On December 16th of 2011, my mother, Olga Henry, finished her long battle with Leiomyosarcoma. She passed away peacefully, with one last great sigh of relief, as her suffering and pain eased and she left this world to be with the Lord our God in peace and His holy embrace.
I’ve pondered this post for a long long time now. I knew that those of you who have been reading my mother’s writing but either haven’t commented, weren’t able to visit her in those last days, or be present during her funeral services or internment deserved some kind of closure, some emotional reconciliation that would close the door on this one chapter of my mother’s life–one that she chose to share with the world so that others could read and understand what she was going through, what her day-to-day life was like, and perhaps most importantly what her family and faith meant to her.
Even so, know this – my mother’s cancer was only one chapter in her life. The woman I knew and will always remember was a caring, loving, nurturing soul who prized her family, her faith, her loved ones and friends, and every single day she took a breath above all other things in the world. My mother loved life, and taught me to love life as well – she taught me to never, not even for an instant, to squander the gifts that God has given all of us, and to cherish each morning we open our eyes and draw a deep breath, knowing that even in our darkest days, those days are ripe with possibilities and opportunities. That even on those days when we don’t want to get out of bed that God is there with us, looking after us, and making sure that we never take on more than we can handle.
If you remember anything about my mother, remember these things. Her cancer and her struggle with it are without a doubt a story to be told–her strength, even in her last days, was an incredible sight to behold–but don’t let that be the only story we tell of her life.
I remember the woman who raised me, taught me to speak German when we lived in Germany, long before the Berlin Wall fell, and was involved with every aspect of my education, pushing me forward to be the person I am today. I remember the woman who welcomed me home with open arms every time–even as a grown adult–I needed to go home, who teased me that I never needed permission to make myself at home in her house. I remember the woman who sat and challenged my teachers when they wrote me off, believed in me while I studied, and celebrated with me when I proved them wrong, and then stood proudly at every graduation ceremony I had–that she made possible. I have more memories of my other than I could possibly share, and so does my father, Nelson Henry, and both of us will treasure them and keep them for the rest of our lives.
My mother’s obituary is below, just behind the “read more” link below. Her funeral was attended by loving family, neighbors, friends, and others whose lives she so deeply touched, and condolences were sent from far and wide by even more who will cherish and remember her. Thank you for sharing this blogging experience with her, and thank you for sharing this last post with me. God bless.