Simply show up

by Meagan Lowry

In the March edition of 501 LIFE, I shared all about my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, and how we were prepared to fight like never before. Today, I want to share something a little different with you, because now that we are in the fight, and I watch chemotherapy take so much from my mom, my thoughts on it all have changed a bit. I still firmly believe that my mom is kicking cancer’s behind. I don’t waiver on that. But my thoughts on feeling ill-equipped and unprepared to walk through this fight with her have changed.

Before she started chemo, I didn’t truly know what to expect. In the same breath, everything I thought I knew about what cancer would do to my mom has drastically changed over the course of a few months. The truth is I cannot know how it is making my mom feel. I cannot grasp the pain she felt in the moment she decided to shave off the hair that chemo had ravaged. I am not walking through cancer myself, but I am walking alongside my mom through cancer, and there is a big difference in that because suffering and walking through hard seasons is not lost on me. I’ve seen my fair share, but even though that is true, I am trying my best to navigate the unknown of cancer with my mom.

Meagan Lowry (right) and her mom, Robin Avance.

I’m convinced, at least so far, that showing up for my mom is doing my best for her, because as much as I want healing for her, I can’t provide that. As much as I want to strip the pain from her body, I can’t. The list of “I can’ts” is unbelievably long, especially for a person who preaches that “I can’t” isn’t really an option in a lot of areas of my own life. What I’ve learned is that showing up for my mom in the midst of her suffering is changing the both of us.

Showing up and being present in the midst of someone else’s suffering will cost you something. There are sacrifices that you have to make in order to show up well for someone. It may be sacrificing your comfort, your schedule, things you thought you believed. But the cost is always worth it, because there has never been a sweeter time with my mom. 

Now don’t get me wrong. There has never been a harder season that we’ve walked through together, but there has also never been a time that I’ve been so aware of the blessing that having my mom is. Time with her is treasured, not because I think there is little time left, but because I fully believe she will come out of this with a clean bill of health. I just realize that time is precious. 

I never thought 2020 would start this way, and with the uncertainty of life in general sometimes it takes something like this to make you realize that every day with someone you love is truly a gift.

A big part of showing up for someone is just simply being who you’ve always been for them. I don’t approach my mom like this fragile, broken thing. She’s still just my mom. What I’ve tried to learn in this process is that showing up can truly be enough. I don’t have to have the right words; there are no right words. I don’t have to know all the things, even though I’ve tried. I think so often in the midst of grief and suffering, we are missing the mark. We go into this thinking that we need to fix something, when in fact we just need to show up. There is no doubt in my mind that showing up is what those we know who are walking through hard times need. 

So friends, don’t be afraid to show up when you know someone is having a hard time. Even when they don’t ask for it, they need it.