Tuesday, February 05, 2013

I could have written so much more

This obviously isn't the most recent picture of Mom and I, but it's my favorite.
Yes, it has been a very long time since I’ve posted something here.  I’m fairly certain no one stops by anymore, and that’s ok, because this post might get a little personal.  When I started the blog, I did so as a way to chronicle our journey through parenthood and hoped it would serve as a reminder of all of those important milestones that I was sure to forget.  My last post was Aida’s second birthday.  So much has happened since then, but I don’t think I’ve been ready to sit and reflect much less document those moments.  But this is as much for the kids and their eventual nostalgia as it is for me and my opportunity to journal the events that shape their lives.  It may have been a difficult 6+ months, but it’s one I know I’ll want them to remember, so here goes…

Mom holding Evan for the first time
My Mom passed away on October 23, 2012 after a hard fought battle with breast cancer.  In May, after months of chemotherapy, we were very hopeful that she was finally going to be able to have a mastectomy.  I never attended Mom’s doctor visits, and looking back on it I wish I had, because I think that I was hopeful under false pretenses.  I thought the worst was about to be over, and I had not prepared myself for the possibility of losing her.  October was a brutal month, but at least I had time to prepare for the grief.  On May 17th when she told me that they weren’t going to operate and that her tests had come back devoid of any hope, I realized the worst was actually still to come and I was devastated.  I was hit so hard by the onslaught of grief that it was like I had already lost her. 
Mom holding Aida for the first time
It took a few days for the fog to lift and for me to decide to make the most of what time we had left, rather than beginning each day like I was attending a funeral.  Of course, I distinctly remember Mom telling me that the doctor thought we had anywhere from 2-5 years with her.  I don’t know if she didn’t want to give me more bad news, if she honestly hadn’t heard him right, or if it was just a mistake, but later I learned that he had actually said 6 months to 5 years.   It was the hope for those 2 years that helped lift the fog, so maybe the error was a good thing, but it didn’t take long to realize we wouldn’t have that kind of time.
Over the next few months we spent as much time with her as possible, especially for the kids.  Even as her health started to decline, I still took the kids with me whenever possible.  I didn’t want Evan and Aida’s only lasting memories of Grandma to be those when she was sick, but it was better than not making any memories at all.

Mom and Aida at one of Evan's soccer games
When she died I tried to minimize their grief and confusion by not talking about her as much, but then I started to worry that they would forget her.  I’ve tried to find a balance, but it’s hard.  I know that Evan will always remember my Mom, although maybe not as clearly the “good times,” before she got sick.  But I know that Aida’s memories will mostly be through stories and pictures.  Just the other day we were in the store and she saw an older woman and she asked me if it was Grandma.  I was so sad because the woman didn’t look anything like my Mom.  Grandma has probably already become more of a concept for Aida and less of a tangible memory and knowing how much they loved each other makes that a very sad reality for me. 

Mom and Evan looking for "crawdads" 

Evan and Aida, your Grandma loved you both so much.  Evan, you got to spend several weekends with her and Grandpa and even though I’m sure her patience was tested sometimes, she loved having you.  She enjoyed bringing you to church and showing you off and she loved giving you almost anything you wanted, especially candy J She dedicated a day each week to watch you while Mommy worked and she even took you to preschool on those days.  Grandma was a very big part of your little life.  Aida, when Grandma first got sick and couldn’t watch you both anymore, she was the most worried about you forgetting her because she hadn’t spent as much time with you.  But the exact opposite happened, you talked about her all of the time and if you saw a picture of her you would walk to the door and cry “brama.”  I think it warmed her heart to know how much she was loved in return.  You never got an overnight visit with Grandma and I deeply regret that, but I know that you had a beautiful bond of your own with her, even if you won’t fully remember it. 

I wish I could fully express what she meant to me, but I don’t think it’s possible.  I can only give you glimpses...shadows of the real thing.  I don’t remember there ever being a time when I needed her that  she wasn’t there.  She was present at every school event and function, and she was there every day when I got home from school.  She even made a 4 hour trip once when I was in college just to watch me play in an intramural football game. Until she got sick, and even after when she could, she was always there for our family.  If there was ever any way that she could help us, or anyone else for that matter, she did. She was an amazing woman of God and even through many trials, her faith in Him and His goodness never faltered.  She helped shape my faith and relationship with God in ways that I’m still realizing.  She had a fabulously eclectic taste in music and I remember as a little girl getting lost in her Simon and Garfunkel or Led Zeppelin vinyls, and I hope the love of good music is something of hers that I’m able to pass on to you both. She was strict, which is something I now appreciate, but she still found ways to give me independence and the space to discover who I was and who I wanted to be, like letting me blare my music.  I remember how she comforted me during a broken heart with the words that I have shared with many friends since and will undoubtedly say to you one day, “Remember everything good and loved about that person and that relationship and then know that if God saw fit to take that away, it could only mean that He has something even better waiting for you.” Or how the day we brought Evan home from the hospital, she came to the side of my bed and cried with me as I struggled through all of the emotions of being a new Mom.  

Mom and Aida at Evan's preschool graduation

Then there are the obvious things that everyone knew about her, like how much she loved animals and garage sales, and her heart for missions work.  Of course, she loved to shop but she was always shopping for other people and she loved finding the best deals.  We’ve benefited tremendously from those deals.  In fact, you’re probably still wearing clothes she got from a garage sale.

Mom and Evan at his preschool graduation
If I've learned one thing during these last few months, it's that you always need your Mom and to not take for granted the time that you have with your loved ones.  I took my Mom and all that she was to me for granted and there are so many minutes and even seconds that I wish I could have back.  Evan and Aida, know that I love you and that I hope to be the type of Mother that elicits the kind of love I felt for mine.  I can only hope to be half the woman your Grandmother was, and I will miss her every day of my life.  I will do my very best to keep her memory alive, whether through stories, pictures, or by making her favorite desserts as often as possible.  Hopefully, I've taken another step by writing this post.  

Taken a week before she died

I don't know if I'll keep updating the blog, but I certainly didn't want the blog to end without acknowledging something so monumental to our 2012.  


The Coles said...

Wow, Jeanelle, that post will become precious to your kids one day. So great too that you were able to capture moments like that on camera with your mom. Also, you can count me as one who still does check your blog wondering about life in VerWaynia. :)

morgan said...

Wish I could leave a million words right now but you know how hard that is....glad that Evan and Aida got so much time with mom - for the memories, the photos, the stories, etc. I know mom loved every second of them! I also wish I had more time with her and sit and wish that I had been with her more that last year - that I wouldn't have just let it slip by. Love you and pray that we can be who she and God wants us to be!

Anonymous said...

I read this because even though I had 22 years with her it wasn't enough. I wanted to know more about her. I posted that pic tonight and cried at the thought of simply not being able to make more memories with her. I hope I can be there for you and Morgan I will be all you need. I love you!

Anonymous said...

Jeanelle, that is a beautiful blog about your mother! I am sure your children will love reading it as they grow up! She will always be greatly missed! I also check your blog quite often and love the updates! Miss seeing you!

God Bless,
Jen Converset