A child lost

She wasn’t expected to live when she was born. They took a video of her right after birth just in case. She only weighed in at a little over 2 lbs. They never thought she would walk either. But she was one of the fastest runners.

The day we said good-bye was eerie. It was a long hot drive. The sky growled and rolled ominously in the distance coming in our direction. The weather alert went off on my cell phone. Tornado warning in your area, seek shelter immediately. A swirl of dirt on the highway from a baseball field with no one playing. Lightening bolts seared the ground in front of me.

I admit, I was frightened by the tempest although I rarely worry about storms. The skies opened to a torrential downpour like the seemingly endless mother’s tears for a lost child. The path ahead of us was difficult to see clearly. Hail banged sharply like the grim reaper knocking on death’s door.

It was still raining when we arrived. We tromped through puddles of muddy water to offer our condolences. The rain a mask for our tears.

Tom greeted us with an umbrella…helping…keeping busy…comforting others. I can’t imagine the pain they must feel. Lisa was heartbroken. She was only 16. Why did she miss the curve?? She hit a tree and her car started on fire. No body, no funeral…just some remaining ashes in an urn.

I wonder, will they set it on the mantel? Or will they place it on the ground next to the graduation pictures of their other children that will be placed on the wall? As a parent, I couldn’t imagine anything worse.

I would give almost anything to bring her back to them. They both had difficult upbringings. We are kindred spirits in that way. But my life is getting better and theirs worse. I would give it all away…everything I possess of worldly value…just to have her back.

I almost expected her to walk through the door…Maybe the whole things wasn’t real. It didn’t feel right in any way.

Why would God choose to take the life of a sweet beautiful child? How can this be His plan?

God help me, I just don’t understand..

Sweet baby

It happened on Father’s Day..

His first, his last..

I don’t even know him or the baby for that matter.

But I knew his mother from a long time ago, when she was a little girl growing up next door.

It seems hard to believe that I lived somewhere long enough in my adult life to watch a child grow up. She was so young when I first met her…younger than my kids are now.

When she outgrew her bike, she gave it to my daughter.

Now my daughter grew up and left home too.

I wonder what happens to the bicycles when there are no more little legs left to ride them.

The neighbor girl grew up to become a social worker. She rescues children from bad homes but couldn’t save her own child. The horrible injustice of it all must scratch at her wounded heart.

The funeral is tomorrow. It must be hard to pick out the last little outfit that your baby is going to wear in his coffin. I feel so much sorrow for you as I write this.

How devastating to have your baby ripped from your arms so unexpectedly. It’s hard to imagine him in a better place, a place without you.

Do you blame yourself?

Maybe if I noticed something wrong sooner…maybe I should’ve picked him up more when he fussed…maybe I should’ve stayed home with him longer before going back to work…maybe…maybe…maybe…this wouldn’t have happened..

It wasn’t your fault.

I can’t imagine the pain that you are feeling.

I’m so sorry you lost your sweet baby.

 

 

 

 

Martha’s eulogy

When I first met my mother-in-law Martha, she was only a few years older than I am now. She was taking care of her mother in Paul’s childhood home on the highway.

Time has been slipping by fast since then. The seconds turned to minutes to hours then years past and a few decades slipped away as well.

This will be the 20th year since Martha’s mom left us. I was glad I could meet her and see Martha’s kind and compassionate care for her.

Paul’s childhood house is gone too. A gas station stands where the house on the highway used to sit.

And now he lost his mother too.

I have to be honest that the last few weeks have been totally heartbreaking. Martha became someone I didn’t recognize anymore. I want to forget the last couple of weeks and only remember the good times. I want to remember her laughter and not our tears.

Martha always had a way of taking the negatives and turning them into positives. I remember taking her in for her biopsy right before her diagnosis of breast cancer many years back. She wasn’t even worried. She had a good attitude saying things like ‘it wasn’t so bad’ and ‘I can handle doing this again’. She fought the first battle courageously and won.  Little did we know at the time that she would be facing this fight again. But she battled it courageously with optimism and hope.

Most people would describe Martha as a lot of fun. We spent a lot of our time together laughing. I will miss her laughter. Although she was one of the nicest ladies you would ever meet, it was in your best interest not to get her mad.  She was afflicted with the family temper, which believe me, I have learned quite a bit about. If something was bothering her, you would be sure to hear about it. But once she spoke her mind, it was forgotten. She was never one to hold a grudge. She was never one to judge either. She accepted people with open arms and made them feel welcome.

