In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Friday, March 20, 2020

Life Keeps Being Tricky: And Now My Mom is Gone

Three and a half years ago, my mom had a massive stroke.  One where the doctors felt she had no chance of talking or walking again.  A true, FOR REALS, miracle occurred and within days she was talking and quickly coming back to her old self.  The only thing that I feel like my mom lost in her stroke was some kind of hardness that was in her heart.  I would never have described her as a hard hearted person by any stretch of the imagination, but after her stroke there was an openness and a softening that made her more fun and more loving and more accepting and more of all kinds of great things.  Although, her body was weakening, her soul heart was growing stronger.

The last three and half years have been my favorite three and half years with my mom.  In these last three and half years, my mom and I have done a lot of growing and we did it together.  

I knew that my mom's body, and particularly, her lungs, have been growing weaker for years and years, but I am still absolutely stunned that she is gone.  Just last week at this time, I was still talking to her about my day and that the kids will be out of school for a while and how my piano lessons went.  She was in the hospital, after getting pneumonia, but she has gotten pneumonia before and took antibiotics and she would be fine in a few days.  I still haven't caught up with the idea that she passed away on Sunday night.  Just one week ago, it was barely on my radar that would die from this.  By Friday, I was getting nervous, by Saturday, I was panicked, and on Sunday morning, her vitals looked much better, and by Sunday night, she was taken off of a heavy duty oxygen machine, and she passed away.  She was just so tired of coughing and just so tired of trying to breathe.  It seems so easy to breate, but her lungs said something different. I, for one, was in no way, ready or prepared for her to die. 

The things I'm grateful for over the past week:

1.  She came to see me and my kids a few days before she got sick, after being hesitant to drive all this way for a couple hours. During that time, I sat with her at my kitchen table, before my kids came home and laughed harder with her, than I think I ever have.  I remember thinking in that moment, that I was so lucky to have a mom that I still laugh with. It was a special moment. 

2.  I'm thankful that I got to talk to her on the Friday, before she died.  We actually even laughed then, too.  She was telling me that she asked the nurse the night before if he thought she would make it through the night and he said, "Well . . . .  hmmmmmm . . . .I'm not sure."  In her shock, she said, "You really think I might die tonight?????!!!!!!!" And he said, "Oh my gosh, NO! I thought you were asking if you were going to have to move rooms tonight."  We had a little laugh over that.  That was the last time I talked to her.

3. On Saturday, when things were quickly going downhill, I wrote a letter to her, after being urged by friends to put my writing to some real use. I'm so thankful that I did.  I got to say all of the important stuff that I wanted to say to her and she was awake the whole time that my dad read it to her.

4.  The Piano. This one is bittersweet.  It is hard to hear my kids practice this week, but I know that in a short time, that all the piano practicing I hear, will help bring my mom back to life in this house . . . just a little bit.  My mom was my teacher when I was growing up and for the last 11 years, she has taught me how to teach.  I can hear her in a lot of the instructions that I give my kids and other kids.  I also, have her hands, which I never wanted, growing up.  I would think, "I hope my hands don't look like that, when I get older."  Well, as it turns out, they do!  But they play the piano well, so I guess I won't get too hung up on how they look.  Every single time I put my hands on the piano, I think of my mom, because our hands look so much alike.

The things I'm having a hard time being grateful for right now:

1.  The Coronavirus.  I couldn't be with my mom in the hospital, because of the Coronavirus.  Only one visitor per patient and then on top of that, I had a little tiny, baby cold.  That baby cold, kept me from being able to be with her when she passed.  Plus, my sister was not able to fly out, when we thought things were looking dicey.  Here is the deal, I need people when life gets this kind of extra tricky, but people can't give hugs and be around each other.  We can't even have a funeral and be with family and friends during this time.  I hate this!!!! Of course, my dad, being the extreme introvert that he is, is OK with people not dropping in all the time.  

2.  That I can't talk to my mom on the phone anymore.  I averaged about 2.3 calls per day.  Sometimes we would talk for 10 seconds and sometimes we would talk for 2 hours.  But I was constantly in touch with her.  We could talk about the deepest, most sacred parts of our lives to the most mundane . . .  often ever in the same sentence.  There was no linear path in our conversations, but that never seemed weird.  I told my sister that she needs to start preparing for an increase in phone calls and that many will go a little something like this, "What is a shallot???"  I've already picked up the phone to call my mom a few times, because it is such a habit.  I can't imagine not being able to press "MOM," on my phone.  I'm surprised my phone doesn't have a dent in it, where her name shows up on my phone.

3.  After Dave died, I no longer had my person to be as proud of my kids as I am.  My mom became that person.  She thought my kids were pretty great.  Those pictures and videos that you normally send to your spouse, I sent to my mom.  And I would feel like I had someone to mutually share in my proudness. I just feel so sad about this.

