This is a painful story to share, but I feel that it had such a great significance on my life that it would be beneficial to others. As I’ve told you in the About Me page, my mother had a gambling addiction and she died of Leukemia about 5 months after being diagnosed. This is the story of just before her death, her death, and just after.
As I’ve said before, my mother had a bad gambling problem. We often went without, I remember often eating cheese sandwiches. We were constantly moving because of eviction due to rent not being paid. There was constant turmoil, constant stress, constant fear. Towards the end of her life, we had lost most family support. My sister and I lived with my mother, and my brother lived one hundred miles away. My sister and I rarely got along, for many reasons not all her fault, so I was truly alone in dealing with my situation. Well, at least as far as earthly company.
I used the time between my marine corps boot camp experience and my mothers diagnosis to talk with God. I begged him to stop my mother, to help her realize her gambling was destroying herself and all of her children. I prayed constantly for this, and one day my mother got sick. She slowly became unable to take the trip to the casino, and it continued to get worse. I realized after a few days that this was my answer. She continued to get worse until she couldn’t get up off of the couch where she was sleeping at night. When she couldn’t go to the bathroom, we called for an ambulance.
I knew this was cancer; I have no medical degree, very little medical knowledge, but I knew it was cancer. The paramedics that arrived said it was probably just a bad case of the flu, but they were wrong. After several hours at the hospital she was diagnosed with Leukemia. I had and continue to have no doubt that this was in answer to my prayer. I can’t explain it, but it’s the only thing in the world I have no doubt about. Not only was I provided confidence of this, but I was also provided confidence that if my mother never went back to gambling, she would fully recover.
I constantly visited my mother while she was in the hospital. I tried to get her to understand that as long as she didn’t gamble again, she’d be alright. We grew a little closer each day and I moved with her to another house to help take care of her. I see now that where we moved was a test for her. We moved in to a house that had an upstairs and down stairs rental property. My aunt lived up stairs, and she too had a significant gambling problem. For several months my mother and I would spend time together, and it finally felt like we had a relationship again. She started to feel a lot better, her strength was returning and it felt like she was going to beat cancer. I continued to remind her this entire time that she will beat this thing if she doesn’t go back to the casino.
In May, the month she died, my aunt and her took a trip to the casino. I believe she was talked into it by my aunt, but I accept it may have been entirely her idea. Immediately after the trip, her health started to deteriorate and it happened very quickly. Again, I was confident that her choice had sentenced her to death. I prayed for God to spare her, but every day I was confident he would not. My mother went into the hospital shortly after the trip, and they sent her home stating there was nothing they could do. She had developed a lung infection, and if they treated her lung they would damage her liver. They couldn’t save her from the infection without treatment and therefore there was nothing further they could do. She moved into a different apartment with my aunt and hospice was called. We said our goodbyes.
Not too many days after everyone visited and said our goodbyes, I went to visit her. She was suffering pretty significantly, I believe it was a Sunday. It was hard to see her struggling to live. Either at this visit or shortly after I found out she was back trying to fight her illness. She had set up an appointment for Tuesday morning with a specialist. That Sunday night I prayed that if my mother was just going to suffer more to prolong her life just a short time, please just take her now. Monday night, the night after, my sister answered the call saying my mother had died.
This sent me into despair and depression.
I set in motion through prayer a chain of events that would lead to my mothers death. Most nights after that I had dreams about how much my mother hated me for what I had done. I suffered that despair and depression for around a half a year. I believed my mother was in hell for what she had done, and I was the reason for it. I believed she hated me, and I deserved it. Those nights I prayed for God to accept my mother into Heaven despite what she had done while she was alive. I suffered greatly for these feelings and thoughts during those months. I felt the presence of my mother nearby and she was angry with me.
One morning when I woke up, I woke up to my mother sitting at the edge of my bed, near my head looking down at me. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, all I could do is see my mother looking at me and smiling like she loved me more than anything in the world. I don’t remember her ever smiling that way at me before. She was wearing a long white crocheted sweater, similar to the ones she liked to wear. She normally would wear off-white or gray, but this one was pure white. I had an uncontrollable urge to hug her. I fought through what was holding me back and reached toward her, only to focus in on my arm still on the bed. My mother was gone, but so was my despair and depression.
I didn’t actually move my arm, but I didn’t open my eyes either. I’ve never in my life experienced anything like this before. It was clear to me what the message was. My mother loved me, she did not hate me. It was also clear that she was going to be with God. I have not felt my mothers presence since that day, but she’ll always be in my heart and my thoughts.
Without my mother’s death, I would not have grown up in spirit and in maturity to be the man I am today. When we pray, God will answer with what we need, not with what we would want. The answer we receive from God may be painful, but the way he answers is also necessary. I have suffered from being given what I needed, and you too may suffer. However, he who has power over life and death also has the power to give you peace. As long as you keep looking to God, peace you will have.
I pray that all who have suffered and continue to suffer will look to God and find peace. I also pray that God will provide comfort to those who do not look to him and that they too will suffer less. I ask you to pray for me, and pray that I never forget what God has done for me. I don’t think I will, but it couldn’t hurt.