Note: I've been writing this post for almost 2 months. It's not fancy or even well-written...but it was HARD! Probably the hardest post I've ever written.
I framed this picture today of our time with my dad and nephew at the beach in September. The day after this picture Papa returned home to care for Mimi (my mother) for another two days and suddenly have to say good bye to her on Friday, September 18th.
I look at this picture and see happy, relaxed faces. We knew Mimi was sick and we knew our days with her were limited but we also had just escaped reality for a few days. We lounged by the beach, arriving at our spot as early as 8:30 am!, lunched on the porch watching the waves, and turned in early at night in anticipation of the next day. The sun was shining every day and the temperatures couldn't have been more perfect! We had waited all summer to celebrate me not working but taking a vacation when we knew the crowds would be less and the weather amazing. We created memories and just enjoyed spending time together.
Papa and Cousin D left on Wednesday and my in-laws arrived for the second part of the week. We continued the theme of the week. On our last full day, Friday, we took beach pictures of the kids in the morning and then headed to beach to soak in the final day. I begged to stay on the beach for as long as we could...something my mother always did. She was her happiest by the ocean and always had to wave goodbye to it during our final moments of vacation. The promise of returning the next year was always there.
Friday evening we headed to the boardwalk. While some of the group went into a candy store, I sat and looked at the ocean with Sassy and Bubba. We FaceTimed Papa to check in. It was about 6:30. He was in Mimi's room with her and said "she's taken a turn." The hospice nurse had visited that morning and said her body was starting to shut down. We figured at that point we had weeks, time to sit and be with her. Little did we know how quickly time could change things...
By 9:00 that evening, she was gone. It was minutes and came so quickly. We all knew she would leave us too soon but never did we expect it to come so quickly and swiftly. My brother calling with the news is a moment I will never forget...I'll always remember where I was, how I reacted, and how all I could think was how could get home to my family as quickly as I could.
We came together as family, spent days supporting each other and celebrating our mother, wife, sister, daughter-in-law. It was a time she would have loved seeing...and I am at peace knowing she watched from above and smiled as we all got along :).
My mom was my best friend...once I grew up :). Sadly, I don't think I realized that until I had moved 6 hours from home. But each visit was just that much better and the memories more special because I was making them with my best friend. I always wondered what I would do if I lost my mom before my dad...I never just called to chat with him and wasn't quite sure how our "friendship" would work. But I figured I had years to figure that out...then Mom wasn't acting quite right. So Dad convinced her to go to the doctor...and the diagnosis was devastating and the blows kept coming. The mom I knew slowly slipped away. But the amazing thing was the relationship that grew between my Dad and me as we worked to care for my mom. I think this was her secret goal :). She took care of us all right until the end. She made sure we were there to support each other and continue as a family after she left us.
No part of this is easy. I struggle every day just to do what needs to be done. Everything brings her to mind. I worry about how my dad and siblings are making it through...something Mom would love to see! It's hard to imagine each milestone in our lives that will continue without her...the holidays, the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, the plain ordinary normal days. She is watching them all and waiting to celebrate together with us one day when we are all back together...