Still In Shock

I guess it is how I am coping with the loss of my beautiful Mother but I still finding it hard to believe she really passed away. I was going to say “died” but that seems so final. I keep racking my brain over the events of the last few months and nothing adds up. I just am at a loss, literally and figuratively.

I am going through the motions but am not feeling much of anything lately. I cried for about a week and now that has stopped. This is going to make me sound crazy but I have been having these feelings that she will come home. My mind knows that she has passed away but my heart is still believing in something else…

I think the toughest part is that this outcome wasn’t even in my mind before and after the surgery. Even when I was faced with some tough news, I believed full heatedly that she would be okay. Honestly I still do.

I keep telling myself, She is really gone… and it is just all too unbelievable.

Never in my wildest nightmares would I think she pass away so young. Of course it was my biggest fear but I thought she would live a lot longer than she did. I thought to myself this wouldn’t happen to our family, we are all good people but it did…

Today we started to pack up her belongings in her apartment. I was really worried about going back into her place. The last time I did was right after she passed and I was a mess. Today I felt so disconnected, that I think I was in the clouds.

It reminded me how attached I am to material items. I found it very difficult to throw away any of her things, even if they weren’t any good any more. I had to have a family friend do it for me. I had to keep all her shirts, I just couldn’t stomach giving them away. I guess in some ways they are all connected to the memory of my Mama.

Death reminds me that who we are is not connected to our bodies. Our bodies are merely vessels. It is so easy to get caught up on the physicality of everything in this world. I could see how I could become a hoarder. I found some personal belongings of my own at my Mom’s place including a huge pile of VHS tapes. I was about to keep most of them, even though I no longer have a VHS player and probably will never watch them based on the memory of them… I went as far as putting them all in my bag. Then something inside said I had to let go and only kept a handful. I guess that is a start.

My Mom’s apartment was very important to her, as it was connected to her independence. She finally had it after fifty some years and she wasn’t willing to let it go. If she would have survived, she probably would have never been able to live alone again and I know that would have devastated her. So having to go through and pack up all her belongings was painfully difficult realizing what it all represented. Though I guess she got the ultimate independence when she passed away. She no longer had a failing body to hold her down. Now she is free to fly where ever she wants. That makes me feel at peace…

That is another thing. Even thought it feels like I am falling apart, another part feels at peace. The whole shock peace makes me nervous because I am concerned how it will feel when reality really sinks in. Previously when I had thoughts of my Mama passing, I didn’t think I could survive it.

Now I know I can… It just isn’t going to be the same. People keep telling me it doesn’t get better, it just gets different. How could it get better in this lifetime when a crucial part of your world is snatched up suddenly? Well I guess the pain isn’t has tough, at least I hope it isn’t.

I know what people will say and I believe it as well, that my Mama is all around… and deep down inside I believe that. I just have some gunk in my filters causing me to not be able to feel her. The same with my spirituality. I keep telling myself that God will see us through this. I am not quite sure how but I am holding onto that.

I also know she is in a much better place. A place of pure joy, love and happiness. As tough and painful as this sorrow is I would never take that away from her. Especially after the tough life she lived. I think that is really holding me together, is knowing that she is okay. Otherwise I would have had to been admitted to the funny farm weeks ago. That might still be an option down the road. 😉

I guess I am grieving the physical loss of my Mother and all the attachments that came with her. She was my world, so of course her death would send me out of orbit. Years ago I was even more attached and I am so thankful that I worked on gaining my own independence or I would have went plummeting right into the sun. The person I was a few years ago, I don’t think could have handled her loss.

I also realize that I was blessed to have this amazing woman as my Mother for 36 years. So many aren’t that fortunate. My mind knows all of these things and I have to keep reminding myself this… but my heart is filled full of sorrow…

God plucked the most beautiful flower in my garden and I want her back. I know it is selfish but it is how I feel.

I think part of the issue is that I still hold onto some untrue things about myself and my spirituality, which I have done a lot of work on overcoming but I still struggle. I still have these fears of never seeing my Mom again. It is kind of like being lost as small child, it is very scary. You desperately try to find her but can’t…

Things like, how am I going to get through this? keeps running through my mind. I am so thankful of my nieces and nephew, as they are breaths of fresh air. As much as I feel like falling apart, I know I must keep it together for them. They need me… That is how I can honor my Mom.

