upside down life

squirrel webSquirrels do best in or around trees. Running free. Outdoors.

This little guy found his life turned around when he got stuck inside the screened porch of the club house of our apartment complex. Not a good place for a squirrel. Scary. Unexpected. Life-changing.

My life changed this Christmas too. A few days ago, my mom had emergency surgery to remove a tumor, and the doctors declared it terminal cancer. Treatments options are ugly and time is uncertain. Her life has been turned upside down… the same for her husband, her sisters, her children, her friends. I had already written a post anticipating a different Christmas this year; I just didn’t expect this kind of different.

To be honest, my head and my heart are in a sort of fog right now. It is hard to process the emotions and still live in the midst of Christmas festivities – now with an added urgency and importance.

How do I live this new upside down life? I am learning day by day… about cancer, about my mom, about my family, about myself. There will be many more lessons as we go, but I have a few in mind now that I thought I would share with you…

Lean on community 

I don’t know what we would do without the support of our family and friends. Prayers, calls, notes, offers of practical help are all invaluable and give strength to our souls. It is not easy for any of us to ask for help, but we cannot “Lone Ranger” this one without leaning on others. This is not time to let our pride get in the way.

Work at communication

The stress of an unexpected surgery and a horrible diagnosis is causing tension between family members who each try to help in their own way. Exhaustion, emotions and different personalities, opinions, and availability cause misunderstandings and conflict. My family is trying very hard to believe the best, clarify doubts, give grace, and respect the interests and needs of each one. It is not easy, but we don’t want to lose our relationship in the process.

Grow in compassion

I don’t think my family has ever had a Christmas disrupted by a tragedy like this… but others certainly have. We usually go about our merry way buying gifts, preparing meals, and playing games without a thought for those who are spending the holidays in the hospital or at the funeral home. This year, I know what it’s like to feel little interest in parties, gifts, or food as emotional upheaval dulls my senses. I have empathy for those who are hurting now, and I hope that I will be more aware and thoughtful in the future that while some celebrate, others are suffering or struggling. 

During this scary, unexpected, life-changing time, I treasure the deeper moments with faith and family. I am grateful for our network of friends and support. I am learning and growing because of this upside down life.

I appreciate your prayers for my mom and my family. Please share any lessons you have learned when your life was upside down…

15 thoughts on “upside down life

  1. Terry, you have been much in my thoughts and prayers. Please know that we will continue to do so. I have been there myself, but it is never easy and no two situations are exactly the same. Enjoy your mom; love your family well during this time. I appreciate your thoughts and what you are doing to face this sad reality.


  2. Terry, may the Lord give you abundant grace as you process this difficult news. Tom and I are praying for you as you balance everything. And I know there is a lot. We love you! Tom and Rosie


  3. Pingback: The 2012 Christmas Blog Tour | eQuipping for eMinistry

  4. Dear Terry, doesn’t matter what we can tell you right now, doesn’t matter how much we want to alleviate your pain, time will come when you somehow , will understand in a different way, things that you can not see today, and it will hurt less, I can tell you that for certain. My mom passed last year, for a terminal cancer too, she was 61 and she only had six months to live. Sadly, but it is not my history, this is about you, just know that many of us, who had lived through this extreme pain, understand you. May God be with you, and help you to walk this way, holding his hand.


  5. Wow, totally understand this path. Seven years ago today my Dad passed away. Mom had been just 18 months before! I am sorry for the terminal cancer diagnosis. That’s also what they told my Mom. I do wish I had spent more time with her but she was gone in only 18 days, not the 3-6 they said. Go as often as you can, Terry. Don’t wait, and don’t have any regrets! You are dearly loved and prayed for much! JK


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