Thursday, April 18, 2013

10 Years Without Her

On this day 10 years ago my Mama passed away.  In some ways it definitely feels like it's been 10 years and in many others it doesn't feel that long at all.  I think about her every day and there are many days that I'd love to pick up the phone and call her.  I've been blogging since 2008 and I've always wanted to write about the morning that she passed, so I think I'm ready to give it a try.  First I'll give the timeline of her battle with cancer.

We were on vacation with our best friends Greg and Dellena at Topsail Island, NC in July 2001.  Anna was almost 22 months old and we found out on Sunday the day after we got there that we were expecting Holly! Of course at the time we didn't know it was a girl, we just knew it was a huge blessing!  I had lost a baby the previous November and my due date would have been three days before we found out I was having Holly.  It was bittersweet and we were very grateful.

We knew that Mama was also going to the doctor that Tuesday of the same week we were on our trip to find out the results from a CT Scan she had done.  That evening I found out that Mama had lung and liver cancer.  It was a very joyful and very sad vacation.  One that we will never forget.  When we came home all of my brothers and sisters were home.

After Mama took several rounds of chemo she went into remission after Christmas of that same year.  So when I had Holly at the end of February she felt good and her hair had grown back.  It was a very wonderful time!

Mama and Madison at the hospital when Holly was born.

Mama, Madison holding Holly, and Anna

Then about 3 weeks after Holly was born another CT Scan showed that she had some cancer spots on her brain.  She underwent Radiation and the spots were gone.  She never went into full remission again and her cancer eventually came back into her lungs and liver.  On February 26, 2003 we took her to the doctor and he told us that her cancer wasn't reacting to the chemo any longer and there was pretty much nothing else that he could do.  We had celebrated Holly's 1st birthday the weekend before her actual b-day on the 28th.

Mama and Holly at Holly's 1st birthday party.

We asked Mama if there was something that she wanted to do and she said she wanted to see the ocean.  So we took off work and rented a large van and drove to Daytona Beach, Florida!  So Holly spent her 1st birthday walking on the beach!  Mama loved seeing the ocean.  It wore her out and she was pretty sick that trip, but we were so glad she was able to go.

A few weeks later she said that she wanted to go back down to the Dixie Stampede.  So Gigge and his girls drove up from Texas and Sis and her family came in from Arkansas and we all ventured to Pigeon Forge and stayed in a cabin.  We were able to take her to the Dixie Stampede and we all had a great time!  This was in the middle of March.

After this trip she got weaker and weaker and sicker and sicker.  She had told us that she didn't want to pass in the hospital, that she wanted to be at home.  We told her that we would try our best to make sure her wishes were made possible.  I remember that there were a lot of visits from family and friends those last few weeks.  It didn't seem possible and we hoped that God would intervene and heal her physical body, but He had other plans.

We had been staying with her every night and Sis came in again to help.  On April 17th, I had been at her house pretty much all week and I decided to go with Brian and the girls to grab a bite to eat.  Mama had several visitors that night and before we left one of the last things I remember her doing was pointing at Holly as she was walking by Mama laying on the bed.  She just pointed at her and shook her head like she wanted to just pick her up and give her some of the best sugar, but she couldn't.  After going to Richmond and eating at Steak-n-Shake with Brian I felt like I should go back down to spend the night with Mama, Sis, and Suse. I still remember that night going through the drive-thru.

When I got to her house she was asleep and we just thought she had fallen asleep, but we felt of her head and she was running a fever.  We called the best Hospice nurse in the world, Joy, and she came and gave Mama some Tylenol.  I remember sitting on the porch and Joy telling us that it wouldn't be long and what to expect.  To make sure we called everybody that would want to say goodbye.  So we called Mikey and he made his way from Georgetown and we called Gigge in Texas.  This was around midnight that night and Mama hadn't moved in several hours, but when we put the phone to her ear and she heard Gigge's voice her legs completely shifted from one side to the other.  Joy had told us that Mama could hear us and understand us, but her body wouldn't let her react to us.  It was so sad.  She let us know that it was okay to tell Mama that we were okay with her going on and letting go.  Even though I didn't want to say that, I did.  I didn't want her to be in pain and agony anymore.  I wanted her to receive her new healed body.  One that didn't hurt.  But it was so hard knowing we were saying goodbye.

One of the previous nights that week I had been staying there I remember helping her get up and when she sit back down in her bed she hugged me tight and told me that she was okay and that she just couldn't fight any longer.  I didn't realize at that time it was going to be our little goodbye moment.  I'm very grateful for that few minutes that I got to hug my Mama tight and hold her close that one last time.

After she heard Gigge's voice that night, she didn't move at all the rest of the night.  We waited and watched and prayed and talked to her almost the entire night.  I think we all may have dozed about an hour that night.  God did send us a little humor in those wee hours.  We were sitting on the porch for a few minutes right beside where Mama's bed was in the living room and we noticed a car pull up beside one of the neighbor's houses and someone got out and ran up to the house and ran back to the car.  We were afraid that it was someone trying to steal something.  But as we watched them do it again up the road we realized it was the paper delivery person dropping off newspapers! We all had a good laugh and had Mama been awake she would have told us we were silly and that she heard them every morning! :)

About 5:30 a.m. we heard her breathing get really ragged and rattling.  So we decided to call a few of her brothers so that they could see her before she passed.  I remember Sis, Mikey, Suse, and me all gathering around her bed and talking to her and saying our goodbyes.  Her breathing became very shallow and I remember someone saying, "There is Spiff." Her brother was pulling into the church parking lot across the road.  Then looking back down and her taking a few more breaths and her eyes opened for about 3 seconds and she was looking up into the corner of the room and then she was gone.  We all felt like she let go before he could get to the house so that it was just us there with her.  There was a peace that filled that room that is indescribable.  It was so incredibly sad, but so joyful at the same time.  It is so hard to explain.  As badly as I wanted her to stay and see the girls grow up and spend more time with us, it wasn't in God's will.

It's been a long ten years and so much has happened in our family and I often finding myself thinking, I wonder what Mama would think of this.  Because of the hope that we are able to get because of Jesus, I know that we'll be able to see her again one day.  What a reunion that will be!


Heather said...

Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)

Trent, Vicki & Aidan said...

Very hard to read this post, but it was beautifully written. Oh how I wish Aidan had the chance to know Nana, but like you said we will see her again one day!

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