When I wrote Without A Word, the completed manuscript was well over 100,000 words. Yikes. Thank God for editors. What follows here is one of the deleted chapters. I had a struggle letting this one go but eventually realized that my mother was woven so perfectly throughout the overall story.
But here it is…the missing chapter!
April 19, 2001- Today is my mom and dad’s anniversary. They’ve been married 32 years and they’re still going strong, thank God. I don’t know what I would do without my mom. She keeps on giving and giving some more. She’s so selfless. How does she do it? Her joy is abundant and peace radiates from her. Please protect her and keep her Lord. You know I fear losing her – she’s the only one who seems to understand me (except for You of course). I want to be an encouragement to her like she is to me–like she is to all of us. She’s so amazing with the kids – especially Hunter. I love the way he looks at her–if she wasn’t my mother I would be jealous of his love for her…
She was just eighteen and fresh out of high school when she had me. Certainly she never pondered over what her life might become as a result of bringing me into the world. My mom and dad were just trying to make ends meet. They were trying to raise my brother Jack and I while growing up themselves for heaven’s sake. It must have been so trying, and yet the struggles she faced as a young mother of two were nothing compared to the ordeal of being Hunter’s grandma.
I have so many memories of my mother, none more precious than watching her love my son. This love was a love that everyone could see and feel when they were around my mother and Hunter. When they were together, the warmth of that love would emanate from them. I learned how to be a better mom by observing my mother care for and be a grandmother to my three children.
During the most devastating time of our family’s journey she stood strong and confident for all of us, even though I knew she wanted to crumble.
One distinct memory of my mother I hold dear to my heart and will never forget was when Hunter was just three years old. He was really sick and struggling so much we thought for sure he was going to die. His breathing was very shallow and we had done everything we knew to do for him at the time. In order to monitor his breathing, my mother and I took turns holding Hunter throughout the night. It was a long night, but we did it together and Hunter ended up going into the hospital by ambulance early the next morning. I’ll never forget that night with my mom. We cried, prayed, and even sang to Hunter all night long.
We did all of this together. There was no taking turns so that one of us could rest, we put our efforts toward comforting Hunter together so he would be able to feel two times a mother’s love. I believe that night we were all getting something we desperately needed from each other.
My mom is an amazing woman. The love and friendship we share is a result of walking through heartbreak and suffering and enduring the unthinkable together. Had we not surrendered our lives to a purpose beyond ourselves we might not be as close as we are today.
She’s my best friend. She’s the one who knows me better than anyone else and loves me anyway. My mother is the one who comes when I call, for whatever reason… no matter what. She stands in the gap… no matter how wide and deep and treacherous the gap may be. Her prayers are most fervent on my behalf and she’s always praying. Always. I don’t ever have to ask her to pray for our family and me because I know she’s praying. And she’s not only praying-she’s rallying the troops to pray too. Because she gets it. It’s crystal clear to her that we can’t do this alone, that she and my dad can’t carry the burden for us… we need help. We need prayer warriors bending the knee for our entire family. We need the troops to rally, and she’s not afraid to ask-she’ll do anything to take care of her family.
I’ll never forget an experience with my mother during a typical service at our church one Sunday morning. Occasionally at our services the senior pastor would ask those of us in the congregation to raise our hands if we had any pressing needs that required prayer. People seated nearby would then gather around and lay their hands on the one requesting prayer. Once he was sure those desiring to be prayed for had the necessary support, our pastor would then pray. The prayer services are very biblical, but coming from a traditional Catholic background the whole laying on of hands concept was intimidating. Moving your hands (or any part of your body for that matter) at all during a church service was not something we were accustomed to. So even though my son struggled to breathe every single day of his life and I had every reason (and then some) to raise my hand for prayer, I didn’t. Pride.
