FOOD FOR THE SOUL
This is part 2 of my story of my moms battle with cancer. I was going to stop after the blog on her diagnosis, but the next 6 weeks were probably the most precious time I spent with my mom. It’s funny how after months of hoping against hope that she could beat it again, we are faced with the realization that it is not to be. The reality has hit us square in the face and it was time to step up and care for the person who has been the rock in all of our lives. When I was married, my husband and I moved 7 times. Each time my mom would show up with her BBQ and Texas Sheet cake for everyone to have lunch after the moving was over. It didn’t matter if there were 2 or 20 to feed, she was there. She had the kindest heart and was one of those people who didn’t know a stranger. I can’t even begin to write about how many times she was there for me, and for anyone who needed help. She was a great role model, be it thorough her work ethic, or her cooking skills. There was nothing she wouldn’t do, nothing was beneath her.
About a week after her surgery, we brought her home. She was on oxygen, but seemed to have very little pain. Kelly and I took turns staying the night, sleeping on the couch, with her beside us in the recliner. I can remember trying to sleep while listening to the quiet clicking sound of the oxygen concentrator. Often times I would wake up in the middle of the night only to find her sitting in her chair smiling at me. She would say ” I am so happy you are here Shelly Sue, I know it’s hard on you.” On the nights that we couldn’t stay, dad would take over night duty. It she was able, she would lay propped up on the couch, with dad laying on the floor, as near as he could be. I found myself going through the routine of work, taking care of my family and then doing all I could do for her. I watched the weight drop off of her, and the breathing becoming more labored. And still she remained beautiful, joking with the grandkids and others. She never questioned “Why me?”, and she never showed anger at her diagnoses. I found myself just staring at her, trying to file those snapshots in my memory. We would visit as often as we could, and the visitors seemed to be endless. They had planned to begin chemotherapy, this time for comfort measures, not for a cure. The weekend before chemo was to start she told my aunt that she didn’t think she was going to make it to that appointment Monday. I think she had a premonition that she was going to meet her Heavenly Father.
The doctors no longer give you a time frame that you can follow, so we didn’t know if she had 1 month, 3 months, or a year. I remember a deep discussion Kelly and I had about what would we do if she began having pain and was uncomfortable. How could we find the strength to sit at her side watching her gasp for breath…slowing sliding away from us? It was incomprehensible to me…….and I think God listened to our laments because I am almost positive a pulmonary emboli took her life that Sunday morning. She died the day before her chemo was to begin. Dad and I were with her that Sunday morning when she left us and became one of Gods angels. I just happened to stop by after church to check on them, and Dad met me at the door, stating mom couldn’t get her breath. She had some breakfast and told dad she wanted to take a bath. I sat by her side, holding her hand, telling her that as soon as she could get her breath Dad and I would help her out of the tub. She took my hand, smiled and softly said thank you. She then looked at Dad, and laid her head back and she was gone. I often times wonder why I was there that day? I never wanted my last memory of my mom to be of her dying in a bathtub. She was a very private lady, and I knew that would never have been her wish either. Why didn’t I tell her that I loved her when I knew she was passing? Why do things turn out the was you least expect them to turn out?
It has been 12 years since she left us, and the pain is not as crippling as it was then. As I reflect back to the day I realize that God knew that Dad needed someone to be there with him. Something private and deep passed between the three of us that morning, and Dad and I became close after that Sunday morning. Mom was always there for me, and maybe it was my time to be there for her. I will never know if she even realized that I was there at the end, but I will never forget the look that passed between us, conveying love and trust between daughter and mother. A love that will remain in my heart until we meet again in heaven…where there will no longer be pain, tears, hurt or that horrible “C” word ♥