Honestly it feels like I am still at the hospital at my Mom’s bedside. My body has left that place but apart of me is still there. I have many/most of the same feelings I had there. Though now I have sadness, anger, numbness, etc to add to those.

I keep trying to bargain with the situation, like I can still change the result. Like is there something different that we could have done. I replay all the events over and over, and nothing adds up to the outcome.

Bottom line, I have to accept the fact this was apart of God’s plan and that for me is one of the scariest parts of life… The not knowing when it all will end on this earth. Prior to finding out the autopsy I held onto this idea that she was taken too soon, that something happened to cause her demise… After her autopsy I realize that wasn’t the case… She had multiple blockages in her arteries. The main artery from her heart to her brain was blocked by 70%…

How could I bargain with all of that? It was apparent that it was her time to go. It both comforted and alarmed me at the same time. If her surgery didn’t kill, her blockages would have most likely have… or at the very least left her with a very poor quality of life. I realized this when I was shopping at Meijer and was in the adult diaper section… I didn’t want that life for my Mama, nor did she. As tough as the way she passed was, she really didn’t suffer, nor was she in pain that often. I can’t say the alternative would have happened if she would have survived the operation.

I find myself begging and desiring for more time… I wish I had one more Christmas, one more birthday… but then I would only want one more after that, and so on…

I just have to keep moving forward, even if it is slowly and one step at a time… I also realize that I have to keep turning towards positive and supportive avenues, reaching out and not hiding away. I have found myself feeling more depressed as the week has went on. I force myself out of bed and it isn’t easy. I am also in the process of getting back into therapy. The one thing I have learned the past few years, is that I can’t do this alone nor do I have to. This journey has reminded me how many wonderful, loving and supportive people I have in my life. I just have turn to them…

I also realize that as I start to open up to my spirituality it will start to blossom like a garden. Mama saw the best in me and always wanted me to be happy. I need to honor her gift by sharing who I am with the world, as it is connected to my purpose. As much as I want to be with her, I know I have things to do on this planet.

One is allowing others, especially those in the gay community, the opportunity to feel God’s love. I think that is the greatest travesty in the lgbt community that others try to close the door on God’s love. I don’t care what religion you are, it is all the same to me. For me, religions are just labels of what is behind it… A true child/follower of God leads their life with love. My Mother embodied that to the fullest. All these years I thought I had lost my spirituality, when it was always deep inside…

It is funny, after my eulogy a family member asked me at my Mom’s grave site if I was saved… and I stumbled with my response… Cause I don’t feel I had to be saved. The only person who needed to save me, was myself. God was already in my heart, I just let man pile their trash around my heart.

Basically what I am saying do whatever works for you… Whether that is Christian, Buddhism, Wiccan, etc. I know how it is like to have beliefs forced down your throat and I don’t ever want to be like that. How I would like to approach my faith to others is like a book in the library… I will leave my book on the table and let people know I am there. There is one thing I have learned about life, if a person isn’t ready it doesn’t matter how hard you try you will never get them to see it your way. When people are ready they will come to you or an idea, etc.

I also grew up in a fire and brimstone church and I know how much damage that does. So this is my attempt to show others that there is another alternative. I had to learn the hard way and I would love to help others see a different way. There are many different roads to take to the same destination.

Everyone deserves God’s love. I don’t believe if it something you find outside of yourself. It is something deep within. Something has always been there.

Any type of healing takes time. There are no switches or buttons to push. No pills to take to make it all go away. Only time and connection to others who love you. Which reminds me of my current situation, it is going to take time.

Mama gave me all the skills, gifts and abilities that I need to venture out into the world and recreate her legacy in others. Her love is deep inside of me and this world could use a lot more of love. Love and strength are two of the greatest gifts my Mama gave me, they flow through me like a river. Now it is my time to make a difference, as she has done in our lives.

For Mama… This is it not only my gift to the world but to her as well…

 

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Facing my biggest fear…

Death has always been a big fear of mine and losing my mom an even bigger one. Just thinking about it would me down a road of panic. I couldn’t imagine surviving her death. I actually had a plan if it were to happen. I no longer have that plan, though the thoughts flutter in my head still.

