Grieving Lost Time

It became easier to say no.

To tuck away in my bedroom and remind my loves that after mama’s rest, I’d be able to spend time with them.

That after (another) doctor appointment, we’d be able to build legos and read those books.

There were moments during the dark hard of chemotherapy, and surgery recovery, and radiation this past year when I felt overwhelmed with the loss of time with my people.

I missed routines that had anchored our days, that I wasn’t well enough to initiate and carry out.

I winced at their time being spent in front of a television or electronic device.

I worried that important things were falling through the cracks.

Most of all, I grieved being truly present with my loves throughout the hard days. I often couldn’t hold them as we’d always done, or cuddle with both boys on my lap reading stories. Surgery meant that mama couldn’t lift them, and although each had a special spot when we cuddled (Caleb on the right, Josiah on the left, always) – sometimes my arms wouldn’t cooperate and my skin burned.

My energy and my body’s physical capacity were limited. For a mama who has always been “on” and “yes,” the adjustment was not easy.

I am so thankful for the tender support of my hubby, who from the beginning of treatment, taught our kids the new rules: let mama rest, let mama heal, and be quiet!

I am thankful for dear friends who faithfully reminded me that this season wouldn’t last forever, and that my kids were learning some beautiful lessons alongside mama – lessons that endure.

That resting, and healing, and leaving space for quiet…these are beautiful, needful choices throughout our lives.

As I learned to surrender, I saw the way that God redeemed time that felt lost. My limitations allowed growing in new ways for my kids, like becoming comfortable and thriving in the care of trusted family and friends. Their world expanded!

I learned that what felt like loss, perhaps wasn’t loss at all. Relationships grew, new habits were formed, health was restored, and today my kids can barely remember the days when I was unavailable to them and that weighed so heavy on my heart as their mama. They just know that mama is well and that they are loved.

My heart feels settled and grateful, as I reflect on the many, many lessons that walking through cancer this past year has allowed me to learn that despite what may feel in the moment like shortcomings, setbacks, and huge detours on the path of how we wish a season to look in our parenting; through that and in that, unexpected beauty may grow. We look back and realize that God’s grace met us right there.

I know it will meet us this spring, for my next surgery. I know this: my little loves will be fine. Their routine may be shaken and their mama may be resting more and life may look a little different but we will learn and be stretched and love well and experience grace, once again.

Emily lives in Southern Oregon with her beloved and their three kids (16, 5 & 4). Her heart and her days are full of homeschooling, good coffee, time outdoors in the fresh air, life-giving friendships and walking out healing & wellness. God’s word & His grace are her constant source of refuge. She writes about her hope and healing after a breast cancer diagnosis in 2016, at








3 responses to “Grieving Lost Time”

  1. Theresa Boedeker Avatar

    Emily, I can so relate to your story. A bus hit our car head on and for months my husband and I lay in different hospital beds unable to do anything with our 5 and then 6 year old daughter. Years of recovery followed, where I was not the parent I wanted and had been in the past. But you are right. God redeems those times for us and our children. Our daughter had a hard time and many worries, but it also made her into a very strong woman. She has so much kindness and empathy because of what happened. She also learned that hard times can be gotten through and how during hard times you don’t have to give up. It also strengthened her faith in God. I have learned over and over that God never wastes our hurts and painful times. Yay! Blessings on your next operation.

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