From the Bottom of My Heart

[Editor’s preface: The following letter was originally sent to a number of Dominique’s friends who had sent him words of encouragement as he was going through the trial of his mother’s death. Request was then made to publish it, with minor changes, for which Dominique gave his consent.]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At some point in the past year, each of you has supported my family and myself through prayers and words of encouragement. I should also add to this list all the people who don’t have email but did pray as well, most of them are people from your family, your Church or prayer groups.

I am not sure if you all remember me but I remember each of you because I read your emails and kept them all. For each of them, I said a prayer after I read it, thanked the Lord and asked Him to bless you.

As you know, my beloved mom passed away in Nov, 3rd 2000, after one whole year of pain. Her cancer was the second known case. It was a form of lympoid cancer. Obviously, there is still no remedy nor real treatment against that sickness. May the case of my mom serve to others in the future. She was diagnosed with a cancer in Feb 2000, 3 months after the beginning of the symptoms (high fever everyday, oedema, stomach aches ….). The chemo treatment seemed to go well in the first months until September … Things started turning for the worse. In August, the doctors thought about stopping the chemo and doing a last health check up because they thought the cancer “left”. Obviously, it was still there, hidden. Worse, it got into its final stage. The last months were really hard. My mom suffered a lot. Although all this pain during one year, she NEVER complained. She was so courageous. My mom was the type of person who was very sensitive, who tended to worry a lot but in front of that sickness, she showed a wonderful strength, courage and serenity. She is an “example”. Wherever she goes, she always leaves a footprint in the life of those who are blessed to know her. As an anecdote, when she changed hospital to start the chemo treatment, the nurses and the chief doctor cried!!!! The chief doctor said: “I have never cried for any patient … but you are so kind, so sweet, the type of patient we dream to have.”

It has been more than 3 months now that she left. I miss her lots and for a reason I can’t explain, I miss her much more lately than when it happened. Actually, it started about 2 months after her death, around Christmas, at a time I was supposed to be “happy”: I was on vacation for 3 full weeks, “set free” from the pressure of work, I traveled and was with one friend I had not seen for months. Everyone reacts differently on the loss of a loved one. It seems like I feel the sorrow a little later than others. Many little things make me remember my mom. For instance, I usually take the same highway when I go to Paris … and it is also the same road I used to take several times a week to visit my mom at the hospital. I went there with joy because I knew that I would see my mom. Even when she was in an unnatural sleep and I could not talk to her during many weeks after the surgery, I was happy.

When my mom died, of course I was sad and cried but I had peace in me. I felt strong at that time and able to go through my mom’s loss because God was there beside me and above all, he used people into my life to help me, he used one special friend in particularly. I thank God for giving me opportunities to talk with my mom before she left. I also was there to comfort my sisters, my dad … Me, the youngest, the baby of the family, I held my dad and my sisters in my arms. I thank the Lord for giving me the strength to be a witness to my family.

I must apologize for not writing back to you sooner. The end of the year went by so fast and was kind of overwhelming for me. Last night, while I was doing my devotionals, I felt I needed to take a break and turn my laptop on. Then I got into one of my directories called … “FCET”. I came across the prayer requests for my mom sent by my best friend for me (around October / November). Then I understood. God wanted to show me that I had to write and share all that with you.

So, I want to thank you for your prayers and support, even when it was a simple “I pray for you and your family”. I have never met most of you in person, and probably I never will. But I know that God is the one who crossed our paths to help and support each other through the power of prayers. He used you to support my family and myself. I passed your prayers along to my mom, read and translated them for her. Your prayers are really a blessing. The first time I read your prayers to my mom (in Nov / Dec 1999), she was so touched to know that there were so many people who prayed for her, people she did not know.

“Là où deux ou trois sont assemblés en mon nom, je suis au milieu d’eux.” Matthew 18:20 => “When 2 or 3 of you meet in my name, I am among them.” “Tout ce que vous demanderez avec foi par la prière vous sera donné” Matthew 21:22 => “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask in prayer”

Yes, Prayer is a wonderful power God gave us. Prayer is the real secret of power. I remember something a friend of mine sent me a while ago and I just want to share it with you. Here it goes.

