Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Post for Which There Is No Title

When Matt and I were on our road trip to Colorado this summer, not having kids in the car allowed us to talk in great depth about a lot of things. All the way from Texas up through New Mexico and into Colorado, we talked about our Stories.

Every person has a story. Every person's Story is defined by different themes that weave throughout life. Matt's life has been defined by Choices and Doing the Right Thing. Time and again he has been faced with major decisions. The bad decisions have left their mark. But the good decisions have really defined who Matt is.

My Story carries three major themes: Adoption, Goodbyes, and Cancer. Being adopted has obviously impacted my life tremendously. For as long as I can remember, I have loved and respected my birthmom, Sherry. My adopted mom, Lotte, told me over and over throughout my growing up years that precious Sherry made a painful and courageous choice to give me a better life. She gave me up out of love. When I was 20, I was reunited with Sherry, with the full love and support of my parents. In the last 10 years, I have developed a very close relationship with the woman who gave me life--I call her Mama Sherry. Mama and Mommy became close friends quickly. She and my mom were both present at Snapper's birth. She came with me to visit my mom 2 days before my mom died. Our relationship has grown and deepened over the years, and she has been balm to my heart.

Here is a photo of Mama Sherry (on the left), and my mom (on the right). This photo was taken at my baby shower in 2002.

Goodbyes have punctuated my life. My best friend moved to Washington when I was 10. Another close friend moved when I was 12. Yet another close friend moved when I was 13. Much of Matt's and my relationship was long-distance, so there were lots of Goodbyes during our 3 1/2 years of courtship. I lost 4 grandparents between 1989 and 1999. More Goodbyes. My best friend from college moved away shortly after Snapper was born. In 2006 we said Goodbye to the town I was born and raised in, my whole family, and my best friend Noel. I'm facing the possibility of another set of Goodbyes to my Arkansas friends next summer. More on that later. I have said painful Goodbyes to 4 babies miscarried. The hardest Goodbye of all, though, was losing my mom to ovarian cancer in 2003.

That leads me into the final theme of my life: Cancer. My mom vs. ovarian cancer. My dear friend Beverly vs. leukemia. Both battles I have been intimately involved in. My mom's battle is over, and Beverly is still fighting hers. But those are not the only encounters with Cancer.

Today, enter a new antagonist. His name is Breast Cancer. His victim: My Mama Sherry.

Here's the question that keeps spinning around in my muddled brain: How does a girl manage to have 2 mothers and have them BOTH get Cancer?

Sherr'ys cancer is Stage 2. The prognosis is "good." But, the cancer is in her lymph nodes, which is really, really bad. Another surgery will come on the 5th. Then chemo and radiation begin on the 10th. It will be 6 treatments, 3 weeks apart. She will lose her hair. She will get very sick. And I live 1500 miles away.

Here is what I know.
1. I HATE Cancer. Have I mentioned that I HATE Cancer? Oh, in case you forgot, I HATE CANCER!
2. Life is hard, but God is good.
3. God's plans for me are for good, not to harm me.
4. God works ALL things (even Cancer) together for good. Did you hear that? All Things. For Good.
5. God will accomplish His good and perfect will through the cancer that has invaded my mother's body.

So, are you seeing another theme popping up here?


Ah yes. God's Goodness is another major player in my Story.

Tonight I opened my cedar chest. It is where I keep all my treasures of my mom's. Her Bible (which I pulled out to start studying). Her journals. A few special pieces of clothing. Her folders and folders of writing about what God was teaching her during her illness.. Her daily planner, filled in up to the date she passed away. Perfume. Jewelry. An envelope of my baby teeth and notes to the Tooth Fairy. All little reminders of my mom. All the memories of my mom's 3 1/2 year Cancer battle came back to me, and I wept. Actually, I knelt on the bathroom floor, and puked and cried. And cried. And cried. My precious husband put together a playlist of songs to help me put my eyes in the right place: on Jesus. Then I prayed and prayed.

The next months are going to be difficult. I anticipate many trips to Phoenix to care for her after her chemo and radiation treatments. I'm not sure what's worse--the exhaustion that comes from the daily grind of caring for a cancer patient, or being 1500 miles away from the cancer patient you long to care for.

Ultimately,, though, I know God will work this out for my good, for my Mama Sherry's good, and for His own glory, no matter the outcome. Would you join me in praying for Sherry's salvation? More than anything, I want her to walk through this able to cling to the hope and peace that only Jesus Christ can give her.

Well, I think the writing has been what I needed. The tears have stopped, and I'm actually feeling sleepy. Thanks for your prayers, my bloggy friends.
I challenge you to take a look at your own life and your Story. What themes has God woven into your life? How has He used those themes to mold and shape you, and to cause you to grow in your relationship with Him? Blog about it. Consider yourself tagged. =)


Kristin said...

Hey Emily. Thanks for sharing your story and what is going on right now. I'm so, so sorry. I resolve to pray for your Mama Sherry and her salvation - and for you as you go thru this trial. My prayers are with you!

Lori said...

Wow. First off, I'm so sorry to hear the news about your birthmom. I'll be praying for her and for you as you go through all of these familiar emotions.

Secondly, your "tag" has given me a lot to think about! What a challenge!

Stef said...

Em, I am so sorry :( I have such a fear of cancer (namely, ovarian cancer, since its taken women in my family) so I've been taking the past year or so to give my fear over to God. Its much easier said than done! I'm so sorry to hear about your bio mom. I will pray for her. We've had 3 friends recently who have beat breast cancer and one of them was told it had spread throughout her whole body and there was nothing the Dr's could do. So God did the rest! :)

You will be in our prayers.

Stef said...

Sorry... when I was leaving my last comment I couldn't remember Sherry's name. I would have put her name in there, instead of "bio mom". :)

RachelRuelas said...

Wow. Emily, again I am moved, touched, and overwhelmed by your amazing writings, and your life. Your faith is motivating, I cannot imagine what you've gone through. you are a light, a shining beacon of hope for those around you and I know through your service of taking care of your momma sherry, she will see the Love and Salvation of Christ in you, I absolutely will be lifting you up to our Father, and will be praying for salvation for your Sherry. Have Hope Em. Sometimes that's all we can cling to. Love you sister.

Hofwoman said...

Oh, Emily, I cried as I was reading this. God has brought you through a lot of hard storms, but it is so evident how He has used them to grow your faith and still beckon you to call on His mighty name. What a testimony that is to others!

I will be praying for Mama Sherry and you as you face another hard providence. I hate cancer too!!!

Southern Belle said...

Oh, Emily I am so sorry to hear this. I will be praying for Mama Sherry.

I agree with PP, your tag gave me alot to think about as well. BTW, how is the "stuffing" going? I am doing 50/50%. Some days better than others.

The Yorks said...

I cannot even imagine what you are going through sweetie. I'm so so sorry. But can I just tell you that I will Glorify God because of Your Story? I love that again He will walk with you through this. And Mama Sherry. I will be interceding with our Lord on yours and her behalf. Loves.