Be Living 25 Days

Note: Click on the blue links to see the whole twenty-five day story…

Twenty-five days ago, I left my home.

My mom was in an ambulance with excruciating pain.

Twenty- five days ago my mom was in the ER, in pain. I never saw my mom read or watch TV again.

Excruciating pain.

In the next seven days, I watched mom be in FIVE different rooms of the hospital. Not one nurse offered to wash her or change her gown. Mom never did get that bath she was looking forward to for six weeks.

Still in pain.

I encountered a surgeon who told mom she would die, a doctor who empathized, an anaestesologist who overruled our oncologist who wanted mom to have more pain meds, nurses who laughed and were afraid, nurses who advocated and hid. A social worker who stood strong and stole chairs and a palliative care coordinator who finally helped mom be pain-free.

Mom was continually trying to ‘conquer’ her pain (mom’s words).

I watched mom lovingly hold dad’s hand, I watched her hug my boys. I heard her never complain nor whine about her situation.

Not once. Not ever.

Twenty days ago, Wendy and I had a sleepover with mom. Sleeping in chairs. Mom still in pain. Chasing nurses for meds. Laughing. Crying. Massaging. Comforting.

I watched mom try to put one foot in front of the other. I saw her desperately want a drink of water. I put lip chap on her lips, got her ice and massaged her sore hips.

One moment at a time.

Nineteen days ago, I went by ambulance with my mom to hospice. . Dad and my boys greeted us there. You should have seen mom’s face light up. Finally pain free with a grin on her face.

I savoured watching snowflakes flutter onto her face as she entered this holy place.

I watched my cousins, my uncles, my sister, her family and our wonderful friends arrive to comfort us. And we saw food, wine and more food come through those doors.

All with my dad steadfast at her side and my Sexy Neck a pillar of strength.

I saw my boys playing peek-a-boo outside mom’s window, I saw JC kiss her hand one last time, CC give her a big hug and OC a high five.

Sixteen days ago, I heard mom say hi to me for the last time as I walked into her room in the morning. Room number eight.

Always kind, always thoughtful, always just mom.

Fourteen days ago, I watched the family from my childhood (dad, sister, cousins) eat Christmas dinner together, listen to Christmas carols and drink wine. I heard stories and quite a ruckus being made in room number eight. I watched tears flow, mom’s hand being held and felt her body next to me as I lied with her.

I watched my family grieve, my cousins step up, my boys soak in the love of everyone and my dad continue to walk forward with his love.

I looked at mom’s beautiful skin, incredible blue eyes and felt her warmth and kindness flowing out of her, as it always has.

Thirteen Days ago, mom took her last breath. Dad sitting at her side.

I was awed by love, snow, hugs and fluttering butterflies.

Thirteen days ago we started planning, writing, savouring, cherishing.

Eleven Days ago, we celebrated mom’s life at her favourite beach, held the people who love her and cried tears of love over and over again.

Ten days ago we said goodbye to many departing for home and then it was just us and dad. Staying at mom and dad’s house. Puzzling, talking, organizing, crying, drinking wine, skiing, leaving roses, smelling the flowers, taking down Christmas decorations and talking about stuff.

Today, I return to our home in KCity .

Today, this is how my husband found me as I wrote this blog:

Disclaimer: For my Prayerwalking friends, my lying down is a regular occurrence. For my new grieving self, it is a daily occurrence. Just rowing my boat… in my quiet laundry room.

Don’t worry, I am not alone. God is with me, my friends close, boys sleeping and Sexy Neck woowing me with warm muffins.

Can you leave me a wee comment? It will give me something to read while I lie on the floor.

36 thoughts on “Be Living 25 Days”

  1. I read every one of your posts JJ and every one makes me smile, perhaps cry and definitely think of my own mom and her own fight. So many similarities, so many precious moments to remember. You have been amazing to share with us. While I’m sure this process has been somewhat therapeutic for you I want you to know that it’s been therapeutic for me too.
    Thanks for being your brave self. Take care of yourself and that floor.

    1. You have encouraged me with your words.

      Walked with me from afar.

      Have been present in my thoughts.

      You have brought to me wisdom and courage.

