Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Mother holds her childs hand for awhile and her heart forever

She looked ever so peaceful when God took her on this day, January 24, 2016. 
This is certainly going to be a new way of living to adjust to. I called her every day, and she text me 500 times a day, always persistent if I did not respond immediately. It drove me absolutely nuts and now what I wouldn't give for her to text me a million times a day. This certainly puts life into perspective for me. Life is too short to do anything but live life to it's fullest - appreciate what you have and don't sweat the small stuff. Capture more memories. Bad things do happen to good people.

This woman touched my brother and I in a way beyond measure and has touched our community, and because of this our community has touched us. We were beyond lucky to have this support leading up to her last breath. I had a moment with her last night before I drifted off to sleep. Again, I thanked her for all she had done for me, for what a wonderful Mother she was to Torrin and I. Mostly, I told her it was okay to leave us and that we would be okay but we would miss her and I told her that I was so blessed to have been chosen to be her daughter. She opened her eyes and looked at me - she hadn't opened her eyes all day. Thank you for giving me that moment, thank you for that closure. I love you my angel.

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my Angel, MOTHER.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Good Vitals

Her vitals look good the nurse says when she comes to change out the morphine in Mom's pain pump. Usually good vitals is a good thing, but my stomach feels eerily sick. We have been watching her imminent now for two days...... 48 hours, 1440 minutes, 86400 seconds of staring blankly into space with glazed over eyes, mumbling sentences with a vengeance and we can't make out what she is saying but she wants us to know so bad, or she looks at rest. Resting is definitely the preferred right now, but it doesn't always last long. She hasn't eaten in 7 days, her legs are so frail, so thin and yet she is hanging on to every last gasping breath.

There are no words to prepare you, comfort you, or to help you through something like this. I never realized we would be watching her suffer, she would have never wanted this, and especially would have never wanted us to see this. The only way that I can describe it is brutal. Brutal to witness, brutal to endure. She's starving to death, her organs are shutting down and she has to be dehydrated....she begs for water. She struggles to drink the water, as to not gulp it down in her thirst but to get enough to quench it. 

I have begged God to take her to the home he has prepared for her in Heaven. I will be the first to admit, I have been angry at God for that which I do not understand but I have also been thankful. Thankful to have known her love and thankful to have been chosen to be her daughter. I do not know his plan but I know that whatever it is, we are all a part of it and that some time soon he will take my Mom to live in his kingdom forever and ever, and I will glorify the day he does.

Thursday, January 21, 2016




1.    likely to occur at any moment; impending:
Her death is imminent.

Hospice defines her as imminent when the nurse comes to visit today. I sit beside her watching her breathe. Her breathing has slowed now, and I look at her staring with that gut-wrenching, heart-sinking feeling wondering when the next breath will come, worried it was her last, will she breathe?..................she breathes, thank God. 
She was too tired to get her shower and didn't even want the nurse and I to clean her wounds today. Some friends came to visit too, they were touching her and talking to her for quite awhile and she did not acknowledge them. As they prepared their rosary's and to read the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, they said to her "Kristine, we would like to pray with you now". She nodded her head and profoundly said "okay". I can't explain how I felt in that moment, other than emotional, my eyes swelled with tears and I looked at her loving every inch of her and being so thankful for that moment. I could feel the peace enter her body.
I added that photo I found to my night stand today. She's beside Nana now and I can imagine her actually being beside Nana soon, smiling and looking over me from heaven and from my night stand. I am so blessed to have known and to have been raised by these beautiful women.

I went yesterday to the funeral home and finalized all of her arrangements. I thought it would be easier now than once she is gone. It's funny how some things happen and you can just tell it is meant to be. I was looking through prayers and I asked "what if I want to pick a different scripture or write a custom prayer", they told me that would be fine. Then I found the perfect prayer and I didn't need to look any longer - Come To Me it was called - perfect.. I walked over to the vaults and there was a beautiful baby pink one, I said "that's the one". "Are you sure" he said, "absolutely". 

