Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Our Mom...



"Just as hope rings through laughter, it can also shine through tears."








The day before mom's party, (Saturday, April 4th) mom grew less present with us.  Sleeping more, eyes closed, working harder to just breathe in and out.  

We simply decided to leave her in her room, resting in bed, during the party.

We had a steady stream of people for her party.  They all so bravely came down to her room, and spoke to her, even though her eyes barely fluttered.  There was much laughter, with tears sprinkled in.  So many wonderful stories shared about our mom.  She'd still raise her eyebrows, or smile at mention of someone's name on occasion.  She was clearly taking it all in, as were we.  I didn't even manage to reach for my camera.

All 3 of mom's sisters were there.  So many of her nieces and nephews had come.  Neighbors and friends from years back.  Concordia College faculty and staff filled the unit.  A card even arrived, from the President of the College.  


Dr. Jalil, mom's liver specialist, arrived with this beautiful gerbera daisy.  It was his first time visiting the Palliative Care Unit, and he was noticing the tranquility he felt.  He had been so instrumental in getting mom into the unit, without even having been there.  I only hope more doctors will visit the unit and get to know what a true gem it is.  

He somewhat, apologetically said, "I thought she had longer, two maybe, three weeks."  But I assured him, we treasured any time we had with her, and nobody really knows when.   Its clearly not in our hands."






Sunday, I awoke to an early phone call from her nurse.  Mom's breathing had grown more shallow, perhaps I would like to come in and sit with her?

Lee and I both spent Easter Day with mom.  With lots of visits and support from our family, we watched over mom.   She seemed to be less comfortable and worked to position her in ways that may help.  More pain meds were delivered and yet all we could do was watch as she struggled to take in air.  

It was hard to leave her that night.  I longed to stay, as much as I needed to go.  

I spent extra time, brushing her hair.  Moisturizing her lips, her face.  Holding her hand, and whispering to her how she was loved.  Treasured.  Cherished.

My phone was silent all night.  My mind, prepared for the possibility of a call.

Yesterday, I arrived mid-morning.  

Mom labored, so, with her breathing.  Her chest, shoulders, and neck, askew, working so hard to bring in air.  I noticed a new noise to her exhale.  The pale enshrouding her face.  The positioning, again, of her head and neck at awkward angles.  And yet, the reassurance by nursing staff, that all was a natural part of the process.

So Lee and I, sat, watching, each breath, each sigh, each little thing.


She no longer responded to our words.  


Sometime, yesterday morning, I felt an energy in my chest.  Something shifted.  The air changed.  As I went out to get a drink of water, then returned, the sight of my mom stirred me.

It felt to me as though her spirit had already left.  While we still had no idea if she had mere hours left, or days, I sensed her journey moving forward.



Her sister, Marlene came.  We sat sharing stories about Mom.  About Grandma, and Grandpa, and their passing.  About her first husband Emery, and then our Dad,  and so many others who had gone before us.


And ever so slowly, mom's breathing slowed.  Our voices grew softer, as her breathing grew quieter.  

We filled the in- between minutes with chatter, 

until...

It was Marny's voice that sing-songed through the air…


"Mary Ann, do you hear me?"  You can leave.  Time to go, Mary."  

And we chuckled, at the sight and sound of the older sister, doing what she had done since childhood.

She got up and leaned over the bed, peering into mother's face.  She kissed her cheek and told she was loved.  Then sat down.


It felt like mere minutes, as Marny and Lee sat across from me talking.


But, I noticed the lapses between mom's breathing.  Longer and longer till she breathed again.


I stood, noticing how still and quiet it had become.  Marny and Lee were right there with me.  We surround the bed, searching for signs, searching each other's faces, while stroking her hair, her cheeks, just her.  

Each breath now,  a mere sip of air.  

We all three spoke our love to her, and then, it happened.

The slightest smile alighted on mom's lips, as Marny proclaimed,

"You see the pearly gates, don't you Mary?"

The smile lingered a second.

And then it was gone.

And so was she.






Shortly before 5 pm yesterday, our sweet mother, Mary Ann, went Home to be with Jesus.

We are both joyously celebrating her entry into her eternal life, and deeply saddened by our lives going on, without her lively spirit in our midst.





“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”  Rumi




Today, as I downloaded a couple of quick snaps from my phone- this vision caught my eye.

Do you see it?  The reflection in the window?  

I have to tell you, I believe.  And I felt it, and now, I feel as though I see it too.




























64 comments:

  1. Vicky I am so sorry to hear of your Mom's passing. My thoughts and prayers are always with you and your family! I had this same experience with my dad when he passed 5 years ago this month. I am so glad I was able to be with him even though it was so very hard. So glad you were with your Mom!

