Dear friend, sibling, spouse, or survivor asking this question…

The Last Week

When all is said and done, when all of history is examined, there is nothing so wonderful, so majestic, so tremendous as this act of grace.   President Gordon B. Hinckley

When all is said and done, when all of history is examined, there is nothing so wonderful, so majestic, so tremendous as this act of grace. President Gordon B. Hinckley

It really puts everything else in proper perspective…

It makes suffering bearable knowing He carries it with me.

It is love in its purest form.

My mind cannot completely understand

but my heart wants to.

I still cry

After each and every doctors appointment I still cry.

(Usually its the minute I sit in my car,

but sometimes I can’t hold it back that long- like today.)

It’s a tension release and relief of what didn’t happen

that has happened in my past-

or could have happened in a split second,

and a deep felt thankfulness

that I am healthy in the present.

Once having cancer the effects of it

follows you around the rest of your life.

Unless you have experienced it,

you don’t understand.

But what a relief when you can leave

an appointment just like every other

healthy person.

That is really something to be

grateful for

and hope for if you are not there quite yet!

But it’s okay to cry.

 

Always choices and sacrifices

Woman chooses motherhood over her own life in battle with cancer

A New York City woman risked and ultimately sacrificed her life to become a mother.

According to the New York Post, Elizabeth Joice received her cancer diagnosis in 2010 and her then-boyfriend, Max Joice, proposed the same day. Together they fought through treatment, and she was eventually declared cancer-free.

Even though doctors told her pregnancy was impossible, Liz Joice wanted a baby. When news that she was pregnant came, the couple was thrilled and amazed, but a terrible choice followed. The cancer had returned, and Joice had to choose between ending the pregnancy for her health or continuing the pregnancy and leaving the cancer unchecked. Joice decided to risk her life for the sake of her baby.

“Having a kid was one of the most important things in the world to her,” Max Joice told The Post. “She said, ‘If we terminate the pregnancy and it turns out I can’t have a baby [later], I’ll be devastated.’ She knew this might be her only chance.”

In January, the cancer was “spreading rapidly,” and the baby was healthy enough for the doctors to deliver, according to the family’s YouCaring website. Delivering early could give Liz Joice a chance to tackle her unchecked cancer.

Lily Anne Joice was born on Jan. 23 and the family then had to juggle the joy of their new child with the fear of Joice’s declining health. She spent one night at home, five days after giving birth, but had to keep fighting.

“With Lily now delivered and healthy, Liz and Max — and their friends and families — did their best to live a surreal duality: enjoy and celebrate Lily’s arrival into the world, while confronting the reality that Liz was now incredibly sick,” the YouCaring site reports. “For the next six weeks, she fought. With so much to live for, she fought harder than her doctors had ever seen someone fight … overcoming the odds to spend just one more day with Lily and Max. And another. Then another.”

Joice fought for six weeks and died March 9. The family organized the YouCaring page to gather donations to help Max Joice support Lily. Director Christopher Henze is creating a documentary, called “40 Weeks,” about the Joices.

Despite her death, Liz Joice’s life and story will continue to give just as she did while she was alive.

“… Liz wanted to give,” the YouCaring page says. “Give a child to her husband. Give the gift of life itself. And give she did.”

Alison Moore is a writer for the Faith and Family sections at DeseretNews.com. She is studying journalism and editing at Brigham Young University.

Email: amoore@deseretdigital.com Twitter: @alison_kathleen

What’s really SUPER!

GRIN!

 I’m a new grandma!

I received a text this morning about the first night home with the new baby boy and his 22 month old big brother, who doesn’t sleep well.

It went something like this:

‘Last night we were up all night with the two babies! How do you do it “super mom!” Come anytime!’

“SUPER MOM!” Hahahahaha! Boy did I pull the wool over her eyes!

I’ve been fixated on those 2 words all day!

Yep, I am one of the rare few who absolutely loves being a stay-at-home mom.

But the “super” part stops right there!

Every time that nurse hands me my babies all bundled up in the hospital saying, “Now you can go home…”

My first mental plea is,

‘Wait, you’re not coming with me?  HELP!’

How do I do this?

So my answer is simple.

I have no idea!

But there is one thing I know for sure,

I absolutely am crazy in love with my kids! All 5!

And that carries me in most situations.  (I said most…)

And every single morning, I anticipate waking up, (some nights I haven’t slept either–) and know an unexpected adventure is ahead and I never know how it turns out until I get in bed that night. I love that spontaneity about my life as a mom.

I love every stage, (and I’ve been through some doozies) even though some stages with some kids drive me crazy. But you know, my stages drive them crazy, sometimes too.

