90: Second Chance

90: Second Chance

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

Second Chance

Cherish your yesterdays, dream your tomorrows and live your todays.

~Author Unknown

I was making my mom’s bed when she walked in. Quickly, I asked the instinctive question, “How did it go?” expecting her to tell me everything was fine. When she hesitated, I thought she was joking, like when you ask children if they received good grades on their report card and they frown—only to say “gotcha!” before revealing straight A’s. But that was not my mom’s sense of humor. She didn’t like to scare me, especially when it concerned a doctor’s visit.

“Good? Bad?” I prodded, feeling like I was slipping into a nightmare. “What? It isn’t cancer, is it?”

She leaned against her old desk, in her pastel bedroom with the Paris theme, and told me something so ugly it was completely contrary to the surroundings. Possible cancer. A “painful” biopsy in one week, followed by two more weeks of waiting.

I stared at the woman before me, whose face I had looked into nearly every day for twenty-six years, and felt like I was seeing a stranger. Nearly sixty, my mom was more beautiful and full of life than anyone I had ever known. She had been published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, started a website dedicated to helping motivate and encourage people, and had plans to visit friends in Provence in France—a place she had always wanted to visit.

I had plans, too. I had grown up without a grandmother and was determined that, when I had children someday, they would not miss out on having one. My beautiful mother would be the one to make them laugh like she made me laugh every day. Her smile would make them smile; they would feel the comfort in her arms and experience the kindness of her spirit and her deep faith. They would be as blessed as I had been to know this woman who never raised a hand or her voice to me, and who was my best friend.

Of course, I cried, but then I got angry. I was angry that a disease could take away the woman who had homeschooled me and my two brothers, taking us to the science center with a lunch bag full of peanut-butter sandwiches every other weekend, and on field trips to the grocery store. She would stop someone to compliment them, regardless of what language they spoke, and invite people into her home despite their religious beliefs. She went to the Netherlands when people from our church tried to tell her it was impossible, our pastor at the time being her biggest opponent. When we returned after two successful weeks of her being booked solid to speak in Bible colleges and churches, despite knowing no one when we went over, a crowd was waiting to welcome us at the airport. She’s been back seven times, adding more countries along the way. The details of her trip to Paris were published in FRANCE—her favorite magazine.

Not everyone saw her the way I did, and it was their loss. I watched men treat this rare diamond as if she were a plastic ring in a Cracker Jack box. Watched as she went back to work after my dad was arrested for attacking her. Watched her fight for us in court, and pace the hallway in prayer outside the operating room when my brother was having surgery, while simultaneously making phone calls to find us a place to live after my dad took our house. We should have spent her birthday in Paris or watching a movie together at home—she would have been happy with either. But we spent the day moving the rest of our belongings into a storage unit. Her beloved library was packed into dirty boxes, a padlock the only security.

In that darkest moment, thinking she might die, I realized some things I wished every child with a good mother knew before it was too late. Having a good mom was my greatest blessing. Instead of daydreaming while she spoke, I should listen gladly to her voice. Even when I was tired or wallowing in self-pity, I should make the effort to do something when she asked me—whether performing a chore or playing Minecraft with her.

That news of the biopsy was meant to change us, and it did. She turned out to be fine—no cancer. And now, when I do that thing that daughters do, and I start to get frustrated with her, I take a breath and thank God that she is here, so grateful for the second chance I’ve been given.

~April Pollack

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