Day 27: Overcome #write31days

There were two weekends during Mom’s last summer when she declined so poorly that the doctors told us that she likely wouldn’t make it another day.  Twice she defied their words.  Twice she bounced back from death’s door.  Twice we said goodbye (let’s be honest, we did that countless times, each and every time we saw each other or spoke on the phone) for what we thought was the last time.  Twice she rallied on.

A month before she died, she had one of these weekends where it seemed very evident that she was dying.  Her doctor prepared us and explained to us what to expect, as did her nurses.  But Mom improved and surprised us all by living another three to four weeks.

It was painful to hear her say in those last weeks, “I’m trying to get better” because she couldn’t “get better.”  She had terminal Cancer and as much as I prayed for a miracle and believed God COULD do it, I didn’t know if He WOULD do it.

Mom’s efforts in small things like brushing her teeth on her own, or eating a full meal became the everyday miracles.  Pushing her around the gardens outside and sharing a blueberry muffin with her were miracles to me, to us.  Every day became a gift when we knew our days with her were finite.  Every day we conquered mountains.

Day 26: Change #write31days

I remember after my Dad passed away, twenty-one years ago, that I envisioned our family like a stool.  Initially, our family had four secure legs, but after my Dad died, and after some time to process the loss and grief, I could see our family as a three-legged stool.  It was different.  We had to reposition ourselves.  But after these adjustments (this makes it sound so easy), we would be able to stand.  My Mom, my older sister and me.

Now with my Mom gone, I don’t think that analogy works anymore.  Not because I feel like I can’t stand but because I can (although hurting and missing my Mom something fierce).  My sister and I both have our own families, but beyond blood relatives and married-into-the-family relatives, I feel that we have a stronger sense of the community that is also a part of our family.  If we were still a stool, we’d be one with more than a hundred legs.

We called my Mom’s support group, Team Becky – maybe that’s what we still are even though she’s now gone.

Day 25: Because #write31days

Because I got so far behind on these posts, I am now in March still working away on finishing my month of  #write31days because I WANT to finish for the sake of finishing and I WANT to keep a record of my heart in grief and love and joy.  I had been post-dating the posts but I will now just post on the date I post them in real time.

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Because we risk love, we risk hurt.  Because we choose love and choose support and choose walking into the suffering with our loved one we are confronted with pain.  
There is pain in watching your Mom suffer and die.  But because she chose joy in the midst of suffering, I battle with choosing joy myself.  Because she was full of grace and kindness and love and thinking of others, even up to the end, I think I can choose to practice being those things and doing those things more.  Because she loved chocolate, I will always remember her when I enjoy some chocolate with my daughters, my husband, or my friends.  Because she grieved her husband, my Dad, for the rest of the days of her life, in sometimes a crippling way, I want to feel all the feels, grieve all the grief, cry, shout, mourn in all the time it takes, but also choose life and joy and love and laughter in the midst of my grief.
It’s because of who my Mom was that I want to be like her, and, at the same time, not like her.  I think she’d understand that.  She always wanted me to learn the good from her, and allow her to propel me past the outer limits of the sky.  Because I do believe she wanted more for herself.  And now, in heaven, she is whole, is complete, is full to the brim and overflowing with love, joy and Jesus.  

Day 24: Revise #write31days

If you could go back, what would you change?  If my Mom could go back and take care of herself more, would that have led to a different outcome?  If we had pressed for answers back in April when she was hospitalised twice within one week for pneumonia, would we have been able to do anything?  If I had returned to Canada sooner to live closer to my Mom, would we be aching in the same way from time that we never had but should’ve?

It’s easy to think of what ifs and assume that the outcome would’ve been different or perhaps better, but it’s too tiring to think about it all because the reality is here and my Mom is in a far better place, with no more pain or suffering.  Her faith was renewed.  The Lord graciously met our needs in ways that were… how they were meant to be met.  Of course, I would like to revise this last year, but at the same time, I trust that God is sovereign.  Am I really so presumptious to assume that I know better than my Creator?  Than my Mom’s Creator?

Day 23: Work #write31days

I’ve been tired and while there are many factors that could be, and probably are, contributing to my fatigue, I think the main culprit is grief.  I say this without any doubt: grief is work.

There was the grief we experienced when we knew my Mom’s days were limited, and when we thought she was going to pass that weekend, or that weekend and then when she finally did pass.  There’s the grief during the celebration of life service and the details that had to be arranged.  There’s the grief in the legalities.  Grief in the kind sentiments from relatives, neighbours, friends and sometimes almost strangers.  There’s the grief in the distance between when you last hugged her and were hugged back and now.  There’s the grief in the day to day tugs and pulls of little ones and your spouse and the life that you’ve gone back to that is supposed to be normal.

It’s tiring.  It’s work.  It’s hard.

[written Dec. 11, 2017 for #write31days in October]