One year ago, today.
My life completely changed.
It’s not that I didn’t know it was going to happen. I just expected to have longer.
I expected her to hang on for at least a year- that IS what we were told on *that* day, more than a year back.
We sat in her surgeon’s office as he told us what he had suspected was correct. She would have 1-3 years, they thought.
It was advanced stage cancer. They were very honest- they would never cure her, but they thought they could at least buy her enough time to see one of her grandchildren married.
I held her hand as we drove towards my home that day. Neither of us said much of anything.
We *never* really know how long we have, do we? It would be an uneasy feeling except, I have faith in a living God. I know HE knows. In the end, that’s what matters.
I’ve learned that while everyone mourns those who leave, death can bring very different circumstances for those left behind.
It’s enough to miss the person that has passed, but when you are also shouldering the responsibility of closing every single detail of that person’s life, it can be exhausting- and for many different reasons.
I realized within a week that we were going to face a challenge with her home. Her mortgage company was pretty firm that we needed to be out immediately. Of course, it was not easy.
My Grandmother had lived with my Mama some years before. Their things were intertwined. In many cases, I didn’t know which things belonged to which person.
The children and I worked as quickly as we could- going almost every day to pack the things that needed to be moved. I assigned them to rooms, gave them tape and boxes and we packed.
It was tiring and all I could think about was how very much I missed my Mama. If I’m completely honest, I didn’t want to see any of her things. Her death was just too painful and too fresh.
So many days, I just boxed as quickly as I could.
I had a friend tell me I was giving away too much. I know she was probably right, but how could I look at Mama’s things and it not make me sad. We ended up keeping very little. Much of it was damaged from a long-term water leak she had. We gave most of it (what wasn’t damaged), to another family member. I kept things that were sentimental to me and I packed a box for each of my children for their own homes.
This experience has taught me more about myself. I still don’t really miss her things- I much more value the time I spent with her. My thoughts revolve more around watching her play chess with Benjamin, or rock Jackson, or watching her paint or draw.
I talk to the children a whole lot about the things I remember so well.
I’ve found myself feeling grateful to the Lord for many sweet blessings. While I have seen things that surprised me (in a very negative way), from some, I have also seen things that touched me in a way I would never be able to express in mere words.
My church family, stepping in since the very beginning of this illness, to help in every possible way…meals, cards (to me and Mama), advice on legal issues we needed to be addressing before her death, etc.
A couple of the most precious family members who have written every couple of days through this entire last year (and before), to check on me and make sure that I am ok or we didn’t need anything. I’m sure they will never know how much it has meant.
Marcy, having lost her own mama…sharing her experiences and concern. We have swapped the good, bad and ugly of this kind of a loss. I’m so grateful to have had that person to share what was happening. I know she knows *exactly* this situation. It has been a comfort (though, I would never wish this upon anyone).
My dear friend, Christy. She is more like a sister. She bought bedding and furnishings for Mama’s room when she came to stay. She wrote and listened to me crying more times than I can count. She stood with me in the valley of death, even sitting by my side during the funeral while Paul shared the message. She’s written already this week, checking in…knowing this would be a hard week for me.
I’m so grateful.
Melissa..she worked so hard that night between comforting me and trying to help my mom. I’m blessed to live by a nurse. I’m more blessed to live by a good friend. I will never forget that cup of tea she offered to me while the paramedics were working on Mama. The room felt like it was spinning and yet there was a strange peace. I know the Lord was there and working.
My sweet friends. I went to check my mail yesterday. I had received one of the sweetest cards ever mailed. Brandy, it was very much appreciated. I will treasure it…
Betsy. Your package brought me to tears. While I have been dreading this day for the entire last part of this year, your gift brought something so wonderful. Mama would have loved this kind of a tribute, and she *did love* sunflowers. Funny, when we bought this house, she mentioned planting a huge patch of sunflowers…all different varieties. 🙂
I’ve been trying to decide where to plant our little garden. Thank you…thank you…thank you.
My dearest, Paul. You hold my hand through the times when I feel as if I can’t breathe. You are a God-provided, pillar of strength. With you by my side, I feel like I can face each day. I love you more than you could ever know. The Lord has blessed me abundantly with you. I recognize that before I ever took my first breath, He knew *exactly* what I needed and brought you.
My sweet children. They have been such a huge blessing for me this year. The older ones have ran errands, made phone calls, helped pack and in many cases, have just listened.
What a strange year, mixed with sadness and amazing, at the same time.
I have many, many random thoughts…
*I have not been able to remember my dad’s voice for many, many years. There are nights I would love to remember just once, but it doesn’t come. I felt really guilty about that for a period of my life. I’m grateful to clearly remember her voice. I have video tape of her laughing a short time before she passed. What a precious gift the Lord allowed us to capture.
*Mama had very good friends. They have stayed in touch over this year and wanted to know if there was something they could do for us…obviously, time and the Lord are all that will heal this emptiness but I sure am grateful for them.
*I do think about the fact that my youngest will never be rocked my one of his grandmothers. Again, I know the Lord knew this…and *it’s ok* (though, it doesn’t feel like it sometimes), because He planned it this way. It does make me so much more grateful for some ladies who have grand babies of their own, but never seem to mind rocking my babies while they visit. My children (I think Darby, especially), soak this time up like a sponge. I’m not sure these ladies know what a ministry they are to my children.
