Whether you were a part of the original Facebook group or Susie and Mark's cancer journey is all new to you, Notes from Susie: Choosing Gratitude in Life’s Low Places offers something helpful to each reader. Combining additional material with the compiled and enriched Facebook posts written during Susie's illness, the book illuminates the Edwards' joys and struggles, all the while buoyed by recent and timeless hymns that assured them of God's presence.
As part of our next blog series, we will highlight excerpts from the sections of the book created to complete the story, add background, and lend future perspective to the reader. This week, explore an exclusive excerpt from Weslee Edwards Hill as she recounts how she and her young family processed the realization that cancer would inevitably claim the life of their beloved mother and grandmother:
As a counselor, there have been many times I have sat across from a client and walked with them down their personal road of grief offering advice, hope, encouragement, and hopefully comfort along that often difficult road. Taking classes, reading books, and having a piece of paper on your wall that says you have learned enough to help others doesn’t always mean you are adequately prepared to help your own loved ones as they travel down the same road of grief.
There are books to be read, there are classes that can be taken, there are degrees to be granted, but when it comes to helping your own little ones navigate this road, you do the best you can do, and hope and pray that God takes what you’ve attempted to do and that He makes it something helpful, beautiful, and part of His plan in their lives.
Chris and I have three precious boys, and I knew from the beginning that each one would approach Honey’s illness and death differently. The challenge was knowing what each needed and when they needed it. As a whole, we were up front with them when we knew specifics to tell them. It was a hard balance to find between too much and not enough information for children under age ten. We prayed for Mom at mealtimes, and any time the boys had questions we answered them to the best of our abilities. I probably shielded them from most of the day-to-day stuff to keep them from being overwhelmed with it all.
One week sticks out most vividly in my mind as we were all processing what the inevitable outcome was going to be for Mom. I had come back from a weekend trip to Nashville, and our family was sitting down to Sunday night dinner. It was a gut-check moment for me as I told the boys that Mom wasn’t going to be getting better. I tried to balance each of the kids’ needs as I carefully chose the words I said. I watched Jonathan clam up and try to change the subject. I watched Andrew’s eyes fill up with tears and then try to comfort me. I watched Thomas as he looked around the table. We left the table that night, but the conversation stayed with everyone. It wasn’t until Wednesday night after church as I was tucking the boys into bed that it came up again. Andrew crawled up on the top bunk, laid his head down on his pillow, and told me that he asked for prayer for Honey since she was going to die from her illness.
I said, “Yes sweetheart, she is.”
At that moment, Jonathan, who was in the bed behind me, said, “WHAT?!?!?!? Honey is going to die from cancer????” I turned around to see the fire and tears in his sweet, big, blue eyes. I said, “Yes, sweetheart, she isn’t going to get better and she is going to die from cancer.” His face got red, the tears started flowing, and out came everything he had been storing up. He hit his bed over and over with balled-up fists and screamed, “I. HATE. CANCER!!!!!!” When he got all the rage out and collapsed in a ball of tears, we all just cried and hugged and held each other tight because there was nothing else that could be said or done. He had said it for all of us.
- Weslee Edwards Hill,
daughter of Mark and Susie Edwards