The tapping of the raindrops on the skylight reminds me of cozy afternoons spent with Mom complete with a steaming cup of tea, piece of lemon bread and candle flickering in the late autumn chill. Memories like this are a gift – etched in my mind for a lifetime. Thinking of times spent lovingly in Mom’s company, I decided to read my journal from the past three years. I was struck by one particular entry from October 2013 – 3 months after Mom was diagnosed. This was a time when she was quite ill from the chemo and brain radiation and experiencing serious side effects.
October 27, 2013 “Today was a gift – truly special and entirely unexpected. After deciding to bypass the mall, Mom and I ventured out to the beach road for a walk in the brilliant fall sun. We finished our walk by going onto the beach – for just a moment, or so we thought. The beauty of the blue ocean, combined with the warm sun and clear sky led us to a perfect spot in the sand to rest. We chatted for a few moments, and then entered into the quiet. Leaning back on our jackets, we lay side by side and just listened. We heard the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, the bells of the church ringing in the distance, and the whistle of the Cape Cod Railway echoing over the water and all was good and right and as it should be for just a moment.
For in that moment, there was no cancer, no side effects, no worry about the future, and no concern about the time we have together. In that moment it was just mother and daughter lying on the beach together, taking in the sun and enjoying one another’s company. Had someone passed by, they would not have known the pain of the last few months – that was the beauty of this moment, it was authentic and real. In the quiet on the beach, we also heard the voice of God whispering in the wind saying “steady…trust…gratitude.” I am trying to do all these things, I thought – and as we departed the beach arm in arm, I looked up to the sun and nodded in deep gratitude to our loving God who blessed me with this incredible woman, my mother.
We continued our quiet afternoon by stopping at Riverview Cafe, our favorite coffee shop on 6A before heading to the Adoration Chapel. Mom doesn’t drink coffee anymore – she has no taste for it due to the chemo – but she loves to see me enjoying a cup. As we entered the Adoration Chapel, I could tell Mom was happy to be there together. It had been some time since we had the chance to pray there and we both felt relieved to come back to the place that has been such a spiritual home for us. We sat next to each other and quietly prayed. When it was time to leave, I looked over at Mom and just smiled.
She continues to teach me – really witness to the power of God’s love. She is entirely free of any anger, regret or fear. She exudes faith, love and confidence in all that she does. It is something that I don’t think is normal, given her circumstances, but that’s just it – she isn’t just normal – she is extraordinary and through this struggle she will draw many souls to Christ. I finally get it – I think – the pain and struggle are gifts that lead us to God. Without them, we are left to our own thinking that what we do,think, and plan are the keys to life rather than surrendering our lives to God’s will. Mom has done that and has shown me the true path to happiness.”
The fire is flickering now as evening has come to Dad’s house on Cape Cod and the rain is still softly thumping on the skylights. I have made us a cup of tea and we lit a candle. I read him this blog post and he loved it, agreeing that it portrayed Mom as the faithful, selfless and extraordinary woman that she was and still is in heaven. We both agreed that everything about that beach day was happy. Yes, Mom had cancer but she and I enjoyed being together despite that reality. Mom continued to fully live each day and trust in God until the moment He called her home.
On that cool fall day in October 2013, we were mother and daughter together on the beach – simple – beautiful – what could be better?