Dear Friends and Family,
This past week, I have been thinking a lot about joy and sorrow, which C.S. Lewis said are two sides of the same coin. If you love someone, you will experience the greatest joys life has to offer, but also the deepest sorrows. Both are part of "the deal."
First, let's talk about joy. I just spent a glorious two weeks in Altea, Spain, at the home of my beloved Aunt and Uncle, Julianne and Oliver. The first week, Renee, and my dear friend, Maribeth, accompanied me. The second week, Steve joined me. We had marvelous sunshine on all but one day. We walked, hiked, swam, talked, read, learned about the battle of the Christians and Moors at the Alhambra, visited numerous other small towns on the Costa Blanca, and bought way too much beautiful Spanish pottery. We also ate the world's best paella and I ate my weight in hot, freshly made churros dipped in warm, thick, chocolate sauce at Spain's famous chocolate shop, Valor. Lastly, my brilliant daughter and aunt both whipped me at Scrabble!
From intense joy, to the deepest sorrow, I returned home Sunday night, slept a little, then received a call early Monday morning that my Mom had been taken to the ER. For the next 24 hours, I was there with her at Northwest Hospital, and she died Tuesday morning at 7:30 AM. She had a septic infection, blood clots, falling blood pressure, and respiratory failure. Here is what I wrote about her on Facebook this week:
"My Mom died an amazingly peaceful death on Tuesday, October 14th, at age 75, surrounded by family. I miss her already, and after 24 sleepless hours in the air and another 24 in the hospital, I am depleted. Mom was one of the smartest, most generous women I knew. She was a pioneer in a formerly all male field, running successful advertising, marketing, public relations, and public affairs firms until age 70. She taught her three daughters they could grow up to be or do anything they dreamed of, and deserved equal pay for equal work. She gave up alcohol and cigarettes, then helped countless women she sponsored in AA to change their lives for the better. She loved her four siblings, three children, 10 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and many wonderful nieces and nephews. She also loved good food, mystery books, the Serenity Prayer, Fox news, all things Republican, Cannon Beach, family dinners, having her hair done and her toes painted, shopping, laughing, a good rom-com, and making babies giggle. She gave up her four-year art and national merit scholarships half way through Stanford to give birth to me, raising me courageously as a single parent for the early years of my life in an age when many women would have chosen to abort. I have always been thankful for that gift of life, love, and sacrifice from her, as well as her stellar career mentoring advice. Please raise a toast of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage to my dear Mom."
Steve sent me a comforting quote from theologian Charles Spurgeon, from his sermon on Psalm 31:15, "My times are in Thy hand." It goes like this: "The close of life is not decided by the sharp knife of the fates; but by the hand of love. We shall not die before our time, neither shall we be forgotten and left upon the stage too long." How comforting to know that indeed, our times are in His hands.
From deepest sorrow, springs forth a glimmer of joy. On Wednesday, the day after my Mom's passing, I went to the Oncologist's office for the infusion of my maintenance drug, Avastin. My blood work, including my ovarian cancer tumor marker CA-125, came back perfect. As was my physical exam. Thus, my doctor extended my nine-week chemo break for five more weeks! My next scan will be just before Thanksgiving. My Mom must be smiling down from Heaven at this good news. One additional burst of great joy occurred two nights ago, when my sister-in-law, who it was thought might be permanently paralyzed after a spinal surgery five weeks ago, WALKED into our home for dinner with just one crutch!
I will close with an experience Maribeth, Renee, and I had in Spain. We were walking home late one night after watching a parade as part of the Christians/Moors festival, when the most amazing lightening storm began. We raced to a lookout point near our home in Altea that gives a panoramic view over the Mediterranean from north to south. This lightening storm was like nothing we had ever seen before. It had both bolt lightening and sheet lightening and it lit up the mountains, the sea, the towns, as far as the eye could see. I wish you had been there. It took your breath away. As we watched, God brought a Christian radio song to mind, the words of which I will write for you here. I sang it to Maribeth and Renee as we marveled at the gift of this storm. The lyrics to "Light Up the Sky":
When I'm feeling all alone
With so far to go
The signs are no where on this road
Guiding me home
When the night is closing in
Is falling on my skin
Oh God will you come close?
Light light light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me You are with me
I I I can't deny
No I can't deny that You are right here with me
You've opened my eyes
So I can see you all around me
Light light light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me
That you are with me
When stars are hiding in the clouds
I don't feel them shining
When I can't see You beyond my doubts
The silver lining
When I've almost reached the end
Like a flood You're rushing in
Your love is rushing in
So I run, straight into Your arms
You're the bright and morning sun
To show Your love there's nothing You won't do
Light light light up the sky...chorus continued.
Through cancer and in my Mom's death, God lit up the sky to show me He is with me. Thanks be to God that we are not alone in this life.
Thank you for your continued prayers for my good health and our family in this time of joy and sorrow.