Sunday, January 31, 2016

You Should Be Here

It's been a little over two years since my last blog post. Putting yourself "out there" is scary. Writing for me is cathartic and sometimes I just really don't want to process what I am feeling that deeply when I am going through a difficult season in my life. On this day three years ago, my life was pretty good. I had just turned 40 the previous August and had just started a new job that I was enjoying and adjusting to having every Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. As a nurse, I had never had the opportunity to spend every weekend and holiday with my family. On top of that, I had just returned from my first cruise to the Bahamas with some great friends. My mama had been given a cancer free card from the gynecological oncologist that I took her to see in December. No cancer!! He recommended that she follow up with her primary who would refer her to a cardiologist, and that appointment was set up for the middle of February. I went to bed on the night of Jan 31st, 2013 relaxed from my cruise and with a knowledge that my family was intact and I had the next day off because it was a Friday. 

          It was a normal Friday...taking my three kids to school, catching up on housework and running errands. I got a call from my dad around 2:30 pm and he said that mama had fallen down for no apparent reason, but he was able to get her up and she was tired and short of breath but otherwise fine. As a nurse and since I lived 90 minutes away, I recommended that he take her to the ER or call the ambulance. He said she was sitting in her chair near the TV and he had to go pick up my two nieces from school. His plan was to check her when he got back and then take her if she needed to go at that point. I didn't feel right about what he had told me so I called the ambulance from my cell phone and had them go out to the house to assess her. I then picked my kids up from school and took them to Walmart to pick up a few more things. My sister called me on my cell phone in the middle of Walmart and was crying and said "Mama just died". At that point my brain went into survival mode. I couldn't even comprehend what she was telling me. I had 3 children ages 12, 9 and 7 with me AND I was in a huge public store. I have no idea how I got checked out and home without breaking down, but I knew I had to hold it together for my kids. I called my dad and he confirmed that yes, when he returned home he was unable to wake her up and the EMT's got there seconds after he did and could not revive her. MY MOTHER WAS DEAD. February 1st, 2013 was the last day she was alive on this earth. I was 40 years old.

My mama was the most influential person in my life. She and I were very close. She was the person I wanted to talk to when I was sick, hurting, depressed, happy, excited, or just needed someone to talk to. She was the first person I wanted to call when I had news to share. She was the kind of mom that told us made up stories at night before bed, that took us to the swimming pool at the country club every day during the summer and that cooked countless meals for our neighborhood friends. Our house was the "fun" house and my friends and I were there constantly. My mother had a deep and genuine love for ALL children that even I don't understand. She taught school for over 40 years before finally retiring and she never met a child that she couldn't see the good in. She played the piano at our church every Sunday and taught the elementary school age Sunday school class. She did these things because she loved to do them. Even growing up around her I recognized that her level of love and patience for and with children was not normal. She had a love for Jesus and was always helping others. It didn't matter if she had the resources to help or not, she was going to find a way.

On 2/1/13 I became a motherless child. At her funeral, there was a little boy about 10 years old who lived next door that my mama had kind of taken under her wing and loved on. He got dressed up and came to my parent's house the morning of her funeral to ride with our family. Just him by himself..not his parents. I realized then that it wasn't only my children who had lost their "YaYa". Countless other children who she had loved on over the years as well as right now had lost her too. I recognize that I am extremely blessed to have had the mama God gave me. I just always imagined that she would be here a little bit longer and get to watch her grandchildren grow up. The hardest part was adjusting to a new way of living. I had never "done life" without a mother before. I felt like my anchor was gone. I was floating without the one person who had always helped keep me tethered and balanced. I cried and cried and cried until the point that I just didn't have any more tears. And then I cried some more. I cried on the way to work. I cried on the way home from work. I cried at night when everyone else was asleep. I was angry. I was envious. I looked around me and saw people older than me who still had their mother here with them. I had saved voice mails from my mom that I listened to every day. I blamed myself. Why didn't I call EMS right away and tell them it was an emergency? Why didn't I ask to talk to her? Why didn't I tell her to make her doctor's appointment earlier? Why didn't I call her more often? Spend more time with her? Tell her how much I loved her the last time I talked to her? Why? Months went by and my grief didn't change. Time heals all wounds? There were days that I thought this grief would rip me in two. As more time has passed, the good days far outweigh the bad. My sister, my kids and I talk about her all of the time and share good memories and funny stories. I have finally adjusted to living without a mother on this side of Heaven. When I have sad moments now, it's usually because I want someone to listen to me like she used to or because one of my children have done something awesome and I know how proud she would be. The grief that used to consume me like a tsunami now feels like gentle waves at the shoreline on a calm day. The grief can still bring tears, but I rediscovered who my true anchor always was. My mama taught me about God's love when I was just a little girl. Although I have chosen to push God away at times during my adult life, He is always who I return to for guidance, love and affirmation. He has never left me and He will never leave me. I thank God for my mama. I thank my mama for showing me who my real anchor is and teaching me about Jesus and His love for ALL of us...even me.

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." Hebrews 6:19

"It's one of those moments, that's got your name written all over it. And you should know that if I had just one wish it'd be that you didn't have to miss this. You should be here." --Cole Swindell

A few pictures of things I wish you hadn't had to miss.

 Caroline's lyrical piece at dance competition this past year. 

 Ava's 9th birthday party at the skating rink.

Cooper learning how to drive and getting his learner's license.