Mom used to tell me to wash the living room windows.
I'd usually just stare out of them and daydream while slowly moving my hand in circles.
I was a singer in the city - wandering the streets with a voice and a guitar. I had no idea how to play a guitar, but I figured I could always learn.
I was a journalist on a beat. Questioning authority. Breaking the news.
Then I went to college and did that for a while until I realized I hate questioning people, and writing unexaggerated facts.
Then in the midst of my dreams, I would hear her footsteps and start spritzing and wiping real fast.
Everything I dreamed about, and everything I wanted was always far away from Saturn Drive. Success and happiness wouldn’t derive from the place I grew up - it would have to happen somewhere else.
Somewhere bigger. More important.
The tick-tock of life has taught me what important really is. It’s much different than what I thought all those years ago, or even what I thought a few weeks ago - if I’m being totally honest.
Most of you know that my Dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer in October 2017 and then died with it in November 2018. What you didn’t know was that my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer last August.
Mom opted out of treatment and began with Hospice in September. Dad began with Hospice the next month.
Side by side in their recliners - mom’s favorite show, Frasier, relentlessly playing on Hulu while Dad’s crossword puzzles sat atop his lap. The last days of their forty-six year-long marriage were spent together.
I wish it was as beautiful as it sounds. Cancer is ugly, though. Relentless.
Although it wrecks hearts and lives, what I discovered for myself is that it can repair them as well.
Cancer won’t get the credit for that, though - it amazes me how God uses the most broken things as tools for the heart.
Just like other moms and daughters, we had our ups and downs. When this journey began - we were on a down. As the clock ticked away, though, God reminded me what was really important.
Loving the people He gave you to love.
I thought I already knew that, but as she got sicker, He taught me I didn’t know. Even in the months to weeks before that, as I moaned and complained about everything Shawn and I were going through - God finally smacked me in the head.
It wasn’t about me. It was about them. It was about her.
Never have I been more thankful for conviction.
Mom's death shocked me. We'd moved her to Quincy for two weeks while waiting on a private room in Hannibal to open up - and we were going to move her back here the very same day she died.
She was very sick already, and my plan was to basically live at Willow Care Center until she breathed her last breath.
God had other plans.
When we left her room on Valentine's Day, though, I just have a feeling she knew. I kissed the top of her head and told her that I would see her tomorrow. She looked at all of us and smiled.
"I love you with all my heart. You've made me so happy."
That was the last thing she ever said to us.
And now, I replay that in my mind, as my hand slowly circles the window.
Once, all I could think about was getting away from here. Moving on. Becoming something great.
Dreams and aspirations are healthy.
If losing my parents taught me anything, it's that life is for living every moment until you can't live it anymore.
I just understand now, though, how precious and important the life was that I so desperately wanted to leave behind.
Every moment - the good ones, the bad ones, the one where she sat on top of me because she didn't like the guy I was about to go out with (and she was right) - were all my story.
What I wouldn't give to hear those footsteps. So I hurry up and spritz in her honor, cleaning them just as I know she'd want them.
Thanks for the life you gave me, Mom and Dad. Most of all, thanks to God for wonderful parents.
I hope the rest of my story makes them proud.