I want to share something very personal to me..
I wrote a eulogy for my mother’s funeral. I recorded myself speaking on my phone with plans to use it for Wendy’s Biography. The audio file has been quietly sitting in my computer since July 18th, 2013. Listening now, it brings back extremely heavy emotions from that very day.
I remember finishing up the eulogy just hours before the funeral, while attempting to get dressed at the same time. The writing was not rushed, but well thought-out as best I could.
I hope you are able to take something from this.
There’s a moment in life when you find yourself wanting one thing more than anything else in the entire world. Has anyone ever gotten to that point? And when there’s nothing you can personally do to obtain it, what do you do?
As a kid you may have prayed for your parents to buy you a new pair of shoes that you saw at the mall. Now days, kids are probably praying for an iphone. I know my niece and nephews are. Many of us as adults have probably been in a situation where we’re running late for work and we say, “Dear God, please let me make it to work on time!” or “Please don’t let there be any cops on this road!”.
There are plenty of less important things that we sometimes pray about, but right now I’m talking about the moment when we want something much bigger than just a pair of Nikes. The moment when we’re lying in bed with our hands folded tightly together, attempting to make negotiations with God, promising to quit your bad habits, to change the ways you’ve been living, and even give your word that you’ll go to church more often in order for your prayers to be answered in return.
On May 11th, one day before Mother’s Day, my two sisters and I found ourselves sitting beside my mom as she patiently waited in a hospital bed for a knock on her door. The stiff furniture and fluorescent lighting was nothing new to us, as we’ve been in and out of hospitals countless times over the last few years. After a few hours, the doctor eventually came into the room, sat down in an empty chair and started explaining to us in detail how far along my mothers cancer had progressed. It was the first time I had heard someone tell me flat out that my moms condition was terminal.
That’s when I reached my moment.
I put my hands together and began praying harder than I ever have. Thinking that I could make a deal with the Lord, explaining to him that I needed my mom here on this earth in hopes he would heal her from cancer, and we would be able to continue our normal happy lives.
This “lets make a deal” prayer went on for weeks; Every night before I went to bed.
I’m sure a few of you have also tried to compromise with God at some point and even more of you know that just not how God works.
I remember the day my mom called me and told me she was diagnosed with cancer. I also remember the first conversation I had with my dad a week later. He and I were outside in the back yard, tossing fallen tree branches into our fire pit. He tiptoed around the statistics of Ovarian Cancer and eventually let me know the average survival rate of women once they were diagnosed was five years. He ended the conversation with “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
I tried to prepare for the worst, but how can you honestly prepare yourself for the woman who was the core of your family to leave your side? As my sister Calinn put it; She wasn’t just our mom. She was our friend. She would play catch with me for hours, take me fishing, went to every high school sporting event and she supported us in everything we did.
It bothered me to watch our friend and mother go through her journey with cancer and know there was no apparent cure for her disease. Not being able to help your loved ones is an uncomfortable feeling and I didn’t know how to handle it properly.
I blocked it out.
I began consuming myself into my hobbies, because it kept my mind off of what was going on in our home.
This is the day I have been dreading. This is the moment I’ve played over and over in my head, telling myself it won’t happen. God wouldn’t take Wendy from us because we needed her. I needed her.
I’ve heard people use the words “Celebration of Life” many times in the past and I saw it to be a way to disguise death as a positive event. The term just never sat well with me because I never saw death to be something anyone should pretend to find any good in.
My mother made me a birthday cake this summer, just like she has for the last 25 years. The next 30 days, my family and I stood by her side as her health declined faster than I ever imagined it would. Knowing there’s not a thing we could do about it was the absolute worst part.
We continued to pray.
Exactly one month from my birthday, she left us.
July 4th. I finally understand. I now see why we’re celebrating my mother’s life, rather than mourning. Because if you told me to choose one person whom I knew for a FACT would be going to heaven when they died, my money would be on Wendy Weber.
Knowing my mother is in heaven as we speak is definitely something to celebrate. This is much bigger than any birthday, any anniversary, or any party any of us have ever attended.
