It seems like my entire life has been turned upside down these past few years. The previous winter my parents sold our childhood home that had been in our family for over 28 years. Nothing gold can stay, they said. Then my father called that fateful day last August with the news of my mom's stage four lung cancer diagnosis.
You, my loyal readers, were with me every step of the way from the diagnosis to that fateful trip home in September to care for my mom.
There are some experiences in life that you can prepare for, but when the day actually comes.....all logic, reason, and preparation go completely out the window.
The doctors were calling my mom the miracle patient. Dr. Sadar would cry tears of joy after every round of chemo.
The month of January, my mom decided that the chemo was too powerful and that she needed a break. The doctors agreed to this break, and she would proceed in the springtime.
Our daily phone calls had become once a week phone calls. Your mother is too tired to talk, my dad would explain quietly and then quickly proceed to small talk. (My family is very good at chit-chatting without really saying anything substantial. This can often go on for hours.) I would get angry, thinking that my dad was isolating her from us. Later, he would explain to me that some days she barely had enough energy to eat her meals, take her pills, and sit upright.
I could feel her slowly fading away, but I am her child, and as children we are inherently selfish. I refused to believe she would do anything but get better and beat this cancer.
On Friday, February 1st, I was confronted with the truth.
My father called me at noon, frantic, exhausted, and terrified. My mom had been given three weeks to live. I froze, afraid to do anything, say anything. Dare I try to catch a plane.....it's three weeks before QuiltCon. Selfishly, I'm avoiding the fact that my mother is dying and trying to rationalize that this is all terribly inconvenient for me. I am still refusing to believe this news.
Three o'clock. The phone is now a mortal enemy with its siren song of death looming with each iPhone chime. The phone cries out to me. Dad is on the line. Jess, they are saying she has five days. I can't get ahold of your sister.
I am halfway across the country. I am 1600 miles. 28 hours by car. Five hours by plane, if I'm lucky. Time is running out and I'm panicking. My dad needs me and I can't be there. I'm frantic. My heart is in my throat.
From the time I was eleven years old, I promised my mom I would hold her hand and guide her into the light when the Heavenly Father decided that her time on Earth was thru. It is now that time and I cannot be there.
Six o'clock. Everything is touch and go. Dad is still frantic. If I don't call you by 9:00 your time, call me, he directs me.
I'm not sure what to do with myself. Lily, one of my best friends, is at the store upholstering our chairs for QuiltCon. I nervously rant and pace and miscut fabric in awkward attempts to stay productive, but I'm really manic and scared and this is not working. We start looking at flights together.
Eight o'clock. I need to go home and pace.
8:21pm. I want to call my dad so badly. Tell me everything is ok Dad. I pull up his phone number numerous times, but I am a dutiful daughter, and he said 9:00, and I'm too early.
8:43pm and I get the call.
If you are fortunate enough to have your mother living on this earth, I cannot begin to explain the depth of hell that is losing your mother. There is no quantification; no proper English language noun, verb, or adjective that is apt in the description of sheer agony. There is no perfect prose to recite that can personify Death; especially the kind of Death that looms in the doorway, waiting with open arms to transport your soul to the next place.
It is as if I am having an out-of-body experience: I can see everyone around me, and I can hear words coming out of my mouth when I talk. But the past two weeks feel like a surreal dream that I cannot escape. I'm here, but I'm not really here.
It's springtime in Texas, but everything looks black and gray.
Oh, Mama. My heart! It aches and aches for you. I have been desperately begging God please! please let me hear her voice one last time. Please don't leave me Mama.
But God has a plan that is greater than my knowledge. It says in 1 Corinthians that God is of a sound mind, and not of confusion. Although I'm struggling to see the lesson, the blessings and the reasons behind this loss, I know that it will be revealed to me in the right time.
I am sharing this with you because I feel that I owe it to you to finish the story. So many of you have called, emailed, sent cards and care packages for my mom and I am grateful for your love and support during this time. Again, thank you for your ears, your eyes, and most importantly your hearts. My mom was incredibly proud of what I was able to do with Remnants this past year, and many times my passion for the shop was what helped me get up in the morning. Thank you quilters.
I just ask that during this difficult rite of passage that you please give me grace, as I may stumble and fall before I figure out my footing again. I'm in a weird place and I'm still processing all of this. As open as I have been with my family life, I am incredibly awkward at this time and do not really wish to discuss her passing further with anyone but my immediate family.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that we don't have much time. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Make peace with anything that is troubling you, for you may not have another chance. Forgive and love each other.
With a heavy heart I leave you, exhausted from my travels, and with the long hard road of healing ahead.