You see, she's dying.
And every day I pray that today isn't the day.
As a mother of 5, and 26 weeks pregnant with her 6th, Kathy received a devastating diagnosis. A ravaging cancer entrenched itself throughout her body. The doctors said there would be only days and with an inability to save herself, Kathy devoted her strength to giving birth to the little one inside…one last act of selfless love.
Along came a healthy baby boy although very premature. He thrived, while his mother died...and then something happened. 3 days turned into three weeks...and then four. The baby went home and Kathy appeared to be the recipient of a miracle.
Except it didn't last.
Baby Luke developed an unexpected infection and passed away. And then Kathy took another turn for the worst. And so it's been for this dear woman and her family for the last three months. Up, down, up, down, waiting to die.
It is a story that resonates deeply with me.
I know the loss of an infant and it is never easy under the best of circumstances. Correction: there are no good circumstances. It is a lasting loss and the grief is felt deep in every corner of your soul. I've mourned for this dear, sacrificing woman and the child she risked everything for. I wouldn't wish infant loss on anyone. Ever.
Then there is the cancer.
Her story has reminded me of something important over the last few months...
I've been trudging up this mountain for the last 11 months with a big weighty pack on my back and a quite sour attitude. I can't tell you how many times I've said, "why me?!" over the last year. You may not see it but it's been there. With the diognosis I put on my gear and started climbing, yes.... but I did shake my fist quite a few times as I climbed. For you see, I wasn't born a mountaineer. I hate hiking and I hate climbing.
But climb I did.
And it's been oh, so hard for me climbing my Everest. The air's been thin, I've felt alone and I've wanted to sit down and give up more times than I can count.
But climb on, I did.
And a few weeks ago it was as if the clouds finally parted and I was told I've climbed enough. With great biopsy results it was as if I finally reached my destination. And so with pure joy, I looked out from my summit as those clouds parted, and with triumphant arms raised, I realized...
My mountain wasn't a mountain. Instead of looking down - the clear blue sky made me look up, only to realize that my seemingly huge mountain was more like a little molehill.
Everest stands next door and I'm not on it. People like Kathy are climbing the real Everest. Some of them are actually reaching the summit too. And most appear to be climbing it quite gracefully.
So imagine the shame I feel for all that complaining and mumbling I've done over the last year. Here I was thinking I've been on the hardest climb...when in reality, I'm not.
Having to decide between your life or your child's...is an Everest.
Choosing the life for your child only to have him die...is an Everest.
Waiting day by day for the sure end but making the most out of every single breath...is an Everest.
Oh-boy-howdy does that give me perspective! If I would have only lifted my eyes up during my hike, I would have probably seen bigger things ahead - somewhere else. And I probably would have smiled more, looked at the flowers, and dumped the useless weight in my pack.
I can not complain about my life for I have a wonderful one. I have so many blessings and bounties that I'm sure God looks down on me and wonders when I will ever be satisfied.
Trust me when I say that I'm happy that I haven't been climbing the true Everest. People like Kathy are made from sterner stuff than me. I pray for them and offer thanks because I don't know that I could endure that with as much peace and grace.
Or maybe I could...but I'm glad I don't have to find out.
Perspective is everything, isn't it? When you have it, the horrible hardest climb of your life becomes more of a happy little hike.
This woman's story has served as an important reminder to be grateful and graceful amid your trials, because someone always has it much worse. Matter of fact, in today's world - many people have it much worse.
I'm just sorry that Kathy has to be one of them.