My wife is a remarkable mother. Her children will one day look back at the blessing she is for them the way I cherish my own mother. So I hurt for my wife as she’s had to endure her first Mother’s Day with the realization that it may be her last with one of her children.
We all live with the knowledge that at any moment we could stop breathing. Maybe a stroke, a heart attack, a car accident. There are a thousand ways to die. And that day will come for all of us. We don’t know when, we don’t know how, but we know it is certain.
But death is seldom “real.” Death is always a distinct possibility, but we don’t dwell on it. If we did, we’d become despondent.
So that’s what makes it so difficult to be a parent of a child with cancer. Every day death is knocking at the door. And not a quick, painless death, but a slow, agonizing one. What frightens parents of cancer kids even more than their child dying is their child dying over time. I once heard that Billy Graham said, “I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid of dying.” For parents of cancer kids, they are afraid of both.
At the same time that my wife experienced the fear yesterday on her first Mother’s Day as a parent of a child with cancer, we have met so many moms (and dads, of course) who experienced the grief of their first Mother’s Day without their cancer kid. Or their third, or fourth, or twelfth.
They would give anything to have a child fighting cancer again.
One in five children who get cancer will die. That equates to thousands of mothers who, a year from now, will wake up to a Mother’s Day with empty arms.
As you pray for moms, like my wife, who wonder if this Mother’s Day will be their last with their cancer kid, pray for those moms for whom that’s already a reality. And pray earnestly for those men and women whose vocation it is to find cures for childhood cancers. I never knew how important those unseen faces would be to the mother of my children.
On a side note, for those of you who live in Central North Carolina, tonight Harrison will be featured with Coach Elliot Avent of NC State University on the WRAL news at 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM. Mandy Mitchell (@MandyWRAL) did the story. I don’t yet know if the piece will be available online, but if it is, I’ll update with the link.