On May 10, 2011, Mom became forever cancer free. Around 12:15 that afternoon she walked into the sweet arms of Jesus, no doubt hearing, “Well done good and faithful servant. You ran your race well.”
Just weeks ago I had visited her in the hospital and despite some major surgery and some challenges, she was still vibrant, walking, talking, joking. Because of what I had heard one doctor say, I knew her time was short, though I thought maybe we had a couple of months or so to go. I was not prepared for how quickly this happened.
Thanks to the generosity of a friend of my parents, my sister and I were able to fly down two weekends in a row to be with her. We had some really sweet moments with her during those visits. Mom was quite lucid and present the whole time, but she rapidly lost the ability to talk and kept her eyes closed most of the time. For someone who had pretty much stopped talking, she still managed to communicate with us quite a bit. It’s amazing how much can be expressed in a shake or nod of the head, a smile or grimace, or a simple grunt. Every once in a while she was able to say complete sentences, but, if she talked, it was mostly a one or two word response.
On Saturday she asked, “Leaving tomorrow?” I said, “No Mom, tomorrow’s Sunday, we’re leaving on Monday. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.” She opened her eyes and said, “Oooooh, Happy Mother’s…” She nodded her head and added with some determination in her voice, “I’ll be good ’til tomorrow. I’m good ’til tomorrow.” She was going to make it through Mother’s Day—for us I’m sure. I told her I had actually gotten her a card on time this year, but, I joked, it was ok if she wasn’t able to get one for me. “Imagine it,” she joked back.
When Monday came, I rubbed lotion on her arms and hands, while my sister trimmed her fingernails. Up to the point when my sister and I had to leave on Monday, she had been mostly unresponsive, but I think she had been saving her energy for our leaving. As we were saying good-bye to her, Mom held onto my hand so tightly. She nodded her head as we said “I love you.” She finally opened her beautiful blue eyes and looked right at me. I knew as I looked at her that would be the last time I would see her alive. I wanted to crumble on the spot.
It’s been difficult to deal with her death. I am thankful that she is out of pain and is with Jesus. BUT… wow, this is hard. She loved to live and there was still quite a bit of strength left in her, even to the end. She had more life and love while she was laying in that bed than some people who are able to stand up and walk around on their own. Oh Lord, why do you seem to take the ones so full of life and love and leave the dead-inside ones here with us?
At the viewing and funeral, so many of her friends told me I look just like her, others told me I sound just like her. Mom was beautiful and that was quite a compliment to hear, but it will mean more to hear that I resemble her in how I live my life and love others.
Mommy, you were the best. I love you and miss you deeply.