About a year a go I started to have these thoughts pop inside my brain. I really wanted them to disappear but I forced myself to think about it as to prepare myself for the day.

In my wildest dreams I would never have thought this day would come so soon.

Prior to my mom’s passing a voice came to me telling me I would be okay, that I would survive my mama’s passing.

Well now that she’s passed it doesn’t feel like I will.

The pain I feel is deep. The sorrow feels like torture. A loss so great that I can explain it.

I know she’s still there… But I’m struggling to feel her. I got so caught up in her physicalness. Her hair, her smile… The way she laughed. I am attached to her and now I feel lost… Dangling in space.

I feel so alone, and I’m surrounded by family.

Disconnected.

Questioning why now? I would never want her in pain, nor would I want her to suffer. Why couldn’t God heal her body from her lungs to her arteries.

I know so many children go with out and I really shouldn’t be selfish but my heart is breaking.

I am tired of the suffering. Tired of feeling loss. Mama was the one purity in my life.

Is this a test? If so why do I have to be tested?

During the 31 days my mom was in the hospital, what got me through the unthinkable tough times was the faith things would get better.

I am struggling seeing that in my current situation, as it means unknown period time of pain. The only relief it seems is being with my mom again and I don’t have a clue when that will be???

And that just seems unbearable…

The only thing keeping me together is knowing that my mom and God are on my side.

I just need some comfort, and my mom was the one who would give me that.

I’m reminded of the feelings that God would see us through and that’s all I have to hold onto these days…

That and mama wants me to fufill my destiney and to be happy. That all seems so foggy right now…

So I will keep holding on and ride out this storm once more.

Love you Mama…

It has been a rough couple of days…

Nothing in life prepares you for losing your mother. It was my worst fear and it came true on September 9th. I am honestly still in shock, though I no longer numb. When I was numb I wished I felt something different but now that I am feeling it I wish I was numb.

It feels like a bad dream, and I never awake but I know that it is real.

Reading my Mother’s was not only important to me but also an honor that I knew that I had to complete. I wasn’t sure if I could keep it together but I knew I had to try. I never thought I could make it through the ceremony, let alone speak at my Mama’s funeral.

The whole day I kept telling myself that I was stronger. I repeated it over and over. I thought about Viola Davis’ character Aibileen in the movie “The Help” and what she said to that sweet baby girl… “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

I envision my own Mama telling me… You is kind. You is beautiful. You is Strong.

Over and Over… Even during the service when I was about to lose it, I thought about my Mama and keep telling myself I was STRONG. Like a tree, with its roots planted deep within the earth.

When it came time to give my Mama’s eulogy, I was nervous but I felt a sense of calm. It was just something I had to do.

I thought about the last month and how tough that was, and how strong I was for that… Giving the eulogy at my Mother’s funeral didn’t come close to that tough. This was a celebration. My mother was no longer in pain.

I felt more connected to my Mama and God than ever before. During the whole service I was a glow and smiling ear from ear. The service was everything I wanted and then some.

At the grave site service was over My sister and her husband, her two nieces, nephew and I let off six purple balloons. It was so beautiful.

Afterwards I felt completely drained… Still in a fog. I was surrounded by people. I seemed to be going in slow motion, while everything around me was going in fast forward. I felt this way the rest of the day…

I woke up the next day and I was no longer number. I also couldn’t feel the wonderfulness that I felt the day before. I was still in shock but no longer number. Honestly I still am…

I was so devastated that I no longer could feel that strength, my mama or my higher power… and just over the loss… I was grieving and I had a lot of questions… Why??? I felt guilty for feeling these things.

The whole day I was surrounded by my grief, the darkness. Intense sorrow, raw pain. I wanted to be with my Mama. I thought to myself, if those who heard my eulogy would see me now they would think of me as a fraud.

At some point and I am not quite sure when, I started to think of my time at the hospital with my Mama. I thought about the despair I felt. I also remembered feeling lost. It was then that I turned to my faith for strength. God saw me through those painful 31 days and he/she would see me through this.

I just have to hold on and count on the people around me who love me. I am not going to lie, this sucks!!! I am going to miss her physical form. I am going to miss her laugh. I am going to miss not being able to call her when I need her.

As painfully torturous as this is, I would go through this for the rest of my life if that meant my mother would no longer be in pain… and I believe that is what would have happened. Her body no longer matched her spirit, heart and soul. She would not have had the same quality of life, nor would she be able to do the things that made her happy and gave her joy.

