Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Sad vs. The Tragic


The day before yesterday we received the hard news that my mom's cancer is growing and spreading at a rapid rate. Without miraculous intervention, she may not have many good days left. It's a reality that we have all been living with for the past two years, but each report brings even more clarity to the reality: My mother is dying.

It's sad. But not tragic.

The distinction between the sad and the tragic has been one of the most tangible and valuable gifts I brought home with me from India.

My sweet mother is 55 years old. She's been fighting terminal lung cancer for more than two years now, and the fight has not been easy. At various points on this journey she's been poked, prodded, drilled, radiated, poisoned, medicated, sleepless, exhausted, uncomfortable, in pain and SICK. And after all of this, aside from God's direct and supernatural intervention, she will still die of cancer. It is sad. It's not the way it's supposed to be.

But it's not tragic. Tragic is the 2-year-old child drugged and stuffed under a bed while his mother sells her body day after day. Tragic is the woman with acid burns scarring her arms, too terrified to flee an abuser worse than what most of us could imagine. Tragic is the shriveled, dying man, lying utterly alone in the dust and filth of a Kolkata street. Most tragically of all, these people and millions more are living in real despair, without the hope of Jesus Christ. This is true tragedy.

The life of Vicki Dees is not tragic. Her life is 55 years stuffed-to-the-brim full of hope, love, faith, joy, happiness, peace and trust. She has loved and been loved. Her life is also an eternity stretching out in front of her- an eternity that's far more amazing than anything our little human minds could conjure up.

I don't know what the weeks and months out in front of us will hold. God has done so many miraculous things with her life already that I don't really have any reason to believe that He won't continue to do so. But worthless speculation aside, I do know that the days ordained for the beautiful life of Vicki Dees were set long ago, and there's really no good to be found in trying to figure out how many days that's going to be. If she lives three more weeks or 30 more years, it's all pretty short in light of eternity.

I think it's okay to be sad about this process of saying "goodbye" or rather, "see you later!" I certainly hope it's okay, because I've had a lot of sad days in the last two years. But the amazing gift of perspective God gave me in India has really helped me to see my mom's life in a new light.

If our all-knowing, all-powerful, utterly good and wise God allows my mom to die of cancer sometime in the near future, it will be sad. It will be hard. But life will go on. Both for her and for me! For her, she's going to be checking into a new home in heaven that is overflowing with treasures she's been sending that way since long before I was born.

For me, there's life after cancer. There's a husband to love, children to nurture, a Church to serve and a world in need of the Gospel. And I'm forever thankful that I've had such a beautiful example of just how to go about doing all of those things and more by faith.







15 comments:

Jenny Bethke said...

I've been thinking about you a lot lately Cherissa. Thank you for your beautiful post, and helping those of us reading re-adjust our perspective as well. You are you mother's daughter, and it's so gorgeous to see the joy and faith that she has passed onto you.

Kristen said...

What a beautiful post. Your mom is a beautiful woman that is amazing -- the proof is in the daughter that she has! Thinking about all of you and continuing to keep you in our prayers!

Trish said...

Continuing to pray for all of you...

Anonymous said...

Perfectly expressed.

Love you,
Aunt Suzie

Soaring High said...

Thank you for your thoughts and post. The perspective you have demonstrates so much hope and faith. I am praying for you that these last days or months will be full of wonderful memories with your mom.

Dawn Eshnaur said...

Oh Cherissa~You have such beautiful words of hope and faith....just like your Mom! Thank you for being such an inspiration to so many people! With much love, Dawn

Lorenz Family Blog said...

God has gifted you with words. And you're so right! This is something I think of often. We hold on to life on this spinning ball as though this is all there is, yet eternity with Jesus awaits those of us who have made Him our Lord!! We are not Home yet, & this is our bold confidence & hope that carries us through difficult times. Please know we are continuing to pray :)

LeAnn Suggs said...

Cherissa, your post moved me to tears. It was absolutely beautiful and so very true. Thank you for this post. I also want to say how wonderful it was to meet you last week at PG Methodist. I am praying for your mom and your family and will continue to do so.

Love in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful.
Renee Decker

Lisi said...

Crying and sending you and your dear mom a big hug. How you have honored the Father.

Ava said...

Amazing post! Thinking of you all and sending hugs your way!

Anonymous said...

Wow Cherissa! Thanks for sharing that. And thanks for helping all of us keep life in perspective. Your mom is an amazing woman and a great example, as are you and your family.
nancy j

Diane said...

Beautifully said, and so true~!!!

Erin said...

So, so true; and a good reminder to me of the vast difference between the sad and the tragic when faith is part of the equation.

Love you.

John and Janel Breitenstein said...

Beautiful. Love you.