Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yes, Mom's Suffering is Over

A while back, my favorite author, Billy Coffey, wrote on his blog a post called Writing Naked. I thought I knew what he meant by that, though I'd have admitted at the time I only came close once. That was the post before mom went into the hospital. I'm not sure I "wrote naked". I wrote intending to show the true me, so you could hate me as much as I did. Instead, you comforted and embraced me. Thank you. Anyway, this post today feels like both exhibitionism, and something I must share. Perhaps I'm merely flashing undies, but whatever. There will be more of this, because there are lots of things from the last five days that I feel I must share, and yet, are so personal.... Anyways, consider this a warning. My naked soul is no pin up girl....She is a nasty flasher.

Monday was Momma's wake. Lot's of people said "At least she isn't suffering anymore." I told them that she was healing. I told them that what took her did not make her suffer. She had a heart attack and went quickly. Yes, when she was alive, she had arthritis to make her suffer physically, a horrible wound to heal from which she said didn't hurt much, but she didn't have any added suffering in her death. Living was hard, but dying was easy....Praise God for the latter!

But the greatest suffering my momma faced was losing her other daughter, Catherine, when she was a month old. Cathy was born nine years before I was, so to me, she is an invisible baby in a visible grave. But to momma, she was her first born. Momma never got over the feeling that she should have known. She couldn't have. She even took Cathy to the doctor a couple of days before she died for the sniffles. The doctor laughed her out of the office. Two days later, Daddy was doing CPR on a literally blue Cathy. He revived her, and she died in the hospital minutes after being baptized. Along with Baptism, she received Last Rites. My momma went so far as to blame herself for taking her to the doctor. Maybe that made her cold worse. You see, Catherine died of bronchial pneumonia. My parents didn't know it yet, because doctors were not as communicative then, but she was even in an incubator for a short time due to an underdeveloped lung when she was born. Yes. She was delivered by the same doctor who laughed momma out of the office. She even blamed herself for him being Cathy's doctor. He was her doctor before she got married.
The second greatest suffering of Momma's life was losing Daddy to lung cancer. He went to the doctor for his cough too late. Way to late. Momma blamed herself for not being able to talk him into going to see a doctor sooner.
Her two greatest sufferings are over, for they are now restored to her. I rejoice in that more deeply than in knowing that she will never describe leg pain as an eight or a nine ever again, or try to smile and joke and say twelve, but me knowing she really meant it....It was bad. My Momma used to like to polka, and I've had friends and family suggest I picture her dancing with Daddy in heaven.
But that is not the picture that brings me peace. You see, I hold onto some blame of my own.... I was not at my mother's side when she died. She died that quickly. She was tired the last couple of days of her life, so I have my own "should have knowns", even though the doctor and nurses didn't, when having her tiredness pointed out to them.
My parish priest suggested not being there was actually a gift from God to not know the terror of seeing them work on her for forty minutes. I get his point. A former student of mine who recently graduated from Nursing School told me at her wake that coming back would have been painful, because she'd have had broken ribs. I can imagine me holding out hope, then hearing her ribs crack and fearing she was in great pain, when in fact, she was gone, and not coming back.
Still, I hate the thought of her dying alone. I tried so hard to always be there for her. I like to think that during her last moments, she had her other daughter with her. I like to picture Daddy holding her (not that she needs assistance in Heaven, but so that mom would know who she is) and smiling wide. She isn't wrapped up, because it isn't cold in Heaven. She reaches out her hand, and Momma's soul reaches out to grab that hand, and with that, she passes from this life into the next, with the arms of Jesus around the three of them. They are a family again.
I don't know for sure that is how it happened. But it is my hope. It is my hope that she was never alone.


Megan Willome said...

The yellow rose got me -- my mom's favorite. She's finally calling hospice after a 29-year battle with cancer. Soon our moms will know each other in Heaven.

Keep writing naked!

Ginny (MAD21) said...

I agree with your priest. It was a gift to not be there to see all that happened to her in the end. But know this... she was NEVER alone.

I cannot imagine the peace she must feel now after being released from the years of pain and suffering. And to be reunited with your dad and sister.

My heart aches for you though, dear Helen. Know that we are all here for you. Feel free to 'expose' as much as you need to. We won't run away screaming :-)

Janet Oberholtzer said...

I'm sorry about the loss of your mom. And I love the imagine you painted at the end of your mom's arrival to Heaven. As for being alone ... a promise of God's is that He never leaves us :)

Nick the Geek said...

There are a lot of things I don't know. I don't know how things are with heaven. Will we be aware of times passage here on Earth or will it be an instant of eternity where we never feel the separation for those left behind? God doesn't seem to think we need this knowledge here.

He does say one thing though. We are never alone. She had the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with her and that much I know for a fact.

You are an amazing daughter and I hope at least one of my kids are as good to us.

-Know He is strong

jasonS said...

Beautifully written, Helen. I'm sitting here trying not to cry in fact (yeah, I'm a wuss sometimes).