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    1. Thank you, Genny~ so glad I had this time with her too.

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  2. Your Mom loved you. Loved Lee. Loved your family -- Nolan, Colton, Rick and all the rest. She would be moved by this beautiful description that you just wrote and would be so proud of her daughter -- who, like her mother, is a fighter and a strong spirit. I know, as you do, that your Dad was there waiting to welcome your mom - and both still live on each and every day...in you, and in Lee, and the kids...I wish I had words to ease the sadness and heartbreak you are feeling at the moment -- as I told you yesterday and will tell you many many more times in the next few days -- hugs, hugs, hugs...for you are strong, but TOGETHER we can be stronger...I am there for you always as you are for my -- my BFF...Love you!

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    1. Thanks Kristi- it is I that am having the trouble finding the words to express how grateful I am for this outpouring of support and love. Thank you~

      Your mom brought over the most delicious comfort food- a hot dish just like what my mom used to make. We devoured it :)

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  3. Love and hugs and prayer for you as you process your mother's passing. You showed such love, concern and compassion during her last difficult year, she was truly blessed.

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    1. Thank you, Karen- you always say the very thing that touches my heart.

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  4. Sincere sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your beautiful mom....prayers being sent from NY.

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    1. Thankful for those prayers, Barb, always. They do much to give us peace and strength.

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  5. My prayers are always with you Vicky, especially now. I know she's more comfortable now and will keep watch over you and yours. Many, many hugs to you. You certainly do have the strength of a weight-lifter.. ;o) God Bless and keep you.

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    1. Jean- I simply have that desire to go forward- despite my circumstances. Sometimes it may be strength, but often it feels like weakness, so regardless of what it is, I try to accept it and keep going, leaning on Him all the way through.

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  6. Dear friend, you were heavy on my heart all weekend. Thank you for taking time to let us know. We do not grieve as those who have no hope, but that doesn't mean we don't grieve. Love you. Remember those Everlasting Arms. They're holding you and welcoming her.

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    1. Jenn- I love the visual of that last image- its what gets me through. Love you too, dear friend.

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  7. Oh dear Vicky.......I am sharing this with Hannah with tears streaming. Gratitude is the first word that strikes me as I am so grateful Lee was there with you in her final moments. grateful for her sisters to bring life-long comfort, and so many who came to honor her. Your timing in planning all this could not have been any more perfect if there had actually been handwriting on the wall for all to read.

    But at the same time my heart aches deeply for you in this very sad time of saying goodbye to your mom here on this earth. I know you must be comforted by the joy she and your dad both felt at being in the presence of one another again and I'm so grateful her suffering is over. My heart will be with you and your dear family and I pray God's richest comforts while you mourn and walk through the next steps.

    Your photo of the flowers is so meaningful and who could HELP but "believe" that all of this and the gathering of everyone was in His timing. I love you, Vicky, and send you my deepest condolences.

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    1. Robynn, your words are a balm to my weary soul. I have pure gratitude as well, that my brother helped Mom, and I, all the way through. Thankful for your prayers and that you believe, as deeply as I do. Love you, friend.

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    2. Just had to stop back in to read more comments and your replies - always so loving, so thoughtful. Wish I were there to hug you in person, clean your toilet, do some laundry, make you tea - something practical - but I'm grateful there are those who are nearby who love you so much and are providing God's comfort through their kindnesses. Prayers for the days ahead. Thank you so much for including all of us in her last days, the pictures, the words, the moments that led to her passing. We've known each other out here for about seven years, Vicky, and your family became dear to me. This sharing you've done is a gift to those of us who love from afar. Love you.

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  8. vicky, i'm so sorry to hear about your mom's passing. blessings and prayers to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you, Beth~ blessings to you as well.

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  9. Vicky... I am so sorry for your loss. You were a wonderful daughter and with all your strength and compassion, you are her legacy. You are in my prayers, as always.

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    1. Katie- such kind words, thank you- your prayers continue to strengthen and encourage me.

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  10. Dear Vicky,
    You have been on my heart and in my prayers all week-end. I didn’t think it was this close either, but truly, God is so good to not let your precious mom linger and be uncomfortable. Hard as it is to let go we know it’s best for mom. I went through this with both my parents. My prayers changed from not wanting them to go to asking the Lord to not let them linger. Still hurts though, and as someone else said, we still grieve, but not as those who have no hope, you will see her again. Continued prayers and big (((hugs))) to you. I see an angel in the reflection. Believing is seeing. Seeing is Believing. :) God bless you and your family, and wrap His arms of comfort around you and comfort you as only He can.

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    1. Thank you, Nina, your precious and wise words comfort me. So grateful for them~ and you.

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  11. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family in the loss of your mom. You have shared her with us so tenderly. May the God of all comfort, comfort you.

