Something You Never Want to Hear

Last night my mother told me she has breast cancer.

If you’ve ever been in a situation like this, you’ll recognize the flood of emotions that hit you all at once.




Future tripping.


The initial shock is truly overwhelming.

And, as it usually does, my mind immediately went into planning mode.

What needs to happen?

What are your treatment options?

How soon can we get the lump removed?

You get the idea.

Thank God for this work because, despite a complete head spiral, I still had presence enough to ask myself a very important question.

“What am I noticing right now?”

And in that moment, I was able to see something I would have missed otherwise.

My mother didn’t want to talk about any of those things.

As I was weighing her options (“lumpectomy with sentinal node biopsy or mastectomy with….”) she sat in a high top chair in my kitchen, staring blankly into a cup of coffee.

I was trying to be strong for her sake and mine, but it suddenly became clear that wasn’t what she needed.

She was scared and needed to be scared.

I debated whether to give her a hug, which sounds terrible I know, but I was barely holding it together and scurrying around, making dinner, pouring over doctor paperwork, and staying busy was my way of avoiding a total collapse.

Being present allowed me to shift to her way.

I took a breath, walked across the room, and wrapped my arms around her.

It was an awkward, sideways hug, but it was also a long, necessary one – and then something happened.

Slowly, she started rocking side to side. Like a mother rocks a child – except the child was now the caretaker.

It was a sweet, tiny moment I’ll never forget – and one that I surely would have missed were it not for the power of mindfulness.

I hope you are also able to appreciate a “tiny” moment today – and I hope it’s as beautiful, even if it’s as heartbreaking at the same time.

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