Unlike me, Martha never spent her time worrying. She was carefree. We needed her to bring the fun and excitement to the room. She didn’t worry about time, structure, or routine. She got there when she got there. This is the one time that she showed up to heaven’s gates too early.

She was happy with what she had. She didn’t need the newest fashions or glitzy bling.

I remember the days when Martha drove around a puke green 1970’s model station wagon. We were quite the sight driving around town. People stared. She would just laugh and say something like, “It is not much, but it gets me where I need to go.” She really didn’t care what people thought of her. I really liked that about her because that mind set is so freeing. She was herself.

Some might have said, at the time, that her biggest mistake was having a child at a young age without a husband. But I would have to say that her biggest mistake has been my greatest blessing in life. It is the reason I am here now with a wonderful husband and these beautiful grandchildren of hers. I will always appreciate the sacrifice that she made to raise Paul on her own. She held down a job. She put her life on hold for him. She always told him that he could do whatever he put his mind to. She was a great mother and thankfully Paul had the opportunity to tell her that.

A few weeks ago, she shared that the biggest regret in her life was that she didn’t meet Darryl sooner. Darryl was the love of her life. They shared many wonderful years together in their house in the woods.

She loved the time she spent with her family and we will miss her.

The funeral

The last time we spoke, I was feeling really overwhelmed. My mother-in-law just passed away. My kids were sick. Really, what else could go wrong?

I was trying really hard to be supportive of my family by doing whatever I could to cheer them up. It was the hug while crying. I found their feelings of anger and despair incredibly hard to deal with.

Saturday after posting, I took my daughter Arabella shopping to get a dress for her grandma’s funeral. We also went to get our nails done. I never took her in to get a manicure before and thought that it might bring her a little joy. She was having a hard time with a lot of tears and anger.

While I was running errands with my daughter, the doctor’s office was trying to get a hold of me about my son’s test results. I had to take him to the doctor on Friday instead of going along to plan the funeral. A few weeks ago, my son was on antibiotics for Strep while visiting his grandma in the nursing home a lot. With Martha’s weakened immune system, she came down with an intestinal bacteria that my son ended up contracting while on antibiotics which weakened his immune system. I’ll save you all of the gory details, but it is treatable with anther round of antibiotics.

While I was running around with my daughter, the doctor’s office tried calling me twice. I didn’t hear the phone ring and ended up carrying the phone in my hand while trying on dresses. When they finally got a hold of me, they chastised me saying something like a good parent stays by the phone while expecting a call from the doctor’s office. I wanted to say, “Hey lady, we have been through hell the last couple of days and I am running errands to prepare for his grandma’s funeral”. Instead, I said nothing and it added to my stress. Mark me down in your file as a bad parent, whatever…You have no idea..

Sunday Paul and I spent 8 hours driving to pick up our daughter from college. When we last spoke, she was out of state on tour with her choir. She was having a hard time hearing the news of her grandma’s loss then came down with the stomach flu the next day. I had envisioned her puking all the way home, but thankfully her fever was gone and she was feeling better when we picked her up.

Paul and I had plenty of time to talk on the way. He said that there was nothing out there that prepared him for his mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis. In the next couple of days, I am going to write something about what to expect having gone through it before I forget.

The funeral was on Monday. It was surprising how nice Martha looked. For some reason, that made things a little easier. The pastor gave a really touching sermon. He said that one time Martha heard that he was sick and said that she was praying for him. He said how humbling it was for someone with terminal cancer to be praying for someone with a cold. That was how she was. Then we buried Martha. It just didn’t seem real to me. I spent the last couple of days in a tunnel vision haze unable to think.

Then we went back to Darryl’s house with family to go through Martha’s belongings. Darryl’s sister thanked us for looking out for Darryl. We are not sure what will happen next since Darryl is Paul’s step dad. Darryl doesn’t have any family in the area and we will try to include him in our life as long as he wants to. We met his siblings for the first time at the funeral.

Then yesterday we drove Angel back to college. The real life realization was starting to sink in. Angel had a lot of homework to catch up on from being on tour and an unexpected trip home for the funeral. Paul and I were stressing about problems at work. Paul had a public speaking engagement today for work with over 100 people attending. That is an incredible amount of pressure.

I broke down on the way home. I felt like I was putting my feelings on hold to support everyone else. This time I cried. I mourned. (Not to mention being crazy from not being able to write or exercise).

We returned home last night utterly emotionally and physically exhausted from 18 total hours of driving with a funeral sandwiched in between that.

