Tuesday, May 28, 2013


It is exhausting, this traveling back and forth. I am home for 2 days this week and then I go again, a 4 hour trip (one way) that I think I could do with my eyes closed. And probably have, come to think of it. Being away from the claustrophobic atmosphere gives me time to reflect, although I also worry every second that I am not there. Let's find some joy in the midst of the most demanding and grueling of circumstances: - My mom tenderly trying to slip her wedding band on over her gnarled and mostly useless finger a couple of days ago. - My sister and I struggling to lift mom's body back into the bed after a toilet visit and catching her eye as we're huffing and puffing, making me want to giggle. - Seeing her mouth lift up at the corners as my husband tries his best to lighten the mood and make her laugh. - Hearing time and time again how my mom touched someone's life for the better, simply by caring and being kind. - The security of spending her last days at home, surrounded by her most beloved family, who are honoring her wishes to keep her out of the hospital. - The hope and assurance of our faith that we will see mom again in Heaven, where she will be healthy and happy. - The many, many, many people who are showing how much they love our family with their prayers, food, money, and anything else they have to offer. I'm slowly grasping that my mom is extraordinary. People from all stages of her life are contacting her and letting her know how much she means to them. It is astounding. She has received hundreds of cards, dozens of flower arrangements, enough food to feed an army, and countless offers of, "Let me know if there's ANYTHING I can do." Many people die alone with no one who cares. My mom is surrounded by loved ones near and far who are supporting us all in this journey and I am overwhelmed by their generosity and my thankfulness. My sister and I are also caught up by people who love us: they watch our children, feed us when we can't summon the energy to cook, and make sure we have gas. They are just there, letting us know that they are praying for us and thinking of us. I am thankful for every word written, every hug given, every thoughtful gesture that lets me know you are there, carrying the load with me. This experience is going to get even harder, and I'm thankful that I am not alone. We are not alone.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Secret Agent Mom

My mom is a snooper. Not a secret one, and not apologetic, either. She'll come into our house, or when we were younger, our rooms, and snoop away. She calls it being curious. While I applaud these maneuvers as a mom myself (although maybe a little less in depth), I HATED them when I was younger. I was a good kid -- I didn't really have any secrets, but I wanted some thoughts to remain private. I remember one time in high school, I found my journal in her closet in a box of "things to keep." I was mortified and horrified, and also I hadn't even FINISHED the journal yet. She saved notes that boys wrote to me after she found them in my desk, and one time she found a Harlequin Romance book I sneaked in and kept under my bed. I got in trouble for that one. Due to her excellent sleuthing skills, my mom knows pretty much everything about me. And that's okay. I keep thinking, "I have the perfect opportunity that people always talk about. I know my mom is dying, and I should let her know NOW anything important." But I don't have anything. I have always kept in frequent contact with her and shared my everyday with her. And I am thankful. I have no regrets. This verse has been on my mind today: "Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 3:13-14 I like the picture of my mama getting close to the finish line. I am so excited for what awaits her!

Monday, May 20, 2013


We sit by her bed, one at a time, a seemingly endless vigil that we don't really want to end. She snaps her good eye open to peer at whoever happens to be there, then rolls over and goes back to sleep. Every noise seems to irritate her, hence the one at a time rule. When Holly and I whisper, the eye whips open and glares at us. At other times, though, she softly whispers something that we usually have to ask her to repeat: an "I love you," which means so much right now. A funny statement that must have to do with whatever she's dreaming: "Plaid. I think the plaid one." Or sometimes, my favorite: a purse of the lips and a kiss noise. Mom seems so soft and fragile. Her face is worry-free and, unless the morphine is wearing off, she seems okay. She says repeatedly that she thinks she'll die tonight, whatever night it happens to be, and I feel bad that just because you want something to happen doesn't mean it will. She is certainly deteriorating, though, and it really could be any moment, I guess. Her color is good and her heart sounds strong, but her breathing is deep and very slow. I can't imagine what it'll be like without her here.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Holding On

I knew it would be hard to let mom go, but I had no idea how hard it would be to hold on. She is so miserable and all I want is for her to go Home, to be freed from the pain and suffering of the cancer that is literally eating her alive. It is so difficult to watch her labor and struggle to stay on top of the pain. Yesterday was such a great day and it's one that I will hold onto in the grief and paralysis that will find me way too soon. She was lucid and making funny faces for my camera, and she also recorded a message for my children when the time comes. Today is a different story. We called her hospice nurse and she gave us permission to up the morphine and anti-nausea medicine to bring mom's pain level down. She was in agony last night and it is debilitating for us too. We are fighting panic and incredible sorrow and my prayer has changed from, "Jesus, please make her comfortable" to "Jesus, please come and get her." Some moments it's hard to remember just 3 weeks ago, when she was feeling pretty good. Her terrible journey has been so quick and it's been hard to process when every day brings something new to deal with. I hope she doesn't have to hold on much longer.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Beautiful Life

My mom is dying. Quickly, and without much time to process thought or emotion. Just two short weeks ago, we learned that the breast cancer she was diagnosed with two years ago had metastasized and was now in her lungs, bones, blood, brain, and face. She has a pathetic looking tumor in her cheek that has caused her face to swell up and her eye to become shut. Besides this physical manifestation and the fact that she is exhausted, you would never know. The kids and I got to spend last weekend, Mother's Day, with my mom for probably the last time. She is fading fast. Hospice came today and upped her pain medication, and she has stopped eating, so she will be gone soon. Tears are streaming down my face as I type, a curious mix of raw emotion and rational thought. My mama has not had the easiest life, and this is a hard ending. Through it all, though, her faith has never once wavered and I have never heard her question her lot. She has always been a great example of finding joy in any circumstance. I am so thankful for all of the years I did get to spend with her.