      For all these things I am grateful and humbled dear Stacey.

      Wanna meet at Bednesti Lake for breakfast?

      1. Do I ever! But if we can’t manage that we should sure figure a meet up this summer! Maybe even invite that Robertson kid…maybe!

  2. Love you, Jo. Love Gwen, miss her beautful, calm, intelligent, funny, wise, caring, selfless energy. The world is just a little less shiny without her. Hang in there (or lie on the floor), my friend. You’re not alone.

    1. Thanks fabulous Karla. I am do sad but I feel like life is so much richer… Much more precious! I never thought mom would die. Thank you for sharing in our grief.

      Would you be willing to share your story with my mom for my blog??

  3. First time reading your blog … but just wanted to say that I ended up relaxing on a floor a couple of times after my Dad passed last month. You’re not alone 🙂 Keep getting up!

  4. I’ve read each and every blog Joanna. Know that I have been with you, just not physically. Hugs to you and your beautiful family. Always take time for you.

    1. Thanks Jodi! Yes, time for me has definitely become a priority.

      Please thank Jonathan next time you see him. He helped my dad tremendously with a banking issue related to moms death. What a guy!

      Hugs to your family.

  5. Thanks for continuing to share JJ. You are an amazing woman, daughter, mother and friend! Give yourself and those four handsome boys of yours a huge hug from the Vermeulens. Miss you!

  6. I read your blog every day and think about you and family constantly. I admire your strength and honesty as you grieve.

  7. You are loved J! Thanks for sharing your feelings and journey in such an honest and courageous way. Love to you and your family.

  8. Joanna, how similar our mom’s paths were near the end. I will always remember the pain she was in and how futile the attempts to relieve it were. I am so very, very happy that your mom was able to see what a wonderful mom you are to your own children. You will always be able to feel her presence in your lives. Take each moment as they come and fully feel all emotions – no stuffing, it eats away at you. You are a strong woman, surrounded by a strong loving family.

    1. Yes, good advice for the no stuffing rule. I am learning for me that love is love, food is food as in the last six months I have used food to stuff… Simple fix in the chaos.

      Thank you for all your encouragement I can’t wait to talk with you in person one day.

  9. Grieve when you need to grieve and don’t apologize… remember your mom and her love and her beauty and know you will see her again… The Lord knows your pain and anguish and He will send those to help you, comfort you, and aid you through this time of grieving. Do what you have to do to take one step in front of the other knowing that you are not alone and that those of us who have lost our loving parent knows exactly what you’re going through. This experience will change you forever. Your mom gave you the gift of learning how to go from this life onto the next with dignity, love, and legacy. She is now waiting happily for you on the other side for the day that you will join her there… we grieve but not without HOPE… Isaiah 40:31

    1. Beautifully said.

      Today, I have held onto these words and I felt honoured that mom took away the fear of death and lived and died with such dignity.

      Thank you for your words.

  10. I think I saw you up at Sovereign on Monday…you were going down the man made hill in the arena hooting and hollering with your boys!!! Obviously having a blast!!!! I’m glad you count your blessings regularly…you are blessed to have those boys to play with!

  11. Hello,
    I just stumbled across your blog. Okay I didn’t stumble, I’m sure God directed my path. I am so struck by your description of rowing your boat in the sea of grief. I lost my mom in 2011. It has been a long row, and sometimes seems like it all was just yesterday. I

    am so beyond grateful for the faith in Jesus that has allowed me to cry out, be angry, devastated, joyful in my memories of her and well, He really has rowed my boat. I find healing through writing and reading your words has been soothing to me. Looking forward to returning to your blog again.


    1. Dear Sheri, I so sorry about your mom and thank you for your words. I am in awe at how God is using people and bringing people into my life at the right moment with the right words

      Thank you for your insight about feeling all the emotions. It is an emotional time that is for sure!

    1. Susan, thank you for the reminder too that we are not alone. I am so sorry about your moms death. There are nothing like moms!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  12. You’re an inspiration to me. You’re reaching out, not isolating yourself. You’re taking the worst that life has to throw at us and turning it into something that helps people like me who are going through trials of our own. Hang in there, Joanna. God’s got your back.

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