“All Things for the Good”
“Don’t worry. God works all things for the good!”
I want to slap the optimism right off her face.
Good? What good could come from terminal brain tumors? Why would God visit horror on us just to bring good?
I wipe the remnant tears I now regret sharing with my friend. I clinch my teeth and steel my face against emotion. It’s my superpower, hiding emotion.
I don’t want some vague future good. I want my mom. I want to keep weaving baskets with her. I want her proud smile at my grades and her witty, sarcastic banter with my brother. I want the mother-daughter fights and the girls-night-outs.
What good can come of this cancer?
It’s been five years since the miraculously clean MRI. Since I first believed my friend about the good.
But I’m finding car keys in the fridge.
Bills pile up, unpaid.
She forgets my name.
And her dry humor has turned to harsh criticism.
I thought the promised good was that she actually lived through the cancer. But I’m in college, two hours away and my mother is living in squalor and forgetting to pay her bills. Who is this stranger?
What good can come of this?
It is now twelve years since that clear MRI.
She is in a nursing home. She trades cans of Coke for packs of cigarettes, like prison. It would be funny if it weren’t killing her.
She missed shopping for my wedding dress. She missed the births of both my sons. She had five children of her own and cannot offer me any advice when I’m at the end of my rope. She doesn’t pick out the perfect wallpaper or sew beautiful bedding or weave baskets. Phone calls are filled with silence, or she abruptly decides to hang up.
She forgets I am no longer in Arkansas. She forgets me.
I find myself praying for a daughter until the sobs come, because I so desperately miss my mom and if I can’t be the daughter, then I want to be the mom. I want it all back.
And I want to stop hearing that good will come of it. It may be true.
But I want the good that could have been.