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A year ago

Today, one year ago, my mom went to Heaven. November 26th, 2012 at 11:50 am. Dad was holding one hand and I was holding the other.  We prayed out loud together as she passed.  Beautiful and Terrible.

Looking back on this roller-coaster of a year, there have been a few things that have helped me through…

THE KNOWLEDGE THAT:

1) Heaven is real.  I have believed in heaven since I was 8 years old, but it became much more real to me on November 26th.  Through out this past year I have often pictured my mom there.   And if you are wondering if she was sitting on a cloud and playing a harp… the answer is a resounding NO!  She never would have enjoyed that.  Right now, as I type this, she is probably cracking jokes with Moses or dancing through the wildflowers while singing a Bob Dylan song (hey- he has some Christian songs).  She loved researching our genealogy, so maybe she is catching up with our ancestors from centuries ago or maybe she is sitting at the feet of Jesus just gazing up at Him in awe.

2) This world is not our home.    Our time here is just a whisper.  My mom was on this earth just over 67 years.  Taken to Heaven too soon? YES! But despite my sorrow, she is where she belongs.  The first few months after she died, I cringed every time someone said, “Well, at least you know she is in Heaven.”  At that time, that thought did not comfort my pain and my loss; however as time passed and I traveled through the grief process I began to find comfort in that thought.  This earth was not mom’s home.  She is home now.  And home is a place with no migraines, no cancer, no pain and no fear.  

3)  Good memories float, bad memories sink.    Our family had a typical life in the sense that there were a ton of good memories, but our fair share of bad memories also.  That is what makes up a life.  What I did not expect, from the very beginning, was that the good memories floated to the top of my mind and the bad memories sunk to the bottom.  Of course, I still remember the bad moments, but they have grown dim in the bright light of our laughter and our fun.  I remember dressing up like hippies with my parents to go to a birthday party of someone we were close to. (pictured below)  I remember going shopping and redecorating my bedroom with hearts, rainbows and glitter when I outgrew Holly Hobbie.  I remember finding many (many) stray cats at our front door and calling them our “extra special blessings”.  Tonight, my father and brother will come over to our house to remember together the good memories.  May they all float up to the top.

2013-02-12 19.44.30

4)  Friends and family are crucial for healing.  Grief is a crazy, unforgiving process that hits everyone so differently.   The waves of sorrow that hit unexpectedly in the first year, the odd, random memories that occur at the strangest times, and the pain that becomes almost physical when you ache from missing your loved one are too much to handle on your own.   My family and friends have been an incredible support to me.  And I have to add that my husband, David, has helped me so very much these past two years.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like without him by my side for all of it.

dsc_6824 Photo Sep 21, 2 07 01 PM

5) And most importantly, God is always faithful!  It sometimes sounds like a cliché or some kind of quick “Christianese” answer to someone’s struggle, but it is so much more than that.  I have felt the truth of this statement in its rawest form over the past two years.  God is always faithful. Period. The End. He is never NOT faithful.  He held me close this year, He comforted me in a way that can only come from a Heavenly Father who loves me, and He fulfilled His promises to me.     “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Psa 139:5  My mom and I clung to this verse towards the end.   We felt His loving arms “hemming” us in.  Even just a few days before she passed, lying in a bed at Hospice, mostly unresponsive, a miracle happened.  The music therapist came to her room with her guitar and binder of song options.  We asked her to play a few hymns. My mom, not only became responsive, but sang along with me, my dad, and this lady for two songs.  Every word. Praising God. She was declaring God’s goodness even at the very end of her life.  Every time I hear the song 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman I think of that time.  It says:

“And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore”

Don’t get me wrong,  there is not one single day that has gone by that something has not reminded me of her.   But I am looking forward to that day that we can embrace again and laugh and sing and dance together.

Slideshow of momma’s life

First, I want to thank so many people for all of the support, the love, the cards, the food (lots and lots of food) and prayers. My family, dad, and brother have felt so loved over the past week. The wake last night was actually a beautiful and very special time. So many people came out and loved on all of us. Thank you!!!

Second, the graveside service in Lexington is being organized. The date is tentatively set for December 8th, but I will send out a confirmation when I have more information.

I have included the Slideshow that David and I created to show at the wake. So get out a box of tissues and settle in to watch this 9 minute video of my momma’s life.

Memorial

There will be a small wake at Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church on Thursday, Nov 29 from 6-8 in Greenfield Theater. The service at the cemetery in Lexington has not been scheduled yet, but it will probably be a week or two from now.

Here is a website that the funeral home has set up for my family.

http://cfhecc.com/

Thank you so much for all of the prayers and support that everyone is sending to us. We all appreciate it

11:50

Momma went to heaven at 11:50 am.

A snowy Sunday

Mom is still with us today, but she is now unresponsive. It is a blessing and a curse. The blessing part is because she is at peace and not upset. The curse part is because she is one step closer to death.
The nurses just came in to try to rouse her up. She did not rouse. They said it could be today or a couple of days now. Unbelievable. Unbelievable that she has fought this long. Unbelievable that she is almost gone. Just unbelievable.

I wanted to let everyone know what our plans are for services.
1) We will have a small wake at Eastern Hills Church for a couple of hours. People can come and go as needed. I am making a slideshow of her life to show in the background.
2) Mom wanted to be buried in Lexington NY where she grew up and her family is buried. So at a later date there will be a small graveside service for any family or friends from MorningStar or back home that can attend.
Some people have asked me why we are not having a traditional funeral for her. Well, it is as simple as none of us wanting one. Even mom voiced her desires a few months ago to me. She wanted simple, quiet and no fuss. So that is exactly what we are doing.

Softly snoring

One of my biggest fears was that mom was going to die on Thanksgiving. All she did was snore softly. Thankfully the doctor has adjusted her meds so that she is in a comfortable sleep almost all of the time. It had gotten to a point that any awake time was disturbed and distraught. Now she is just snoring.

The Chaplin came in today and told me that a persons personality is stronger at death. That may be why mom is still fighting and not able to stop. She fought harder and longer than anyone I know. I think it is taking her a long time to relax and let go. Today is day 9.

The grief and sadness is coming in waves. One moment I feel fine, the next I am sobbing. I have a feeling that is very normal. I was also looking though the Black Friday Ads and thought “maybe I should buy that for mom for Christmas”. Again, normal, but very difficult.

My father and I signed up for daily emails from Griefshare.org. Each day it has helpful insights and scriptures on how to grieve. Yesterday, one line from it said, “Knowing the Lord and His comfort does not take away the ache; instead, it supports you in the middle of the ache.”

I found that simply profound and extremely reassuring.

Update summary

1) Doctor and nurses are still saying that she will be with us for a few more days. Her body is not ready to shut down yet.

2) Her delirium has gotten worse and more frequent. During her alert time, she is very confused and upset. Saying odd things and talking to dead relatives. None of this is uncommon, just disturbing to witness.

3) Due to her increased agitation, the doctor is going to increase one med that is helping her sleep. It keeps her comfortable and snoring softly for hours.

4) hospice has a Thanksgiving buffet here tomorrow for families. Not the ideal way to spend the holiday to say the least. David, our girls, my brother, dad and I will have a separate turkey dinner in a week or so.

5) We are handling it ok at this point. It is very hard to explain how we feel to people who have not gone through this. The waiting is very very difficult and emotionally draining. But we are trying to take care of ourselves. Phil is going to the drive in tonight, my dad is spending some quality time with his wonderful, beautiful and talented granddaughters. And me? I went to Five Guys last night and had the best cheeseburger with a pretty cute guy.