Sometimes in life we bear our crosses and have pain that is great and we just cannot understand why me, or why us? Sometimes we have the opportunity to understand and see the reasons that we endured the hardships presented us. When I, as a mom of a 19-year old son with multiple medical and psychological needs, feel very overwhelmed or begin to fall into a “why us” mode, I think of my friend *Pat.
20 years ago my friend Pat, and co-worker, was very suddenly met with the grief of losing her young father of 60 years old to a massive sudden death. Pat’s father was the epitome of good health. She, along with her family were devastated.
The sudden and immediate death consumed Pat as she was not able to say “goodbye”. In the same month that her father passed away, her teenage daughter, Sara, came home from school to announce she was pregnant. Sara was a senior in high school and her baby would change a lot of plans. Pat was then faced with the knowledge that her own daughter is not going to college as planned, at least not then, and a new child to the home is going to be necessary as her daughter cannot support a child on her own.
In the same month, only one week later, Pat and Jay’s youngest daughter had an uncontrollable nosebleed and a massive headache. Their youngest, Tami, was only 7 years old. Naturally they sat worried as Tami was entered into the cat scan at the local hospital. Pat sat there and wondered how much more heartache and worry could she have in her life? How will she ever get through the grief of her lost father, the unplanned and sudden pregnancy of a teenage daughter and a possibly ill child?
It was later in the day that Pat and Jay’s worst fears were presented. Their beautiful Tami had terminal brain cancer. Life was so unfair and how easy it would have been to have turned to God and have hated him for “bringing” so much pain in their once happy carefree lives! Over the course of the next three years, Pat and Jay were truly blessed to have the knowledge of why the pain they’ve endured…had a reason.
For the next three years after that awful month of heartache, life moved forward. Slowly, painfully and heartbreakingly they watched their beautiful Tami struggle to play with her new niece and to give her a bottle. They spent many days in and out of the hospital, chemotherapy and watching all the awful side effects that Tami was presented. If there was a chance of a side effect you can be sure sweet Tami was one of the unlucky percentages to have endured it.
Through steroids, hair loss, chemo and all that accompanies the fight against the cancer…Tami loved her little niece Briana, and Briana loved tami and many times as a toddler mistakenly would call Tami “ma ma”. This brought huge smiles to Tami.
One night, in October, Tami passed away. She passed away in her mother’s arms. For six weeks prior Pat and Jay learned that it was nearing the end of Tami’s battle. It was a battle that was not to be won. Tami was so engulfed with the cancer that at night she could not lay down to sleep as she could not breathe. Pat and Jay took turns sitting up all night in Tami’s bed so that she could sit up and sleep comfortably and be able to breathe. Tami was never afraid. Fact is, she talked of how she couldn’t wait to meet the angels and how she hoped to be able to have wings and fly the heavens. Tami was only ten years old when she passed.
Attending the funeral of Tami, I was terrified. I had never been to a child’s funeral and to think I just saw Tami alive a number of weeks prior I feared attending but knew it was something I had to do. I needed to go to comfort my friend and coworker, Pat. Little did I know, it was Pat who comforted me….or should I say…it was Tami.
Standing outside the funeral home, the lines were extremely long and wrapped around three rooms inside the funeral home. Many children were there with their parents as they were schoolmates of Tami. The crowd was very somber, sad, quiet…tears and nervousness was so apparent by all those waiting in line. As I stood in line I watched all those who were exiting the funeral home. It struck me that many were smiling, laughing and seemed to be happy it was over that they were “out of there”.
My mind quickly judged, as we humans tend to do, just how wrong it was to walk out of a childs funeral laughing and smiling. Good gracious! What was wrong with those people?
It was about 45 minutes later when my daughter and I stepped into the funeral home…the overwhelming smell of carnation and flowers greeted us at the doorstep. The lines wrapped around three other rooms before we entered the room where Tami lay. The very moment, and I kid you not, the very minute second that we entered that doorway an overwhelming beautiful and peaceful calm surrounded me.
It was like nothing I have ever experienced in life. Just a complete “wash” came over me and as I walked up to the beautiful casket and saw Tami with her beautiful lilac colored bow on her bald head and looked down at the gorgeous lavender taffeta dress, and her beautiful angelic face…I just knew at that very moment that she was ok. She truly was an angel. The feeling was almost telepathically communicated to me that Tami was saying “I’m alright and I’m free of pain. I love heaven.” It was uncanny.
After saying my prayer for Tami, my daughter and I got up and walked over to Pat and Jay. Both smiling and both calming all those who came to visit their precious daughter. In the background little Brianna, now nearly 2 1/2 years old was busy playing and finding new toys to take over and put in the casket with Tami. It was unlike any “wake” that I’ve ever seen…or experienced. It was almost a joyous occasion….internally. I cannot explain it, but I can tell you that when that “wash” came over me…that joyous feeling entered.
On our way out the door…I saw a plaque above the exit of the funeral home. I will never forget the words and the words summarized the entire wake. Those words stated “Death is merely the gateway into the arms of the Lord”. Wow! How profound and how true. I just knew it was true as that “wash” told me so.
Three weeks went by when I stopped by to see how Pat was doing. It was then that I realized the blessings that Pat was given by God. You see…in that horrible month, three long years ago….all had it’s purpose.
Pat told me that had her father not passed away she would never have gotten through Tami’s passing. The knowledge that her own father, Tami’s grandfather, would be greeting her at heaven’s gate and there to take care of her made her passing bearable. The fact that Brianna, her teenage daughters unplanned pregnancy, was born provided not only Pat and Jay with comfort and joy in watching her grow…but more importantly, she offered Tami the opportunity to “play mommy” and to help care and play with Brianna as both Pat and Jay knew that Tami would never grow to become a mommy herself. The joy was always present in that Tami “took over” with baby Brianna and the thrill of being called “mama” was something that Pat and Jay would hold in their hearts forever. Yes, Tami was able to experience the joy of loving and caring for an infant even if it was for only 2 1/2 years.
Whenever I feel down and wonder “why me”…I think of my friend Pat and how blessed she was to learn the reason as to why the awful life experiences that she endured….had a purpose.
So now when I feel overwhelmed I look for my purpose. Sometimes we all are lucky enough to find that purpose…and sometimes we just never know how our life experience just may have touched and made a positive impact on someone else’s life.
We are all blessed and I am a firm believer there is a purpose for everything. Keep the faith…and perhaps like Pat and Jay, one will be able to understand just why the bad things that have happened….had purpose. God watches over in our time of need, while traumas are painful…he has promised to care for our loved, until we meet again…and that lessons the pain of “Why me, why us?”