“Son, I have Cancer.”
Those words spoken over the phone sent a chill through my spine. Truth be told, I can’t really remember much about that day. I don’t even know what I was doing, other than enjoying another day as a Realtor®, driving in my car.
A simple exam by the doctor had turned ominous, and with the revelation of lung cancer in my mom; a spry 70 something with a vivacious love of life and a family stunned by this deadly surprise.
As it turns out, lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women and men alike. Since my mother did not smoke, it came as a shock, a deadly spectre that loomed large over my relationship with her, as well as myself.
My Mind Is A Scary Place To Be… Alone
It’s been nearly a year now since she has died. I have to admit, I have lost my mind.
It has not always been easy. However, with the help of my wife and family, I have come to the realization that it is truly over. While it had taken over a year, my mom had fought valiantly. In that time however, it has left a void in my life as to what I feel is fair, or “right” or “correct” in this world. Many times, the holy, or the profane, are simply a question of perspective.
“Many times, the holy, or the profane, are simply a question of perspective.”
What Would Mom Do?
Without a doubt, she wouldn’t have lived the life I have. Hopefully she would have taken my death much better than I have hers. In fact, it has taken me months to even write this post without tears streaming down my face.
It is only now that I can expose the utter unfairness of life, and the sadness and remorse I feel at my core without my friend.
Instead of a public “Mea Culpa”of cancer’s victory over my psyche, instead I offer a realistic approach of how to approach life, love, and happiness despite the turmoil and pain caused by death. It is in the thought, “what would Mom do?”
One of the most tragic things of cancer I had discovered, is it’s insidious ability to take away your ability to laugh. Over the course of a year, it became increasingly darker in my life. The closer it appeared as though I would lose my friend, confidant, and counselor; the darker life became.
It is important to recognize in retrospect, the importance of finding humor even when it hurts. As much as it hurt at the time, one of the most vivid memories that I had shortly after my mom died was the notion that how sad I was. I called my brother about an important realization… that if heaven existed, then that must be one heck of a family reunion.
The laughter of the moment of how angry my mom would be with my dad about the smoking that screwed up her perfect health was overshadowed by my tears about missing the reunion!
It hurt at the time, and while I was on the phone, as tears were streaming, we shared a common moment. A realization that in the end, we all are orphans. We must laugh, and laugh often.
I will be honest. I made some pretty stupid financial mistakes in my time. None however have eclipsed the financial decisions I have made during the time that my mom was sick, and subsequently died. Not to say that the decisions thatwere made were her “fault.” By no means.
More clearly, I made financial decisions that in retrospect, were not smart. As in all things in life, I will have to make other decisions to correct the ones that I made incorrectly in the first place.
However, I did learn that I just didn’t care as much as I used to. I don’t know that it is right, nor wrong. Probably it is “wrong” to think that way. I guess a part of me just died that day. I felt as though “what difference does it make if cancer can take you away in a moment?”
It comes down to what is really important in your life. Is it that $30,000 car? Is it that Rolex watch? At the end, none of those items could add one minute to my mom’s life.
All the debt, all the money, all the lack, all the blessings did not add one minute to her life other than that what was promised to her by the God she believed in.
So now, am I a millionaire? No. In fact, I probably would be better off if I didn’t coach, and only “sold real estate”. However, I believe that by being untrue to the calling that I have, I am shorting what could possibly be my “highest and best use.” I still will coach, and will still sell, but I realize now, the proper place of the things in my life.
Well, I will never be accused of never loving enough, (3rd time is the trick!) I can say that the lesson that my mom’s passing has taught me is my need to be more open.
I have the most beautiful family. I know everyone says that, but I really do. The truth is, I fuck it up more than I care to admit.
Well, there it is. I said it. I am the one who screws it up more often than not. Why? Because I fail to love fully. One of the biggest lessons I remember my mom teaching me about being married to my father (whom she married as a teen and stayed married to until he died.)
Part of loving fully is trusting fully. Trusting another is not as simple, or as easy as we would want it to be. Although I am not a big “bible believer” I cannot help but remember the Scripture when it speaks in Matthew Chapter 19:5 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’.
Being “united” with the one you love is trusting that they are able to recognize you at your worst, and be willing to help you through it. It doesn’t mean that the one you are united to must endure endless amounts of hardship on your behalf.
It does mean however, than I must be willing to trust, and love fully the one I am with and be willing to share the good, as well as the bad.
Unfortunately, I handled my mom’s death very poorly. I did not allow those who love me to help. I pushed away those who loved me most, and stubbornly refused to accept any belief that I could not “handle it myself.”
Now, in the remnants of the life I once had, I am left with the “still small voice” in my head saying… “How did that work for you?”
The True Cost of Your Dreams
I wish there was some cosmic reason, or rationale to explain the reasons why my momlost her life to cancer. It just happens. Sometimes I think however; if we could pull some lessons that we could apply, we could make better choices. Maybe then perhaps the next time when I am faced with a question about what I really want in life; rather it be my freedom to be me, or make certain choices, I would ask myself….
What Would Mom Do?