When I was 13 my Dad came out to my brother’s black pick-up at Roanoke Memorial hospital and told us what I knew we feared. The only time I had ever seen my Dad cry. He told my brother and I, that my Mom had lung cancer. I didn’t even know what that word meant. I just knew when folks said it, it wasn’t good. My Mom never smoked. Not a day. She was healthy. The only symptom she had was she coughed up some blood.
When the chemo started I sat on the bathroom vinyl flooring with little blue flowers and I stared at the wall. Then I went and got the dust pan and I swept it up and I cried with her. I sat in doctor’s office and watched chemo pump in her veins. I read her books. I did my school work. It was a hard time. Then just as the storm came—- it was over. And I had my Mom back. I remember praying that I would be able to keep her for a while longer. I did.
When I was 20, my Mom’s cancer came back. She was rushed to Roanoke Memorial again, but this time she had a brain tumor. She handled surgery well. She was home that summer. We went to treatments. I tried to work some. I went back to finish my senior year at college.
A while back I was diagnosed with PTSD from all the trauma I saw with my Mom’s sickness. I didn’t know you could have that from something that happens to everyone, but I do. I just saw too much. I was required to do too much at a young age. I don’t regret any of it, but I CAN spiral out of control sometimes with the dreaded ‘c’ word comes into play.
In 2006, a week after my 21st birthday, I was angry. I told God why did you do this? What is your plan? Please—- I beg you never ask me to go through that again. I beg you. Please just don’t.
My mom use to tell me, “Never say never Livvy. Never usually happens.”
Guess what? Never say never. I had decided that I’m just a black cloud and tragedy strikes where I land. Mike’s sister told me to stop saying that. It’s been hard to NOT think that. I spiraled. The word “c” was being used way too much for comfort for me.
Yesterday I was so mad that I got on my treadmill and I started running. I hit the most miles I had ever gone in my basement on a treadmill. 8.89 miles. And then I sat on the cold floor and it was quiet.
I was finally being still after a week of being on the go.
And I asked why God? Why? Why my Mike? WHY HIM? WHY ME? WHY US? And it hit me. Like a ton of bricks in the face.
When my Mom was facing her third battle of cancer her childhood friend came to visit. I love this man and he attends my church. I was in the kitchen studying for an exam and in paraphrasing what I remember, he said “Sue. You are a good person. A good wife. A good mother. You love God. You are a good friend. I keep asking our Heavenly Father why he would make you suffer all you have suffered. Why are you facing this again?”
My Mom looked at Donnie and she said “Why not me Donnie? Who am I to question why I go through any of this. So why not me?”
I remember Donnie crying and I too had tears in my eyes. At 20, I already knew my Mom was a super woman. But in that moment I remember thinking that my Mom was perfection. She meant every. single. word of that statement too. And she continued to say it. To me. To her sisters. To my Dad. To my brother.
So I humbled my thoughts and my prayers to heaven on Thursday afternoon. Oh I had been pleading, but I haven’t been doing a very good job at slowing down and listening. When I’m upset, I get busy. So I cleaned his house. My house. I churned out briefs. I did case research for a case I know never will go to trial. I cleaned out a couple of closets. Anything to keep my mind occupied.
But the thoughts kept creeping in…..
Why Mike? He’s a man of God. He walks humbly. He works hard. He loves his family. He loves me. We are just getting started God. Why?
I don’t know the answer to that yet and we are still discussing it. Probably more like arguing.
……but then I selfishly asked the questioned that has been heavy on my heart since Monday of last week.
Why me? What did I do? Haven’t I suffered and given enough hear ache to you Lord? Why me? What have I ever done? I gave you my Mom back. You know I miss that woman daily and constantly. I dealt with infertility Lord. Almost died at childbirth. Pulled myself out of the dark deep hole and then I had my entire family life flipped upside down. Haven’t I had enough? Why Lord? What have I done? Why this storm? I have already endured this storm. Why must I endure it again?
And just as I was crying and talking. I heard my Mom’s voice telling Donnie in the Spring of 2006……
why not me? Why not you Livvy?
So I see Lord, why not me? I have walked this path before. I will do it again. I see, it’s not about me God, it’s about Mike and what he needs. He needs me? Me? Of all the people you are sending me? Why? What am I going to do? I can’t be strong if I can’t stop crying. But here I am so, I’m there. I am not leaving his side.
With Mike, I have never felt so at home with one person. Who is genuinely excited to hear from me. To see me. And I him. To the man that came in and literally swept me off my feet when it felt my castle was on fire.
He taught my children that his love is bonus love. We get bonus Mike love when he comes over. Oh and does he pour the love. They get love with their Daddy and their grandparents, and I’m so grateful, but Mike’s just the bonus love we didn’t know was possible. That I didn’t think would ever happen for me.
For a man to love children, not his own, but fully and completely like his own. I could see a life here. I could see a happy life again. I was finally seeing the sunshine after all that dark.
Then the storm hit us. It blew in unannounced just as summer storms do. There was no predication for this storm. There was no forecast model to prepare us or him. Or for his family. Oh and has it ever been the storm. But that’s the thing about a good thunderstorm, they just blow out of nowhere don’t they?
I do not run from a good storm. The thing about me is that in the summer, I sit right out in the middle of the storms that blow in. I watch their fury rage and then just like that, the sun is back out again.
So let the wind blow, send the lighting, send the thunder, send the high winds, heck let’s just keep the hurricane at bay, okay? But …… let’s be real, it’s already here…the high winds, the rain that beats on you that hurts…. it’s here and it’s already beating us down…
but I got news for this storm….
Mike and I will sit in the middle of it and we will watch it storm together and if we gotta get new chairs or tie off to the foundation of the house, we will, and we will fight like hell—- and when it’s over and the sun starts to shine again….
we will sit on the porch and look out over Bozoo and I’ll say “well that was a wild ride. Let’s take a break for a bit.”
and he’s gonna laugh and say “ I’m behind on mowing. I gotta tear my roof off that greenhouse and I need to bust that stack a wood in the back yard. But you wanna go ride up through the mountains first? Grab you some drinks and I’ll stop and get some snacks out at the store.”
and I’ll say “ yup— why didn’t you ask me sooner? Let me go get my muddy boots on.”
Mike is strong. I am strong. His family oh are they strong. God’s storms come but this storm— it’s gonna show us both a love like we’ve never known before. How do I know for certain? Cause God is in control of all of this. I will just follow where he has asked me to go and I will trust his plan. So far, he’s not let me down. He’s always sent me rainbows after my biggest storms so far….
My daughter came after my Mom……
My son came after a second battle of infertility….
he isn’t going to stop now.