Thursday, June 4, 2015

...all that's left...

It fluttered out of a pile of cards mom had saved.  Someone must have said it to her.  Or she copied it from something.  Her ability to read was compromised, and she'd skim and scan for details, bits and pieces, but was never one to read from beginning to end.  She never made it through a blog post.  Or a magazine piece I'd written.  But she'd find a detail she could talk about.  A picture of someone.  Some small thing she would tell you.

So the scrap has been a mystery. 

I've been staring at that bit of paper on my desk.  Words to live by, maybe? 

It brings me back to that day.  The day she would surrender and begin to let go of the only thing she was left hanging onto.  Her family.

The tears were hard earned.  She'd gracefully accepted, over and over again, the things she couldn't change, while at the same time changing the biggest thing she had left- herself.  

She was softer.  Gentler.  A side of her, I had always longed for in a way.  She gave up, so, so much, that she became, stripped down, and real.  It was just her.  Not her things, her possessions, her bills, or even where she lived.  None of those things meant very much to her at the time.  It was just her.  Her memories.  Her stories.  Her heart's longings. 

And, she needed me.  Like no other time in her life, it seemed.  She needed me.

Living peacefully was what she clung to.  And we all helped her achieve that in any way that we could. 

Until, that day they told her.  Her body was beginning to fail.  No treatments were left.

And she laid back in her bed, and I leaned down to be at eye level with her glassy eyes, peering through the side rails of the hospital bed. "But you, all of you..." she choked out. "That's what I don't want to leave."  Her heart, so entrenched in each word uttered, each tear shed.

It was one of the truest moments we've ever had.  She had let down her guard, and was as vulnerable as I've ever seen.  We'd traveled over lifetimes, it seems, in just the past year, suddenly arriving at that place where we give all that we have left- ourselves.  

I sit surrounded by some of her things.

But its not her box filled with china that I treasure.  Or her crystal stemware.  Not her watch.  Her boxes of tea cups.  Her things.  Her things. Her things.

Its those words, printed out in her handwriting, on a scrap of paper she found somewhere, that I return to time and again.

The tattered note.  With a coffee ring left on it and a crease in the middle.  That somehow saw her through her illness, with peace, and grace, until her very last days here on earth.

I was typing these words yesterday when the phone rang.


It was Dr. Panwalkar.

The doctor at MD Anderson, does not think I would benefit from IT Herceptin.  She did not want to see me.  I could still go to the breast cancer center, for a second opinion, but it would not address my brain, which is what needs treatment.

I'm disappointed.  And I have no idea what to do... next.   Dr. Panwalkar suggests we scan again, in a month, and go from there.  

I trace the words again... "Live peacefully with all that's left."  

It leaves a lump in my throat, and tears sting my eyes.  

But the fragrance of lilacs freshly blooming in my yard are strong.  My mailbox fills with words, and gestures, and grace, and gifts.  Words carved in stone rest heavy in my hands.  While joy fills the faces of my boys as they open Birthday cards that scatter across our table.

And my heart seems to know, its enough... all thats left, is more than enough.  


  1. These words are life-giving: the note from your mom (so precious) and your own outlook and faith. God bless you and give you direction, dear Vicky.

    1. Susan, I'm breathing a little easier that you so astutely described this as life-giving. I appreciate your gentle and genuine words. Much love to you dear friend~

  2. You are an amazing woman. I have never met you, but my heart is full of love for you and your family. The words that were written on that piece of paper are words that we should all remember every single day. I thank you for allowing me to join you on your journey. Your written words are so thoughtful and cause me to look at my life and the way that I choose to live. Your faith is a testimony to me, it is like that of a child in the mind of a woman. You are a blessing to me and the way that you remain positive gives me such strength. I hope that you smile knowing that you are a teacher to many of us. I will continue to pray for you and your precious family.

  3. You have been in the hearts and prayers of so many and there you will stay. We will never stop praying and believing in the power of those prayers to heal you. Thank you for your generous sharing of your highs and lows with us, always delivered in the most beautiful, eloquent words.

  4. ....Your words....your touching memories of your Mom....
    They tug at my heart so deeply.
    I have to think that your Mom is helping you travel through this.
    And I know that Mr. Willard and Mrs. Mary Ann would want you to do just what the words in this cherished note say....
    Love you, Vicky.

