(Photo by Courtney Zupanski)
Where it All Began
By Sarah Komisky
In 2009 my world unraveled. I just got over a bout of pneumonia and found myself newly single after a five year relationship ended. Then I received news I thought would never come. I stood outside my room where my mom sat with the phone close to her cheek and a pale distraught look on her face as tears poured down her olive skin. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Prior to this, life was fairly easy. Blue skies. No worries and the world of cancer was quite foreign. Then the storm hit and everything came crashing down. In a standstill, I was too broken to process anything. Diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder, life was even harder and I had no idea how to deal with life except to try to grapple my hands around it and simply hold on.
We entered a whole new world filled with a myriad of doctors, waiting rooms, and patients. Life looked different and it would forever be different from that time on for my family and I. After surgery, it was recovery, and I gladly accepted the role as caretaker to the person who took such good care of me. But I had to learn a lot. I helped with self help skills, cleaned surgical drains, styled her hair, and cooked meals that my mom graciously accepted even when I was a beginner at the time. I watched my Dad lovingly stand by my Mom’s side and stood by mine as my partner in all things caregiving: house cleaning, greeting, meal receiving, shopping, driving, and aiding family who came to help.
Meanwhile, I was numb. It was painful to see my mom hurt and be sick. But I did not allow anyone to see me break except the walls in my room that saw me cry at night while Mom was at the hospital or too sick to talk. My biggest deterrent was my Best Friend who was there for me over the course of this season and he became my escape for the pain. One day I noticed something wrong, he got upset, disappeared, and returned a month later with the news that he had a girlfriend. Wondering why our friendship couldn’t continue, I said goodbye. Now my best friend was gone and so was my crutch.
Mom and Dad raised me in a Christian home. She has always loved Jesus and has always been a great mom. She has also always been by my side, my true best friend who has a knack for being an encourager. Like some of us, she just lost her way. She became comfortable and got caught in the motions of Christianity. To her, the diagnosis was a wake up call from the Lover of her soul, calling her back to Himself. God brought beauty from ashes when my mom sat on my bed and told me that she would always be there for me and told me she wanted to go to church. I watched her stand and walk down the church isle in tears running back into the arms of her Savior, and that is where it all began.
During that time of her diagnosis, surgeries, treatment, and recovery I watched her blossom. Her faith ignited into passion as she relentlessly read the Word and anything she could get her hands on including the “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis and various Christian autobiographies. I heard church podcasts echo down the hall and saw her step on the Angel Stadium field to share her faith at the Harvest Crusade during treatment. She shared her love for God wherever she went and worshipped in the confines of the room where she received radiation. She told me stories of how she knelt down and prayed in the changing room and I saw God do miracles when she never ever burnt. Her countenance, her spirit, her soul, was changed and I admired it – and longed for it in my life.
3 AM had me up again. I was in the bathroom sitting, shaking, unable to catch my breathe, stricken with fear, distraught, fragile, and in pain. My world was out of my grip and I was sinking deeper. Growing up in a Christian home, I always thought I knew God but never had the experiential knowledge of Him. It was all in my head and never moved to my heart. Through the emotional upheaval, I had loved ones compassionately encourage me. My Mom was one of them – even in her illness, she was selfless. Her gentle strokes on my head or her warm hugs meant a lot in difficult moments. She too felt helpless when it came to my situation later expressing that it my emotional pain that was worse than her cancer.
Yet with all the love I received, I was still missing the touch of my Healer, Jesus. I exhausted my resources – medication, counseling, and doctors that helped but did not fully heal. Feeling like I would never have that or find what I always wanted – grace, I was extremely discouraged – How would I receive help? In the stillness of the night, Jesus spoke the words of Hebrews 4:16 over me, “come boldly to the throne of Grace to revive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” (paraphrase). For the first time, I felt true peace and was able to sleep. I didn’t even know that was a verse (I ended up asking my Dad the next day) but in that place, God was inviting me to what I was always looking for – Himself. He was lovingly removing all others that I depended on as I was running to everyone for some relief but God Himself. I needed to depend on Him alone. Looking back, God sat beside me lovingly, with me, and that’s where it all began.
2009 to both of us was one of the hardest yet one of most incredible seasons in on lives. Looking back, it’s a season of beginnings. For my Mom, a rekindled relationship with God and for me, the beginning of my search for Him that culminated in 2013 when I found what I was looking for all along – a Savior. It was there, God healed me completely and delivered me out of my fears. Now in remission, my Mom and I can rejoice in the seeds that were planted in the dirt of our lives – the place where it all began.