At our annual BASIS Breakfast for grieving parents and children, our granddaughter, Robin, reflected on her grief journey. Robin was ten when her mother died nearly ten years ago.
Life’s not fair. I’ve learned it over and over again, but not in the way many children do. No, I don’t complain because my brother got a bigger piece of cake than me or because I didn’t get the same present my friends got. Life’s not fair because my mom got cancer, even though she was a good person and we loved her. Life’s not fair because the treatment just made her sicker. Life’s not fair because my mom died when I was ten years old and she was the most wonderful person who was ever in my life. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that things happen that don’t make sense and you might not ever be able to explain them. When my mom got sick, I was more upset that someone I loved was suffering for no reason than anything else. I was told to keep praying and to be hopeful; but in the end, the worst still happened.
There are times it makes me angry that we didn’t get a miracle. I do still believe in miracles, though, and I’ve learned that they tend not to be exactly what you’re praying for. When my mom got sick, she was in a coma for a week and almost died before I could say goodbye. I remember being absolutely terrified that I wouldn’t get to see her again. But we were given a gift that I am thankful for to this day. My mom woke up from her coma and came home for a couple weeks between treatments. In those two weeks, it’s almost like everything was right again. Mom got to see old friends who lived far away, we got to spend time together since I was out of school and she wasn’t working and I was able to express how thankful I was for her after the shock of almost losing her opened my eyes to all she did for me.
Unfortunately, in the end, we did not get the miracle we were praying for. My mom died on August 1st, about a month before I started my first year of Middle School. Middle School is a hard time for everyone, but is especially hard when you’re missing someone you love. I felt lost. As much as I tried not to be angry at God for taking my mom, I was. Through it all, I learned that it was ok to be angry with God - He could take it. I learned that the source of my anger really came from not understanding why my mom had to die. I was always told God has a plan, but for 10 year old me, this couldn’t possibly be right. The anger came and went, but the grief stayed for a long time.
The most important thing in all of this was the support of my family. I remember waking up that day in August excited to go to camp when my dad brought me into my room and told me “Mom is with Jesus now.” All I wanted in that moment was the comfort of my mother’s hug, but it was the one thing I couldn’t have. That day, and every day since, I’ve learned that I can rely on my family for support. My dad has been with me every step of the way and I’ve learned to really appreciate him for everything he does.
When I walked into the living room after my dad broke the news to me, I was surrounded by people who were there for me. My relatives were all sitting around the
living room, and I walked from one to the next just letting them hold me. That moment gave me peace when I could’ve broken down. I still went to camp that day and was greeted by some amazing friends who were the best support structure I could ask for during such a terrible week. Many times I’ve been tempted to keep everything to myself and just deal with it, but it’s important to let your friends and family help you. No one has to be alone when they’re dealing with grief. There will always be someone to lend an ear or hold you when you just need a break. Today the sense of loss can still bring pain for me. Though it’s not as sharp as it once was, it still hurts to think that my mom wasn’t there to see me graduate, and she won’t be there for my wedding or be a grandmother to my children someday. But knowing that she’s still watching me and is proud of me is enough. I still do things to make my mom proud, even though she’s not around. I try to live as fully as she did in her few short years here and love as unconditionally as she loved me and my brother.
As I see it, to not let her death improve my life in some way would be a waste of her life. Now I get to look back on all the lives she so obviously touched, and be happy that we were all lucky enough to know her. I can smile knowing that losing her made my family and all of my relationships stronger. I know exactly how important it is to savor every moment with someone I love. And finally, I can see that maybe part of God’s plan in all of this was that, after knowing what it’s like to lose a loved one, my family and I can be there for others who are going through similar situations in a way that others couldn’t. If I can make one more person’s life better by using what I’ve been through, then I know my mom would be proud.