- Late Saturday night, early Sunday morning, May 29th. Joel, me, my sister and my mom all sat back on my bed, timing contractions. It was about 3:00 a.m. It was the first time my mom had been present during any of my labors. Another contraction hit, and I jumped up off the bed to lean my hands on it for support. Mom laughed "You stand up during your contractions? That's weird---but I guess the gravity helps" :) Fast forward just a few hours, and there she stood, holding her fourth grandchild, proudly announcing that she had already figured out that her name would be 'Leanna Rose'.
- Every Tuesday morning---mom would come get my older three and take them to story time at the library. Then, if my sister was also available, the two of them would take them swimming at the pool. I almost told mom 'No, that's too much, dont' do that'......and I'm thanking God every day that I didn't! Those memories will mean SO much to my children.
- Every Thursday evening----I would feel guilty once again for leaving Joel with the kids from 7-10 so I could go down to my mom's house for our Thursday Sisters Bible Study. Yet each Thursday, I felt a small prompting in my spirit, telling me 'You should go'. And so I did. And I got a whole summer's worth of teaching and guidance from my mom that I wouldn't have otherwise had. On our very last Thursday evening together, mom said "You know, with my heart condition, I don't know if I'll have two days or two years or 20 years left. But however long I have, I'm okay with that. I'm not worried about it." We almost got mad at her at the time for saying something like that, but now we realize it was a gift to us straight from God.....
- Two days later, Saturday evening, August 7th. We were dropping Noah off at my parents house for his first ever 'Noah only sleepover'. He proudly marched up on the front porch and gave me a kiss goodbye. My mom squeezed him. "Are you staying at Grandma's house all by yourself?" I waved goodbye to mom and said "Have fun!"
- A mere 11 hours later---my sister's worried voice greeted Joel on the phone: "You have to come get Noah. I just called the ambulance---Mom had a stroke!"
- 9:30 that same morning---I gazed at my mom's face as she lay in the hospital bed. Her right side was affected by the stroke and she was having trouble talking. But she managed to indicate to me that she wanted a hug and kiss. I bent down and gave her a careful hug and kissed her cheek. A flood of memories washed over me, as I remembered how she used to kiss my own cheeks like that when I was a little girl. She looked up at me and smiled and said "I love you". As they wheeled her down the hall and toward the waiting helicopter, I choked out : "I love you too, Mom...."
It has been the summer of memories. And the world did not stop on August 9 when my mom went home to be with Jesus. It should have. Death was never 'meant' to be--it was not meant to feel 'natural'. This whole world that we live in is so messed up. There is a hole in my heart that will only ever be filled when I meet my mom again in heaven someday. I told someone the other day "Heaven seems SO much closer now! Instead of being some distant, far-off place that I believe in, it's like I can almost touch it now...."
And so life continues on. But it will never be the same for us. We will find a 'new normal'. Life without mom. It will take time. Lots of time. But we will find comfort in each other, and in knowing where my mom is now. She isn't 'gone' forever---she's just gone on 'ahead'. And when I think of it that way, it doesn't hurt quite so badly.
A few days before mom died, someone I had never meant but who knew my parents came up to me and said "Wow, you look like your mom!" I shrugged it off and didn't think much of it--it wasn't the first time I'd heard that. But during the viewing, countless people came up to me and said "Wow, you must be her oldest daughter---you look just like her." And now, now, I take it as a compliment. My mom was a prayer warrior and a loving mother and grandmother----if I can reflect her in more than just her looks, I will be happy.