Pamela Sands works in our offices as a part-time office assistant. She’s a single, 39 year-old mom raising a 5th grade son. She lives in a very modest apartment building in the rent-control district of Santa Monica.
She’s one of the most positive, loving, loyal people I’ve ever known, with a selfless love for her son, Nolan.
A few weeks ago she went in for a visit to her doctor after having persistent headaches. She had a few tests done, and got a rushed 3-minute phone call from a doctor she never even met.
He told her she had extensive brain cancer; that the cancer was on both sides of her brain, and that it had spread throughout her blood system. He told her she had 2 to 4 months to live, and that there was no reason to do surgery.
You talk about a phone call changing your life. No family, no money – and nobody to raise her son.
Pam’s a very religious woman, and she’s looking to God for answers. The question she’s asking, I’m asking… how could any God do this? If there’s a God, how could he hear her prayers every night — and answer her prayers with terminal brain cancer before her 40th birthday?
There’s a green-spotted beetle that lives deep in the jungles of the Amazon. The fascinating thing is that it only lives a day; but what a day it has. It pushes out of the moist soil, and climbs all day long up through the lianas and epiphytes to the upper canopy of the forest. By sunset, it’s overlooking the green jungle canopy, and soaking in the sounds, and the smells, and the touch of the forest — and a view that’s absolutely breathtaking.
It finds a sassy little female beetle that made the same journey that day, and they make love in the emergent trees at the top of the rainforest. They fall asleep, never to wake up. The eggs fall to the jungle floor, and 7 months later, a handful of beetle juniors pop their heads out of the soil.
So from spotted-beetle’s perspective, Pamela Sands hit the absolute jackpot. Almost four decades of life. Life she shared with a son that learned from, and who will carry on the spirit and love of life of her beautiful mother.
Pamela has taught me many things about purpose – and about our frailty.
As she spends her final days saying goodbye to the people, places and moments in her life, she’s asking God to tell her what mortality is.
Is it an afterlife, where she’ll one day be reunited with her son and her treasured relationships on earth, or is the miracle of mortality not in where we’re going – but how we’ve affected where we’ve been.
I pray that Pam says goodbye to her earthly life knowing that she’s leaving her loving son with a gift to hold, to cherish and pass on one day to his own children.
The gift of her heart.