As our family navigates through cruising life, I believe we have a guardian angel looking down on us and guiding us through each challenge and success. I do not believe the “chance” encounters we’ve had with complete strangers and good Samaritans are merely coincidences, but instead signs from above….
My mother passed away on August 9th, 2008 when she was 57 years old and I was 27 years old. The day she called me in September of 2007 when she had just received the news of having a mass on her pancreas began a series of events that forever changed my life. My life in Beaufort immediately came to a halt and I spent the next year on family medical leave traveling back and forth between Atlanta and Beaufort and essentially becoming my mother’s advocate at the hundreds of doctors appointments across the country…..searching and hoping for something that would extend her life. Unfortunately no treatments exist for stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer….something that still surprises me to this day with all the money poured into cancer research and treatment. My mother never gave up hope until the day she died and I never believed the end of her life was inevitable until that same day in August. She was determined, compassionate, strong and hopeful which shined through during her battle with cancer and left a lasting effect on me.
I am forever grateful that I made the decision to put my life on hold (job and marriage) and spend this time with my mother. I was with her when she died and spent the next years of my life in a fog of grief. Waves of grief still pass over me, as I believe they always will, but the fog is gone and I gained some clarity to move forward in life with purpose.
This entire experience taught me a number of lessons. For one….Life is short. You never know what the future holds and you certainly do not control the future. My mother taught me not only to dream, but to dream BIG and make your dreams a reality. She loved to travel and she loved her family. Her strength and encouragement is what guides me daily and I do not believe that I could have made this jump of faith without knowing she was with me….shining down from heaven and leading the way. Material things and possessions do not matter because in the end only experiences and memories is what is left.
I wish I could talk to her daily, hear her voice, and feel her embrace. Instead I feel her embrace when the wind blows around me and I see glimpses of her in my children’s eyes.
I also feel her presence in the complete strangers who have been so generous and kind to us as we have approached some tough situations, such as our grounding in Shallotte or the floods in Little River, SC. I believe they have purposefully been placed within our path. And most recently we crossed paths with one of mother’s old teaching buddies while in Vero Beach, Florida and I felt the comforting presence of my mom while we reminisced about her life.
We do not know where are cruising path will take us, as we continue to have issues along the way (yes, this is just part of boating). However, one thing I always know, is no matter the path we take a special guardian angel not only is protecting us along the way, but also cheering us on. I love you Mom.