*I’m thankful and heart-broken for the many folks I’ve met while facing cancer with my mom. I remember your faces and your stories.
To the man I saw each week I was there…I know your wife is facing the battle of her life. You keep being brave- I know you are scared, but she needs you! It was nice to share my experience with you while we waited. I have prayed for your family many times.
…and the family who found out just at Thanksgiving. I know your loss is still fresh, as is my own. I pray you find comfort and rest in knowing *he doesn’t* hurt anymore.
To Debi’s Joe, I know you miss her. Uterine cancer is an ugly monster of a disease. I pray that you will *know* the Lord. I know only He can give you comfort- and I speak of my own experience here. I’m so sorry for her suffering. I am sure, like for me, those memories plague your thoughts.
*It’s a strange thing to feel bigger, stronger, closer to the Lord and feel so broken at the same time. I will never be the same.
*It’s been painful to watch how death touches every detail of your life. One of the things I’ve had to face this year is realizing a couple of folks I thought would always be there- no matter what- just weren’t when all of this began to happen. It was bad enough, that ugliness we faced before her death. It was nothing compared to what has followed the rest of this year. That has been far harder to face than losing my mom, and I’m not really even sure why. I guess I have a peace about my mama’s passing. The other, I don’t understand at all. It just makes me sad.
*This happens to be, the 1st anniversary of my mom’s death- it also happens to be the last night my oldest son will spend in my home. I’m just sad today. I know *both* were of no surprise to the Lord.
*The night of her passing was traumatic for me. The images and sounds coming from that bathroom, were so vivid and so fresh, I found myself unable to sleep for many months. I remember asking my Aunt Cathy to please pray for me…I needed some of those to be more vague in my memory. I didn’t want to remember Mama in that place. The Lord has been so good to dull my memory of that night. While I do remember so much of it, there are also little details that do not stand out so well. I’m thankful. I’m thankful for those prayers. Mama wouldn’t want to be remembered that way.
*I’m *very grateful* my grandmother still lives. We don’t often speak of Mama when I visit, and I don’t really need to talk of Mama to her. My grandmother may or may not even remember she’s passed while I’m visiting. Still, she is a HUGE source of comfort and peace. I just want to sit and chat with her sometimes.
Just yesterday, Paul took Owen and I to visit her. I wanted him to meet his great-grandmother. I needed to just sit with her before I had to face this day. I didn’t feel strong enough to wait until today. I knew this would be a teary day for me. It made me feel better just to see her smile over this newest member of her family.
*The Lord has provided me with big and little reminders He is here this year. Even Wednesday, when I went to the bank to close the last of her financial affairs, the lady who helped me had just lost her mom. She told me how hard it’s been to want to pick up the phone and talk when her little girl has done something new. She patted me on the back as I was leaving and told me to go and be happy. …and I do know that is what Mama would want. It just feels so impossibly hard sometimes.
*My husband sits and reminds me this morning he’s is praying for me. “The milestones are hard”, he says. I know he knows. I remember the end of that first year, when his sweet mama had gone. I hurt for him, but this is not a feeling I could completely understand until I faced it myself. I do remember thinking, “I’ve made it 24 hours. This time yesterday is when it was happening.” Then I remember one week, and one month, and now it’s been a year.
I’ve not spoken to my mama in an entire year. Before that day, I talked with her each and every day…sometimes multiple times a day. It’s true, I think. You never know what you have until it’s gone.
Funny, when I think of Mama now, I am so sad for me- but, I do picture her…no more plates and pins in her foot. No more swelling. No more plates in her back. No high blood pressure. NO CANCER.
She dances at the feet of the Savior now. I KNOW I will see her again one day. I pray often that the Lord would whisper to her how much I loved her and miss her. I would hope that she would be proud of my little family and that perhaps the Lord would share her newest little grand baby with her.
So today, I will again do my best to honor the memory of my mama and mostly, live in a way to please my Lord.
I decided I will work on one of my scrapbooks and read to my babies. I will help my oldest son prepare his things for his new home. I will enjoy his last full day and night in my home. My heart is heavy, but I will smile at my little ones and snuggle my babies. (Not that there haven’t already been, and may be more tears.) I will sit in the sun. I will pray and thank God for the sounds of birds and the ripples that form across our lake.
My mama’s time here has come and gone. I miss her everyday. There isn’t a part of me that doesn’t want to sit and laugh with her at something one of the kiddos has done.
Mama loved to read. She loved to crochet, and draw, and paint. She loved her family.
I’m thankful for who she was…she was reliable, and honest, and tried to think the best of others. She always wanted to help someone else. She tried hard to raise me (by herself!), to be respectful of others and to live a life of learning.
She was adventurous, and beautiful, and had a soft spirit.
She was not dramatic but rather tried to keep a clear head.
She was a good mother.
Oh, how my heart grieves when I think about all I’ve lost. I miss her terribly.
Today has been a year. I’m trying not to be selfish and want her back, but sometimes, it’s just hard.