Meant to Be Together
A recently widowed mother's leap of faith is rewarded and a daughter's last wish granted.
"Mom,” my 35-year-old daughter, Sherry, said softly, “you need to get a life.”
“A life?” I said. “Sweetie, you are my life.” I was massaging my daughter’s feet like I did every day, trying to take her mind off the pain her cancer was inflicting, a cancer about which nothing more could be done. How could I think about “having a life” when my daughter’s was draining away?
“I know, Mom. I don’t know what I’d do without you. But you need to find someone. That’s what Dad wanted. That’s what I want.”
Nine months earlier cancer had taken my husband, Greg. By then Sherry was sick, so I more or less moved in with her, her husband, Chris, and their two adorable Yorkies, Rose and Olivia.
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Together we cared for Sherry even as she was losing her battle against the disease. But she was right. Her care had become my reason for living. What other purpose did I have? What else was a mother for?
Yet my daughter knew me so well! She knew how lonely I felt without her dad, how much I missed the comfort of his touch, his soothing baritone voice, even his bald head. Especially now when I needed someone to lean on, to share my tears with.
I’d tried to fill the emptiness inside me with prayer. I knew God loved me and was with me, but still there were moments when I felt so alone. Panic would creep over me. Then I’d catch myself and think, How selfish to worry about yourself when your daughter is dying!
So I focused all of my being on my daughter’s care. Nothing else mattered.
“Dad wanted you to remarry,” Sherry said, her voice sleepy. “And I don’t want to leave you alone. That would be horrible. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I think you should go on a dating website.”
Sherry was right. It was a crazy idea. I was tempted to ignore it. I knew she was worried about me, but this wasn’t the solution. “Promise me, Mom,” Sherry said before drifting off to sleep.
I couldn’t renege on a promise to my dying child, so that night, just as Sherry had instructed, I typed in the web address for a relationship site she thought was right though it felt so wrong. I forced myself to fill out a long and complicated questionnaire. Some questions were very personal and several times I came close to hitting the escape key. I appreciated, though, the opportunity to state that my faith was central to my life.
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Then the last question: What more should a possible match know about you? I took a deep breath and typed, “My daughter has terminal cancer and she is my life right now. Why would I be on a dating site? She is encouraging me to move on with my life, and what a treat it would be if you had the opportunity to meet her. She is an angel.”
I hit submit, not with any sense of expectation, only the satisfaction that I had carried out Sherry’s wish. And maybe it would be fun for us to look at the responses together. Responses? Who was I kidding? A recent widow about to lose her child? What sort of man would understand that? On a dating site no less?
I had to crack a smile. My daughter was really something else. No wonder I loved her more than anything in the world.
It turned out to be good fun. Each day we checked out the profiles the site determined best matched mine, giggling like sorority sisters while Rose and Olivia yapped and jumped. Sherry was so into it I believe it took her mind off her pain.
I was glad I’d given in to her crazy idea. We saw suave, successful businessmen. Men who were into ballroom dancing, tennis, skydiving. Men who wanted someone to sail around the world with them.