Prayers for John McCain & Family

My Mama died of brain cancer.

One lovely August afternoon, she sat down at her computer and discovered she could no longer read. The words were all jumbled together. She sat there for a moment, blinking. She’d never had very good vision, so maybe this was a bit of blurry-eyes. But when after a moment or two the words on the screen remained all jumbled up, my mother the nurse knew that something was seriously wrong.

It was odd. She had been out shopping earlier that day. She didn’t have a headache. Nothing, really. It had been a lovely day in Seattle.

Now here she was, a lifelong reader, unable to unscramble the words before her.

She got up from her chair, walked into the other room and told Brother John, “Something is wrong. We need to go to the hospital now.”

My brother, good man that he is, didn’t even hesitate for a second. He knew Mama well enough to know that if she wanted to go to the hospital something was awfully wrong. When we were kids, Mama gave us aspirin for everything. We had to be hemorrhaging before she’d even consider taking us to a doctor. So if she was wanting to go, there had to be a good reason.

There was as we would all find out later that night.

Mama had six tumors. All cancerous. A subsequent biopsy revealed that the cancer was actually lung cancer gone to the brain.

Mama spent the next several days in one hospital after another. The family gathered around her hospital bed, trying desperately to find some way to give comfort to a woman who had given comfort to hundreds over the years. We rubbed her back. We combed her hair. We brought in tomatoes and made her white bread and tomato sandwiches, the southern woman’s diet staple. We laid hands on her and prayed for her. We wept in quiet corners of the hallway, and sometimes openly right there in front of God and all our siblings.

My memories of that time with Mama, time with our families is very tender to me. If you have ever watched anyone die of brain cancer, you understand what I’m trying to convey here. You get it. If you have never had to watch someone’s life be robbed from them one indignity after another, then, please, go somewhere and bow your head and thank whatever angel of mercy has been at your side all these years.

I have watched three people I love dearly die of brain cancer. Each one has shredded my heart. Left me empty as a hallowed out June Bug.

So when the news reported that Joe Biden had gone to Arizona to be with his good friend John McCain, I knew all the things the news wasn’t reporting. The tender words spoken. The laughter shared. The memories recalled. The ache of knowing there would never be enough time now for either of them to do all the things they hoped to do. The hugs exchanged. The prayers offered. The tears shed. Tears of appreciation and gratefulness. Tears of a job well-done. Tears of the tearing asunder from one world to the next.

I have watched Senator McCain’s daughter, Megan, openly grieve her father’s grave diagnosis. He approached it the same way he approached everything in life – with an attitude that says, “I’ve lived through worse. Let’s fight this.”

What McCain didn’t realize, what none of us ever expected, was the degree to which decency has been scrubbed from the fabric of our union. McCain, long regarded a war hero, has been repeatedly and very publicly derided by a man who cannot for the life of himself be kind, even in the face of death.

Trump has taken our country to a new level of low when it comes to a regard for others. I have seen lifers in prison treat each other with more kindness than our president has shown John McCain.

I wish I were surprised but I am not.

I knew when he sat on that stage and said that John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam that the level of hatefulness in Trump was something I had never encountered before – on the national stage or in my own personal life.

People like to say that words can’t hurt you.

Those people are liars.

Words that come out of Trump’s mouth wound me on an almost daily basis.

I am in a continual state of grieving.

If you are not, it is because you fail to understand what is at stake here.

I was in my closet, literally in my closet hanging up clothes, when I heard the news that White House aide Kelly Sadler had responded to John McCain’s very public opposition to Trump’s choice of CIA Director who had been involved in the torture of POWs, something understandably upsetting to McCain who had spent 5 years in a POW camp in Vietnam. Sadler had remarked that McCain’s opposition didn’t really matter because “he’s dying anyway.”

He’s dying anyway.

This comes on the heels of Senator Orrin Hatch saying he thought it was “ridiculous” that McCain didn’t want Trump at his upcoming funeral.

The news reported that Kelly Sadler’s remark was a joke. “She joked that he’s dying.” That’s how the news reported it.

But that’s not accurate wording.

Death is no joking matter.

It’s a tearing asunder. A renting. Death drove Jesus to such a state that he sweated tears of blood. That may be the very image of Christ that I most identify with. I have never sweated blood but I have known the anguish of death.

Kelly Sadler has said she was sorry.

Orrin Hatch said he shouldn’t have said what he said.

That won’t erase the pain these two inflicted upon the McCain family, but it is the right thing to do.

Trump has never apologized for the ugly things he has said about McCain. He says he never apologizes for anything. Regret is one of the things that makes us human and binds us together. This ability to grieve the wrongs we have done is a mercy we don’t often acknowledge. Regret can make us a better people, a better nation.

A man who never apologizes for anything has never experienced the gratitude that comes along with grace. A man who never apologizes for anything has never known the humility that comes with redemption. A man who has never apologized for anything has never known what it means to take a knee before the Almighty. A man who has never apologized for anything lives with demons untold because he has never ever experienced restoration. He only knows destruction.

So I stood in my closet and I wept.

I wept for all the ugliness in our nation.

I wept for John McCain.

I wept for Megan McCain.