I no longer pray for a miracle, I pray for peace and comfort. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Goodbye, I love you.

Yesterday was the start of a new journey. I began removing things from my Mom's house.
After her last hospital stay it was apparent that she needed 24 hour care. Private, in-home care was not an option for us financially and putting her in a Nursing Home wasn't exactly desirable for any of us, so we made the choice to move her in with me. On the same day,we also decided that we needed to lower the price of her house. Her house had been for sale for about a year and a half and we really hadn't had much action. Luckily, it sold right away after lowering the price, and now we have a month to empty it before the new buyers move in. I remember when we were building our house, we would visit it everyday, and I would go up to my bedroom and run around, I was beyond excited, and my Mom - well, she was building her dream home. Putting this house up for sale was probably the hardest thing she had ever done. She had to swallow her pride and move on from one of the things that she felt was her biggest accomplishment. 
Going through a loved ones things after they pass is really hard, but going through their things when they're still living has proven to be even tougher. What a conundrum it is to divide her things as if she is gone when she is sitting right here beside me, but lets be real, this entire situation has proven to be tough. 

As I was going through things yesterday, I stumbled on this photo of my Mom and Dad and I wished that I could remember them together. They looked so happy, so full of life.

Then it hit me, it's hard for me to remember when my Mom was happy. It's hard to remember her before the pain, before the cancer. I kept looking through photos, most of them I remembered or had looked at recently. Then I found a photo of my Mom and I on the day of High School Graduation. My Mom did not like to have her picture taken, she still doesn't, so we do not have many, and I didn't remember having this photo. I was so excited that I would have this to cherish forever, to remember how proud of me she was on that day, but also how sad she was that I was moving away to college. She was always my toughest critic but she is more proud of me than I could ever dream of her being, and I am happy to know that when she leaves this earth that I did the best that I could and for her that was enough. I am happy that I was able to experience years of happiness with her and happy to spend years when finding something to be happy about was one of the toughest challenges of the day. When her oncologist told her that there was no more treatment for her, and it was time to focus on being home and being comfortable, we weren't expecting that news that day. I had brought my youngest daughter Willow with us, and doc looked at us and said, "I have never had to share such sad news with such joy in the room, and I know that it is this joy that has kept you fighting this long. You never should have seen this Christmas he said, and look at you now." I know now that I have to tell her how much she means to me, how much she has done for me and our family, and how much I love her. I know now that I have to let go so that she can too, and I know it is going to be the hardest thing that I have ever done. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


I spend evenings getting her pills ready and labeled in baggies for the week ahead, for the friends and family that will stay with her when I am at work, and documenting everything on a chart. Washing her clothes and dressing her wounds.

 I remember what my Sundays were like not so long ago. I would pick out my outfit on Sunday night to spend the next day with my Mom. I would get up early, shower and get ready, and drop my girls off at their grandparents. I would pick her up and we would drive to her chemo treatments where we would sit and talk and I would draw or read. Sometimes she took a nap, or we would talk about the future. Afterwards we would go shopping and out to lunch. If we were lucky, we met my brother Torrin too. One day we had the most eventful lunch - between Willow choking on her lunch and me performing the Heimlich maneuver and her puking on the carpet, to Torrin telling Mom he got a tattoo, we were all full of laughter by the end of it, the entire restaurant was entertained.  I will never forget that day.

Mom always had a million places she wanted to go and when I let out my deep sigh if she listed more than two places, she let me know how it was going to be. "Just go Ashley", she would say and roll her eyes. Mom was always running from place to place and she never sat still for more than a few minutes unless she was doing a word-search. Me, I prefer as few stops as possible and will drive further if it means I only have to go to one place. I was more exhausted shopping with her than I was after a day of work and an evening with my girls, but I wouldn't have it any other way. She was usually buying things for the girls too, they never went without and she loves dressing them. She spoils them rotten, and I have never seen her smile so big or laugh so hard as she does when she is with them. She could never tell them no, sometimes I used that to my advantage - she did countless late night trips to the store for milk. I hope they remember her for all of those wonderful memories they made together....countless trips to the park and to the library and tons of hours playing pretend and what they call "witchy witch". The three of them have a special bond and I am so thankful for the memories they have made together. 