Ever wonder about the abbreviation A.S.A.P.? Generally we think of it in terms of even more hurry and stress in our lives. Maybe if we think of this abbreviation in a different manner, will begin to find a new way to deal with those rough days along the way.

“There’s work to do, deadlines to meet;

You’ve got no time to spare,
But as you hurry and scurry-

In the midst of family chaos,

“Quality time” is rare.
Do your best; let God do the rest-

It may seem like your worries

Are more than you can bare.
Slow down and take a breather-

God knows how stressful life is;

He wants to ease our cares,
And He’ll respond to all your needs

— author unknown

In prayer, man can communicate with God. Through prayer we are able to bring our needs before our Father. When you pray for someone, it is a gift you gave him or her. He or she may not see it. God knows, He sees and He hears our prayers. So, thank you for your gift. May God bless you and continue to use you to be His witnesses.

Last December, I went to visit my best friend in Canada. At some point, the memories of my mom came across my mind. I shared with her my kind of sadness and I told her with a tear in my eyes that I wished she could have met my mom. And she gave me the most beautiful answer I could hear. “It is Ok … I can see her … because there is a part of her in you.” What a wonderful compliment. Thank you my friend :-))

A few days before my mom passed away, I showed her a couple pictures of my apartment because I moved on my own in August and she did not get the chance to see it. She told me: “I am proud of you. You are my “big baby” (because I am the youngest among 7 children … and I am now already 27 …)… You have never done anything that hurt me … I will probably never meet your wife but I trust you in the choice you will make someday because you have never disappointed me …” My mom was a little worried about me in the last years even though everything went well for me, because she said that I was her last “mission”. All my sisters are married and have their own family. I am the youngest and still single. We both cried. I told her: “It is not you who have to be proud of me, I am proud of you mom.” Yes, I am proud of my mom. Us kids, we always had what we needed. Her motto was: “The others first, me after”. She held a wonderful power, the real power: serving others.

My family and I were blessed to be able to be by her side until the end of her days, until her last heart beat. That moment was special and horrible in the same time. Special because we could share these last moments with her and horrible because we knew that we would never see her again. We always were there with her and knew that there was no one single day that she was doing well but she never complained. She always suffered in silence. But even during her pain, she thought about my dad, her children and her grand children. “Thank you mom. Thank you for loving and cherishing us.”

I also want to share this with you.

One day, my dad opened the drawer of my mom’s closet and took out a little cute wrapped box. “This is a beautiful brooch your sister gave your mom a few years ago. But she never wore it. She wanted to keep it for a special occasion …” What I want to say is: Don’t keep anything for a special occasion. Each day you live is a special occasion. Now, I spend more time with my family, with my nieces and nephews (I have 9!!!!! Not bad at 27 years old eh :-))), and with my friends and less time at work. I used to work too much these last years. I want to take time to appreciate life. Life is so precious.

There is a saying in French that means a lot to me, now more than never. “Ne laissons pas la mort nous trouver du talent” “Don’t let death find us talented”. We often say wonderful things about someone … but only when he or she passed away. It was my sister’s birthday a few weeks ago (end of January). I told her that she was a wonderful sister (I had to say the same thing to the other sisters as well, otherwise they would have been jealous :-))), that I loved her, that she was a wonderful mother (her baby the first one, is 15 months old) and that I was blessed to have her as a sister. She was touched and told me: “What you are saying is wonderful. Thank you but … I am not dead!!!” I replied: “Do you think we have to wait until someone dies to tell we appreciate her?” Today, I want to say what I feel. What’s the good of having feelings if we don’t express them?” Now, I don’t keep anything. We don’t know what the future holds. Only God does. But today, now, if we can say “I like you” instead of assuming he or her would know you do, just do it. If we can smile at someone who needs it, just do it. Don’t keep anything for a special occasion, each day you are living is a special occasion. Each day is special, each day, each hour, each minute is special.

So, before I end this long letter :

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I might never hear from you again.
I might never see some of you again.
But God crossed our paths for a reason.
Everything in life happens for a reason and we have God to
thank for.

God bless.

In Christ, forever

Dominique, from France