The night before last I had a dream.
I was playing soccer with Bri and the kids. This wasn’t some backyard soccer game; it was a real game on real turf against real pros. We were all in professional uniforms, and we knew what we were doing. However, we couldn’t keep up with the other team. After all, Bella against David Beckham? Unless she can distract him with her cuteness, she’s getting nowhere.
Anyway, we played and we tried and we fell and we were bloodied and bruised. All of us.
We struggled to defend our goal. They still hadn’t scored on us even though they obviously had the upper hand. But then Beckham cut around Bella and then me and kicked a long shot. I turned to watch the ball hit the edge of the goal and go in diagonally.
Our goalie dove, touched the ball, but didn’t have enough of a hand on the ball to block the goal. They scored.
It was my mom.
(For those of you who know my mom, you know she’s not an athlete, but she was always out there playing with us as kids and now she does the same with her grandkids. She just enjoys the game and the time together, the playing.)
Anyway, she got up, dusted off her uniform, smacked her hands together, looked at the opposing team, smiled sweetly and genuinely and said, “Bring it.”
And I stood in the middle of the soccer field and cried.
Then it turned into some weird thing about mom and me trying to build a fire in the woodstove and the wood was too wet… so on and so forth.
I woke from that dream and cried some more.
Because that’s how it’s been for my mom through all these past four and a half years. She has been there, our goalie, and she always leaves saying, “If you need me, you call. I’ll be here.”
She’s in that middle place. That place where her parents are declining and her daughter is fighting cancer, and she serves constantly. I often wonder when it is her turn to get a break.
And it’s not just me she serves. She serves her friends, always ready to offer a ride to the doctor or make a meal or sit by someone’s side to just keep them company.
That’s who she is.
People tell me all the time how spoiled I am (I sometimes say it, too), because my mom is here and so amazingly helpful. The truth is I am blessed, but not spoiled (unless you consider cancer four times being spoiled). She is doing what she is called to do, and God has chosen my path, that my mother and father would live close and be able to care for us the way they do.
A few months ago Mom and I were talking. I don’t really even remember what we were talking about, I just remember the phone call the next day when she told me how I had hurt her with my words. Because, y’all, I sat with my mom and said something about her not having suffered. I was meaning physical suffering when I said it… but y’all, what the heck was I thinking?!
My mom not suffer?
Sometimes I think she is suffering more than any of us.
(And can I just say how thankful I am that my mom can call me and confront me and be real with me? And she forgives me so easily.)
On Monday we watched Father of the Bride together, and we both bawled through the whole thing, because you know that part where the daughter is talking about getting married and all the father sees is a 7 year old in pigtails?
Y’all, that’s what my parents see every time I look at them and say, “It’s cancer” or “They think they see something and there need to be more tests.” They see a little seven year old Angie with brown pigtails and a sprinkling of freckles on her nose. And they would do anything, and I mean ANYthing to care for us and help us.
Mom has suffered so much, but she has been an amazing example of strength and dignity in suffering. She pushes through and does what needs to be done, because, well, it needs to be done. She knows somebody needs to defend the goal for us. And if you ask me, she’s scored more goals with her strength and faith and trust than the opposing team has ever scored against us.
So the next time you see my mom, I dare you, say “GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL” to her.
I can just picture her response.
She’ll laugh. She’ll toss her head back and laugh fully, kinda like me. And she’ll shake her head a little embarrassed at the attention, kinda like me. Then she’ll put her hand on your arm and she’ll lean forward and say something funny, kinda like me. Then she’ll point to Jesus and say how much He has done for us, how He’s the one Who’s gotten her through, how He deserves the glory. I know this because she’s the one who taught me how to do the same.
And if you don’t want to say, “GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL” to her, would you give her a hug?
Trust me, she needs one.