This past Saturday marks my 39th week of pregnancy, but, honestly, for the past month it hasn’t been a countdown to my due date that has been the most preeminent date in my mind. Instead, I’ve been counting upwards, at first hour by hour, then day by day, and now week by week since 8:10 p.m. on August 9th.
You see, that is when my beautiful mama ended her journey here on earth and went home to be with her Lord.
I have been hesitant to write about her passing over the last few weeks. Many times, I began typing out a few words then backspaced almost immediately. Something about seeing the black letters against the white screen seemed too stark, too unfeeling. Maybe it made it all seem too real.
But now, with just a week to go before my mom’s tiny namesake enters the world–the “Jayne” in Vivian Jayne is in honor of her–I felt it was the right time to publicly celebrate what an amazing woman and mother she was, and how her example will serve to make me a better mother in the coming days, weeks, months and years.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. She lived every moment up until her passing with a immovable faith. She never wavered, never doubted. She relied on God for her strength, even as her body became frail and crippled. As she endured radiation and major surgery, she kept a smile on her face and thanksgiving for her Lord’s goodness coming out of her mouth. (Really.) Her health over the past year had been severely compromised due to the cancer invading her bones but even as her body wasted away, her spirit grew stronger. Eventually she had no physical strength of her own left.
During her last days she was hooked up to an oxygen machine, barely able to eat, move or speak, but the night before her passing as our family gathered around her bedside to sing some favorite hymns and choruses, something happened that will forever be etched into my memory: She reached up her frail little hands and turned her palms upwards towards heaven in thanksgiving. She was physically spent, her strength was gone, but at that moment I believe that she was one of the mightiest women who ever lived.
That scene is something that will remain with me until, like her, I take my final breath. Her example over the past seven years and in that moment before her passing has given me strength to endure the past month. In some of the toughest moments I may ever live through, that memory has gently nudged me again and again, reminding me that there is never, ever a reason not to be thankful. It has already made me (I hope) a better mother, wife and friend.
For example, when I found Jacob covered in head-to-toe (and my house from floor-to-ceiling) in lipgloss and mascara, I gave thanks that I had a house and a little boy to clean. When Tom and I rented a boat for an afternoon last week for a fun, before-the-baby outing and we lost half of our rental time and were threatened with the possibility of a hefty fee when our anchor got caught on a tree, I was thankful we had at least one carefree hour and enough funds in the bank to cover the anchor. When I felt a tinge of frustration at spending three hours helping my next-door neighbor pack up her house last night, I reminded myself how fortunate I was to have had a neighbor who was also a friend.
In the coming days whenever the pains of labor overwhelm me–and after that the sleepless nights and trying days that come with having a newborn–I know that because of the legacy that my mom left, I won’t be complaining. Instead, I will be giving thanks: thanks to God for placing a new life in our care, thanks to God for giving me a mama who inspired so many with her amazing faith and love, and thanks to God that she is not only in my past but in my future.