So please, don’t tag me with the honorary title of “super,” because I am not super in any way but completely satisfied with the title mom.

I deserve that title.

I love it.

I cherish it.
And what an adventure watching my own kiddos grow up and get old enough to earn that same title!

THAT’S REALLY WHAT’S SUPER!

Grin

 

 

 

Who needs words?

My Alzheimer’s friend, Fay passed away last Friday.

I heard the news yesterday.

I was planning on visiting last week, but didn’t.

Typical!

This post is to honor Fay.

She was the same age as my mother–nearly 90. And I often used Fay as a proxy for her at times when I needed a hand to hold.

It always took Fay a minute to recognize me. But we would grasp each others hands and then she would pull me to sit by her. Often her friends would stand behind me and want me to touch their hands too. She would lift my hand and touch theirs, but she would not let go.

I knew she loved me, and she knew I loved her.

I shall miss Pat, the piano man who played more than old tunes but worked music magic conjuring memories of yesteryear’s.

Oh, how Fay loved to hum those old songs and I became brave and sang out the words loud and proud. (Well the ones I knew.) Most everyone else was usually hunched over in a deep memory sleep, anyway. But me and Fay, we tapped and snapped and clapped and swayed to every beat.

Fay never knew my name.

She did not really know why I came.

She never spoke a clear word to me, each month in the years I visited her.

But who needs words!

We gave each other time…

We both needed it.

Who knew hanging out at an Alzheimer’s ward would be such a gift.

I shall miss you my dear friend, Fay.

I shall miss holding your hands…

 

 

 

The big huge hole

Journal Entry (6 weeks)

 Last night I was stricken once again with insomnia. Thoughts churned and churned and emotions came to the surface. I touched my mother’s “jammy” top which is now tucked under my pillow, instead of wearing it under my clothes. I thought about how everyone keeps saying nice things to me, “Oh your mom was almost 90, she lived a wonderful life.” or “Oh your parents are together once again.” or “It is so good your mother is not suffering any longer”  These are all great statements to hold on to and deflect the loss of death and spin it to a positive and then move on–for Pete’s sakes.

 

What doesn’t ever get said is that I am actually suffering the loss of an actual human being. A space once taken up on the earth that is no longer there. This human being was a physical presence in my life every single day!

I am now facing every single day as an ENTIRELY new experience without that person there. She is GONE!

She was there for 55 ½ years and 21 days and now she is gone…

The space that once held her on earth is empty.

She was my friend

besides being my mother.

She was my friend as I toddled through the halls of the yellow house, playing in the toy drawer under the oven and she would sing with me.

She was my friend when I colored in a coloring book on the bar as she chopped salad, or washed the dishes with that hand towel on her shoulder and we would talk of important things to a five year old.

She was my friend when we sat next to each other every night at the dinner table and I put my meat fat on her plate because I didn’t want it on mine.

She was my friend in high school when I began to menstruate, went out on dates, and cheered me on as a gagging song girl.

She was my friend when I was the only child home and spent a lot of hours with my mom and dad; even traveling together.

She was my friend while I vomited every pregnancy or when we sat on the floor as little ones crawled over our legs, played outside, or swam in the pool.

She was my friend when I’d call to vent about how tired I felt, how great something was, or just when I needed to be mothered.

She was my friend as I counted the very days to leave for summer and travel clear across country to see her and swing on her swing.

She was my friend even as I watched her grow older and slower and sicker and I wanted so much to take those things away from her.

 We listened to each other; we laughed, and cried together often. We shared millions of moments as friends do!

She was my dearest girlfriend.

And although she is happy someplace else,

I am feeling that huge empty space where she once stood on the earth that filled my life with a precious, trusting friend.

Yep, she’s happy. But do you know what—I am still sad.

I am lonely for her. I am still grieving for ME.

I am the one who wakes up every morning knowing she’s not there to talk to on the phone or come home to this summer and every summer from now on, or run to when I need her. Where do I go now?

I know she’s so happy to be with Dad. That is a nice comfort. I believe she is busy, she’s walking, she’s alive, she’s all good in heaven.

But I am still here—on the earth, in the same life, waking up each day being starkly reminded that my mom is not here anymore. My best friend is not here.

I will keep agreeing with all of you that she lived a wonderful life, that she is alright, and all is well—but do you know what—

right now,

I am not alright.

I am the one left now; left behind to face life without my life-time best friend.

I am feeling that loss every single moment of every single day.

One day mom explained to me how it felt when her own mother passed away—She said, “It created a huge hole in my heart which could never be filled.”

