I have a sad story to share although some of the pictures you’ll see are happy.
It’s been one month since I received the dreaded message from my Dad that my Mom had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital.
I immediately found a flight to SLC, Utah.
I have never seen my Mom down, let alone in a hospital bed. She was the healthiest, most strong woman I know. Not to mention that her energy level surpassed mine by a long shot. I only know her to be happy, on the go and doing things for other people. Always giving us the time of our lives every Summer I took my boys on a trip to stay with her.
On my long flight I was thinking about the fun times I have had together with my mom and our family, cherishing every one of them. There are so many.
I thought I might be staying in Utah for a few weeks to help my Mom when she got home from the hospital, cook for her, things like that. I was thinking she’d have some sort of side effect from her stroke that she would need help with. I could do that.
….While trying to be positive, fearing the worst kept a constant stream of tears flowing down my face the whole journey to Salt Lake.
Most of my siblings live close to my parents except for one of my brothers, who also flew in that day to be with Mom. We all kept in communication as best we could through that day as we traveled, hoping for the best.
No one in my family could imagine this beautiful woman, who has kept us close – our relationships strong and loved us unconditionally, would ever leave us.
I had not seen my Mom in six months and looked so forward to that extra long, tight, warm hug that she gives me after months without seeing her.
(I will miss those loving hugs!)
When I arrived at the hospital it was late but my Dad and two of my brothers were there.
I was not prepared for what I saw as I entered her room in the ICU.
I hugged my Mom desperately screaming to her “I’m here, wake up!” …she held my hand strong to let me know she knew I was there as she lay there on life support.
The next morning after her MRI the doctors gave us news that the damage to the left side of her brain was worse than they first thought and that she must have had several little strokes in her sleep before my Dad found her unresponsive the morning before.
My Dad took in the terrible news with doctors and my siblings gathered around my Mom in her room. He looked to each one of us for a little clue as to what he should do. It was ultimately up to him.
At this point my Mom had not responded to any commands and according to the scan we had been reviewing with the neurologist she would not have been able to respond, let alone breath or swallow on her own.
Suddenly, at that crucial moment of my Dad searching for our responses, she opened her eyes looking straight at my Dad. Their eyes locked and Mom’s face went red as her eyes poured tears. It was only for a second but it was enough for all of us to know what we had to do.
The next several days were filled with prayers, hard decisions, goodbyes along with condolences and so much love.
I found comfort in keeping my Mom’s face washed with a warm cloth, her lips moisturized and her hair brushed. I clipped her beautiful finger nails and filed them down, pushed her cuticles back and massaged her hands and feet. I imagined that is what she would be doing for me if we were to switch places. At times in my own life when words didn’t come easy she taught me that you can show love in many other ways.
Outside the snow fell and we had beautiful views of the mountains from the hospital windows. The snow seemed to make the mood quiet almost reverent.
I remember a couple of years ago posting on Instagram that “Heaven Kissed the Earth with Snow”.
It felt like the snow was there to calm us down and be still.
There was so much comfort having every one of my siblings there at the hospital. We prayed, cried, laughed and shared memories. Mom held on in a deep sleep for a couple of days.
….When her time came we were all around her in the dimly lit room embracing one another and holding on to the faith that she was off to a better place. We silently let her know – It’s OK Mom, you can go, we can do this.
I used to think my Mom was silly when she’d say to me “If I die young please don’t be sad for me because I don’t want to be old”.
Some of my family follow the Mormon religion. My Mom led the way with her example, never ending service and faith. Some of her children chose a different path. People have asked me if that was disappointing to my parents. No way! Mom prayed for all of her children, especially through our struggles. When asked upon, her suggested solution to our inquiry was never based on religion but on wise life advice and love.
Now that my Mom passed at the age of 71 I do find comfort in knowing she lived her religion 100% every single day.
If there is a heaven, she is there!
So, while I try to heal I just remember the love she surrounded me with my whole entire life. I am thankful that my children have amazing memories with their Nana.
She gave time and patience to all of the grandchildren by doing crafts with them, taking them to special places and movies, giving a sweet holiday gift to each one – every single holiday! She hemmed dresses for dances and pants for work.
We could count on her for anything!
I am not sure what to make of this but I wanted to mention it. Just this past December I had a terrible dream that my Mom died and when I woke up I felt this panic to go home to comfort my Dad. Like I said, I’m not sure what to make of it but in a previous post I talked about how this past holiday season was so emotional for me and I missed my family terribly – I cried almost every day.
I find myself searching for reasons why this happened but in that searching I find that my Mom left nothing undone. She was very well prepared to go.
I am proud to report that my Dad is handling our loss in such a strong manner. How he must ache when he’s alone but still finds joy in talking with us and even shares laughter when hearing about his grand kids.
While we planned the service to honor Mom’s life we came across so many happy pictures of her. Isn’t her smile so genuine? It’s who she really is – bright and happy.
….I will forever remember her smiling.
A traditional Mormon service is to have a viewing one evening for friends and family to pay their respects. The next morning another short viewing and then a funeral service before going to the graveside.
My siblings and I all paid tribute to our Mom by sharing memories of her with our audience at the funeral. It’s pretty incredible that we’re all so different but were all deeply loved by her. We are tremendously grateful for how she gave of herself her entire life, especially to her family.
Prior to the viewing I wanted to put my personal touch on the display of the photographs and flowers.
I snapped a few photos for keepsake just before all the flower arrangements and guests arrived but you can see that there was love flowing in from friends and family everywhere even early in the day.
We showed off her beautiful hand stitched quilt.
I wrote a post about that one HERE.
The mortuary made a video of some pictures that rotated to music the whole evening.
If you want to see that video it plays at the bottom of her obituary in the following link – turn your sound on. Those songs have played in my head every day since. Some were her favorite and the one from Ed Sheeran was from us, her kids.
I still cry every single day. There is a weight that feels heavy on my chest and my heart hurts but remembering her legacy of faith, service and love gives me some peace. I’m hoping I can accept the reality of this some day.
One of my dear friends wrote a message to me recently that said… “She was such a beautiful person…I literally left her service vowing to be a better human! It was so touching!!”
I want to be a better person because of her too.
Now she lays in the town where she raised her kids under a little tree.
A Beautiful Mother and a Life Well Lived.
….Mom – I love you – I miss you – Thank you.
This was a hard post to write because it seems no words could be grand enough to describe my love and admiration for my Mom but this is her tribute for today. I’m sure more will come in the way I let her love and example lead me through the rest of my life.
Some of you follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Thank you for all of your support. Your thoughts, prayers, hugs and flowers have lifted my family and I up so that hopefully we really can do this.
With love and sweet memories,