It wasn't supposed to be this way.
I had been kicking around the idea of building a village for several years. I had talked to some of my friends about it--at least the ones I thought were least likely to tell me I was insane. I mentioned it to Mom, as well.
In late 2010, it was still just an idea, but I started to talk to Mom about joining me on mission trips. She was to retire from teaching in June of 2011. I knew she and Dad had things they wanted to do with their time, but I had a few ideas of my own as well. I knew Dad wasn't into international travel, but Mom was more adventurous. She expressed interest in taking a trip with me, and I started looking for opportunities. Then life got in the way.
My younger brother, Greg, died unexpectedly in April of 2011--twelve days after he turned 36 and five weeks before Mom's retirement. We were crushed. I couldn't breathe, or stop crying for that matter. Greg held a special place in my heart. He was my most loyal friend growing up. We were always together, playing ball, going to the movies, or climbing trees. Mom said I had lost my shadow, but it wasn't like when the sun sets and your shadow disappears until the next day. Though temporary from an eternal perspective, from an earthly perspective, this was permanent, and it really hurt.
We had to learn how to grieve. Ten months into the process, as we approached Greg's birthday--the first one without him--and the anniversary of his death, Mom was diagnosed with cancer. When she told me, I felt as though I had been punched in the gut. It knocked the wind out of me, and I felt numb.
Mom fought valiantly as she underwent chemotherapy and several surgeries. She maintained a positive outlook and always looked for opportunities to brighten someone else's day. She refused to sit around worrying about the outcome. She was going to live while she could.
Unfortunately, the cancer was too powerful for her. Sixteen months after her diagnosis and twenty-six months after we buried Greg, we also buried Mom. So, on the second anniversary of Mom's death, instead of pursuing this project with my number one cheerleader at my side, I pursue it in her memory and in memory of Greg.