I arranged for my columns to get posted on my blog automatically while I was in Uganda, but this one somehow slipped off the schedule. It should have been posted on August 8. I hope you will still find it timely and relevant.

I was sitting outside on the steps of our deck one morning last week, notebook and pen in hand. I was doing the morning ritual I refer to as my Prayer Exercise, which is a combination of praying, journaling, and asking God for advice about my day, my work, and my life. I was in a particularly reflective mood that day, and thinking about my mom. It was her birthday.

She would have been 85 years old this year. And even though she died almost 43 years ago, I still always think of her on her birthday. I usually call my dad at some point during the day, and he tells me that he went to the cemetery to visit Mom and put flowers on her grave, or that he would be leaving shortly to do so. It always felt important to me to make sure Dad knew that I hadn’t forgotten her.

But my dad passed away at the end of January this year, so I couldn’t call him on Mom’s birthday, and I found myself missing them both.

One of my neighbors was out walking her dog, and passed by just then. She and I have a lot in common, and we chatted for a few minutes about our families and our summer activities. She mentioned her mom at one point in our conversation, and I got a little choked up as I told her I had just been thinking about my mom – and why.

My mom died of breast cancer, and as my friend and I continued talking, we learned that each of us had dealt with breast cancer, too. And suddenly, we discovered something else we had in common.

Breast cancer isn’t something I think about or talk about every day. But I’ve learned over the years that when I do talk about it, it can bring comfort and strength to others who are going through the ordeal – either in their own lives or in the life of someone close to them. I’ve found this to be true even in Uganda, where I’ve spoken to groups of women and have then been approached by women who share their stories, questions, and fears about breast cancer.

I’m preparing now for another trip to Uganda, and I find myself being reminded that while I am there, no matter what else I might be doing, I should have my radar tuned in to anyone who might be going through any stage of dealing with breast cancer. It’s still a scary subject, and if there’s anything I can do to ease someone’s fears or give them advice and encouragement, I want to make sure that I do.

My friend and I hugged each other as she got ready to continue walking her dog.

“Your mom would be very proud of you,” she whispered. “Your dad, too. I’m sure they both are.”

I felt very calm and comforted as I sat back down and continued to ask God – in my Prayer Exercise journal – for advice about my day, my work, and my life. But I think He had already answered me.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on August 7, 2014.
©Betty Liedtke, 2014

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