to judge our lifestyles... to convict each other of unrighteous and unhealthy behaviors. What if our words are the catalyst to their healing?
I had a friend pass away who was a widow in her thirties and had four kids to raise on her own. She appeared to be a very devoted mother. She sent her kids to an "academy." Her kids always had restaurant food, clean clothes, new toys, good grades. Even when her oldest daughter went through chemo, she always "appeared" to have it "together."
I met this friend while I was working at a Taekwondo school. She became the best attending student with her kiddos. They practically lived at the "dojang", church and whatever restaurant du jour. She appeared to be in good spirits and made some friends with the other students. She eventually became a black belt and started instructing.
She talked about her deceased husband like they had the love story of the century. He tragically died from cancer 7 years before she also passed away from two forms of cancer. I loved her for the mother and wife she seemed to be and for the holidays we spent together as "single mothers." She loved my daughter and I watched after her kids. We were the "village" to each other.
When I moved away to VA, I learned that my friend had 6 months (very little time left). I was floored. I perceived her to be the ultimate single mom. She was my "if she can do it, then I should be able to do it also" person. She said she had a dream that I had triplets. She didn't want many people to help her- her pride was evident in her last moments. Only 2-3 friends were allowed to help her in her last days.
Her "passing away" story is just breathtaking the way our mutual friend described it. She floated off into "another consciousness" and was talking to her husband. She said to him that she didn't want to leave the kids and he said it's ok to "let go." And in that moment, she passed on into the spiritual arms of her true love. She had already arranged for her husband's sister to take guardianship of the children. Tearing up yet?
As much as her story was very controlled into being something of triumph and love, there was a part of the story I only learned about after she passed. And while I still love her and choose not to change my perception about her; I see that she had a prideful spirit that was not very genuine. Her friends were there to pick up the shambles that were left in the house... the house that people rarely visited... hidden with secrets.
Behind her lavish restaurant life, her kitchen had rotting food and dirty dishes. The clean clothes were purchased to give the facade that she did laundry; the laundry was backed up. New toys replaced the ones that were in huge disarray. There was trash everywhere. They literally avoided their home due to the horrible condition. It also turned out that my friend was talking for hours on the phone and perhaps not attending to her kids.
If she had just trusted us as friends to help her out... If she had just an ounce less of pride. We understood how large of an undertaking she had to manage as a widow but she didn't give us the opportunity to bless her and her kids with the help so her house could truly be a home and a refuge. If she had just trusted us to graceful in our conviction of her life in shambles.Maybe we could have helped her come up with a chore chart. Her kids were all 7 and older by the time she went into her own chemotherapy- old enough to pull some weight.
Sometimes we must invite people into our lives - the good and the ugly - so that they can help us with a loving touch and a gentle hand. So what if someone saw the house like that- she had four kids on her own and I'm assuming a huge house. Even in my personal life, I struggle to keep my large house clean as we've quadrupled our living space since we started living together. We all have our limits and should be able to sequester appropriate reinforcements.
It turns out that her kids weren't as happy as she wanted them to appear. They are happy that the are out of that rat hole mansion and with family that really pays attention to them rather than running away from problems and avoiding getting down dirty. And of course they still love her dearly...
When I go over to my single mom friends homes, I try to do one household cleaning task for them. I feel driven to do those things knowing what my dear friend battled in her widowhood. I think- if this gives her a few more quality minutes with her children and gives her some more smiles, then I am happy to help. Let people see your dirt so they know WHERE to help. If they love you, they won't beat you up about it- they will give you a hand.
As a former single parent, I want to shout out to the single mother friends that I have been blessed to know. Our bond is something that transcends blood- it's a motherhood sisterhood. Keep fighting the good fight and I pray that people will pour into your and your kids' lives to bless you and rejuvenate you. Thank you for being there for me. I'm so glad that God doled a little less pride to me to give me room to be blessed.