The lesson I learned from a dying mother

October 30, 2012

As I shared with you last week Tuesday, I want to encourage you to see your situation, your family, and your life from a new angle by introducing you a few different women who have impacted me.  Each of their lives remind me of the beauty that can only come out of adversity and their stories encourage my heart to refocus while living and loving more richly.

Story #1

Saying yes: a dying mother’s perspective

When you say “no” to your child, is it typically:

1)   to set a healthy boundary, or

2)   out of selfishness?

Some moments are monumental.  For me, the question concerning the origin of my parenting denials was one of them. I can remember the exact moment that my mind was first stretched to consider my own parenting selfishness: through the prompting of a dying mother.  It was a quiet evening as I relaxed on the couch with my laptop in front of me.  I watched the video of a mother of 2 named Rachel who had fought terminal cancer for 4.5 years speak honestly and openly on the meaning of life and why she says, “death is not dying.”  During her talk, there are many profound truths that Rachel spoke of that cut to the heart of what we believe and her transparent self reflection affected me deeply.

In particular, I was struck by this statement and how closely it mirrored my own heart.  Rachel said,

“I have found that I say “no” an awful lot and when I took an honest look at myself, I realized I that was saying “no” because it was inconvenient to me.   I don’t want them to jump on the bed, because that means I will have to tidy it again.  I don’t want to give them a snack, because that means I have to get up from checking my email to get it for them.  I don’t want to do that craft now, because that will be another mess to clean up.  Hear it?  Me. Me. Me.  And now when I know my days are few, I find myself saying yes a lot more.  Yes you can have that cookie.  Yes you can jump on the bed.  Yes let’s make that craft . . .“

From that moment on, I was changed–not perfect–but changed.  Inquiries from my children began filtering though a selfishness scale and I started to ask myself “Is there a solid, logical reason to say no to this request?”

Allowing this question to filter my answers has allowed for barefoot moments on the beach and swallowing snowflakes.

It has invited creative wardrobe expressions and inventive menu options.


In short, it has enriched our moments and helped create unique memories.  It has allowed grace to flow in and encouraged my own selfishness to be bridled.

Lest you fear that my home has become a free-for-all haven for every childish whim, let me assure you of the contrary.  In our home we strive for healthy boundaries, age-appropriate responsibilities and consistent, loving discipline (again, we are not perfect, but this is our steady, guiding goal).

Nothing helps realign priorities like perspective.  The words of Rachel were the exact perspective I needed.  Perhaps they will be for you as well.  I encourage you to find a quiet hour and watch and be changed as I was, I promise you won’t walk away unchanged.

After you watch, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Where you challenged?  In what way?  

*Rachel Barkey (shown above) went home to her Lord on July 2, 2009 at 37 years of age. Rachel is survived by her husband Neil and her children Quinn and Kate.

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