But then my mom came to service with us and she was so bold… she raised her hand. Sure enough all these people moved in to place their hands on her and I was standing right next to her and so I placed my hand on her shoulder… and then our pastor prayed. After watching my mother move and behave with such courage that day, things changed. We were both in tears when prayer was over and I leaned over and whispered to my mom. “I can’t believe you raised your hand. I’m so proud of you.” And she looked at me and said “Jill, I’ll do anything for Hunter, anything.” And she did, she always did. And she still does.
I don’t deserve to have her in my life and yet she’s my mom, my cheerleader, and the one I talk to everyday about everything and anything.
She didn’t have to leave her six-figure job when Hunter got sick… but she did. She didn’t have to take care of Hunter as often as she did so that I could get some rest… but she did… gladly. I want to be more like her. I want to pour out my life for the sake of others the way she does. I want to have a generous heart that lives to encourage people and give in abundance… a heart like my mom’s. I want to spend my life for the sake of making someone else’s day a little better–because that’s what she does, everyday. When I’m in line at the McDonald’s drive thru I want to buy lunch for the strangers behind me or bless the worker with a huge smile–because that’s what my mom does. All the time. I want to spread joy too and see things most people miss because they’re too busy. I want to listen… really listen with my ears and my heart… like she does.
She doesn’t just care about her family, she cares about people, strangers… people she doesn’t even know. Her compassion spreads to everyone who crosses her path or that needs her prayer. People notice her smile and the passion and joy that radiate from her. This is not just a trait a daughter sees in a wonderful mother, it’s obvious to all that know her. And as strange as it may be in these self-absorbed times, people that don’t even know her sense the way she sincerely cares about them when their lives touch. They see that she’s different.
My daughter Erin said something to me not too long ago that captures the kind of woman my mom is. “Mom, I hope this doesn’t make you feel bad or anything but I love Grammie as much as I love you.” Erin loves my mother. They have such a close bond that I wouldn’t doubt it if Erin told my mother her deepest secrets, secrets she hasn’t even shared with me. Grammie is trustworthy and faithful and yet she’s not perfect. No one is. Her weaknesses and imperfections are just another opportunity for her to display a trust in the Lord that makes you want to run to Him for everything.
She’s a control freak, or type A personality, and in many ways so am I. She’s meticulously professional, writes everything down and knows her schedule but I’m not organized like that. I’m getting much better but she’ll be the first one to tell you that I need help. In fact she’s the first one to call me out on any area in my life that needs some adjusting–in other words, she’s not afraid to get in my face when I need it. And sometimes (more often than I’d like to admit) I need to be told the truth–in love of course. We’re a lot alike and yet very different but what we do have in common makes all the difference.
We both love Jesus and desire to love Him more. If we talk and He’s not part of our conversation, there’s something seriously wrong. We’ll often call each other with a “God-story” or share a specific scripture either one of us needs to hear at just the right time. I feel blessed beyond measure. I know how awesome God is because He blessed me with a mother who is a teacher, best friend, and sister in Christ.
Our relationship and close friendship hasn’t always been so incredible. Not because of anything my mother has done however. I joined a sorority as a college freshman, need I say more. Although I was a put-together-mess, she loved me anyway and so did my dad, even though he didn’t always show it. I don’t know if I would’ve been as patient and loving as they were. As rocky as the road I chose to travel down grew, the more grace my mother extended. And then I met Jim.
Somehow in the midst of it all, she was able to extend more grace and more love. How did she do it? The strain on the relationships in our family as a result of Jim’s choices, my weaknesses and Hunter’s sickness was evident at times. And though my mother and father had their own issues to wrestle with, they’re still married and the way our culture continues to move, that’s huge.
As a mother now myself, I recognize the limitless sacrifices, selfless devotion, and faithful love my mom poured out for my younger brother and me all those years. Her commitment to family was evident in her constant giving, loving discipline, and tender encouragement. I don’t know where I’d be or how I would have met the daunting challenges I faced if not for her example of what love and motherhood are all about.
I can’t wait to watch Hunter and my mother snuggle again someday and I can only imagine what he’ll say to her when he sees her again. He loves her so much and so do I.