The Way I Remember It


30 years ago today, I remember.

I was serving in my first call in a rural congregation in NY.  I was 30 years old and pretty sure that celibacy was my thing.

I had just visited my parents in NC and when I packed the car and prepared to return to upstate NY, my mother cried as if she would never see me again.  It really bothered me.

Mom was in remission from breast cancer.

When I got back to NY I called her oncologist – who was also a member of my home church – and our conversation went like this:

Me:  I just left Mom and she cried like she’d never see me again.

Dr. P:  (crickets)

Dr. P:  She didn’t tell you what was going on with her cancer?

Me:  No.  She didn’t.  What’s going on?

Dr. P:  Your mother is no longer in remission.

Me:  What do you mean?

Dr. P:  The cancer is everywhere.  It’s in her toe bones.

Me:  What should I do?  Should I quit my job?

Dr. P: There’s no way to know how long your mother has, Jan.

Me:  But can you guess?  Can you give me some idea about how long she has?

Dr. P:  I don’t think she’ll be alive a year from now.  And there’s no way she’ll be alive two years from today.

Later that day, I met HH.  We married in 1987.  My mother died of metatastic breast cancer on September 16, 1988, just short of two years from the day I had the conversation with her doctor.

Also, because life is interesting:

  • Dr. P. died of cancer before my mother did.
  • I gave birth to her first grandson six weeks before she would fall into a coma and slip away.
  • I would rather have my mother for 32 years than some mothers I’ve known who live to be 100.

So here we are on September 17, 2016.  I’m so grateful for unspeakable gifts.  I don’t understand it, but grace abounds.

Note:  I met HH 30 years ago today in Warrensburg, NY.  Thanks be to God.

4 responses to “The Way I Remember It

  1. This story still makes me weepy, even tho I watched and heard it unfold…it catches me with joy, with amazement, with sadness, with gratitude, with faith……with a renewed re-membering that ours is truly a story of life, death and life again, all in expected and unexpected ways..

    PS: Good to know the exact date! (-:
    Much love to you on this anniversary of holy intersections!


  2. Just finished writing a wedding message for later today, which strangely had some echoes of your story: marriage, like life, is both joyful and difficult. But grace abounds, as you have written. Blessings to you on this day…


  3. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Life (and death) are definitely interesting journeys! I lost both of my parents to cancer (54 days apart) in 1982. Then I made it through my own cancer journey in 1994 and am SO thankful to have been here to see my precious granddaughter born in August! God is good!


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