A New-Found Strength

My beautiful Mom

My beautiful Mom

 

My baby was just 4 weeks old. As it was, my parents wouldn’t have much to do with me, my hubby and my baby. They went to a church that was pretty strict on issues, such as ours, even though we still went to church someplace else… But that’s a different story, for a different time.

My dad called me- it was in the morning, around 9:30. He told me that an ambulance had come to their house and taken my mother to the Hospice House. I kept myself together for him, somehow. He seemed to be doing just fine- he had it in his mind that she would be coming home after they got her pain under control. My mother-in-law was a nurse. She had said before that when my mom got to a certain point, she would probably end up there, never to go back home.

My mother had ovarian cancer- that terribly awful, dreaded disease. She had been diagnosed with it in 2000, and had been suffering with it for 8 years. The last year of her life, she went downhill quite rapidly. That was also the year that my hubby and I got married, and they separated from us, for church-related issues. I knew my mother was dying, and yet I couldn’t have barely any contact with her. They wouldn’t let me. Then, I found out I was pregnant, just 4 months into our marriage. Out of all months to be due, I was due in July- her birthday month. The only thing I asked from God was, PLEASE don’t let him be born on her birthday. I didn’t think I’d be able to handle it.

My mother and I got really close the last few years leading up to my marriage. She leaned on me through the many nights that she couldn’t fall asleep, because of medications. We’d stay up until the wee hours of the morning. I loved talking with her about everything. She was such an inspiration to me, but she had also learned to listen to me, as well. I was in my 20’s at that point. Her and I were different in many ways, but very much alike in others. We both loved the Lord, and that brought us even closer together, as mother and daughter.

Well, July came, and I went into labor on the night of July 15th- a day before my mom’s birthday. There was no doubt about it- I was going to have my firstborn on my mother’s birthday. The one day I didn’t want him born on. Why did God want me to have him on this day, when I specifically asked Him to PLEASE not allow this???? It was a hard labor, and it was even harder, knowing that this was happening. I cried, I walked through my contractions, I did what any other mom would do in this situation- I had my baby. I loved him at first sight, and so did my hubby and my mother-in-law. But guess who didn’t see him that day? You got it- my mother. I called her that night, though, and told her I had him. She thought it was the best birthday present she could’ve asked for.

We needed to bring him to their house, because mom’s immunity was too vulnerable to be out. I called her a couple days after we were back home. Dad answered and said that they were back in the hospital, because she had an infection. We packed Nicholas up, and went to visit her there. She was so proud of him. I took one picture of the two of them, and that’s all I wanted. She was sick, and had barely any hair, but I needed that one picture. So did Nicholas.

Now, he was only 4 weeks old, and my mother was fading away. I called my hubby at work, and told him about it. My dad had said that we could go down and visit her as much as we wanted to. Then, I called my brother and told him. We both were devastated. I was in a panic, not knowing if she would even last the rest of that day. My hubby came home, and we took Nicholas to my dear sister-in-law’s, where she has a daycare. She gladly took him for us every day, so we could go see my mom. Her mom, Theresa, and my mom were really close friends- they both had had ovarian cancer.

We went down there every single day or night for those awful 9 last days of her life. She had asked to be sedated, being in extreme agony. After the first day of being there, I never heard her talk again, and I never felt that she knew who I was ever again, either. Her eyes were shut and her breathing was a little more labored with each passing day. Whenever we left to go home, I felt like I was never going to see her alive again. My body wants to go into convulsions just thinking about it.

On the 9th day, she went home to be with her Lord. We were all around her, as she passed. I couldn’t even look at her. I was sobbing. The woman that had brought me into this world, was leaving me forever. I loved her. It was as plain and simple as that. She was my mother, and always would be, but now, there was a huge empty space in my heart. The date was August 22nd- my birthday. Not only was my firstborn brought into this world on her birthday, but she had died on mine.

We stayed for a couple hours after and just stood around her. I felt as if I was in a daze. I knew that my life was going to be very different from here on out. I no longer had the option of having a mother. She was gone. Forever.

We drove home, and I knew I had to make a decision. I could either let this destroy me, or I could let this make me. There was no way I could let it destroy me. I had a husband and a child to take care of now. I had to take care of my own child, and be the mother to him that he needed me to be. It would be selfish of me to let this take all of my happiness away. No. This was going to make me into the person I needed to be. I knew that I could be strong, with God’s help.

Mom, Dale & I

Mom, Dale & I

 

Going through this terribly hard time taught me so much. Anyone that has ever lost someone that they were incredibly close to, knows exactly what I’m talking about. You learn to value life way more than you did before. You notice things that you didn’t before, like how people speak about others or treat them. You don’t sweat the small stuff anymore, because you know there are way more important things to sweat about. You become a different person. Things that used to have a lot of meaning to you, don’t anymore, because you realize it’s not important. Relationships change. Friends that you used to have, you don’t have anymore, because you realize that you aren’t the same person you used to be for them. You focus on relationships that you have a strong connection with, because of your life experiences.

When my mom died, a part of me did, too. All of the simple pleasures in life with her were completely gone. I couldn’t just pick the phone up and ask her a weird question or ask her to watch the kids for me. I couldn’t go on a shopping trip with her, or have our nails done together. I could no longer dream of the day that we could all get together for Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays or anything, and simply make memories. My very last memory of her was a sad, terrible one, and my children would never know her. She was an amazing grandmother to my brother’s 3 oldest kids. I knew she would be for mine, as well.

I realize now that things bother me, maybe more than the normal person. Losing my mother formed me into a much more empathetic individual. I was like this to some degree before, but not nearly as much. I feel for others in ways that I never used to. As a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter and as a friend, I value every relationship I have, knowing that I could lose anyone at any time. We always think of our mothers as being there for us forever, but when they die, we have a decision to make. Is it going to destroy me or make me?

By the way, I love it that my son was born on her birthday. I’ve been able to replace the joy of celebrating another year with our son, instead of dwelling on another year that she’s not here with us. He is a beautiful boy, with loads of energy and laughs. He reminds me so much of her all the time- every day. This is why God wanted me to have him on this day. It’s so clear to me now.

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Mom & Dad

 

What pains me the most? Is when Jonny says he wishes he knew her- that he wishes he could see her. How cruel is that?? I tried going through this book of letters from friends and family of hers- I had asked them all to write in this book that she had bought for me years before she died. It was a baby journal, and apparently I had liked it, so she bought it for me. I thought this would be the best use for this, after my dad gave it to me, so that’s what I did.

On Christmas day of last year, Nicholas came upstairs- I was still in bed. He wished me a Merry Christmas, and then said something about Grampa and Grammie Fletcher coming down for dinner later that day. I reminded him of her not being with us anymore (we don’t see my dad that often now), and he said that he wished he could see her. So, for the very first time, I took that book out, and showed him the first page. It was the picture of her holding him in the hospital that day. He smiled and was happy to “meet” her. I tried reading the very first note- it was from my sister-in-law’s mother, Theresa. I couldn’t even get halfway through it before I started crying. He gave me a big hug, and I told him that he would have to read it someday by himself, because I can never get through it. It was actually a good start to the day. I was glad I saw her, too. It was as if she was wishing me a Merry Christmas that morning. So, I wished her the same and wondered what she was doing up there in Heaven.

I imagine her being the most beautiful angel up there…