Monday, September 13, 2010

Memory of Mama #6

Hello everyone! Today is very difficult for me since it's the anniversary of Mama's death. She went to be with Jesus 4 years ago today on September 13, 2006. It blows my mind that it's already been 4 years. It certainly doesn't seem like it, it only seems like yesterday. I never thought I could live without her or any of my family. Only by the grace of God am I alive today. If it had not been for God carrying me and helping me, I would have not lived to see today. We are nothing without God!

Today I am going to go back to that painful time when Mama when to be with Jesus, and relive it here on my blog. It's going to be difficult, but I feel like it's what I need to do. It's a painful memory, but it's my last memory of my mama and it needs to be told.

It was late that night when I got the call. I was living in Florida with my friend, Jessica and her family. I worked at the local Christian school as a teacher's assistant. Jessica and I were up late that night either writing in our book or talking. The phone rang, but we didn't think anything of it except it was unusually late for someone to be calling. We let Jessica's step dad answer it, and few minutes later he came to our room saying my dad was on the phone. I took it not knowing what he was going to say. When I answered I could hear the sadness in his voice, and he told me that Mama may not make it through the night. I told him to call me if anything happened and when I got off the phone, the floodgates opened up. I went to Jessica's mom, Heidi crying and telling her what my dad had just said. She comforted me and somehow I went to sleep that night.

The next morning it was all I could think about. I went to work, trying to live as normally as possible. When I got to the school the principle (my boss) told me that I would be teaching the K3 class since the regular teacher was out sick that day. So with a heavy heart I began with the Bible devotion for the day. I can't exactly remember what the the devotion was about, but I do know that it gave me peace. I knew God was helping me and I was trying to so hard not to cry in front of the group of 3 year olds. I went through the day, clutching my cell phone the entire day. I know some of you must be thinking that I was crazy or cruel not to go immediately to my mom. But I was believing that God would heal her. I believed if we had enough faith and spoke words of life about her that she would live. She had lived before when everyone thought she was going to die. A few months earlier she had been in the ICU, and I was the only one not upset. I knew she was going to pull through, live and be okay because I had faith. She did pull through and live, just like I knew she would. That day at the school I was believing and having faith in God that He would pull her through again. I did NOT want to believe that she was going to die. Later that day during nap time, Heidi and I had our classes together since it was Tuesday and the entire school had Bible on Tuesdays. After nap time we would lead the kids to the main room where the devotions were held. It was on Tuesdays where we would let the K3, K4 and K5 classes watch a move together during nap time in one room. While Heidi (Jessica's mom who taught the K5 class) sat there watching over the kids, my phone rang. I went to into the kids bathroom so I wouldn't disturb anyone and have some privacy. It was my dad on the phone calling to tell me that he and my uncle had went to go pick out a casket and make funeral arrangements. I did not want to believe it, did not want to believe Mama was going to die. After I got off the phone I was so upset that I clawed the cement block bathroom wall and slid to the ground crying. Heidi heard me crying and came to check on me. I told he what my dad said, and told her I wanted to go up there. She told to my stuff together while she went to talk to our boss. Soon after that we left the school and went back to the house. I was trying to pack an overnight bag and Heidi helped me do that since I couldn't do it myself. I was so rattled, crying and trying to still believe Mama was going to live. We left soon thereafter and headed up to Pine Mountain, Georgia where my family lived. I cried on and off the entire trip up there and talked to my boyfriend on the phone a lot. When we got there I walked in the house and felt a lot of condemning eyes on me. Everyone had been so upset when I moved away 3 months prior. I had been the main care-taker for my mom plus doing her job of taking care of my siblings since she was so sick. She had been sick a little over 2 years with Lymphoma (cancer). With the stress of having so much responsibility at such a young age (I was 16 when she got sick) and having to live a lie at the same time, I couldn't take it anymore. My parents raised me a certain way with very strict standards, and I was 14/15 years old when I began to disagree with them. But I couldn't say anything because I would have been in BIG trouble going against my parents. So I kept it all to myself until I turned 18 and moved out. I wasn't trying to hurt anyone, I just needed to be able to spread my wings. Everyone got so upset that I left, and had all but condemned me to hell. It wouldn't have mattered in the long run if I would have stayed or left, no one was going to change God's plan. I had to do what I had to do, and it wasn't my fault that my mom died. I felt guilty for so long (and still fight it to this day) because people always said "you left", "you shouldn't have left", "how could you leave?" "you were just being influenced". Well, I want everyone to know loud and clear that it wasn't my fault and I would have left no matter what. I had been planning to move out for years, and no one was going to stop me. Fortunately I had Godly friends who let me live with them instead of leaving me to find another way out. The other way could have led to drugs and a very bad road. But no one cared or refused to see that. I guess it's easier to just blame someone when you can't figure out why something happens.

