is alive and feeling well most of the time, but there is still so much uncertainty surrounding her condition. It has definitely been an up and down year. After recovering from the initial shock, my mother went to an oncologist in Atlanta who felt he could help her and offer her some hope. She began receiving chemotherapy treatments and had overwhelmingly positive results for a time. Her tumor marker number dropped drastically, the spots on her liver decreased, and the tumor in her abdomen shrunk to the point that the doctor couldn't even feel it when he examined her. Unfortunately, the positive effects of the current chemo have subsided, and the abdominal tumor has started to increase in size again. The doctor now has to find a new chemo "mixture" because the tumor has become resistant to what was being used. At this point, she doesn't know when her next treatment will be - apparently it takes time to study the initial tumor and determine what course to take next.
My mother is a very strong person with a positive attitude and a profound faith in God. She has always been more concerned about others and their problems than about herself. She takes care of those around her sometimes to the point of neglecting her own health. She has been there for me throughout my entire life, seeing me through my troubles no matter how large or small. From something as minor as a broken heart over a high school boyfriend to the trauma of Eddie's alcoholism and death, my mother has stood by me. I would not have survived Eddie's suicide without her love and support. She put her entire life on hold after his death to help Trey and me.
I have always prided myself on being strong and able to cope with whatever happens in my life. I know this strength initially came from my mother. I need to be strong for her now, but lately I have felt my strength wavering (those who know me know that isn't an easy thing for me to admit). As I've written before, I've always had the need/desire to be in control of everything in my life. Facing a situation that I have no control over, just as I did with Eddie's alcoholism and suicide, is something I don't know how to handle. I'm trying to be patient, take things one day at the time, pray, and turn everything over to God. I talk to God a great deal (not just through prayer), and right or wrong, I tell him exactly what I think. Lately I've found myself telling Him that I think my family has been through enough and it's time for us to relax, be happy and enjoy life. I know that isn't really my decision to make, but it's how I feel.
As has happened a lot recently, I came across something to read that spoke directly to these feelings. It was a page torn from a devotional book and given to me by my grandmother just after Eddie died. I've kept it in my bible since then. In part it says "...when tragedy strikes or loss occurs, we don't understand why God does not prevent such things from happening to us and hurting us so badly ... often we become angry and ask if God is good and all-powerful, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people? ... excessive reasoning, trying to figure out things for which we will not be able to find an answer, torments and brings much confusion." The corresponding bible verses were Proverbs 3:5-6 ... "Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." I know this is telling me that I have to let God be in control of the events and direction of my life as well as the lives of those I love - I just have to work on accepting that.
Fortress of Faith by Helen Steiner Rice
It's easy to say "In God we trust" when life is radiant and fair,
But the test of faith is only found when there are burdens to bear.
For our claim to faith in the sunshine is really no faith at all,
For when roads are smooth and days are bright our need for God is so small.
And no one discovers the fullness or the greatness of God's love
Unless they have walked in the darkness with only a light from above.
For the faith to endure whatever comes is born of sorrow and trials
And strengthened only by discipline and nurtured by self-denials.
So be not disheartened by troubles for trials are the building blocks
On which to erect a fortress of faith, secure on God's ageless rocks.