Overall, I am just so grateful to have had a very loving mom, who was always pointing me to Jesus and who I truly believe was proud of who I am.  And I'm so grateful for those three and a half bonus years.  In those years, I left a very destructive marriage. You know how earlier I said that she had softened?  She had, but she also grew strong.  Her heart was so soft towards me and she believed me and she would weep with me and get angry with me and I was so thankful and grateful for the way she always defended my decision to get a divorce.  The way she defended me, was a testament to the strength that she grew, even as she was aging.  As I uncovered, layer at a time, what kind of relationship I was in, she read articles with me, listened to every summary of every counseling appointment, and just listened to whatever I needed to process.  All of that made me feel so secure and loved.  I couldn't have asked for her to walk that road with me any better.

And then there is parenting.  Less than two weeks ago, she sent me a video from Paul David Tripp about parenting.  It was one of the best talks about parenting that I've ever heard.  After I listened to it, she said, she wishes she could have a do-over with her parenting.  I feel a little guilty that I didn't say, "You were a fantastic parent, and never forget it"!!!  Instead, I said something like, "I'm sure I'll want a do-over, too."  But in a way, she got her do-over through me, as we had so many talks about parenting.  Maybe if Dave were still here, Dave and I would have been sorting that out together.  But since he wasn't, I would go to my mom to talk about parenting.  And parenting has been really, really, tough with one of my kids.  The "normal" way of parenting just doesn't work.  It's, again, another area where she supported how I did things.

And one last topic.  Jesus.  My mom loved Jesus. I am truly excited that she is with Jesus right now. The older she grew, the less her faith remained seated in rules and the more it became just about grace and Jesus.  If I counted the number of prayers she prayed for me, my kids, my family and my friends, I would be sitting here for a long time.  When I had a hard time going to church after my divorce, she completely understood.  Instead of giving me a lecture, she would send me an article on how others had the same experience with faith and church, as I did.  That was so incredibly loving of her.  When I started dating a non-believer, she only prayed and I can assume she is still praying.  She noticed the value that he has added to my life.  She handled it with such love and grace.  I mean, think if that had become a point of contentiousness in her last days?  That would have been awful.  The only thing she would say, is that she trusts me and that she thinks that God has a plan in all of it.  I know it wasn't her favorite, but she and I maintained a solid relationship and because she handled it with love, we were able to keep talking about it.

Her love for Jesus could be seen in a lot of different ways, as she was involved in many ministries and barely ever missed a Sunday.  But her love for Jesus was apparent to me, not through the ministries she was involved in, but through how she loved me.  

She died such a wise, grace giving, LOVING, mom.


Emily said...

no words.. I am just so very sorry-- My dad has brain cancer right now- and this is a very real reality for me soon-- praying God shows you daily His love and care for you through others, through your kids, and through His creation.

Kathy Bell said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your mom. I love your honesty about the highs and the lows of your mother/daughter relationship that we all experience. What a gift her stroke was for you both. Always amazing when struggles become hindsight blessings, huh? I'm SO sorry Holly that you have lost another one of your "persons". Please keep sharing your heart and your life with us. We are here for you too! xo

Jamie Amundgaard said...

I am so sorry Holly!
I love your mom and she truly left an imprint on my life.
What a beautiful tribute to your mom and her life and legacy well lived.
I would love to hug her neck just one more time, I am sure you would love that and more.
Her smile is one that always stuck with you.
Praying for you all in this seep time of loss. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and most of all for sharing your mom with the us.

Lara White said...

She sounds like the best mom and friend ever! I'm so, so sorry! You've gone through so much, Holly. I'll be praying for your family.

Audrey R said...

Holly, this such a beautiful tribute to your mom and the relationship you had with her. I have known Judy since the earliest days at Bear Valley. She is that woman you describe. Strong, but not rigid. Caring, and wise. I’m so sorry she is gone. Our prayers are for you, your kiddos, your dad, and her host of friends.

Charis Emerson said...

I am so very sorry... having lost my dad last year, the pain of losing a loving parent is so so hard...and the circumstance of the way things are right now is so crazy and seems so unfair in how it ended for you and your mom... praying for you... thank you for sharing your heart...

Lindy said...

Holly--I'm so very sorry for your loss. That is so huge--and to add it on top of everything else--well, that is so much for one person to carry. I'm so glad you have your sister, and your dad and your man. I am truly thankful that you got those past three years with her--your bonus years. What a gift! Praying for you and the kids in this new path that you have to walk.

Goody said...

Holly I’m so sorry you have to go through this but let me tell you the things you say about her I see so very much in you!! You may not see but your close friends and most importantly your children has seen this. My thoughts and prayers are with you!! God is forever!!!!