When you respect and love someone a great deal, it’s hard to put into words what you feel. But I think it’s worth a try anyway.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to hear that your baby has a disease, and not only that, a disease for which there is no cure. I’ve heard stories of children with CF whose parents haven’t loved them as much as their siblings, have divorced because they couldn’t cope with having an ill child, or worse still, abandoned them. Those stories make me incredibly sad. And yet, they make me realise just how blessed I am.
From day one, I have been loved fiercely and never left doubting that love. And it’s a love that has been expressed in so many ways.
I’ve been there as hard decisions have been made in Godly ways.
I’ve watched Mum fight for me when doctors got things wrong.
I’ve spent days in hospital rooms with Mum stroking my back, holding my hand, watching Aladdin for the umpteenth time, listening to me ramble on about nothing, crying with me because things just seemed too hard this time and simply being there for me.
I’ve phoned up time and time again as a young bride with yet another housewifely problem.
I’ve had her come round, give up day after day, to cook and clean for us because I had no strength or breath to do it myself.
I’ve seen her love my sisters with the same unwavering love.
I’ve watched and learned what it means to be a Godly wife and mother.
And I’ve heard the words ‘I love you’ again and again.
Darling Mummy, you are Godly, beautiful, kind, serving, brave, admirable and just lovely.
Truly, you surpass them all.
I love you.
Some days it seems as though Life has been stolen from me. Taken away in different ways. I won’t live long. The average life expectancy for a person with cystic fibrosis is 31. My prediction isn’t even that good. And while that is a hard thing, it still feels like a distant thing. My struggle right now is in the fact that I can’t give life. I can’t live life for long and I can’t give life. Yes, yet again, this comes back to motherhood. Or the absence of it.
I had a dream. I had a little girl. But at 8 hours old she passed away. Even in my dreams life is taken from me. I woke up, knelt on the floor and wept. I cried out to the Life Giver. ‘Why? Your Gospel is about Life. How can I be living something so contrary to your Gospel. It seems so empty. So foolish. So void. You give Life. You give abundantly to others. Why not me? I feel like I’m living Death. I wake up breathless, clinging onto life. I fill my body with chemicals in the morning to help it through the day, and in the evening to help it through the night.’
Yet my life is not my body. My true Life is my soul. I will live forever because that was the plan of the One who made me. He didn’t make my body to last. My body will stop working, perhaps before yours, perhaps after. Who knows? Calmness overwhelms me. The tumult of my soul over something as small as my body seems crazy in the grand scheme of things. What’s made to last, will last. My everlasting parts need not worry over the decay of my passing body. God creates, he breathes Life into beings. And the true Life lives on. God’s plan.
My body matters. It’s ok to weep over hard life, over lost life, over life that will never be. Jesus wept. But looking forward helps me. It helps me to see true Life. The Life that never ends. And I have that. It’s a gift from the Life Giver. And no one can take that from me.
Usually, mothers’ (mothers, mother’s?) day comes around and I celebrate one mother. She’s worth celebrating, my Mum. And I have no idea just how much she is worth celebrating. I remember lots about my childhood. I remember simple things. Birthday parties, bedtime stories, Sundays, pretty dresses, school days, picking flowers in the garden. I remember hard things. I remember trips to the hospital, day after day being ill and tired. And in nearly every memory, Mum is there. She’s there planning the parties, reading the stories, cooking the lunches, making the dresses and arranging the flowers. She’s with me at every hospital visit, holding my hand through the blood tests and hugging me when I cry. I simply can’t imagine life without her. She is a child of God and lives it out beautifully and wholeheartedly. I know no woman I respect more, love more, cherish more or would be more proud to call Mum. She is kind, generous, funny, wise, skilled and beautiful.
I love you Mum. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do.
This year, I get to see and celebrate another mother who is close to me as well. Sarah, my big sister is all grown up with a baby of her own. It’s been a privilege watching her become a new person, learn new lessons, take on a new role. I didn’t realise the sacrifices that a Mum makes for her child until I saw it up close in the next generation. And I’m seeing it. I get to watch and marvel at motherhood in the trenches. It’s a hard, dirty thing. And it commands my respect. I’ve seen in a tiny way the sheer beauty of a mother loving her child. And it’s awesome. I’ve seen a bit of the pain of motherhood and shared in some of the delights. It makes my heart glad to watch Sarah loving her son and to watch him loving her back. The moment I walked into the bedroom and saw a 3 hour old Charlie, I knew that I’d never get my sister back in the same way. But I got a new woman, transformed in beautiful and wonderful ways. She is perfectly suited to the role of mother and takes it on to the glory of her King.
I love you Sarah. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do.