I still have questions, lots of them!!! and I believe that is okay.

I also have to remind myself that I am going to have bad days. The important thing is to pull the light closer, not push it away. During this tough time I need the light more than ever.

Numerous people have told me it doesn’t get easier, it just gets different. A world without my Mama is a lot less bright but I have a duty to this world, and more importantly to my Mama and her grand-babies. I need to continue to show them the love she gave me, and them. That is how I will be able to honor and remember the most beautiful and loving woman that is my Mother.

My Tribute To My Beautiful Mother

Below is the eulogy I gave at my Mama’s funeral on Friday September 9th. Nothing in this world would prepare me to handle the death of my Mother but everything in life prepared me for having the strength to make it through her eulogy. I couldn’t have asked for anything better for my Mother’s service. Her service was a celebration of her life and who she was. I felt her spirit stronger than ever before. I felt lifted up by her and my higher power.

At the start of my eulogy I passed around packets of sunflower seeds, with my Mom’s picture on them, to everyone. I then had everyone exchange them… Those seeds represented what my beautiful, loving Mother had given to us all…

A few years ago I received a birthday card with a picture of a turtle who was walking down a path. At the end of the path, the turtle was planting a peach pit. Behind him were a long row of peach trees, with a huge orchard full of peach trees in the background.

The message behind the picture was that often times when we encounter someone we don’t realize the impact we leave behind. Many times we are not able to see the fruits of our labor and it is easy to forget what we have to offer.

If we could only look back on those we have touched, we would see orchards upon orchards of peach trees filled full of bountiful fruit.

So each time we give our hearts to someone, we are planting a seed deep inside that person. That seed will grow and blossom into something beautiful. That love not only produces fruit that will continue to nourish that person but when they are done eating that peach, left is the pit. Then they will have the chance to plant that peach pit in someone else’s heart and the cycle continues, over and over.

That was the life my Mother lived. She planted so many seeds, that now the world is full of peach trees. During this life she wasn’t always able to see her impact on the world. She is just like the turtle, humble, selfless and pure. Now she is up in the heavens any finally can look down upon the earth to see all the fruits of her labor.

Her heart was a gift and blessing to this world.

The seed given to you today symbolizes who my Mother was and the love she had for those around her. Though her life on this earth is done, her spirit is still alive in every peach pit she has planted. So take this seed with you and hold onto it as a reminder of my Mother and the impact you have on others. Each person you meet, you plant a seed deep inside of them.

That is the glory of God, and my mother embraced that fully. She had a heart of gold and a spirit as bright as the sun. She gave her all to her children, grandbabies, family and friends. Her family was very important to her, and we filled her up with joy. Paige, Peyton and Grace are her world, as she is to them. She not only passed on who she was to my sister and I, but her grandbabies as well.

Dana I are who we are today because of our Momma. Now it is our turn to pass that light and love, onto to Paige, Peyton and Grace… and the rest of the world.

The last month has been a roller coaster ride. Often times my sister and I didn’t know we were coming or going. When we first learned Mom had Cancer we told her we would do whatever it took for her to overcome this Cancer, even if it meant driving to California or even Sweden.

The type of Cancer my Mom had is called Carcinoid cancer. It is the rarest form of Cancer. The treatment for this type of cancer is not typical, as chemo and radiation doesn’t work. The only option to cure it was surgery; no one in Michigan would operate as they treated it like a typical cancer.

(For more information visit this website: http://www.carcinoidawareness.org/)

The tumor was blocking her air way by 75%, causing her to get bronchitis and pneumonia frequently, among other complications.

The oncologist at UofM, said we needed to find an aggressive surgeon to remove it.

Through a lot of research my sister found out about the only specialist for Carcinoids was in Nashville, as well as an amazing thoracic surgeon at the same hospital. Momma wanted the Cancer out of her and we were determined to do whatever it took to make that happen.

Her oncologist became her personal cheerleader. After months of unknown she finally had some relief. It was the first time a Doctor treated her as a person, and not a cancer patient. The surgeon was confident that they could remove the tumor and save the upper part of her right lung, so he scheduled her surgery for the beginning of August.

