Friday, September 28, 2012

The Prayerful Truth

I was reading an article this morning about the many reasons why parents shouldn't lie to their kids to spare their feelings.  Don't, for example, say Grandma is "going away for a few days," if Grandma is going into the hospital for surgery.  "A lie is a lie," and "what kind of example are you setting?" was the overall message.   

It made me think back to when my Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Was I honest with my kids when I heard the news?  The diagnosis had been such a shock to me.  My mom had always been so vibrant and alive, and I had no warning.  My mom had been hiding symptoms and test results from me for weeks or even months.  I'm still not sure how long she knew before I did.  She never did tell me, in fact.  I heard it from the oncology nurse who called to report the results of the scans, without realizing I didn't even know why she'd had them.

Her lung cancer was the most difficult type to treat: small cell lung cancer.  It was well advanced (extensive stage), and so her prognosis so bleak: maybe a month without treatment, maybe 6 to 12 months with treatment.  I did my independent research and every report I found said the same thing.  I found not one shred of scientific evidence for hope, and so I believed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she would die in a short time frame.  My mother never did believe it, however. She insisted, right up to the day she went into hospice care, that she would beat this thing.

So what did I tell my children and when did I tell them? While my memories of specific, heart-wrenching events are clear and sharp, my memories of whatever else was going on in my life then are bleary or nonexistent.  I know I hugged my children close, and I thanked God (I admit) that neither of them was the one diagnosed.  Everything else is a blur. 

My feeling is that I was very honest with my children, who were then just 7 and 8 years old.   I wanted to be realistic, and I have never intentionally lied to them.  I didn't want to gloss over this precious moment. I wanted them to have a chance to appreciate her in the way we do when we realize the preciousness of life. 

I'd handle it all differently now.  My mother devoted her last nine months to living, while I spent them preparing for her death.  Who was the wiser?   I didn't then have the spiritual training nor the prayer technology I use now to give me the skills to do anything else, so I don't 'blame' myself.  And yet I do still wish I had done some things differently.

I considered all of this as I drove home from seeing my 'adopted' mom, our Grandma Jan, the woman we had hired to be my mother's caregiver, just before Mom's passing.  Though her care giving was short-lived, as Mom passed a few days later, her acceptance into our family was permanent.  My Mom had insisted to the end that "I don't need help!" Yet she embraced Jan's assistance.  I feel certain that this was my mother's way of saying she was not abandoning us, that she was leaving us in the tender loving care of another mother, another grandmother, another Beloved. 

Grandma Jan told me today that the doctors think she has cancer.  Her doctor doesn't know what kind or where in her body for sure yet.  More tests are needed.  I considered waiting to tell my family until she knows for sure.  After all, it has yet to be confirmed, and why worry them? 

Then I knew what I had read this morning was no accident.  A lie is a lie, even if it is by omission.  So I told my children what little I knew about Grandma Jan's condition and that this is our opportunity to do something very powerful for her ~ to pray into knowing that God is Well-Being, that we are all One with God, that Grandma Jan is infused with the very Well-Being that God is, that there is a divine plan for Grandma Jan ~ and for us.  It was such a relief to let go of the heavy hopelessness of the "don't get their hopes up" theme.  It was so powerful to offer, instead, something that we can always do, the one thing that gets us through the worst of the worst: to pray. 

It occurs to me, then, that the biggest reason not to lie to my children about weighty matters is because it would be a denial of their experience, their contribution, their call to action.  A child's prayer resonates with the ardor and purity of one who knows the Truth.  Who am I to deny Grandma Jan the power of such prayer?  Who am I to deny my child the opportunity to contribute his or her own wisdom, tender loving thoughtfulness, and prayerful Presence to a situation that concerns them deeply?  Looking back, I am glad I invited them to pray.  You can rest easy, Grandma Jan.  The children's prayers are IN.


1 comment:

  1. And, indeed, Grandma Jan has been found to be free of cancer! The power of prayer....


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