I have been nearly undone.
May is always that month where calendars and chaos unite. This is why I keep saying/praying Hail Mary.
This year, I feel an extra twinge of tenderness.
May and all her celebrations and transitions, May Processions, Holy Communions, closing ceremonies, and graduations.
The precipice of bittersweet transitions meeting hopeful possibilities.
But that is not my May this year.
It’s been a different sort of May.
With a ramped-up schedule, May is finally beginning to wind down as we process the last 8-9 months of hard and holy work.
May holds space with visions of the futures my kids hope to embrace while focusing on the present moments and miracles God continues to reveal to Jon and me.
May is less about making rounds of social calls and outside celebrating and more about interior work and milestones we didn’t expect to be honoring or celebrating.
It is the first anniversary of my mom being called through the gate to her Shepherd—it’s where she longed to be, at home with the Lord.
The school year feels like a distant memory as we have started summer classes, summer jobs, and summer plans. Welcome to our summer home—at any given moment, some are home, and some are not. See what I did there?
This year, the kids went the distance with all they had to overcome.
It may take many days, maybe a lifetime, to process all this year has held for us in the silence of my heart.
The homeschooled kids are about to wrap up another year—what a year they’ve endured as they were front and center to witness endurance, strength, commitment, courage, and silent sacrifices.
Plans are being set in motion for the next year and those to follow. The future is knocking on their doors. Each is discerning their next right thing.
With primer and middle school years behind us (in two weeks, our baby is graduating 8th grade), sights are set only on high school, college, and the futures we pray for each day.
While our kids are focused on discerning the paths God has designed for them, Jon and I cheer and encourage them to embrace what life offers and follow God’s will and plan for their lives.
For he knows the plans, he has for them.
Yet we remind each other to stay focused on the here and now, the present moment, as our future is uncertain and unpredictable.
We live the future we prayed for when we started our lives decades ago and, coincidentally, the same age our two oldest are now.
Don’t blink—time flies—and…
We did pray our marriage would sanctify us and bless us with children who we could them the way to lean in and on one another and, more importantly, on God not just in the hardest of times but also by thanking Him for all that we have.
We prayed for a whole life of growing old together as we raised our family with God at the center, allowing faith to guide us no matter the circumstances.
Let me tell you, those kids (us, in the first picture) didn’t ask for these challenging moments. Still, they show up for one another and do it with respect, grace, love, forgiveness, and an unconditionally loving relationship because they need each other.
We also love to watch those other kids (the ones we brought into the world) do the same with and for each other—building beautiful sustaining relationships.
That’s the circle of life.
Jon and I are grateful for this life and the legacy of the family we created and continue to grow despite challenging circumstances. We know we are not the only family facing challenges. This is life—we were never promised a life free of suffering.
We prayed we would grow old together and watch our children grow into holy and happy people who serve and love others well while giving glory to God.
But here we are in that future we prayed for, watching our children turn pages and write new chapters for the story of their lives.
These days we are always waiting patiently (and sometimes not so much) for the next thing, the next appointment, the next MRI, or the next milestone achieved.
Those milestones have a different meaning than those our kids pursue that move them toward their futures as they grow into adulthood.
Our milestones simply allow us to live one more day—in the present, finding joy where we can and loving unconditionally.
It’s been a long year of processing many big feelings, including grief that ebbs and flows into the cracks of time.
Being a wife, mother, caregiver, advocate, heart holder, housekeeper, sister, friend, and occasional writer while processing and managing aggressive brain cancer returned with a vengeance. It gave way to a stroke that tested our limits and increased our trust.
I will note I want to add a daughter to that list, but I am no longer the daughter I used to be. So I rely on a different Mother to mother me, protect me, and guide me differently.
Thankfully we have learned to hand our worries over to prayer and God while rolling beads that ask our Mother Mary to intercede and show us her ever-present grace.
May is the month that honors all mothers. It is also the month we celebrate Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus. She gave her fiat when she was asked to receive—in her womb—the way, the truth, and the life. She was unaware of all that was asked of her to endure by us. Her son would bring us to salvation from the pain, sorrow, and death this world brings.
She carried sorrow and worry and still managed to trust and be an example of faith and grace.
May we all learn from Mary as we navigate life with our own unexpected trials and tribulations.
All month it has been clear that holding on and letting go is a pain and joy of the mothering life.
Without my mother on this side of Heaven, I have been holding on to Mary, The Blessed Mother, clenching a rosary as I recited her favorite tune—”Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you…”
Grace. Peace. Hope.
Seen. Known. Loved.
Earlier last week, a friend of a friend messaged me, “Heather! The Lord wants me to share with you, ‘Lord! I called on you for help and you answered me.’ Say it everyday and often this is from the Holy Spirit not me.”
This is not someone I speak with often. This friend’s friend could only have been given this inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
What a beautiful message from God, given we had a full, busy week of appointments, including another MRI. The friend of a friend was unaware of what weighed on my heart, and just the day before, I prayed, “please, Lord just let me know you hear me.”
God is really cool like that.
Then on my way out the door the morning of the MRI, I felt compelled to quickly grab a bracelet I hadn’t worn in at least a year, maybe two. It is a bracelet of many heavy beads and has a vintage bronze medal that hangs from those beads. It’s an image of Mary.
I chose it because it was the first one I found quickly (I have quite a collection of bracelets) with an image of Mary since I felt a nudge to keep her close since sometime in April.
