When I thought I was going to die, grief blinded me. Not really for myself. I’ve had a pretty good run.
Reflecting on my life, it’s easy for me to see that my stroll into adulthood was leisurely. In college, I studied literature, a luxurious indulgence. Even as a naive 20-year-old, I understood the extravagance of being able to sit under a tree and read, albeit in sweltering Missouri heat. I studied the world’s literary masterpieces while sweat trickled down my back, mosquitoes nipped at hard-to-reach places, and the MBA students on campus wondered what I was doing. But those books kept me company. I had stacks of them and expert professors to guide me through their meaning. After college, I traveled. With $300 in my pocket, I headed to the United Kingdom, got a job as a waitress, and another series of adventures unfolded.
Eventually, I met the love of my life. And against all odds, he loved me back. At one point, flying with him in a small airplane, I thought we were going down. As I watched the canopy of redwoods below us get closer to the underbelly of that Piper 180, I heard the pilot screaming “Mayday!” into the radio. But oddly, I felt no sense of panic. In those few large minutes, I realized I’ve lived a good life, asked for and extended forgiveness, and was sharing space with the man I love most in the world. From my spot in that backseat, I thought to myself, “I am at peace. I can go now.”
But years later, when a doctor told me my cancer was Triple Negative, advanced, and spread, my reaction was different. “Unless you can get chemo fast,” that oncologist told me, “you’ll be gone in three months.” By gone, he meant dead.
I say I was blinded by grief because, in almost a literal sense, I was. All I could see was my motherless child, my 10-year-old, peach-cheeked beauty navigating her life without the rudder I could provide. It broke my heart. I could see, feel, hear, and taste nothing else.
Eventually, miraculously, I got treatment. At that time, my doctor said my chances of survival were 40 percent—an improvement over the 3-month prognosis but discouraging. I had to get peace around my situation, and I spent a lot of time in contemplative prayer.
During one of those prayers, truth came over me: though she’s very young, my daughter has her own spiritual path, as does my husband and everyone else I love. My job is to live my own spiritual journey, enshrined as it is in its fragile human skin, and to surrender the rest. I need to let God do the work that is God’s.
In that realization, I felt peace. I gave my beautiful daughter back to the Source. Of course, I begged that Source to bathe her in strength and peace and light and every other blessing a mother could confer on her beloved child. And then, I let go.