Anyway I went to my mom and dad's room where my mom was at. She was laying on the bed looking sound asleep. All I can explain to you is what she was in was a coma like sleep. Her body was shutting down from the cancer racing through her body. I knelt beside the bed, taking her hand in mine. I asked my dad if she could wake up, and he said no. I told her I was there and just held on to her. Her body was so hot, burning with fever from being so sick I imagine. After Heidi left and everyone left the room I got to be alone with Mama. My dad had said she couldn't wake up, but I had to try for myself. I just wanted to her to wake up and be okay. I wanted to talked with her, and know that everything was going to be okay. I gently shook her shoulder and said, "Mama, wake up". But she didn't and it broke my heart. The last time I had talked with her was a few days earlier on the phone. I never thought it was the last time we would talk. Never knew it was the last time I would hear her voice. You never know when the last time is, and I certainly had no clue that was the last time we would talk. I laid on the bed beside her, holding her hand, and just talking to her. They told me she could probably hear since hearing is the last to go. I talked about what was going on in my life, about how if Jesus was calling to go to Him. Now I can't imagine how I could have said that. Now I want to scream don't leave me. But that day God gave me this peace I will never understand which allowed me to let her go. There is no way I could have done that on my own. I told her I would miss her so much, but if Jesus wanted her, then it was okay. And I told her I loved her over and over again. My dad had a CD player in the room softly playing "Selah" songs from their albums. People would read to Mama, we would all talk to her, we would clean her up, give her pain meds to keep her out of pain. I also played the piano for her. The piano sat right outside her room and she always loved to hear us play. She always wanted us to learn to play musical instruments for God and I played hymns for her. I visited with my siblings, took walks, talked to my boyfriend on the phone. I don't think that some people liked that, but it was a good for me. I needed something to help distract me for awhile. She live through the night and onto the next day.

People were so kind to us, bringing over food, visiting us. That afternoon going into the evening I decided to take a walk, get away for a few minutes. I was walking on the dirt driveway when my Uncle Brent came driving up beside me. He was trying not to cry and told me I should come back to the house now. I knew something had happened. When we got back to the house a lot of people were crying and I went to my mom's bedroom. My dad and siblings were gathered around the bed, crying. She had died a few minutes earlier, and I began to sob. My dad wanted me to touch her, but I was having trouble commanding my hand to do so. Uncle Lamar gently told my dad to give me some time, and then I gingerly touched my mama. She was still hot, but she wasn't breathing anymore. We all gathered around (my dad, siblings and me), holding hands, praying, crying and being there for each other. I hugged all my siblings and dad, and we were all sad but also happy Mama wasn't in pain anymore. She had been in such excruciating pain for so long, and now she was perfect. Others came in the room, family and friends to say the final goodbye. I went to my sister's bedroom and wrote in my diary. About an hour later the nurse from hospice came and pronounced Mama dead . The funeral home people came shortly thereafter, and they put Mama on the stretcher under the dark blue velvet covering. We all stood in a line from her bedroom door to the front door in the living room. Some of us were crying, some were trying not to cry as they pushed her past us all to the front door. They left and I don't exactly remember what I did after that. I do know later on I found my sister, Mandy on the front porch crying. We both cried together and we talked about Mama.