  5. Prayers from me to Jesus-for you! He will never leave you. He will guide you to where you should be, all while holding you and your precious family and friends. Bless you!

  6. My heart is so touched by your words. Thank you for teaching me, through your writing, what it means to really live. I continue to pray for you and your family.

  7. Prayers, always... each and every night.

  8. I can't even breathe. I'm just staring at the blinking cursor. So rich and honest.

    I'll be sending this link to my mother. She doesn't have a computer but can now read blogs from her phone.

    Oh, Vicky. This is everything that matters. Thank you.

  9. Thinking about this Servant's Song and so wishing I could be there with you.
    Will you let me be your servant
    Let me be as Christ to you
    Pray that I might have the grace
    To let me be your servant too

    We are pilgrims on the journey
    We are brothers on the road
    We are here to help each other
    Walk the mile and bear the load

    I will hold the Christ light for you
    In the night time of your fear
    I will hold my hand out to you
    Speak the the peace you long to hear.

    I will weep when you are weeping
    When you laugh, I'll laugh with you
    I will share your joy and sorrow
    Till we've seen this journey through.

    When we sing to God in heaven
    We shall find such harmony
    Born to all we've known together
    Of Christ's love and agony

    You are in my prayers, Love you, Kathy

    1. Kathy, I am weeping reading this to my daughter. Thank you so much for sharing something I've never heard and will never forget.

  10. Vicky... what a beautiful love letter about your Mom. What a special lady she must have been. For you, I continue to keep you and your family in my prayers.

  11. Oh my dear sweet Vicky,
    There is a lump in my throat too...and tears stinging my eyes. This post took my breath away and brought me to my knees. I was at once so touched by your authenticity and that tender quotation...words to live by for sure, especially when we do not know what to do next.

    I read your heart-felt words three times before I could make my fingers type. Just prayers from my heart to your dear heart, dear soul sis. And remembering an old verse from a Christian hymn...God will make a way, when there seems to be no way. I continue to believe that and hold you in prayer...sometimes minute-by-minute...every night before I close my eyes..I ask Him to hold you and be there with you and give you peace and wisdom and strength. We are all praying, dear friend.

    What I want you to know for sure is that I am here, no matter what. And I am still believing even when doors are shut, I look for windows to be opened. And I know, like you do, that what is left is more than enough.

    Hugs and prayers, to the moon and back!
    Your soul sis, Linda

  12. Love to you, Vicky, and peace and hope and quietness and trust, may they all be your strength. I continue to pray for you and for your family. Hoping you can hear the quiet sounds of the night, like we can hear, and there might be a peace in it for you, that God will just continue to hold your hand... to rock you to sleep at night when it's too much... and that you will be flooded with His peace.

    You tell us what we can pray for, how we can help, because there are so many standing right before you looking into your eyes and wanting to hold out a hand. You are our sister, and your words are such a blessing to us.

    Love across the miles.

  13. Weeping, Vicky. For so many reasons. That piece of paper from your mom - stained, worn, pressed into her heart and mind. And now yours. For the sweetness and guardless moments at the end of her life where you got to enter in to where she really lived and to see, without the dark glass, the mom you longed for. I'm seeing some of that, too, as my mom changes. For the news that you are not going to Texas but also knowing there are other doctors and other places and other possibilities and I'm not giving up believing and hoping. And yet, I honor your process and those fears that come, and I'm so grateful to the One who is bigger than fear.

    I am praying that this monumental journey you have walked is taking you to healing. To stopping this march. To the next thing that is on the horizon and to the breakthrough. I know we are all hoping and praying for that. Thank you for your depth and for being willing to share your soul self with us. I read this post to Hannah and we are both moved beyond words. But Hannah, who does not praise lightly or often, said very genuinely, "She is an incredible writer." She felt your heart, as do we all. I love you.

  14. You are so welcoming....your little note inviting us to comment....your affection for what your mother jotted down and your recognition of her vulnerability, along with your own.

    Your generous, welcoming heart and those of the lovely people surrounding you are a blessing in my life.

  15. All the vulnerability in this post...takes ones breath away. So filled with beauty, reality and pain. And that hint of being unsure....about everything. "....Live peacefully with all that's left" is there anything more powerful? Your words on your mother spoke to me. But it's the vulnerability you allow us to see in you both that...touches me. Because that is what makes us all human. Prayers always...always!


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