I remember last winter as one of the most distinct times in my life. It was a very snowy winter. I went skiing all the time and played hockey. So when I woke up Feb. 5 and heard that I had no school, I knew it was going to be a perfect day. It was, it seemed, for a while.
That night, after dinner, I was called into the living room so that we could "talk" as a family. I hated these family meetings, because they always seemed to end with a fight and many worthless tears, but somehow I felt this one would be different. Maybe it was my father's look of fearful desperation. The room was dim, but it made the falling snow outside that much more visible and I stared at the giant flakes, mesmerized by their beauty.
Suddenly, I was snatched from my trance by the shocking words, "Mommy has lung cancer."
My first reaction was one of pure weakness, as I sobbed for my mother. Then I listened to her explain the disease and how she, a non-smoker, did not understand why this was happening to her. I heard, through the tones of her speech, a great fear that she bravely concealed from us, then I heard a deep apology. She did not say she was sorry in her words, but through them I could hear her crying, "I am so sorry for all of this." I could not imagine, even at that moment, how she could be so selfless and loving that she cared more about the family than she did about herself.
Following this melancholy snow day, I found myself struggling to make sense of it all. This new fact that I am forced to accept has made life around me much easier, problems less significant, and life more of a blessing than ever before. Sometimes I used to waste time worrying about my clothes, my weight or my hair. Now I think of my mom and her comfortable jeans, her weight at a frighteningly low number and her beautiful hair gone—and rarely complaining. Because of my mother, I have learned to appreciate life.
As I lie awake at night, forced to confront my fears, I learn new ways to deal with pain and sadness. I look ahead to the day when I will fear carefree once more. Then I am reminded of God's importance in my life. The idea that God has given me a burden that God feels I can handle is sometimes the only thought that helps me understand my mother's situation. Life, no matter how depressing it may seem, will always get better than our lowest moment. Sometime soon God will mend my troubles. Nothing is so painful that we cannot overcome it and laugh once again.
Christina Stang, 16, from Simsbury, Conn., was baptized in a UCC church, worships in a United Methodist Church and attends a Roman Catholic school.