Jesus replied [to Nicodemus], "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God." John 3:3
Tonight I lay on the bed with my Mom who is dying of cancer. After countless seasons of suffering through five major surgeries, many horrible chemo treatments, radiation, and a host of tests and medical travel, now she is suffering with constant excruciating pain from a tumor that is pushing on her spinal chord, threatening to leave her completely paralyzed.
So lying next to her, I began stroking her hair and massaging her back, trying to bring her some comfort. After awhile, she opened her beautiful dark chocolate eyes, the sparkle now dulled from pain and medications, looked into mine, and said, "I'm sorry I can't take care of you anymore."
Since I was a little girl, my Mom's way of "taking care of me" consisted of loving touch, whether by rubbing my back, or stroking my hair. In fact, her touch has always been a great source of comfort, happiness, and a sense of "home" throughout my life.
"You've been taking care of me all my life," I countered. "Now it's my turn to take care of you for awhile." We both were silent for a moment, contemplating the near future when she will likely be basically dependent on me and others for everything.
"Think of it as a role reversal," I attempted to lighten the mood. "Some day soon, I'll be changing your diapers, just like you did for me."
"Just be glad," my Mom bantered back, "that at least you won't have to nurse me." Our family is famous for making light of almost any situation, especially one so serious. It's the only way we know how to survive.
But what she said got me thinking. I thought about the birth process, the labor and trauma on both mother and child, the all-consuming focus and energy, but the worthwhile beauty and new life for both as they meet together on the other side of delivery. I thought about how at one time, I was that little baby and my Mom waited for me as I labored my way down the dark and difficult birth canal into new life in an amazing world.
I shared the thought with Mom, "You know, you were there to guide me to my birth into this world. Maybe I'll be there to guide you to your birth into the next world."
It was a really cool thought, the full circle of both of us being there for each other in one of the most significant, rewarding, and holy moments of our existence, a new birth and grand entrance into a new world.
I guess this isn't a new thought. My friend Sandy, who is a hospice nurse, told me that she and the other hospice nurses call themselves "midwives" as they guide their patients into their "delivery room."
My Mom is dying, but more than that, she's being reborn. She's on her way through a birth canal to living. It's a difficult, painful, traumatic process. But the Bible says, "A seed must fall to the ground and die before it can bear fruit and experience new life." And someday, after my Mom's arrival on the other side, she will once again be there, waiting for me as I work my way down the birth canal to join her, where we will spend endless time together in the Kingdom.
June 19, 2009: My Mom made her way through the canal of new life. I miss her so.