If you listen to the podcast, The Hear and Now Podcast, Sophia and I record together, you will know that I mention in our saint chaser section that Mary, the Queen of Saints, has been “chasing me,” or making it very known she is near to me. Perfect timing for the month we celebrate mothers and honor the anniversary of my mom, who found eternal peace on May 17, 2021.
Our Lady of Fatima was the image of Mary on the medal that hung from my clunky bracelet.
As I waited during the MRI, I prayed another rosary (I have prayed so many Hail Mary this year). I laughed at the fact I had forgotten Our Lady of Fatima followed the day of the MRI, and I was randomly wearing a bracelet that showed her image.
While I have been part of the Catholic Church for close to 26 years, I have only recently valued the gift of a drawing close to her Immaculate Heart. I credit this strengthening relationship to increasing praying rosaries, and Many Hail Marys have helped.
It seems like Our Lady capturing my attention and mother me.
I am no expert on Mariology, but Our Lady of Fatima has become a beloved Marian devotion of protection and hope for those who suffer while offering comfort through times of uncertainty. She is known to have encouraged people to turn to the rosary.
The rosary has been my go-to prayer since my words fall short in prayers and writing lately.
Hail Mary, full of grace
Our Father Who Art in Heaven
Glory Be to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Honestly, what other prayers do I need?
And given the loaded calendar, we have had this busy month of May, I am glad I have had a few extra rosaries in my pocket.
We hurried home through traffic after our MRI last week to get a quick dinner together, settle in for the night, and pray another rosary. But we were exhausted.
I discovered I had lost the Our Lady of Fatima medal from my bracelet.
I was sad and flustered at losing that treasured medal that hung from a favorite bracelet that I have had for many years.
We were all over the medical complex, parking lot, and even in my garden to check on my blooming roses.
It may be unlikely I will ever find the Our Lady of Fatima medal. But if you know me, you know I believe God can do incredible things, so I never say never.
Then I remembered someone recently told me that when a Sacramental (saint medals or relics) disappears, it means, “we obtained a miracle.”
I have no idea if this is truth, fiction, or utter nonsense. BUT I know “we called on the Lord for help, and he answered.”
God answered our prayers and gave us another miracle on this aggressive brain cancer journey.
Many prayers have been prayed for Jon and our family these past two years. I get frequent messages of prayers and rosaries being prayed or masses being offered for our intentions.
Without a doubt, many specific prayers have been answered throughout this journey.
Many miracles have been revealed.
It would take a book to share the details of each and every one. You will have to trust me.
For now, this next best miracle God has revealed to us is that Jon’s most recent MRI is stable. And we are thrilled, filled with gratitude and tearful emotion, and overwhelmed by the goodness of God and the gentle love of His Mother, Our Blessed Mother.
No, we have not gotten “that big miracle” where the Mighty Healer cured Jon of cancer. And I trust God knows what He is doing with our story, no matter the details.
But without a doubt, Jon’s MRI results are, in fact, a miracle.
And many prayers of those Many Hail Marys have been answered. We have one more day.
Along with being the month celebrating moms and Mary, it is also brain cancer awareness month—Go Grey in May.
It is worth mentioning that in the last 30 years, there has been no new treatment that cures this incurable brain cancer. The treatments available increase the opportunity to continue living with brain cancer while attempting to manage any side effects of this horrible disease.
It is a miracle there have been little to no side effects.
It is a miracle of the amount of recovery Jon has achieved during the months of rehab. He is still affected by some weaknesses and lives with challenges, but his desire and choice to live with THE MOST positive attitude despite these challenges is nothing short of a miracle.
I don’t need to share all the stats here. You are welcome to do your own research. But please spare us any details of this research.
We already know more than enough, not just from reading but also from walking alongside some beautiful humans who have also been affected by the horrible effects of GBM.
Since day one, we have chosen to not fill our minds with worry and focus on statistics that MAY come with a devastating diagnosis. So we won’t share those for awareness here.
We are more in the camp of bringing awareness to May to shed light on finding positive ways to cope and live with brain cancer in the best possible way.
If you know the sobering statistics, you will know that Jon’s story is a miracle, given all he has endured and overcome these last two years.
His life IS A miracle in every possible way.
It has not been a piece of cake, though he will tell you differently if you ask him.
Jon has worked incredibly hard these past almost 9 months. He is my hero and the kids’ hero.
A friend texted me as I typed this, “Prayers are powerful. And the love he is surrounded with daily is the best medicine.”
Please keep praying for our intentions that we hold silently in our hearts and the ones we ask for out loud—patience, courage, strength, healing, trust, fortitude, and love.
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Every day for almost two years after losing my dad, my mom would text me, “I just went to rosary group.”
“I will text/facetime you after I pray the rosary.”
“Heather, I prayed a rosary for your intentions.”
“Did you pray the rosary today?”
My mom learned to pray the rosary and the Hail Mary only surrounding my dad’s passing in the summer of 2018. I would take her to my church, and we would sit inside the chapel or pray in the car before we would head to the hospital to see my dad.
It brought her so much peace because she could not do anything else to help him. I told her that prayers are the greatest gift to his healing.
She loved rolling her fingers over the beads. She forgot many of the words of the prayers, but she tried every day until she started praying 2 and 3 rosaries each day. And that meant everything to me.
In memory of my mom on the first anniversary of her going home to the Lord, I ask you to consider saying a prayer, a rosary, a Hail Mary, an Our Father, or simply reading Psalm 23 (her favorite Bible verse and prayer.)
It would mean so very much to me.
I miss you, Mom—until we meet again.
“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” -George Eliot.