The woman sat in the waiting room, beside her daughter.
A summons beckoned them into a consulting room.
The woman sat on a chair and watched while a doctor performed tests on her daughter.
She’d always told her daughter that she could do anything she put her mind to.
Now she watched as her daughter failed to walk across the tiny room in a straight line.
As she failed to touch her finger to her nose.
As she failed,
The doctor went to fetch a consultant.
Alone for a moment in the consulting room, her daughter turned to her;
‘I’m getting good treatment if I’m seeing the top man!’
The woman smiled encouragingly.
Inside, a bit of her heart broke.
She knew that seeing the consultant was not automatic.
But she could protect her daughter from that knowledge.
The consultant arrived.
Her daughter failed his tests, too.
They were the same tests.
She sat by her daughter’s bed on the ward they’d been sent to.
‘Mum, I think there’s something wrong with that lady.’
She watched as her daughter watched the lady in the bed opposite die.
The woman smiled reassuringly, as curtains were hastily pulled around the bed.
‘The staff will deal with it.’
Inside, a bit more of her heart broke.
She knew 16-year olds should not be seeing death like that.
But she could not protect her daughter from seeing death.
She sat by her daughter’s feet.
They were all that stuck out of the scan machine.
She rested her hand on them.
She’d promised her daughter she wouldn’t move.
The scan took over an hour.
The woman didn’t move.
Back on the ward, she almost lost her daughter in the sea of doctors surrounding the bed.
Her tall, athletic daughter looked tiny, lying there under a hospital blanket, wide eyes peering up at the faces above.
She heard the consultant’s words:
‘Two large brain tumours…we need to operate.’
The doctors melted away.
The woman sat on her daughter’s bed.
She took her daughter’s hand.
Her heart broke some more.
‘It’ll be a difficult road ahead,’ whispered God into her heart.
She believed that whisper.
She smiled at her daughter, through a heart that was breaking.
‘It’ll be ok.’
Her daughter didn’t need to know what God had said.
She could not protect her daughter from it forever.
But for now, the knowledge of that whisper was something the woman alone would carry.
Today is the anniversary – if that’s the word – of that day. 15th April. The day my mum’s life changed forever. The day that set her on a path of watching her daughter, me, go through operation after operation.
‘It’ll be a difficult road ahead.’ It’s also a road few see Mum travel. Somehow, the fact that I literally go through my health issues eclipses the fact that she does, too. Differently, yes, but not less.
I travel this road because she travels it with me. Supporting me, encouraging me. And it is a difficult road for her. A bit of her heart breaks, every time she sees me struggle.
I recently told my mum that she is my greatest and most frequent encourager. (I’m blessed to have many encouragers.) I was surprised by how surprised she was at that. I’d assumed she knew. But she didn’t.
So today especially, but every day, I celebrate my mum.
I thank God for her, and I thank Him for giving her to me.