I wept for Cindy McCain, who responded to Kelly Sadler by pointing out that theirs is a family grieving every day.

And I wept for my mother, and the memory of her dying.

Karen Spears Zacharias is the author of CHRISTIAN BEND: A Novel. (Mercer University Press).

 

 

 

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

20 Comments

Bob

about 1 week ago

Wow. And thank you. You give me hope that a few people still care about decency.

Reply

Karen Spears Zacharias

about 1 week ago

Yes, plenty do care about one another. Thank you for reading and speaking out.

Reply

Debbie Derrick

about 1 week ago

Sending love and prayers and a BIG hug...your in my thoughts

Reply

Karen Spears Zacharias

about 1 week ago

Thank you sweet friend.

Reply

JENNIE HELDERMAN

about 1 week ago

Heavy words, my friend. Deep and true. Please send this message to John McCain and his family. Send it to the Washington Post, the New York Times---plaster it on billboards so the "Tell it like it is" crowd can see the answer to their callousness and cruelty.

Reply

Karen Spears Zacharias

about 1 week ago

If only every newspaper would run it.

Reply

Lise

about 1 week ago

Thank you for inviting us into your life, for your insight and for your inspiration. The majority of us do believe that civility breeds civility and march to your drummer. Your eloquence in addressing Senator McCain’s plight while acknowledging those who are unable or do not care to involve themselves beyond their own egos is greatly appreciated.

Reply

Karen Spears Zacharias

about 1 week ago

Thank you for reading and for speaking up for civility.

Reply

Beverly Stewart

about 1 week ago

Your words pierce me. I have been guilty of allowing Trump “grace”’because he has made decisions that benefit our country, but no more. It would cost him nothing to be kind. We must hold him, and ourselves in turn, to a higher standard. Kindness is not an extra; it should be required. We must hold him accountable for his words and those of his associates.

Reply

Betsy Howard

about 1 week ago

Thank you for writing this. It is beautifully written and speaks so well of the courage and dignity of the McCain family. The Trump administration is an embarrassment every single day.

Reply

JoAnn Eller

about 1 week ago

Thank you so much for writing this so eloquently. I mean this from my heart. I lost my mother thirty one years ago. She died at the young age of sixty seven, and it was a long, and painful death. She held on longer than the doctors thought that she would, for her beautiful body had deteriorated so much. Death is not easy for those suffering it, or for those of us watching it take away those that are the most important to us, I too am crying each time I realize what all of the McCain family is going through. The only positives I can come up with are the facts that she no longer is in pain, or trapped in a body that betrayed her, and that NOT a single day since she has passed, that she hasn't been on my mind. She was an RN for thirty five plus years, and devoted her life to helping others be able to live theirs. My prayers, thoughts, and hopes are with this family, and John McCain is, and always will be an Honorable man. He gave his all.

Reply

Mellissa

about 1 week ago

Your words touched my heart, as all of us grapple with the insensitivity of Trump and his White House minions...we all find ourselves praying and worrying about brave and courageous John McCain and his fierce family. All we can do...is support each other and thank God we still have hope, mercy and common sense as you graciously put your heart out here for all of us to find comfort and deep respect for your writing is resonating and your mother would be so proud.

Reply

Barbara King

about 7 days ago

Thank you for your message! You have so beautifully said what so many of us are thinking. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is so difficult and with a disease as deadly as cancer I cannot imagine your family's suffering. My thoughts and prayers are sent out to you.

Reply

Tamara DeRidder, AICP

about 6 days ago

Thank you so very much for sharing these very choice heartfelt words. I had not heard an assessment of Trump so eloquently stated. I appreciate the entirety of your piece as I have lost both parents and my little brother. Both my Mom and brother were robbed piece by piece. It is some special kind of grace one must have to continue to laugh in the face of such loss. But, my brother Jason was the most gracious teaching soul I have ever known and was taken from us at only 24 years of age. But, what you stated at the end I think should become a non-violent protest chant regarding Trump. "A man who never apologizes" is exactly who Trump is. He has the humility of a turd on a throne. Yes, I cry every day because of this administration. But, I also try to live in the moment with gratitude for all the good people like yourself who have such an eloquent way with words that can cleave through the charade. Thank you!

Reply

Nancy

about 6 days ago

My sister died exactly as your mother did. I cannot imagine how anyone can be so monstrously cruel, but Trump's ignorance and cruelty know no bounds, and obviously his staff are the same. Thank you for the beautifully expressed thoughts.

Reply

Susan Wilson

about 5 days ago

Thank you for this. I have tried to say the same things in various posts, but have never managed in any of them to say what you have said in this essay. Thank you again.

Reply

Robin

about 4 days ago

How poignant and beautiful. Peace . Thank you.

Reply

RHONDA WALLER

about 3 days ago

On the nose, poignant, and excellent...as usual.

Reply

Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 days ago

Thanks sweet friend.

Reply

Penney

about 2 days ago

Thank you for saying what is in many people’s hearts. I had several friends die of brain cancer and held my life coach’s hand on her death bed. This administration has “no couth” or decency. I am sorry for your own loss. I am sorry for what the McCain family is going through. I am sorry for what this country is going through.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that.
Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked