It is hard to comprehend that mom is really gone. It all happened so fast. I was holding her hand when she slipped away from this life. I helped dress her body and prepare her for the viewing. I spoke at her funeral and then watched her casket be lowered into the earth. Even though I was there as it happened, my mind is still working to absorb the reality of it all. It is just so unbelievable and difficult to comprehend that she will not be a part of every meaningful thing that happens for the rest of my life! I suddenly feel the need to write down every memory we have together, every great conversation, every little thing she ever did with my children. I don't want to forget any part of it! Right now our conversations are recent, but with time they will become distant. It makes my heart sink to think that at some point, having my mom around will seem like it happened in another life time...kind of like how high school seems to me now. I could easily live 50 more years. The thought of even one year without my mom is daunting, let alone 50!!
People keep telling me how strong I am. I appreciate the compliment, but I know this trial has only begun. Anyone can get through a crisis, which is how the immediate 2 weeks following mom's departure felt to me. But now, I've got nothing but real life ahead of me. Day in, day out, with many responsibilities to fulfill. I have my precious family to raise. There are birthdays, holidays, and lots of normal days in between. But none of it will be the same without my mom. There will be so many days that I will long to hear her voice encouraging me and telling me what a good job I am doing, that I am on track, and that everything is ok. At the end of April, we had a special activity with the young women - a standards night. I was really excited about it and felt very inspired about the focus we had chosen for it. Mom told me that she knew it would be great, that it would be powerful for everyone there. Her confidence always boosted my own, partially because I knew she was praying for me, and partially because whenever she said it, I knew it was true! She has always been my biggest cheer leader.
It is perhaps ridiculous how many times I have gone over in my mind the same details, over and over again...but I think it is part of processing the trauma. I wish I would have gone to see mom sooner. I also wish more than anything I could have been closer to her while she was going through the last 3 weeks. I wonder why I didn't have her come to church when Sophie gave her first talk in primary. I wish I would have taken more pictures of her and I together. Why didn't I? I wonder why, when she said she wanted us to talk about great memories, I couldn't think of anything great! Why didn't I think to tell her how good it made me feel as a child when I would wake up in the morning with red kiss marks on my face from when she kissed me either after arriving home late from a meeting or leaving early for one? Or how I loved the way she tucked me in at night and had me imagine that I was snorkeling with all the beautiful fishies in the ocean? I wish I would have just told her how much I loved her. But how could I have? I didn't want to make her cry, because crying made her cough up more blood. It bothers me now that the entire time she had cancer, I never once cried in front of her. There were so many times that I held it back. I cried so much, but I always felt like I had to be strong around her. How stupid! I should have cried on her shoulder, at least once in awhile! I wish so many things, but I could have never known the future. I thought we had many years left together! I honored and respected her, talked to her almost daily, and I saw her often. I think she felt my support, and I know she would never want me to waste my time feeling badly. She would want me to press forward and not to dwell on that which I cannot change.
At least once a day I think about how lucky I am. People die every day. Some people have lost loved ones much earlier in life. Some people have their moms with them, but they have a troubled relationship that causes pain instead of joy. Some people lose loved ones under far more tragic circumstances.
When I found out how bad the cancer was and forced myself to face the possibility that mom might not make it, I prayed fervently for three things. The first thing was that her life would be extended at least long enough for us to write up many of the incredible experiences that has had over the years...experiences that would be invaluable to her grandkids. Mom's hand was numb, so I planned on having her dictate these stories to me so that I could type them up for her. The second thing was that at the very least, she would be able to write a special letter to each of her grandkids. Again, I hoped to help her with this. Neither of these prayers were answered, which broke my heart. But the third thing I prayed for, which was the most urgent desire of my heart, was that if the Lord was going to take her, that I might be by her side when it happened. I am thankful that God granted me that blessing. I needed to be there. I had to be by her side!! My mom has always been my best friend. There is an empty spot in my heart that I am going to have to learn to live with. One day, that spot will be filled again, but not for a long time.
Dealing with this new and unexpected reality has certainly been an eye-opener for me. I know that I will better be able to comfort others who experience similar heart-break and loss. And I know now how strong my testimony really is. I trust Heavenly Father and am confident that he knows better than me. I don't like that he chose to take my mom so early, but I do know that everything he does is for the good of his children. Knowing this is what gives me the strength to carry on. I know that she will continue to be a part of our lives and bless us in ways we don't necessarily understand right now. I know, as Jason says, that not even death can keep my mom from her grandchildren. I don't like that I must adjust to a new normal, but because the Savior is the rock upon which I build my life, I can and will do so successfully. I pray that this experience will make me more capable of serving God's children, because what's the purpose of suffering if it can't be used to help someone else? These are the things I must focus on.
Here is a cute picture of mom with Weston and Sophie during Christmas a little over two years ago: