Do What You Can


She was my safe place.  I entered the candlelit room, sat down on the cozy couch, and removed my protective armor.  “What would it take for you to be okay with Grant…to accept him just as he is?”  The wise counselor I had been meeting with for years posed this meaningful question.  In the silence that followed, I contemplated if I had the courage to be brutally honest.  My aching response was one based solely on ignorance and fear.  “Nothing. I will never be okay with my son being anything less than perfect.”  Does there exist a transgression more unforgivable than a mother that rejects her child? Peaceful acceptance was out of the question. However, in the midst of my swirling unrest I would stumble upon an unexpected deeper truth.


I found the lump.  While reading in bed one evening, I mentioned to my husband that there was a mound about the size of a marble that seemed to move around under the fleshy tissue of my right breast. A few weeks later, a technician completing the ultrasound called me back to his office.  The instant he closed the door behind us…I knew. The results of a biopsy confirmed that I had breast cancer. Further testing revealed I had inherited a genetic mutation, the BRACA II gene, from my Dad.  I envisioned my cancer as a ferocious lion breathing down the back of my neck, restlessly pacing, and waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. Absolutely nothing provided comfort. Ultimately, I would lose my womanly figure, my hair, my health, my ability to be a wife and mother, and finally any hope of survival.


They were my salvation.  The images of leaving my boys motherless tormented me day and night.  Instead of dropping Jake off for his first day of kindergarten, I sat in a treatment room watching the chemotherapy drugs enter my body. Grant was 3 years old, and had yet to take his first step.  I could no longer lift him due to my multiple surgeries.  Family members and friends stepped in to keep my children’s lives as normal as possible. My older sister even offered to host Thanksgiving at her house allowing me to stay home and rest.  As I sat on the front porch waving goodbye to the boys, it felt as if the last bit of my life force was drained from my broken body.  Although, Jake and Grant would return in a few hours, something shifted deep within. 


I finally knew the answer.  What would it take for me to embrace Grant?  You see, the only fear greater than not knowing what the future held for my son, was the thought that I would not be there to love him.  It would take years for me to alter my perspective on motherhood.  Perhaps I had to lose everything in order to recognize what truly mattered.  During my battle with cancer, Jake had created a picture entitled Happy Love Mom.  The image was taped to the mirror in my bedroom to provide the strength that I desperately needed.  Could I overcome the struggles that threatened to destroy me, and transform into the Mom that I was always meant to be? I am beyond grateful that the children I had imagined raising were not the ones that now bless my existence. Over the past 15 years, they have become teachers forcing me to look beyond, dig deeper, find forgiveness, and work toward unconditional love. 


What if the very things you felt would destroy you…became the reason you survive?