I knew I wanted to write a blog post about my mom for months, but I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and drudge up all the emotions that I have so “successfully” suppressed over the past three years. So here we go. Here’s my story. It gets rough (it took me 8 tissues to get write it all), but I promise, it’s worth the read.
The last memory I have of my mom is seeing her swollen feet propped up on pillows as I walked out of her room for the last time. Her swollen feet and the TV blaring in the background with some morning show that she wasn’t ever watching. That’s it. That’s the last thing I remember. Her swollen feet.
The phone rang and rang on my school desk, but I didn’t hear it because I was at an assembly for Vigilante Day. A day where school dismisses at 11 a.m. so that everyone can run downtown to watch a community parade about history of Helena. I came back to my classroom to pack and get ready to drive 5 hours back to Idaho to see my mom who was suffering in the last stages of cancer. I was so thankful to have a short day where I could make it home to see her before dark.
But then I saw my phone had 4 missed calls from “D and Mom”. My heart sunk. I closed my eyes as I hit call back. I knew it then. “Mom passed away, Kelly. She left us this morning.”
Nothing can prepare you for this moment. The moment you lose someone. The moment you know your life will never be the same. The moment part of you dies with them.
As I descended the stairs outside my classroom, and fumbled through the exit doors, I sat on the curb outside my school and wept. I cried so hard my heart felt like it was going to burst. Children walked passed me timidly, parents shuffled them past so they would leave me alone. They must have known that was my most-awful-life-changing moment and they let me have it. For that I am grateful.
I looked up toward the bright blue sky and cried for my mama. But deep down, I knew where she was, and I began to feel the first stage of grief for me…anger.
I was angry that I didn’t make it on time. I was angry that I didn’t get to say goodbye. I was angry that the last memory I had of her was her swollen feet. I was so angry I could barely take it.
That was the moment two of my colleagues found me on the curb. They quickly put their arms around me and just listened. They didn’t have to say anything. They literally just held me. If you’re ever in the position that these two found me in, trust me… just listen. No words will help. No words will make a difference. You can’t hear anything in your own living hell. Just listen. Just be there.
The days and weeks that followed were full of numbness. Pure fog. The strangest and longest phase of grief that still lasts even today—shock. It still doesn’t feel real. Not even three years later.
The day we laid her to rest, we sat in white folding chairs near her casket surrounded by a large crowd of her favorite people all dressed in bright colors to celebrate the life she lived. We laughed, we cried, and we felt the warm sun fill our hearts as we said goodbye to a woman who touched so many. But as soon as the last car drove away, the clouds unleashed their fury and it was as if the downpour of rain were tears falling from heaven.
The best memory I have of my mom is her ear-splitting, contagious laugh. THAT is what I choose to remember when nights are tough, or morning drives to work remind me of her.
Her smile. God blessed the world with her smile. He really did.
The way she made Easter potatoes that I can NEVER master—believe me, the past three years have been a disaster. Just ask my husband.
The way she left every. single. voicemail with “Hey, Hun!” That’s why my voicemail is ALWAYS full. I can’t erase her voice, and I probably never will.
Her jewelry collection. All of which is still in its exact location as she left it. Almost like she’s just on a vacation and will be heading back home soon to claim the lucky winner that she will wear that day. Always something gold.
The way she lit up when she walked into Macy’s. She loved Macy’s. To this day I purposely walk into our local Macy’s alone just to smell the store and remember parading through the racks like I used to with her. It gives me so much peace and joy. I can’t even describe it. It’s like she’s right there with me every time.
The way she scrolled on her phone with her pinkie finger…and how it would drive me nuts…until I catch myself doing the same thing this very day. Now it just makes me smile and think of her.
The fact that she was clueless how DVDs worked, and famously asked how to rewind them. This story was told at her graveside service and everyone rolled with laughter. I was so thankful for that story that day.
Her love for my brother and I…and let’s be real here…probably more so for all of her new grand babies she waited so long to hold, but didn’t get nearly long enough.
Her strong and unwavering faith in God and his son Jesus. Even her last words were about Him. Even the skin cancer doctors and nurses of hers from multiple states and cities wrote us notes about how she shared her faith with each and every one of them. To make an impact on doctors and nurses that they actually send hand written cards is astounding to me.
She knew the purpose of the end of her life. She knew what she was called to do, and she never doubted where she was going.
She was the lucky one, and she knew it.
I love you mama. I miss you every day. Owen talks about you all the time. He even swears he saw you and that you have wings. I don’t doubt it for one second.
If you enjoyed this post…go hug your mama. Go make amends with her. Life is too short. Wrap her up in your arms and thank her for all that she has done for you. Forget the past, and look forward to the future.
If you are hurting…
There is hope. The Bible says that one day, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Rev. 21:4
The only way I could ever get through losing my mom is knowing that God loves us, and he sent his son Jesus to show us that we can live eternally with him. I believe that one day I will see her again in eternity. What a day that will be!
I encourage you to put your faith in Jesus and trust that he is the Savior of the world.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
If you enjoyed this post, I highly recommend the following:
My favorite church on the planet, and one of their best sermons about grief. Click here.
Rick Warren’s sermon on Sorrow. Click here.
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