The next day we had the viewing at the funeral home. My dad wanted the casket closed though so people wouldn't leave with that being the last image of Mama. She had been so frail, thin, hair so short, and so sickly when she died. Daddy wanted them to remember her healthy and beautiful just like she was before she got sick. We set up pictures of Mama all over the room in the funeral home so people could see her that way. My family and I arrived early to see her one last time before they closed the casket. When we walked in the building my sisters and I met in the small one stall bathroom to get ready to go in. We walked in the room where Mama's body was, and we walked over to her. She was dressed in the dress we picked out for her to wear. I gently and lightly touched her hand where it was resting on her still body. I touched her where her hand was was at, and she was very hard. I jerked my hand back, not fully expecting that. We cried and lingered there not wanting to leave. The time came when the casket had be shut, and then people started to pour in to pay respect. I felt numb, going through the motions. Everyone asked me how I was, and I said the same thing over and over again that night, "I'm fine" even though I wasn't. For over two to three years after that I kept that up, saying "I'm fine" even though I'm not. I try to open myself up more now, but it's hard. I still fight just saying "I'm fine" to this day. After everyone left, we went back home and got to bed.

The next day was the the funeral. We didn't have a service in church, we just had a graveside service. We got there and waited around for the service to start. Heidi and her family came to the funeral, and that made me happy to have them nearby, too. My dad's side of the family are wonderful singers and we all sang "Sweet, Sweet Spirit". I got through the first line when I broke down crying and I blubbered my way through the rest of the song. My dad was standing beside me, and he put his arm around me, sharing my grief. We then went to sit under the green tent in the chairs for the family. Then my dad had the song "Press On" by Selah played on a CD player. After the song was over my Grandpa (Mama's dad) spoke and then Ralph Taylor (our preacher for so many years) spoke. The whole time my dad kept his arm around me and I cried the whole time. After the service was over, lots of people hugged me. But I specifically remember my cousin, Cason hugging me and comforting me. Then we left to go back to the house. I just remember lots of people being there and people trying to get me to stay longer. My boss told me I could take some time off. But in my mind I just needed to go back to something normal, something familiar. I just wanted my life to return back to normal even though it could never happen. I would have to create my new normal. That evening Heidi and her family came to get me since I told them I wanted to go back with them. They visited awhile with my family, and then I said my goodbyes and went back to Florida.

I tried to relive that memory by giving you details that stick out in my mind, but I could never fully describe what it was like. Unless you lose someone close to you, you can never describe the many emotions you experience. But I want to say that although I do not understand why Mama had to go, I'm so grateful God chose her to be my mama. I wish she had never been sick and she could have grown old. But that's not what happened and I miss her every single day. There's just not enough words to describe how much I miss her. She wasn't perfect, she was human and made mistakes, but she was definitely a wonderful mama. I am so thankful I have the memories of her, and I always want to keep her alive in our hearts and minds. Please keep my family and me in your prayers today because it's a painful day beside the fact that she is in Heaven.

I love you, Mama. Always and Forever!


Jackie said...

Yes, Peanut, those last few days were very,very hard on Granpa and me. We were out there as much as we could. On sunday evening, we went and tried to get her to eat a little bit more of what your dad had prepared, but she finally said"no more" Then Monday evening we were there and she kept trying to tell me something, we fianly figured out that she was saying "Herbs are good' but her voice was so weak that it took a while to figure it out. Noone told us that the nurse thought that she might not live through the night or we would not have left. Tuesday when we went back she was in the coma in her bed. Mandy was reading to her and after a while I told Mandy that I would read for a while, I sat with James Greg a lot and he wanted to know why they didn't use the oxygen tank that was there. It was very hard to explain why to him. I had a last few minutes with her just before the undertaker got her. I have never been so heartbroken - To see my beatiful daughter carried away in a black bag. I guess we will all have heartbreak and memories. Your siblings called me last night to tell us that they were thinking of us on this date.