Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year

I suppose the natural thing might be to happily say goodbye to the worst year of my life. 
Except 2009 wasn't the worst year.
Or maybe it was, but it was also the best. 
Extremes.
It was just the year of extremes. Extreme joy and extreme pain. Extreme anxiety and extreme peace.
I have mixed emotions about leaving this year behind.
I don't like leaving Maura behind in 2009. Now I can say, "My daughter died last year." Oh, but that sounds so far away, and I don't like to feel far away from her. On the other hand, I'm also that much closer to seeing her again, but am I supposed to just wish my life away? No.
I liked the closeness of knowing I had hugged her just today or yesterday, last week, last month, six months ago. 
Now, last year.
What will it be like in six? Will her memory be faded like an old snapshot? Will I stop thinking about her every moment of every day? Will her memory be like that of my parents, who I loved dearly, but no longer spend that much time dwelling on their lives or their deaths?

2009 was the year I put everything I believe into practice.
I practiced faith. Everything I believe about God was put to a test and it all proved true. He is all loving, all powerful, all merciful, all just. I can't express how happy and, I admit, relieved I am that I did not doubt that God would and has provided for Maura and for all of us who love her.
I practiced hope. At first, hope that it was all a big mistake. Then, hope in doctors, in medicine, in surgery, in a cure. Hope in a miracle. Ultimately, hope in God, and God alone. Not what He could do, but just hope in Him. Hope = Waiting. ...they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not grow faint.(Isaiah 40:31) I learned that verse of scripture from a choir song, so I can't say or write it without singing it in my head. And I got my miracle. Amanda's cure is the miracle. Annive Maura is the miracle. Seeing Maura so graceful and gracious and peaceful in her last days was a miracle. Surviving this is a miracle.
I practiced love. I don't think I have ever loved more purely than I loved Maura this year. Poor husband and other daughters--they were neglected for most of the year. Neglected by me, anyway. I keep thinking of the story of the Good Shepherd, who, leaving the other 99 sheep, went in search of the one lost sheep. I know that the theme of the story doesn't apply here, but what does apply is that the shepherd focused all his attention on the one sheep, as I focused my attention on Maura. 2009 may be the year that Maura died, but it is also the year that Maura lived. For five months she lived. The pain of 2009 is worth it for the five months of Maura.
I practiced not taking anyone or anything for granted. The story of Mary and Martha comes to mind, when Jesus commended Mary for staying and talking to Him while Martha did all the work. "...but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her...."(Luke 10:42) Fortunately, I had an army of friends and relatives who were my Marthas in the last few weeks of Maura's life, although I can't actually remember seeing anything or anyone besides Maura. Of course that was the point: they made it easy for me to do nothing but sit by Maura. I am so thankful for them and that gift of time they gave me.

In 2009 other wonderful things happened. Elsa continues to do well in her latest sarcoma drug trial. And she got to see Leonard Cohen a couple of times. Michelle got rid of another tumor. Kathy's disease is stable and she is well on her way to becoming a nurse. Lindsay continues to go to school and is doing well on her sarcoma meds. Sue keeps on encouraging others despite the near chronic nature of her cancer. And, of course, there is Amanda, whose very life (and the life within her) is a constant reminder of God's love and grace. These six women survive and thrive living lives filled with love and laughter and family and friends. They know, better than I, not to take anything for granted. They inspire me.

This year I got a son-in-law. Yes, my very own son-in-law! How cool is that!

6 comments:

Amanda said...

You are inspiring, Erin, and it is a great honor and privilege to know you. I hope I am as good of a mom as you are to my own daughter. We love you and your family dearly!

Michelle said...

Amazing, because you truley summed up how I feel. Leaving it behind....but missing it in some way.
Maura will always be close to you..even when the year comes to an end. You hold her inside of you...and that is a gift that will never go away.
I envy your strength. I am very proud of you!
I am sure your family is proud of you as well.
Happy and Healthy 2010.
Love, Michelle

Sue G said...

Erin:

If you can keep hope alive in the midst of great anguish and fear...

If you can keep faith alive in the midst of profound loss and sadness...

If you can keep God alive in the midst of a cancer diagnosis...

If you can see God, know God, and trust God in the world of cancer, in the pain of loss, in the bittersweetness of remembrance...

Then you will surely be able to keep Maura alive in you and around you, surrounded by her magical touch and inspirational light, for a lifetime...

for your lifetime...

And certainly beyond.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Erin! Just beautiful! I do believe Maura is probably beside you most of the time. You just can't see her. She will always surround you. I'm pretty sure of that. When Amanda brings you her little girl to rock as Maura requested Maura will be there smiling as it was her wish.

Kathy said...

and we love you Erin...
It is absolutely not possible to leave Maura behind. She will follow you throughout the years. She has changed form but has not left and there is no way humanly possible that she will ever be forgotten.
Have a very HAPPY and BLESSED New Year.

ps...maybe one of these years, you'll have your very own grandchild to go along with your very own son in law ;-)
no pressure, Lydia :)

Elsa D. said...

Dear Erin, Maura will always be close to you making you smile. But you know that. For me 2009 was also the year I had the great honor of meeting Maura through your beautiful writing.
Um abraço bem apertado querida amiga
Love,
Elsa