At 7:30 a.m. EST tomorrow, my mom will be under the knife. She has brain surgery scheduled for Monday to – we hope and pray – cure her trigeminal neuralgia. After exhausting her medication options and dealing with some pretty awful side effects (e.g., loss of vision, personality changes, extreme lethargy, etc.), she decided to go ahead and opt for a surgical intervention. There is no guarantee this procedure will take away the pain. Plus, she has it on both sides, and they are only operating on one side this time. There’s even a small chance it could cause the nerves to go even more haywire and cause more pain. But my mom is very hopeful. She makes Pollyanna look like a total glum queen.
Today my dad, brothers, my kids (Dave couldn’t be there because he was working all weekend), and an aunt and uncle and their kids all went to Mass together at my parents’ church. The priest there is a family friend and has been so good to my mom and all of us. He’s one of those people who makes you want to believe in God even if you don’t. There’s something other-worldly about him; he’s holy and simple.
Earlier in the week he had called my mom and asked her if she wanted to receive the Anointing of the Sick (she’s getting to be an old pro at this given her many recent medical procedures) and also have a healing ceremony at Mass. She thought he meant after Mass and was ever so grateful, but then he clarified that he wanted to do it during Mass after his homily. Mom was embarrassed, but she decided she could use the extra prayers.
I sat there – actually I stood most of the service, swaying with my cuddly Thomas tucked in the Ergo hoping he’d take his morning snooze in church (he didn’t, but he was very quiet and content) – and felt something bigger than me. Those words really can’t capture what I felt. I can’t think of any other way to say it though. There was something about this Mass, something real, something like Love itself coming down to touch me.
Father spoke during his homily about how there’s a difference between being cured and being healed. I looked over at my mom, her blonde hair pulled elegantly back in a twist, her arms wrapped around my Mary Elizabeth, the smile that wouldn’t leave her face even though we all know that it actually physically hurts her to smile these days, and I fervently prayed for a cure. I want this surgery to take away her pain. She doesn’t need to suffer anymore. Hasn’t she already been purified enough? I mean, she is a loyal Cubs’ fan after all (Father said the Cubs are past redemption and joked they were forever stuck in limbo).
But, seriously, she’s lost so many loved ones. She’s had chronic health problems that started when she was younger than I am. It’s one thing after another. I want my mama to be better. I beg for her to be cured so she can get back to volunteering, gardening, spending lots of time with her grandchildren, and going to the Cubs’ spring training. Not that her ailments have stopped her much. People forget she is in pain because she pushes herself. She had planned to go with me to the Behold Conference to help with Thomas. She still planes on being there. Mom just doesn’t quit. She hopes. She chooses happiness. She thinks of others. She cleans like a mad woman. She’s a little compulsive about cleaning actually. We saw one of those “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up” commercials and joked that Mom would cry out, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t clean up!” Mom is always aware that there is someone far worse than she is, and she puts her trust in the Great Physician.
I’m praying the skilled surgeon will be careful with my mama. I’m still begging God to make this finally be her cure. But I also know that whatever comes of it, the healing has already begun.
When she served as a Eucharistic Minister at the same Mass today, people she didn’t even know were coming up to her and kissing her. She said she’s never felt so loved. This was medicine to her soul. Witnessing the outpouring of love was medicine to my soul, too.
Madeline asked why we were all crying. “Because it was touching,” I told my not-overly-sentimental child.
“It’s always touching when God touches you,” I replied.
She gave me a quizzical look. I couldn’t explain it. I couldn’t explain the bigness – or the love – I felt at Mass today. It’s not something you explain; it’s something you experience.
There have been many times in my life when I’ve questioned God and when I’ve even questioned His existence but on this day, I experienced something. I was healed when I hadn’t even known I was sick.