She asks me what heaven will be like........
I tell her that it will be beautiful, and that she won't be sick anymore, I tell her that she will get to watch the girls all the time.  She smiles.

What I would do to be able to call my Mom to go get them some milk right now.

"Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal." - Thomas Moore

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Getting the news

When I look back on it, it all happened so fast, but living in the moment I did not realize how quickly she was leaving me, and most of all how little time I had left.
She found a lump in her left breast in the shower. She made an appointment with her doctor and a few weeks later when she saw him, he said she should see a specialist - she made an appointment.  The week of her appointment a snow storm came in and she couldn't make it in....before you know it a few months had passed. The lump continued to grow and she finally rescheduled the appointment. A few weeks later she got in. After the appointment he recommended a biopsy and a few weeks later it was performed.
May 13, 2014 - my birthday, I was turning 30 years old. I had dreaded that birthday because of the number...the big THREE-ZERO, 30 was old, but none of that mattered anymore. It was the day that the doctor had scheduled to read my Mom the results of her biopsy. I knew what he was going to tell us, but I didn't know what the extent of it would be. You have breast cancer he said......I was right. Terribly, horribly, right. It has spread to your lymph nodes he between your breasts, under your left arm and is spreading into the lymph nodes in your neck. It is stage 4 he said. It is triple negative he the time we did not know what that meant and it was a lot to take in. I stayed strong for my Mom, I knew I needed to provide strength and support for her. I looked at her and smiled and told her we would get through this. It was my turn to provide for her all she had provided for me. You see, my Mom spent most of her life as a single mother to me and my brother Torrin, who is 11 years younger than me and the light of both of our lives. Mom and I have been through a lot together but she has taught me that hard work matters and that I can do anything I put my mind to. She taught me about God and respect and how to be selfless, but more than anything my Mom wanted me to succeed. She did whatever it took to make sure we had a beautiful home and the best clothes on our back. She never settled for second best and she wouldn't allow us to either, even if it meant she worked five jobs (which she did most of her adult life), or if she hadn't bought herself anything new in years. We were always well taken care of.
When we walked out of the doctors office that day I was terrified what would happen once we were alone. I've never felt that I am the best with words when it came to difficult situations. I always mean the best and lend a helping hand, but words don't always come so easily. We got into my van, I took a deep breath, looked at my Mom and she began to sob...I held her. This was only the beginning of the battle my Mom and our family would face with breast cancer. The ugliest battle and the most horrific thing I have ever laid eyes on. Something no one should ever have to witness, much less endure. This was the beginning of me seeing the absolute hero that I have for a mother, the biggest blessing I could have ever dreamt of being the person to teach me right from wrong, good and bad, and the absolute last person to deserve to have this happen. There are a lot of people in my situation, and unfortunately in my Mom's situation, and for that reason I want to share this story, because if it helps one person get through it, or provides one person information or peace, it is worth it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Frozen Celebration

well as every parent knows of little girls right now, Frozen is all the rage and our girls are no different than all the rest. wren turned four today and willow turned two on saturday, so we had their parties together over the weekend. with of course - a Frozen theme. i absolutely love a good party, especially if it is one for our kids and one that i get to host. i also really enjoy cake decorating, so birthdays are especially fun for me. 

elsa crowns and sven antlers to decorate

anna and elsa even made it all the way from Arendale!

i think everyone had a blast - especially the birthday girls!

just for fun....
willow on the left, two years old                                       wren on the right, two years old