I say traveled because in my head that is what she did. As so many times before, she has left town on a trip. She has indeed reached her final destination. That is my coping mechanism. She is on a trip. All be it, the best trip ever. And one day we will meet her there.
Over the last month there have been a few things I have been able to embrace as reality. One of those is how God has shown us His Grace through this huge loss. It has been evident and ever-present through the whole process. As I look back, I can see it everywhere.
Many of you know that mom moved out of her house at the end of January. She was only home five weeks of all of 2015. She had said for months that she was “homeless” or “living out of the back of her car.” She was actually traveling up until the end of June, and staying with Christy’s family or mine when she was in town. Being spared the task of having to sort through her things, and dad’s things, and even what is left of Granny and PopPaw’s things is an enormous blessing. It lets me know that God was orchestrating this long before we knew mom was sick.
Mom “went” until the very end. She was in Orlando at a nude beach at the beginning of June, and had to cancel a trip for a Mud Out with the Texas Baptist Men at the end of June because she was not feeling well. As I was going through photos for the slide show that was played at the funeral it was not nearly as sad and difficult as you might expect. That sweet woman knew what it means to LIVE, and truly did!
When mom was in the process of being diagnosed she shared with us that she fully intended to fight a good fight, but that she was ok with the thought of being with daddy again after 6 years and with Michael again after 26 years. Mom knew she was going to Heaven. We are confident that we will see her again. There is no doubt in our minds. That brings peace and grace that can only come from our Heavenly Father.
Things moved very quickly on Wednesday, August 10th. Once she was moved to ICU it was a whirlwind. We went from thinking she would get better enough to come home and live out the next 3 to 5 years going to Dr and chemo appointments, to finding out that her body could not handle the extent of the surgery and each of her organs was failing one by one.
But, in that whirlwind, when it was just me and Christy with her, as they put a mask over her face to help her with her breathing, her very last words to us were, “I love you.” Again, we have no doubt of it. She loved us like only Jesus could love us. Completely. Fully. Unconditionally. Forever.
Once we knew that she would not be coming home, Christy and I had decisions to make regarding mom’s care. If you knew my mother, you know that she did not leave a lot to wonder about. We knew exactly what her wishes were. She never intended to have her life extended by machines. She had Heaven waiting on her!
Once we took her off of life support and she was put in hospice care, we all sat around her. We told her it would be ok and she could go. And in less than 45 minutes she took her last breath here on earth and stepped into Heaven into the loving arms of Jesus.
I have found so much comfort in knowing that she was ready. If it had taken days, I would honestly doubt our decision to let her go. I would question if she was really ready. But, there is no doubt in my mind that she was ready and if we had kept her longer it would have been only for us and not for her.
I am also confident that we are going to be ok. I don’t believe she would have left if she was not completely certain that Christy and I were going to be ok. That is just our mom. She would drop everything to be here when we needed her. Knowing her strength is with us here, and that she knew we would be ok, makes me believe that we will be ok.
She also knew she was leaving us in good hands. We have family and friends, and acquaintances who are now friends, who have come to love on us, feed us, text us, call us and just make sure we are ok.
From beginning to end it was only about six weeks. We were given an extra six weeks. We didn’t expect things to end as quickly or in the way that they did. But it was so much more that we got with Michael or Daddy. And at the same time we were spared all the hurt that would have gone along with the possible years of sickness, surgeries, medications and slowly watching our precious mom die.
We are not ok yet. We have hopes that we will be someday. But we know we will never be the same. We know it will take a long time to find our “New Normal.” We are not sure how long we can live in shock, disbelief and denial, but so far we can say it is at least one month.