Thursday, September 18, 2014

That One Stop

When we decided to drive to Disneyland I knew I needed to stop first at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier.  Five years ago, one of my dearest college friends, Heather, passed away, and I hadn't been there since her burial. 

I figured if she were alive we would surely be having a big family dinner together that night.  All of our kids would be off playing somewhere, and we'd be reliving and remembering our single days at BYU.  Those were seriously fun years.

Heather was incredibly optimistic, super smart, a long distance runner, spiritual, hilarious and patient.  In those days of roommate drama I would get mad for her, because she just remained calm, when I thought that reaction was totally unreasonable.  :-)  She was just so, so good and so much fun to be with.

I think of Heather every day.  Her breast cancer diagnosis was scary.  It was only a very short time after she'd had her second baby, and the future was uncertain.  She fought through it, did everything possible to be healthy, and remission came.  But it was short-lived.  A year or so later cancer cells were found in her liver, bones and eventually brain. Heather was courageous in every sense of the word.  She did all that she could to have one more day with her kids. 

I flew to LA a few months before Heather's passing, because I could tell that time was short.  I'll never forget sitting in the care center with her, just the two of us.  She looked over at me, squeezed my hand and said, "I just want to be Hannah and Aaron's mom.  I don't want them to have another mom.  Why can't I just be their mom?"

We both cried.

It was heartbreaking.  I hadn't had children of my own yet, so I don't think I fully understood the magnitude of the suffering she was experiencing.

I get it now.

Heather is truly my inspiration for mothering and motherhood.  I definitely have times when patience is thin (like totally transparent) and my tone is sharp.  I'm working on it -- constantly.  But, in so many trying moments I think of Heather.  Whether it's being awakened for a few hours in the middle of the night by a coughing three year old, a toddler who is melting down for the fourth time in an hour, or a million other hard things, I know that Heather would have given anything to have had more of those experiences with her sweet kids.

It puts things in perspective that I am immensely blessed to be the one to love and nurture my boys, all day and even all night, if necessary.  Heather would have agreed to a lifetime of long, hard, patience trying, days as a mother if she could have just stayed with them.  And she would have flashed her signature smile though it all.  Every day, I try to smile through the challenges, just like I know Heather would have.

I love her.  Man alive, I'm so grateful that she's my friend.  Next time we're in LA I'll be back at Rose Hills.  It's the least I can do to show Heather how much gratitude I have for the many, many ways she inspires me to mother and love my family.

Heather's favorite quote: 
Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our 
love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows.
- Thomas S. Monson

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