My Mom was a worry wart, we come from a long line of worry warts. I myself am one as well. As much as she wanted that tumor out of her, she was scared of the surgery.

Her surgery was scheduled for 1pm on a Thursday… 1pm came and passed, and we waited for hours. As each hour passed, Mom became even more nervous and frustrated. We were told there were complications with a surgery and that was causing the delay. By 6pm, Dr. Grogan came down to talk to mom. He apologized and explained the delay. He said it was important to give my Mom his full attention and thought it would be best to delay the surgery til the next morning. He was so caring and compassionate that something changed with Mom.

The next morning she was no longer nervous and went back into surgery calm as can be.

The surgery was a success and the Doctor was very happy. He was able to get out all the Cancer and was able to save the upper lobe of her lung. Later it was found that all of the lymph nodes were negative, even the one that UofM said was cancerous. Plus the progression rate was less than 1%, meaning it would be very unlikely it would come back somewhere else… This is rare for this kind of Cancer.

We couldn’t have asked for better news, we were on cloud nine. That all changed a few days later when it was discovered that my Mom had aspirated, causing a severe bacterial infection. They had to perform an emergency second surgery to try to clean up the infection.

This is where the real roller coaster began. After the surgery the Doctor came out to talk to us. He informed us that there was a chance my Mom would not make it, as the infection was widespread. He advised us that if they hadn’t operated when they did she wouldn’t have made it through the evening. Our hearts sunk to the floor, as we were in shock.

Though even with that scary news, I didn’t lose hope. Even before the surgery I was not worried at all. I had this sense that everything would be okay. So to have this happen completely knocked the wind out of me.

Her lungs were very sick and she had to be put on respirator at full support, where she was under heavy sedation. It was difficult seeing the Woman you knew was so lively and full of life lay in bed hooked up to monitors, with numerous tubes in her and constantly being poked and prodded… all while not being able to say a word. It was painful to watch.

My sister and I were dedicated to see her through this. My mom was not a classic case for the Doctors, what worked for most people didn’t for her. My Mom was a fighter, a true survivor and this journey to Nashville proved that. One particular morning this was proven to us when they took her off her sedation. She began to kick her legs about. I seriously thought she was going to break free from her arm restraints. I had to hold her legs down and my sister her arms. As traumatic as that was for us, it proved how much of a fighter she was and how much life was left in her.

It just strengthened my faith and belief that she would overcome this. I have always struggled with my faith and my time in Nashville was the first time I didn’t doubt it one bit. Something just clicked.

I prayed more than I ever have. Her surgeon told us that once you are on your back in despair, all you can do is look up and that is what we did.

Daily I prayed for God to bring Momma home to Paige, Peyton and Grace.

As the days slowly went by, things would change so quickly. She would take a step forward, and then a step back. Each time she took a step back, I knew that she would rebound and she did.

The days were long, and the nights sleepless. It was like I was watching a movie that repeated over and over. With each bit of bad news, I didn’t let it touch my faith in God or my belief in my Mother.

There are many things I have doubted in this world but I never doubted my Mom. I believed in her with all my heart.

The more days that we into it, it just strengthened my faith. I am not saying it was easy because it was the most difficult month of my life. There were times I felt like I was going crazy but I kept moving forward.

All these years our Momma took care of us and was our biggest Champion and now it was turn to return the favor. We stuck by her side, nothing was going to separate us.

When my Mom got the infection I created a prayer page on facebook. I knew the importance and power of prayer. I also realized this was our time to lift her up when she needed it the most. I was overwhelmed with countless number of people offering support, love and prayers. People from all over the country and the world, many who didn’t know any of us, prayed daily. This page was so much comfort during a very difficult time.

I had already become a huge fan of her surgeon and was completely in awe when he asked me if it would be okay if he prayed with me and my Mom. We stood by her bedside and he spoke with such strength it was humbling. He wasn’t just a surgeon by he was one of God’s healers.

Even her oncologist Dr. Eric Liu, who didn’t really have a medical role in this process, visited us daily for a month. They were so much of a comfort as well.

One of the resident thoracic doctors showed how much she cared by hugging my sister for over 10 minutes after the second surgery. The whole staff was so supportive and loving. They cared for my mom, like she was their own mom. That is who she was, she touched everyone she met. She had that much impact.

