On Nurses-Part 3

The following words were shared at Chris’ Memorial on June 2, 2024 by her daughter Laura. Chris had intended to write a third part to this blog series, to report about her experience spending a week in the hospital. Instead, I have taken the liberty of reflecting on a little more on that final week:

I want to share a few words about my mom’s last decade of life, when the nurse became the patient.

At age 59, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3C cancer. After mastectomy, chemo and hair loss, we saw October 9th approaching on the calendar. Mom would be turning 60.

Although we never called it this, the surprise party we pulled off on a beach in Michigan felt a bit like a “living funeral”: we wanted to make sure we said the loving words now and throughout whatever time we had left with her.

After that time, she started to talk with us about an idea that stung at first: that she was not planning to undergo rigorous cancer treatment again, if the cancer returned. She also added thoughts about an ideal age to die being 75. Having worked as a nurse for many years, she saw the struggle to “hang on” at the end of years and did not think she, who trusted Jesus for eternity, should resist death at all costs.

Being barely 30 myself, it took some time to understand and accept this. Eventually I was struck by the bravery and confidence in her outlook.

When the cancer returned 4 years ago, my mom agreed to a treatment that gave her no side effects, and we have been so grateful for these extra years with her, in which she biked, babysat, blogged, traveled and continued being a friend to so many.

In the last few weeks, she talked about plans for the coming year: quilts she wanted to make, people she wanted to spend time with and restoration she wanted to see. I think now of the poem “ do not go gentle into that good night” in which a son begs his father to keep on fighting to stay alive, saying “rage rage against the the dying of the light”.

My mom really didn’t like the battle terminology many use with cancer treatments. But I can distinctly here her voice projecting on May 17th when she called to tell me she decided she was going to “fight like hell” to stick around.

With her body failing, I saw a dichotomy unfold: my mother wanted to stay with us, but found peace in going. Love and delight held her here, but through surrender and peace, she entrusted the outcome.

I admire that in her.

Perhaps my mom had read psalm 90:10 which says…

Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

And maybe she decided to split the difference of 70 and 80 in her idea of leaving us at 75? Who knows? As it was, she was 70 when she passed away.

On the day we brought my mom to the hospital, she diagnosed herself with something minor and rolled her eyes at the inconvenience of an ER trip. She complained of back pain and asked us to find a special massage bar that would ease her pain. But after a day or so, she settled into receiving almost daily, life-saving blood transfusions. And my mom’s focus shifted from her discomfort to the people who visited her room in nurse’s attire. She asked every tech or nurse their name and handed out massage bars, that they might enjoy a bit of the balm she had enjoyed in this life. She listened to their stories and marveled that she was still leaning new medical tidbits every day.

I recently learned that there’s a “Nurse Honor Guard” who can come to funerals of nurses to pay tribute for their life of service. My mother declined the idea, but instead she bestowed these personal honors to those who are always pouring out the balm.

These words came to me after reflecting on Psalm 90 and my mother’s early departure:

“It was not her strength that gave up, but she poured it out faster than most.”

My mother knew pain and wrestle in this life. We don’t pretend this was a “picture perfect” end for her time on earth. But she pressed in for the most essential peace one needs.

Therefore, I’m adding her to my own personal record of Hebrews 11 heroes, because I see that God is the faithful One who is still answering her prayers:

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him…These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:6, 39, 40)


During the Memorial service, our pastor shared these words my mom said in her final days of life: I want everyone who comes to the funeral to know that I had faith. But not the kind of faith that looks like I grabbed a hold of God so hard and never let go. But the kind of faith that looked like God holding me and He never let me go.

Note: June 2nd was a beautiful time of song and reflection, remembering who Chris was to so many. If you were not able to join us, we would love for you to watch the recording here.

8 thoughts on “On Nurses-Part 3

  1. Chris and I were high school friends and reconnected after many years about 10 years ago. During several of her visits to Michigan, we visited and even went biking together. She talked very fondly about her family and the many adventures she went on. I will miss her and will be lifting up prayers for the family. I am sorry I didn’t realize that she had passed until I saw this notice. Thank you for sending out this lovely tribute.

  2. your mom poured out her strength and love to so very many, showing interest in who we were. Until the end, she was blessing nursing staff by showing interest in who they were, not just what they did. Although she didn’t expect anything back in return, she relished connecting with those who valued who she was and what she had to offer.

  3. Tess and I grew up with Chris, Tess went to West Sub with her, and we have kept in distant touch these many years. She was thoughtful, questioning, and an independent spirit with such a kind heart, all of which we loved about her. We will miss her blog. We are greatly saddened by her passing. She will be missed. Much love to her family.

  4. Laura, such a beautiful tribute to your mom. It is very clear that her writing gene got passed along to you! Your moms life impacted so many people. Our West Suburban Class sure is missing her.
    The memorial service that so many of your family participated in was absolutely beautiful.
    As usual, when I saw there was a blog, I couldn’t wait to read it. Are you going to keep it going possibly? You have the skill and heart. Blessings to all your family!
    Kathleen Gale

  5. Thank you Laura for the ‘Part 3’ that your Mom was not able to finish. Such a wonderful tribute to a woman who loved the Lord, loved her family and just simply loved life. Although I haven’t seen your family şince we left Illinois in 1989 we have stayed touch through her blog posts. I know you will miss your Mom so much and yet when you know she is safe in the arms of Jesus and no longer fighting cancer and that you will see her again what JOY.
    Praying for you and your family as you go forward from here on.
    Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand. “

    Barb Wilson

  6. OH, LAURA, thank you so very much for sending me the memorial service! I was afraid I had missed itl You all did so well. I was glad to see Johnny in one of the pictures, and L izzie. I sent your dad a picture of a kid on arainy day. Of course there will be such days but he gave a fabulous and God-honoring message. I’m the one who married your Granpa Lyle after your grandma died. And I enjoyed your mom and the occasional email of yours about your young son when I found it. I’m 92 and having a time on this contraption so I”close befor I lose it again. “Grand me Timmie”.

  7. I find myself filled with longing, wishing to see Chris again. Our visits were always short, when we came thru Chicago or she and John came to New York, but they were always full of deep feeling and shared thoughts.
    Laura, I appreciate your sharing with us your thoughts along with hers. My prayers for your family will continue on, sending love to each one of you.

  8. Dear Laura, thank you so much for writing this post about your mom. She was a very special friend to us at Woodside Bible Chapel and then at Calvary Memorial Church.
    We saw her once in a while in Elmhurst with your dad and were able to catch up. We are So thankful to hear that she had such a deep faith. We were not able to speak with you at the viewing, but had a great talk with your dad. We were amazed at all of the quilts which were displayed created by her hands.
    Please know that we are praying for you, your dad and family . And we’re glad that your mom is no longer suffering and at home with the Lord.
    Love in Christ, Dave and Lynette Hoy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *