I knew something was wrong the minute I heard my father’s voice. My mother was usually the one to call me.
“Hello Pet” he said, his usual loving opening. Then a pregnant, awkward silence.
I froze. Something had happened. Pictures of my grandmothers swam around my eyes as they began to well up. Something must have happened to one of my grandmothers.
Then he broke the silence, and I don’t truly remember what he said, but somewhere in the mix of words that my brain has since scrambled were – mother – breast cancer.
I’ll never forget it.
A searing pain shot from my throat, charging through my viscera. I felt ungrounded. This wasn’t what was supposed to happen. I didn’t want to lose my mother. Tears began to fall before the shock had passed.
Over the coming hours, days, and weeks, I watched my mother transform from the avid caregiver of her husband, 3 children, and community, to a woman engaged and focussed on a single mission. Survival.
She made a sacred choice. She was very clear. She wanted to survive and was willing to do whatever was called for.
Now I have always known that my mother, although shy and would always rather be in the kitchen at parties, was a tower of strength, love and support. And what I was to see in the wake of her cancer diagnosis was one of the greatest lessons of my life. She became a warrior for life, and a life worth living.
Her mind and heart opened to traditional and complementary care, to prayer and meditation, to standard and creative. She was single-minded in self care, and I say this not as a criticism, but as a great example for someone who had often put the needs of others ahead of her own and now at this time of need was able to give herself the same dedicated attention and care.
Last week I wrote Drop the cape, Superwoman. Most of us are painfully familiar with the cape of tasks and expectations that can weigh us down.
I’m still talking capes, but noticing how important they are when we need to transcend. My mum wrapped herself in the cape of her inner essence. The cape of our deepest strengths that is within all of us and can unfold in response to a situation and allow us to soar through seemingly impossible odds.
The inspired action to put on that cape and fly as your own self-empowered superhero.
That’s what my Mum did. I’ll never forget the lesson she gave in light of this series of events. And I’m happy to say that she is still here today. I believe because of her cape and what she did for herself and our family when she faced her own mortality eye to eye.
When have you put on your cape, becoming the superhero of you life, and what did you learn from it?