It was so humbling to see those who embraced the essence of who God and Jesus are. We encountered so many people in Nashville who let their lights shine so brilliantly, it liberated us as well.

For me that is what God is all about.

Even during our darkest moments, we knew that God had a plan. For a month we were caught up in a storm and I knew that all we had to do was hold on… That beyond all the lighting, thunder and clouds was beautiful sunshine. I knew that God would see us through this.

Nothing in this world prepares you for seeing your mother sick, nor does it prepare you for losing your Mom.

I am sure the doctors thought I was in denial but I wouldn’t allow anything to waiver my faith. Even when her lungs started to fail her, I didn’t give up hope of her getting better.

I was confident that God would not take my mother, after the month of torment we went through. It wasn’t until she passed that I realized that Momma and God were preparing us.

All these years I thought I had lost my spirituality, and all this time it was buried deep inside. I just need a jump start to get going again.

As tough and tragic as losing my Momma, this experience has changed me deeply.

Til her last breath, I didn’t lose my faith in her or God. Nor did my sister and I leave her side. We were devoted to her completely.

When it was time for her to go, I held her in my arms and I comforted her. When I came into this world she held me, and when she left his world I held her. Through it all I told her how beautiful and strong she was, and how much her family loved her. I told her it was okay to go home. When they took her breathing tube out, her lungs did not move. That not only proved to me how sick she was but that it was her time to go.

Granted it wasn’t the home I had envisioned but it was something even better. A place where she would no longer have chest tubes, nor would she have trouble breathing. A home filled with nothing but light and love. No more pain, no more sorrow and no more suffering. No more bronchitis, and no more pneumonia.

Someone recently said that our test would turn into a testimony, and I strongly believe that. My Momma gave her life, in order for me to believe again.

In her life, she didn’t always thing she was strong and she proved to everyone how strong she was. She lasted 31 days after two major surgeries, a severe bacterial infection that caused even her good lung to go bad.

I know some may think the surgery was not a success but I believe it was a triumph. She left this world Cancer free, which is what she wanted. She quit smoking after thirty years. Even after she almost died, she survived another 21 days. She wasn’t going to go out without all her might, and she fought hard but her body just couldn’t endure it anymore.

I won’t lie, I am devastated by this. I will miss her dearly. I had always dreamed of buying her a home and had hoped that she would find someone who loved her the way she deserved. Then I realized she already had everything she needed. She also proved to herself that she could make it in the world alone. After the divorce, at the age of 50, she got a job after haven’t ever been in the work place and got her own apartment. She got something more important than a love of a man, she got her freedom. While I couldn’t give her the material things, I gave her my love fully. I gave her what she needed, so did her family… One of her favorite songs was I get knocked down, but I get up again… and her life was a testament to that. No matter how many times she’d get knocked down, she would always get back up. She didn’t let this Cancer or the infection keep her down, and in the end she got back up by flying into the arms of her loved ones in heaven. She has proven that she is a warrior queen and I am so proud of her. I am comforted that during her 31 days in the hospital that she only had a few days of pain, she did not suffer. She left this world at peace and in rest. Granted she didn’t die from Cancer but those who die from Cancer don’t usually go through a lot of suffering and pain.

I have also have doubted my strength in the past, and now I no longer do thanks to my Mom. I’ve also come to realize that there are so many angels on this earth who are in regular clothing, that will help lift you up when you are down.

Of course I want more time but I have to thank what a blessing it has been to have her in my life for 36 years. There are some children who are not so fortunate. She has taught me so many things, and I am forever grateful that God chose her to be my Mother.

I feel her stronger now, than ever before. I see her in my sister, and in her grandbabies. I close my eyes and there she is. She is all around me.

She has always protected us, and now that she’s our guardian angel she can watch over us in ways she couldn’t before.

Now it is our turn to pass my Mother’s love onto others especially Paige, Peyton and Grace. She was a rare breed, one of a kind. Beautiful inside and out.

This journey to Nashville and back has taught me that how fragile life is, and to cherish every moment of it. To live fully.

It has reminded me the importance of one of my favorite quotes:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

 

That is what this experience has done for me, it has liberated me and allowed me to let my own light shine like my Momma did. So many others on this journey have given me the courage to do so, and most importantly my Momma. I have also realized how much of an impact I have on other people. Everyone I have met during the past few months have been mirrors, that has allowed me to see who I am.

