Friday morning, a week ago, before Mom passed away on the 17th, I was getting ready for the hospice aid to arrive when I noticed Kenny Chesney singing on TV. I'd muted the channel earlier because Mom was sleeping but since she loved Kenny, I turned it up. Mom immediately started shimmying from side to side in bed, smiling.
I asked her, "What on earth are you doing?" She just smiled that sweet smile and said, "I'm bed dancin'."
We just laughed and danced together for a minute. She was such a hoot and such fun. She always was. That's one thing I love most about the relationship we shared...we loved to laugh together, and we laughed together a lot!
View from Mom's gravesite at Georgia National Cemetery. Beautiful, isn't it? She would've loved the view. Of course, she has a much better one now.
I remember Mom awakening from a nap shortly before she passed away and, with anticipation in her eyes, she told me and Dad, "I feel like a big surprise is coming!" She giggled and wiggled her eyebrows. We told her, "Well, there is a big surprise coming." "When is it coming?" she asked. We said, "If we told you that then it wouldn't be a surprise."
I've no doubt that the anticipation she was feeling was for her forever home. God was drawing her closer to Him even as she was drifting farther away from us.
As my daughter and I drove back to Nashville on Saturday afternoon, I snapped this picture as we neared our turnoff from the highway toward home. Love the sunlight steaming down.
I want to share a bit of advice that helped me so much in recent weeks and months as I helped care for Mom (and that might help you, too, if you're in a similar situation as I've been): The person dying gets to choose.
Two friends who had already lost their moms, who have walked this particular road of cancer with a parent, told me that early on and I took it to heart, and it made such a difference in the final weeks and days. It gave me a peace and a "release" in that my role was to aid Mom in her journey that God was leading her on, not to help determine the path she would take. God was already working in her to lead her steps on that particular path. My role became to help her take those steps, and to do so quite literally when she could no longer walk on her own.
Another photograph taken moments later before my daughter and I arrived home.
I treasure every moment with Mom, every overnight hospital stay, every "early wee hours of the morning" chats when she couldn't sleep and we'd sit up and talk. Every one of those times is written on my heart and has changed me and my view of this life, and I think for the better. When my time comes to cross over from this life to the next, I'll do a better job of it because of watching Mom go before me.
This picture was taken moments before we got home on Saturday. How special to witness the last light of day, and a glimpse of Home, while knowing that Mom resides in the presence of eternal Light and Life.
Mom's favorite book of mine was Remembered, and there's a passage from that book that she and I read together most recently. I had no idea, when writing it at the time, how closely it would describe my feelings right now:
"Death is but a pause, not an ending. When the lungs finally empty of air and begin to fill with the sweetness of heaven's breath, one will realize in that moment that though they have existed before, only in that moment will they truly have begun to live."
Mom has truly begun to live, and though I miss her in a profound way, and will for the rest of my life here, I'm thrilled for her and for where she is now, and for the day I'll join her there.
Thanks, everyone, for your emails and cards. My inbox and mail box overflows, and your prayers and support are making such a difference in the day-to-day. Bless you!