There it is….

My hole is deep and empty and although I will live my life seeking joy and thanksgiving, and stay busy every single second, I shall always always walk on earth, now, with this gaping hole right here in my heart because I don’t have my best friend and mom today to talk to, or come home to any other day I live here.

AND That is why I feel different than you!

Learners Manual

There are plenty of directions on birth!

No one gives directions on death.

It is not as fun.

Here is my new learners manual on the subject.

You are welcome to use it because some day you will need one…

Learners Manual on Death

(Or at least for the one’s staying behind)

1. DO MORE: When I tell you my loved one has just passed away, your instinctive reply is, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” But here is something to add when you say those words: Touch me. Put your arms around me and hug me. If you don’t feel comfortable, do it anyway. If that is too much closeness for your comfort then touch my hand or arm and don’t let go right away. Do one thing more that connects you to me than only “those sorry words.”  I am hurting and need human warmth. I am sad. I feel alone and lonely right now, and touch is the remedy.

2. SLOW MOTION: Life does go on but not for me–right away. I am in slow motion as the world is on fast forward. Be patient with my brain and my emotions for awhile. Maybe even a long while. I am in a fog. I am trying to adjust to earth life without my loved one taking up that space they once did. There is a lot to deal with around death that isn’t about my loved one. Distraction is necessary and sometimes good, but don’t forget this is really all about an actual person who died and is gone. I am mourning them gone and out of my life. It is my loss. That won’t take a few hours or days or perhaps even years to get over. I may never get over it!

3. REMEMBER: When you talk to me and ask me how I am, please ask me to tell you something I remember or love about the person who just passes away. Please let me reminisce. I don’t want to forget them! I want to talk about them. One thing I have been doing to help this for me is write in my journal one or more memories that I am thinking about each day about the deceased. That is a strange word…the deceased. No, it’s my mom–once a human, my friend that was always there, now an angel.

4. HONOR: If you notice I am gloomier than normal and don’t seem to find much joy in life that is alright for some time. I want to honor my loved one and engaging too quickly back into life makes me feel that I am being disrespectful. It feels strange and uncomfortable.

5. SOOTHES: Allow me to do the mundane things of life which are routine and normal for me. This soothes me. Especially allow me to move at a slower pace. That makes me feel safe. Don’t make big changes! Don’t plan a big trip or do something completely out of the ordinary to “get me out of my mood.” I am not ready. I want to  wrap myself up in a blanket and hibernate. I will be ready in the future but not just yet. Don’t make me in charge of anything big or give me gifts…it is all too much for me right now. I am dealing with a change that takes time to process!

6.  REST: Let me rest. I am emotionally exhausted.

7. COMFORTS: If I don’t act hungry, possibly comfort foods will soothe me a little.

6. SLOW DOWN: Letting go is a process and should not be hurried. That goes for my loved one’s things too. I may not be ready to clean out the closets or even throw away food that was eaten by them. Everyone travels at a different time frame to the steps of grieving. Allow each family member or friend to go through the process in their own time. Allow me that because I am going to do it anyway.

7. TALK: Children need to be talked to. Silence makes them more afraid. Explanations of death can be a sweet bonding moments. But allow me to tell my children that I am sad and feeling a hole in my heart. They can help me feel better. It is important for them to learn strategies of coping. This is best with a little communication, not ignoring it.

8. WEARY: Check in with me often. Write me a little note. Come over even if I tell you I am fine and don’t want company. Go with the flow and don’t overstay. I am emotionally exhausted and weary to the bone. But I need you to notice me and don’t leave me alone too long.

9. BLAH BLAH BLAH: Don’t overdo with the cliche’s or joke too much. They divert the emotion but after awhile they begin to grind at my nerves and I get sick of you.

10. STORIES: They say TIME heals. I want to remember. But I know the most important thing to do after my grieving has ebbed is to turn around and walk back into life and love it even more. Hug more, listen better, slow down and notice, enjoy simple things, feel more grateful, trust in the Lord, expect miracles, and keep a wiser perspective on what is truly important. Death scares the heck out of me. But death reminds me about something precious too, I am still alive. I am still here to offer the world something unique! Remember the sweetness of past memories but move on and get  writing my own wonderful story and don’t forget to listen to the whispers of those who have gone on because they are watching and helping me along that journey.

11. COMPASSION: When you tell me you lost your loved one. I will say I am so sorry. But I will hug you because my heart understands how you feel, the hole is still there from my own loss.

12. TRUST: Trust God. He made up death. It’s really opening that door back home to HIM where I began.


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