Whatever you do, don't blame yourself. God is in control and we can trust Him for every single thing. Your mom wasn't alone and you are never alone.

I was just reminded of Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Much love, Helen. :)

Wendy said...

Oh Helen... I'm still so sad for your loss. But Mom wasn't alone when she died - God was right there with her. Who can ask for better than that?

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and honest, Helen. I'm so sorry for the loss of your mom, and will continue to pray for comfort and healing.

Thanks for sharing your heart with us!

His FireFly said...

I was writing naked last week about my father who shall soon be taken from this world. My pain is multiplied knowing that he does not know my Savior. My mother, battling lung cancer lives without Jesus also.

My husband and I shall be visiting with them next week.. and God is urging me to speak.. speak now while there is yet time.

I want to rejoice with them in heaven, to dance before the throne of Christ hand in hand in hand.

Praise God that your mama's pain is relived and released into His hands.

katdish said...

That was wonderful and honest. And I love that your mom is with your daddy and your sister. I will continue to pray that you push past the regret and not hold on to it. Good job, Helen.

Anonymous said...

she was most definitely not alone.

you were there when she needed you the most.
Jesus was there when she needed Him the most.

i was not with either of my parents when they died.
no one was with my father.
my sister was with my mother.
i know how guilt can creep into that. yet, we would not want anyone to feel that way for not being at our side in death.
i don't think your mother would want you to feel badly for not being there when she died.
she is finally free of her worries and guilt and pain. we can be free, now, to some degree, in Jesus, understanding faith and God's grace and mercy...He wants freedom for us in these things.

it is so sad for all, that we each have to go through death, yet, it is wonderful that we can have Jesus to take us into everlasting Life with God.

i am sad from loss. your loss, my loss, everyone's loss. it is everywhere. i suppose the best that we can do is to keep being open to these feelings, feel them, and help eachother in Love and understanding somehow. knowing that the Holy Spirit is with us.

i like your sense of humor.
it is beautiful.
you are beautiful.

Marni said...

I agree with Nick and Kat and Jason. No, she wasn't alone. God was with her the whole time. I watched someone I love die and wish I hadn't. The frenzy of doctors trying to revive them is hard to shake. I'm glad you were spared that.

But more than anything, I'm glad she is with Cathy and your dad again. What a blessed reunion that must have been! What an amazing miracle it is to know they are in the presence of Jesus Himself. That just staggers the mind doesn't it?

I'll continue to pray for you my sweet friend. You call me anytime. Love you.

Billy Coffey said...

You are my favorite person in the whole wide world, Helen. Truly. That was so good and so honest. No, your mother was not alone. I don't think any of us are alone ever. The only difference is that some know that and some don't. Your mother was among the ones who did. And because of that she now dances with the angels.

Kelli said...

This is such a beautiful tribute to your mother. She was never alone. God Bless. Love, Kelli

Rebecca on The Homefront said...

I love the thought that Nancy expressed: You were there when she needed you, God was there when she needed Him.

I'm so sorry for your loss, Helen.

Stacy from Louisville said...

I'm so sorry for your pain and loss. In Sept. my father in law was killed suddenly while riding his Harley. The pain of loss. The questions. Then questioning yourself about the questions. I wish I could sit by your side with kindred spirit. I don't know exactly how to put it in words but I must believe that when we have the deposit of the Holy Spirit within us it is impossible to be alone. Just as God is prompting people in cyberspace to support you, how much more would He look after your mom? He loves her. He loves you. Thank you for sharing your story. Keep doing it. What you say and how you are doing matters to lots of people.

pip said...

Well done for baring your soul Helen. God bless Cathy's doctor. I hope he learned from the event, to be more careful and thorough. My mother has never forgotten her first stillborn child, or indeed her miscarried one before that. I have more siblings than I have ever met.

I am happy for your mother's newfound peace, and re-uniting with those that have gone before her. I am also still heartbroken with empathy for your own pain.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Every woman can only pray that they have someone as kind and good in their hour of need as your mother had in you, Helen. I often thought of that as you took care of her, pondering her next step of treatment, wondering what to do. You did exactly the right thing - you loved her fully. She knew that. She was far from alone, and I do believe that God's gift to you in the moment of her passing was intended for both your peace and hers. It will take some time, but I hope you will feel that peace very soon. He will carry you.

You have my number - any time. Love you dearly, friend.

Gabrielle Eden said...

Helen, I am glad your mother is at peace, and her suffering is over.

Valerie Jane said...

Helen -

I truly believe that if your Mom wanted you there you would have been. Sometimes people want to be physically alone and God allows them that last earthly wish. My Grandmother waited until all her sons were gone before she passed on. Stu's Grandmother waited until only her Granddaughter, Kristi, was in the room. It's what they want, not what we want.

God is with you, just as He was with your Mom. Just as the two of you wished for each other.

Anonymous said...

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Can I use some of the information from your post above if I give a backlink back to your site?


Helen said...

Mark, if you think something in this post is useful to your readers, you are welcome to it.