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    1. Thank you, Susan. Your prayers sustain me and I do feel comfort through the help of all of you and the reminder to rest in Him.

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  12. You've shared something very precious with us, your friends and readers - your dear mom's final moments. O the love she was surrounded with - what a gift for you and your loved ones to be with her. What peace it surely brought to your mom. I am so very sorry for your loss. I add my prayers to all the others. Take good care of yourself, and God bless your family.

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    1. Truly, it was a gift to be with her, Susan. We left, each night, garnering strength for more days ahead, but also knowing she may not get through the night. The doctors always said she may have hours, to days, left, so we never really knew when it might be.

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  13. So sorry to hear about your mom, Vicky. It's never easy. All you described about your mom and how she reacted when people stopped by to see her, although she wasn't awake, was just how my Dad was too. Even though they couldn't respond, I believe they could hear and feel everyone's love and presence. I'm sending my thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

    "What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us." -Helen Keller

    Love and hugs, Eileen

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    1. Thank you Eileen, its so reassuring to hear other's experience very near the same as ours. The quote feels very real to me as well- thank you for sharing. Love and hugs to you~

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  14. Oh how sad.My deepest sympathy to you and your family.
    I was with my Mom too but I cannot say good bye.That's why I fight so hard for life.
    Not cause I don't wish them well on the better journey they are going on to but because I know
    they are leaving every one behind.I still miss my family. It gave me a lot of comfort knowing they were still at home doing things.
    Well may peace be with her Vicky . xoxoxoxox

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    1. My mom said at an earlier stage that the hardest part for her to face was not being here for all of us… I can relate to both sides of that. Thank you Vic- xoxo

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  15. Tears for you. As you wrote, I could picture exactly the process and progress you spoke of, for I walked through that with a very dear friend a little over a year ago. I remember asking my husband if God takes our spirits before our bodies stop, because just like you mentioned, it seemed as if there was a point when her spirit - the part that made her "her" - flew away to Jesus, and we were left with a shell that hadn't quite stopped working yet.

    You'll be in my prayers as you walk through this season of learning to live with your mom on the other side of eternity.

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    1. I relate so well to your words- yes- mom felt like a mere shell at some point. Until that brief flash of a smile at the end, like she swooped in and then left, just like that. Thankful to have you pray me through my walk :)

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  16. I send my sympathy to you as you grieve the passing of your mom. You are so present with every moment of your life, your words inspire me. She is at peace and hopefully you find your joy again as life goes on.

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    1. Thank you, Denise. I know through time I have realized I think of my Dad with such fondness and joy. I pray that will come, through time, with my Mom as well. Thank you for your kind words~

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  17. Vicky, I'm so sorry for your loss, but glad you were there with her and willing to release her to the peacefulness of Heaven. May the Lord be with you and those who will mourn her loss. Thought's and prayers.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and kind words- it comforts me so.

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  18. Oop, make that thoughts. Not sure why my fingers added that apostrophe. They aren't always connected to my brain.

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  19. A beautiful transition so beautifully related. You captured spirit in words and image.

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    1. Thank you, Kass, it reminds me so much of you and your journey with your own mom.

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  20. Love you Vicky! Sending you lots of hugs! Its just plain lousey to loose a loved one! Believing with you sweet friend!
    xo

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    1. Thank you dear one- I so appreciate your thoughts and prayers- love to you!

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  21. My sympathy to your family. May you feel the comfort that only Jesus can give.

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    1. Thank you Francis~ blessings to you.

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  22. I am so very sorry for your loss of your dear Mother. I had the PRIVILEGE of being with my Mom when she died too. Since she had enphysema and heart disease I always thought she would have a hrad time at the end. She did not. Her breathing was never labored and it was like she just went to sleep. What a blessing for us all. You are in my prayers. Grief is a journey.

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    1. Yes, Pinky, it truly is a journey. We watched as others on the floor seemed to sleep so peacefully, but mom seemed to struggle with each breath the last couple of days. Not sure why, but relieved for her when she passed. Thankful for your prayers~

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  23. I found my words; " with each breath you took, I new I was at that final goodbye, the final goobye here, in this world. I new it, saw it and didnt want to let you go... yet I wanted to let you go, I needed to, for you and for me. You are the woman who brought me into this world, the one who cradled me in your arms, the one who I ran to... The one who protected me, and nurtured me. The one i new would always be there...and yet, here we are...each breath you now took..was taking you home. Emotions??? oh my yes, how can i wish you to stay, when you struggle so for each breath..and yet , at the same time I feel greatful for your journeys end...when all I want to do is love you? How can all these feelings correlate.....and then simply it hit me, I LOVE YOU MOM! I always have and always will, I want you whole, I want you in gardens and seeing the sunshine..In truth I loved you enough to let you go...and yet, In that moment..in that moment, you left...I realized I would never be the same... Because from now on, I walk this life without you, one of the simply knowens in my life...always there...always. Tears and relief mingle...always mingle...relief and Joy that your whole again....tears that you are no longer here. Mom, this journey of letting you go...taught me one amazing thing...
    How very much I love you... how very much I will miss you. And that love will always be there... always..forever...and ever....and yes, the day will come, I will see you again. How I love you Mom" ~P.W~

