“I wish I would get cancer and die in two weeks…” a profound statement that sent me to my knees from a grief stricken mother after losing her teenage son, her only child, in a tragic accident.
These words were spoken to me by a dear friend over a decade ago as tears flooded her eyes and streamed down her weary face. Sorrow dripped from her weeping eyes to her feet barely standing on the floor. I stood beside her in silence as I realized there was nothing I could say back to her. There was nothing I could offer her in exchange for what she was offering to me. I did not understand, I did not know her pain. I had no idea that one day I would.
Her words never left me. The pain in her eyes, the sorrow in her soul stayed with me through the years. I never forgot what she said, how she said it or the intensity that I felt throughout my body when she said it. I never forgot her or her son.
I remember the very first time I thought about her words after Matthew passed away and I gasped! I revisited my thoughts about what she said and as I understood it, I collapsed and wept for sorrow had also become my companion.
Her words affected me to the very core, long before I experienced the loss of my son.
Her words were powerful to me. Her words were powerful because she knew cancer was deadly and tragic, she knew the ugliness, the pain of this disease; she knew this disease claimed lives. She knew this disease rotted away internal organs causing painful and agonizing deaths. But there was no hesitation in her voice, she was firm in her words, death to her body would have been music to her soul. She was dying already, she was dying from grief.
She was desperate. Her words were not spoken lightly nor were they spoken in haste; they were spoken in pain and in grief. They were honest and raw. They were falling out of her heart.
She was desperate for relief from the pain of losing her son.
The very essence of her soul, her heart and her life were gone and I could see that. I could feel that. It seemed a death sentence for her would have been kinder than that of which she was going through. Oh, how that takes me to familiar places with my own grief.
Writing that and remembering my time spent with her after her son passed away sends chills down my body. Seeing that pain in her eyes and later in my life recognizing that same pain in the mirror really took me right back there to that moment with her.
It was then I saw grief differently, I saw grief as a disease that is deadly and capable of destroying a healthy body from the inside out. Grief is aggressive and often immune to treatments. The death of a child leaves this disease behind, this grief. It leaves a place in your heart, mind, body and soul that would welcome any physical pain to interrupt the emotional pain, even if for just a temporary moment.
It may not seem logical for someone to wish pain or something bad upon themselves, but then again friends, logic goes right out of the window when you stand beside a six foot hole in the ground where your child is going to be buried. That is what death feels like. Death while living…
This is what drove such a profound statement from a grieving mother.
This was her defense to his death.
Her defense to shield her very own heart from suffering any longer was praying God would have mercy on her heart and take her to heaven right away so she could be with her son, forever.
For years I have admired her courage to live after losing her son, but I know now more than ever, I admire her honesty to admit she didn’t want to.