Our friend, Jenifer, died of brain cancer last month. She was about the age of our moms, and time was short between her diagnosis and death. Of course, our family has been processing a million different thoughts and emotions. It feels like a conversation that was interrupted mid-sentence. We keep expecting to see Jen, and it’s jarring to remember that she is gone now.
*The photos in this post don’t really have anything to do with the content – they are just family snapshots from the last few months.
One of the unexpected benefits of being friends with someone our moms’ age was catching a glimpse what it is like to have grown children. It’s easy for me to stay so focused on our kids as they are now, thinking that the struggle with handwriting or chores is the big battle. We forget that we are also someone’s kids and that we will always be an extension of their lives too. In the few years I got to be friends with Jenifer, I saw how she never stopped caring about the same things I care about; her kids were just older than mine. It made me more compassionate toward my mom and mother-in-law. I was suddenly more aware that we are not the main characters in this story of our families. Our parents and siblings have major parts too, and the story of our families stretches long before we were born, and, if the Lord tarries, will continue after we are gone. I realized that, although I am an adult in my thirties, I’m also still very immature, and there is still so very much to learn.
Jen opened my eyes to my self-centered ways, not because she thought I was self-centered or because she thought her kids were (she didn’t – or at least she never said that), but because she made me aware of a different perspective in parenting. Realizing that there would come a day when I might not talk to Liam every day made me want to talk to my mom more, and to encourage David to call his parents more often. Seeing her excitement and nerves about the relationship with her new daughter-in-law made me want to reach out to my in-laws more, to reassure them that I already love them.
It’s really easy to think my kids will always be like they are now: underfoot and always together. But they will eventually grow up. And one day, they will be in their thirties, maybe with families of their own. I will have sons and daughters in law, and hopefully some grandchildren. When that time comes, I hope that I can be a gracious and generous mother and grandmother, overlooking the immaturity in my children and finding joy in our relationship. I’m now aware of that goal, and trying to remember this is a bigger story than just our daily lives. It’s one of the many lessons I learned from my friend and from our mothers.