Seeing The Shadow Yet Celebrating Hope

Warning: this story is honest and may be emotional for some.

Our Strawberry Tea Party on Saturday is not a promotional stunt. I raise money to support those living through cancer because it is often brutal, painful, and life-changing.

My mum died in 1997. She had suffered through cancer several times. In fact she was ill for a lot of my childhood although I don't remember. She was so good at hiding the pain and suffering. I remember the wig and the jokes about hair loss. Most of all I remember the last time I sat with her. I was 19. I was beginning to learn what it meant to be my own woman. I was living away from home at university in England. My parents received the news that this time there would be no recovery. They waited until I came home for the summer. I heard the words, "Your mum has cancer again. She won't get better this time." That was it. My reality was forever changed but I had yet to realize what that meant.

That is what cancer does - hits you with the realization that all that you thought was true about life may not be certain anymore; that the darkness is truly darker and more dangerous than you thought possible. However, I also learned that the light is brighter and more hopeful than I ever imagined (but those details are for another story).

I went back to university while my mum lay in bed slowly slipping away from us as the morphine took over. When I was called home the following March it was a shock. The last time I sat by my mum's bedside she didn't see me or recognize me. I read her poetry and tried to find some hope to hang on to.

Author C. S. Lewis said it is not so much the loss as the irreversibility of death. If I asked my friends who are living with cancer they might say the same about it - cancer irreversibly changes your life. Good things can come out of this but often also a lot of loss.

This is why I am hosting a tea party on Saturday. This is why the proceeds will go directly to support those living with cancer. We will celebrate life and tea and hope. Will you join us?