Every day it has been getting a little bit easier to deal with..

Why God? Why now?

Why God? Why now?

Paul is having a harder time than he thought he would with the death of his mother. He thought that death would be a relief because she was suffering. But all we seem to remember is the last few weeks, the suffering, and not the years leading up to this.

Today I am feeling rather angry. I have been asking God why a lot.

When my daughter Angel heard the news of her grandma’s passing, she was just starting a choir tour and was on the tour bus. It has been very hard for her to deal with this while she is on the road. She has been very anxious and emotional, yet has to put it all aside to perform. This morning she told me that she is throwing up and has a fever.

Why God?? Why now?

I am still waiting to hear the test results for my son who is sick.

Why God? Why now when we can’t handle much more?

Yet during this time, I feel the hands of Your people. Someone has offered to bring over a meal. Last night Cindy and Ted came over with food. Even though I took time off of work, I didn’t get anything done. I had to make a couple of trips to the doctor’s office. There were people to call about funeral arrangements. I still have pictures to go through for the memory board. I have to shop for clothes to wear for the funeral. I haven’t finished the eulogy yet, but there will be plenty of time on the 8 hour round trip to pick up our daughter from college tomorrow.

I just want to stay home and rest. I never thought I would be so busy.

Darryl is having a hard time losing his wife. Paul has two step-brothers that Darryl didn’t have a way of getting a hold of. Darryl’s ex-wife left him years back moving out of state taking the boys with her. His sons are drifters, both have been in and out of prison. He loves his sons and kept his land line just in case they call. He had no way of telling them that Martha had passed. Last night I was able to find one of his sons on Facebook. Today they have been reunited.

I think it is the only thing that has brought joy into Darryl’s life right now. Paul and I think that Darryl would have been a great man to have as a father. He is an excellent grandpa.

I want to bring joy into my family’s life right now. It is so hard to see them in pain and not be able to do anything about it.

Time, slipping away

Despite our best efforts, we didn’t make it on time.

Yesterday morning Darryl and Paul went to the nursing home to be with Martha. They each held her hand and spoke of what to do next. The nurse came in and said that she had 3 days left if they left her IV in and about 24 hours if they took it out.

They called Martha’s remaining siblings and family in for a final visit last night and decided to keep the IV in until the family came for one last visit. Then Paul and Darryl left to tie up some things at work intending to return later.

The kids were on their way home early from school and we were going to leave once they got home.

Paul received the call while we were still at work that his mother had passed moments before we were ready to leave.

We thought we would have more time.

When we got to the nursing home we went into her room and said our final good byes. It seemed so surreal. I tricked my mind into thinking she was still with us. Martha looked like she was asleep.

We had a little good bye service in the nursing home chapel.

While this was all happening, my son became seriously ill (I think he will be okay now). It was horrible timing. I was debating whether or not to take him to the ER.

I felt terrible ignoring the family to deal with another crisis.

It was one of the worst days of my life.

We almost got into two car accidents. Someone came close to sideswiping me and someone pulled out right in front of us. Then on the way home I called the doctor’s office, almost hit a fox all while driving on empty.

I felt like I was on empty too.

It was late when we finally got home.

I made a doctor’s appointment for my son first thing this morning.

I feel so sad.

My family is having a hard time dealing with this. My husband feels so lost without his mother. He said he misses her so terribly much already.

This weekend we will be picking our daughter up from college for the funeral. She is on tour right now with the music department. She was going to surprise her grandma by having the choir sing her a song, but there wasn’t enough time.

I had to stop myself from crying at the doctor’s office this morning.

I feel so confused. I’m forgetting the details which rarely happens to me. I feel like I am running on auto pilot without thinking.

I missed planning the funeral arrangements because I was at the doctor’s office.

Then I needed to stop for groceries. We have nothing to eat in the house. We have been making the hour and a half round trip to see Martha almost every day this week. There hasn’t been time to take care of all the little things.

At the store, I saw a daughter helping her elderly father shop. I almost started crying again.

This has been so emotionally and physically exhausting. We haven’t been sleeping well.

At least Paul had the chance to say good bye. Last week, he had the opportunity to visit his mother alone. He told her he loved her, that she was a good mother, and that he appreciated the sacrifices she made for him.

He said it was one of the hardest things that he has ever done, but it was a very special moment.

He wanted to put it off, thinking that he had more time.

But time has a way of slipping away faster than we can keep our hands on it.