Happy Birthday

Tonight I asked Daddy what his plans were for tomorrow. He said “Nothing. For the first time in my life I don’t have any plans for tomorrow.”

Tomorrow, March 23, is Momma’s birthday. If you know us then you know that birthdays are big deals. They come with 6 a.m. phone calls complete with a tone-deaf, off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday” being sung. Some voices are louder than others, and some are more chipper. But it’s all done with a half-awake, full of love heart and joy! Of course no birthday is complete without the favorite dinner followed by Daddy’s homemade strawberry shortcake and ice cream. And because no one can agree on one single flavor of ice cream in our house there’s always a smorgasbord to choose from, kinda like stepping into Baskin Robbins.

Hales and I loved the shopping for her cards. It was a challenge to find a good, spunky, sassy card that will top the belly laughs from years past. But let me tell you, Hales is a GOOD finder of cards that are “spoken like a true smart-ass!” (Claree Blecher, Steel Magnolia’s) Honestly, it’s a trait in our family. Or a squishy one that’ll make her cry more than the year before. I miss that and hadn’t realized till now how much I do. Or watching the kids help her blow out her candles. Oy vey. There should be a guide-book for all of this – at least one with suggestions!

I hope you enjoy your first birthday in heaven, Momma. And I hope you like the flowers we’ve placed at the cemetery. Daddy takes such great pride in having everything look nice for you. He’s itching to get out there and check on them for you, but the rain. It. Just. Keeps. Coming. Please tell God we’ve had enough. And while you’ve got his ear, please tell him that this family is full of soooo much character, it’s oozing out of our eyeballs. He can relax on us for a little bit. I think the lottery would be a nice compromise.

I love you Momma, we all love you…bunches and bunches and more than this world!

And Happy Birthday!

xoxoxo

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“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” ~James 1:12

….and she did.

I got nuthin’, not even a title

Monday morning, standing at the open car door, Jackson stares at me across the seat and says “I haven’t been in this car in a long time.”

I know baby, but it’s okay. Come on. We’re gonna be late for school.

He gets in slowly and as he sinks into the front seat I can see his entire face shift as if another face has taken over. One that I don’t like because it makes my heart hurt and I want to fix it but I know that I can’t. And he says in the smallest voice “It smells just like Nina.”

Hales on the other hand, jumped in and then you could see her catch her breath and breathe it all in deeply –  the familiarity of it all, the feel and smells, like a huge tight hug.

How easy I forget that my kids still have moments like Daddy and I do. I’m driving Mommy’s car while mine is in the hospital and the thought never crossed my mind how it would affect my kids. And so differently. How is it that a smell can take you back in time to memory? Or a sight – a sound can turn on the movie reel in your mind and everything comes flooding back.

I walk by our dinning room window and see the Jeep in the driveway and expect to see Mommy coming up the walk, but she doesn’t walk through the door. I get in the car and see her lipstick tubes and  can vividly see her applying it. On Sunday mornings while sitting on the front pew I watch people walking up to the doors and I wait to see her too, but she doesn’t come. And sometimes at communion, I look over to tell her to get up that it’s our turn to go, yet she’s not there. When I need advice or just an ear to listen to me, my first instinct is to call her but I can’t. The other day I was talking to Daddy and he said “I wish your Momma was here ’cause she would know exactly what to tell you. She always knew what to do.” Me too Daddy. Me too.

I was going through my texts cleaning them up when I came across this one from Mommy…

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She sent this to me after she had walked into church on morning in July and looked very confused. She sat for a few minutes and caught her breath and then decided to go home. We thought the confusion and unsteadiness was because of her blood sugar levels. Little did we know that it was so much more. As you see in the text she made it home then and I know that she’s home now too.

Tuesday marked the fourth month since Mommy went home with God. It feels like forever ago and yesterday all at the same time. There is so much changing in our lives right now, so much that I want to talk to her about and this has just been one of those hard, hard weeks when you feel like you’re scraping to get by emotionally. My tank is empty. I have nothing left to give today. God, I think I’m gonna need a piggy back ride….

Honest honesty….

