Every woman, from the moment she finds out that she is going to be a mother, begins to dream of the day when she will be able to see her baby’s face, hug him, guide him and watch him grow into an adult who can take care of himself. As mothers, we never think of the possibility of having to prepare ourselves to let our children go before us and that those dreams we had for them would not come true.
On December 12, 2012, my family’s life changed abruptly and forever with the diagnosis of my daughter, Christina’s, terminal cancer. All the plans and dreams we had for her came to a halt and living with the uncertainty of our future became our new reality. For me, a person accustomed to planning and organizing everything, it was a tremendously hard experience. Had I not put this trial entirely in the hands of God, I would not have been able to bear it. It’s amazing what happens when you put your trust in God. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
When we think about the most important day of our lives, usually the answers we give are our wedding day, the day our children were born, or perhaps the day of our graduation. It’s highly improbable for us to select the day of our death. Our tendency is to think of death as a moment of pain, loss, fear and anguish. For me, death took on a different meaning during those years of Christy’s struggle, because despite all the pain and suffering, Christina never lost her confidence in God. Next to Christy, I learned to enjoy life under any circumstance: with sunshine, with rain, with trials, and with stumbles. I also learned to see death as both “the most important day of my life and also the happiest”.
For Christina, the day of her death would be the day she would return to the arms of our Lord; the opportunity to be face to face so she could ask God the many questions she had. She told me, “Mum, I’ll be so excited and happy when I see Him, that I’ll forget in that moment all the questions I have.” It’s incredible that a girl of only 9 years old would give me the greatest lesson of my life. This lesson is reflected in a phrase I once heard: “we live to die; we die to live.” That is how Christy lived her life. If God needed her in heaven, she was willing to go to Him – even if it meant leaving me, her father and her brothers. For Christina, God always occupied first place.
On January 26, 2018, Christy returned to the loving arms of God, while my husband and I held her hands. That day, while I observed her lifeless body, I saw her more alive than ever before. Her eyes radiated a light that I will never forget…this was at the same time the hardest moment and the most beautiful moment of my life. God allowed me, for a few seconds, to see, through my daughter’s eyes, the light and joy eternal life brings. In that moment, I imagined her happily hugging God and I felt in my heart the love of God that surpasses everything…an overwhelming peace that I have never felt since.
Though the day of Christy’s death became the happiest day of her life, it was the day I started to carry my cross and to live with a pierced heart. Learning to let go of all the dreams I had for Christy has not been easy. To say that I miss her doesn’t convey the depth of my longing to see her smile, feel her hugs, enjoy her playfulness, and delight in her EVERYTHING!! Some days my sorrow feels like a bottomless pit. Though the pain caused by the loss of a child is a feeling that will never disappear, from the standpoint of faith, that pain gives us fortitude, helps us to see the blessings in the middle of the trials, and enables us to appreciate the opportunity to wake up to a new day, giving thanks to God for having given us the great privilege of caring for his children here on earth.
January 26th (the date of Christina’s death) has become a day of celebration for our family, since we now look at our deaths as the real start of our lives!!! The happiest day of my life will be the day of my re-encounter with God and with my loved ones that have departed. I ask God to allow me to live each day as the last one, enjoying my family, loving unconditionally in the same way Christy loved, and saying at every moment, with absolute certainty, like Christina taught me: “Jesus, I trust in you.”