    The circle of life...doesnt stop the pain, even in knowing it..it is real. But Vicky you all gave her the greatest gift, you loved her, and let her go...knowing you will someday see her again... many hugs and prayers to all off you! xoxoxox and a big hug and then more hugs... My thoughts are with you all....

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    1. Beautiful words- Peggy Sue- just beautiful. Much love to you!

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  24. I am so sorry for your loss. Prayers for you and your family over the coming days for peace and comfort for all of you and for your memories to be a precious balm to your soul. Hugs across the miles

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  25. You are a beautiful writer. Praying for you and your family Vicky.

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  26. I am a long time reader of your blog. I lost my mom three weeks ago and reading your account was like reliving our experience all over again. My mom was struggling with her health as well and in the end it was a blessing. But wow, do we miss her presence in our lives. She was the heart of our family and we are trying to deal with the gaping hole left. I will be looking forward to going on this journey with you. Your writing is beautiful and poignant. Often what I am thinking but can't find the words myself. I will pray for you and continue to find inspiration from you. Blessings.

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  27. Dear Vicky~

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Although we are so sad to lose someone we love, it is a privilege to be with them in their final days. It's like beauty and pain, all wrapped up in one. You sent your mom off in high style, and I pray you will take comfort in knowing that.

    Lots of love and prayers, my friend, for you and your family!

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  28. I am sorry for your loss, my own mother passed ten months ago, and yes as you write it is a slow journey for the body to let go. I have written about it before, it is like labor, birthing a baby bringing breath to a new life as the labor process takes place, death is not that different in the process of letting go, hour by hour till the time to say good bye takes place. One takes in a new breath, one let's go the last breath. it is a journey of love.

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  29. Oh my sweet friend,
    Tears are streaming as I read every word. Thank you for sharing your heart. I am so grateful that your Mom was able to have her party and know that she was surrounded by love. I am so grateful that you were all there to support her and each other. I am so grateful that just as she brought you and Lee into the world, you were there to walk her all the way home. I am so grateful for the perfect timing, His perfect timing, as you got her into just the right place at just the right time. And I absolutely am grateful that her older sister did what older sisters so often do, tell her what she needed to do. Such loving words..."you can leave, time to go Mary."
    And it was.

    Holding you all in my love and prayers, sweet Vicky. I am so sorry for your loss.
    I love you to the moon and back!
    Linda

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  30. I loved this Linda....." And I absolutely am grateful that her older sister did what older sisters so often do, tell her what she needed to do. Such loving words..."you can leave, time to go Mary."
    And it was. " touched me sooooooooo!

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  31. I'm so sorry Vicky...for the loss of your mother.

    Hugs and Prayers...
    Jan ♥

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  32. I am so very sorry for your loss. Your post brought a flood of emotion. I will be praying for you and your family.
    I was with my mother when she encouraged my dear grandmother to heaven. There was something so precious is this...encouraging her to the loving arms of Jesus...

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  33. My heartfelt condolences. Prayers for you all. God bless.

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  34. Your post is so beautiful and sad. I had tears in my eyes as I was reading it. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  35. I am so very sorry....my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Annie in Virginia

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  36. What a long long journey it has been. But how faithful and lovely at the same time. Thinking of you, X

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  37. Sincere condolences, dear Vicky.

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  38. Read this and the tears are rolling.

    Oh, Vicky, what a good and faithful daughter--you love with your whole heart. And your precious mother knew it.

    hugging you from Georgia...

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  39. I've selfishly avoided this post because u knew what it contained, and I am so loath to see you suffer anymore. But your sweet mom's home going seemed so peaceful, surrounded by people who loves her and you can't ask for much better than that.

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  40. I can't add anything to what was already said in previous comments, but simply, I am sorry to hear about your mom.

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  41. What a stunningly loving post, sharing with us your mother's last moments, and how surrounded by love she was, too.. With all that you are going through, you spent time with her right to the end and that is so selfless too.. obviously you have a very big loving heart, and such energy..even when dealing with all the chemo stuff, you seem to race around.. I love how you write and will be back to share more with you.. God keep you well, and sending hugs from the UK all the way to you... bless you.. J

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I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

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