This is it.
I may be bias, but from my perspective, my mom was an incredible human being. Look around. Everyone in this room has at least one thing in common with each other. All of you can agree Wendy had a positive impact on each and every one of you and that’s why we’re all here. In her final event, she brought us all together so we could celebrate her beautiful life and be excited for her that she was able to reach a place where most people can only dream of just seeing a glimpse of.
So we get that new pair of shoes and we end up stepping in gum the very first day wearing them. We usually say something like “Why me?”
We get that brand new iphone and somehow it slips out of your hand and the screen shatters on the ground. You ask yourself “Why me?”
You’re on your way to work, going just as fast as everyone else on the road, and YOU get pulled over and ticketed for speeding, and you think “Why me?”
My mom endured over two years of Chemotherapy, accompanied by multiple surgeries, countless needless in her arms, tolerated constant pain and not to mention the impending doom that hung over her head ever single day.
Not once did she say “Why me?”
She was a strong woman and we all know that.
Somehow, she was always able to have a smile on her face, good day or bad. She loved helping others, even when she was the one who needed help. She found joy in other peoples happiness, and that’s just not an easy trait to find in a person. She continued to give, and give and give to others, and never expected anything in return.
I remember her telling me that if doctors were able to save one person from the information they gathered on the tests she was involved in, it would be worth it to her. Can you honestly say, you would exchange your life for a stranger’s?
So what do you do when your prayers go unanswered? You might become bitter and angry, even take your frustrations out on others because of it. You hear people being healed by miracles all the time. My mom had thousands of people praying for her, and a miracle was nowhere to be seen.
My sisters and I accumulated an immeasurable amount of wisdom from my mother. Yet, during these last two years or more, I feel I have learned more from her than I ever have my entire life.
I learned even more from her actions, rather than her words. For example: You cannot simply tell someone “Overcome the negatives in life. Find the positive in all situations” and expect them to naturally live by it, because in order to obtain optimism, you need to be around people who are optimistic.
Positivity is a contagious personality trait that rubs off on those we come in contact with.
So instead of feeling bitter and angry that God took my mom, I began to pray for patience and understanding. I soon realized what I think is best for me, may not be what’s best for others and may not even be what’s best for me in the future. It’s impossible to see the big picture before its ready to be seen. We just have to trust that everything will eventually fall into place.
Another awesome trait my mother had other than her infectious upbeat personality, is unquestionable faith. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her because of that. To believe whole-heartedly in something that cannot be seen, to live firmly by the rules of Christianity and trust that the Lord will take care of her is truly something amazing. That takes a lot of courage and that’s something I still hope to acquire from her someday.
For those of you who didn’t get a chance to hear Wendy’s voice on cancer, she believed God gave it to her. She believed that she was meant for a bigger purpose and that she would make a powerful impact on others lives in ways that were unknowable. Boy has she ever.
She had a positive influence on us more than she will ever know and she’s not done. I know will continue learning from my mother as I continue my walk though life, because I realize she doesn’t need to be on this earth in order to be apart of our lives. Our memory of her will always be here with every single one of us.
If I had one piece of advice for those of you who haven’t been on this side of the fence yet, it would be spend as much time as you can with your family. Don’t let life get in the way of being with the ones you love. Take your mom to a movie and go fishing with your dad. Do everything possible to avoid regret, because regret sticks with you for a lifetime and nobody deserves to carry that.
I wrote this piece so I could tell everyone what kind of woman my mother was. But after yesterday, I realized this wasn’t necessary. As I got a chance to talk briefly with everyone who was at the visitation, people continued to tell me the kind of woman my mother was. People I’ve never met. Some people, who may have only shared a few moments with Wendy, had the most wonderful things to say about her.
Although Ovarian Cancer was an important part of my mother’s life, she made it clear that Cancer didn’t define her as a person. We have 50 wonderful years to remember her, by who she was as an individual. I am so grateful to have had Wendy as my mother. The memories we made together will always make me smile, and the love she had for everyone will never be forgotten.