This past week has been quite a challenge. Some days I can’t find the words to express or describe how I feel. There can be such a vast array of feelings in one single moment that sometimes it just takes your breath away and you don’t know what they are. A lot of days there’s an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness because I can’t make my momma better or do anything about it. Life can hurt so bad at times.

Honest to goodness, some days are down right horrible and it’s always then that a sweet soul will come and ask how we’re doing. Sometimes I have to dig for that polite answer of  “hanging in there.” Wanna know what I really want to say sometimes? Shitty. There, I said it. I know, I know someone’s gonna call the pc police because the children’s minister has lost her ever lovin’ mind and has said a potty word! But that’s truly how I feel and some days that’s how I really want to respond. Yeah. Just don’t tell me it’s all gonna be ok ’cause we’ve already been there and no one wants a repeat of that.

I’m sure by now you’ve seen the articles on the lady who also has glioblastoma multiforme and her decision to end her life on her terms. Can I be honest with you and tell you that I’m struggling with it because I understand where she’s coming from. On one hand I say “Yay for you girl, taking that beast by the horns and showing it who’s boss!” and then on the other it doesn’t sit well with my faith or my soul so I feel torn. I would love to sit and chat with her and find out who she is. I’d ask her questions like, how does your faith come into all of this or does it at all?  Do you have a relationship with Jesus? Do you blame Him? Isn’t He big enough to handle the burden of it for you? What I would not say to her is (and you have to read this all whiny sounding) “He’ll never give you more than you can handle” cause that would just make me wanna punch someone in the mouth and I’m not all about getting my teeth knocked out.

I see where she’s coming from with wanting to have some control over the how and when she dies and not having to go through the horrific end that with this beast you will. I get that. But I also see the courage that one has to look cancer in the face, flip it the bird knowing full well that Jesus wins. Not the cancer. Cancer comes to seek and destroy –  just like the enemy and in Jesus we DO have the final victory! It may not be the victory that we had envisioned or desired but we do get that victory. I also get the whole dignity thing  I actually looked the definition of dignity up and it’s “the quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect”. In the past two months I’ve done more for my mom than any daughter should ever have to do. I get it. But let me tell you – I would do them all over 100 times because I love my momma and taking care of her (while it can be hard) is easy in the sense that I want to be there for her and I want her to feel the love pour out of my fingers when I’m touching her and caring for her. It’s an honor to take care of her and do everything for her. Maybe the dignity part comes in when the person being cared for feels that they’ve become a burden on their caretakers and they feel pity. I don’t look at my momma with any less respect – but actually more. She’s a brave, brave soul and she’s embraced every moment of this. The good and the bad. Doesn’t God have our days numbered? If we take the reins into our own hands aren’t we telling him to get out of our way, that He’s not big enough to handle this?

I’m not judging her. We’re living through this same cancer nightmare right now. I know it from the caregivers perspective, and I’ve felt it to my very core when I listen to my momma describe how she’s feeling and what she’s afraid of. I know, we know the feeling of everything spiraling out of control and desperately trying to grab ahold of something, anything.

This life is hard, ugly, messy and yet it’s beautiful too. It was never a guaranteed easy. And yet even though I’ve seen the pain and fear in my mom, I’ve also seen her bathing in the peace that only God could give. For all of those ugly hurtful moments there’s also been the God moments when he’s given us joy, we’ve experienced a blessing, and have seen Him at work.

So maybe I understand now more about my own faith than I did before. I’d still love to sit down with Brittany and chat over some coffee or tea. I wish there were more people battling GBM or their caretakers that would come forward and speak out about their experiences.

I cherish every moment that I spend with my momma. Even the ones when she’s sleeping. I hold every kiss from her in my heart and will never, ever, be able to get enough of them. I just can’t imagine her life ending before His timing. Doesn’t He hold us all in His hands?  There just may be that one huge revelation that He’s saving for us at the end. I don’t want to miss it. God knows at this point in the game he’s really  having to yell at me so I’m sure it would flamboyant! Nah, all He offers is good. Who wants to miss out on some good?

As I rise, strength of God
Go before, lift me up
As I wake, eyes of God
Look upon, be my sight

As I wait, heart of God
Satisfy and sustain
As I hear, voice of God
Lead me on, be my guide
Be my guide

Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me

~ All Sons & Daughters