I have also come to terms that this was my Mom’s time to pass away; it was all part of God’s plan. Looking back I have to wonder if somewhere deep inside Momma knew. I am also comforted to know that she had an amazing group of doctors who not only went the extra mile for her but helped her come to terms with her own mortality. Her doctors were just as devastated at her loss, as we were. In my heart I know that they did everything they could for my Mama.

I believe God brought us down to Nashville for a reason, and that was part of it. Ever since we first found out about Vanderbilt we have been seeing signs of that. Everything from seeing zebra prints in unusual place, which is the mascot for Carcinoid Cancer, to my sister getting her haircut by Lorretta Lynn’s grand-daughter, to having someone from a local church sending Mom a get well card where she stated that her nephew’s name was Derek Stephens as well. It is easy to ignore one or two signs, but a whole lot of them are impossible to ignore. Then there are times like having her surgeon pray with us, are what I call TKO signs. Sometimes they are whispers and sometimes they are roars. You just have to listen.

 

(This is one of those signs. We found this praying mantis on our front porch this evening. The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we’ve flooded our lives with so much business, activity, or chaos that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us because of the external din we’ve created.

A praying mantis appearing is a sign of Angelic protection.

The praying mantis shows the way. In the Arabic and Turkish cultures a mantis points pilgrims to Mecca, the holiest site in the Islamic world. In Africa it helps find lost sheep and goats. In France, it’s believed that if you are lost the mantis points the way home.

“Follow Mantis” means putting that core aspect of yourself, your foundation of Spirit, at the helm and let it direct your intellect and ultimately your life.

This praying mantis was my Mama telling me it was going to be okay.)

 

Last night as it was pouring rain, I stood outside and gazed up at the sky in awe. It has reminded me that even during the strongest of storms there is always rain, which nourishes the earth. Like the storm we all have endured the last past month, it has filled our lives with rain and like with Momma’s passing, today the storm has passed and the sky is nothing but blue skies and sunshine.

So I will live my life in honor and memory of my dear sweet Momma and I will embrace the gifts that God gave me. There will come a day where I will be able to turn around, and see all the beautiful peach trees that have grown in place of the seeds that I have planted and that will be a glorious day.

 

 

 

 

Riding a Roller Coaster Non-Stop

So just when you think that the ride has turned into a kiddie ride, you get thrown for a loop and there you go back flying fast.

It really is unsettling. There is no constants. What is worse when your car starts to go on an incline. Of course the ride is always constantly in the dark, so you can’t see what is going to happen next. You can hear the click clack of the track and you get excited from the thrill of being on top. Each time it takes you higher and you don’t think about the drop that is ahead…

That is what happened the last few days and has been a reoccuring process the past month since my Mom was hospitalized…

Last night I saw oxygen stats that I had never seen before, in the high 90s. Everyone was thrilled. I must admit I was jumping for joy on the inside. The hospital staff was as well excited and decided to take her oxygen support to 80%…

This was great news in a sea of uncertaintly but I must admit I was a bit nervous. My Mom had also leveled out in regards to her condition and I got comfortable with that. This news certainly added to that.

This morning I wake up and my Mom’s blood pressure was the lowest it had ever been. They also were not able to get it higher with medicine. If that didn’t get me in panic mode, what happened next did…

In a matter of minutes, the room was full of Fellows, Residents, Nurses and Respitory Staff. There were people coming in to do xrays, another to do an ekg and they were performing a eco on her heart as well.

Up until this point, the ride was at the point where you feel that brief moment of loss of gravity as your car is about to plummet down that steep hill and 100mph. Where you know what is about to happen, as you dangle off the track like your holding with all might to edge of the cliff.

After doing the xray in the room, they right away saw that my Mom’s top left lung (the good lung) had collapsed.

Then the car plummets straight down down to the point where you lose your breath but unlike a true coaster this time lasts longer than seconds. You just keep dropping like your falling from the sky. You just know you are going to splat onto the ground…

Within moments I had to leave the room as they needed to cut my Mom open right there in the room to insert a chest tube inside her left lung cavity. It felt like I was on a television show, and I was watching it unfold right in front of my eyes.

I felt helpless and again I was waiting in the unknown. I was in limbo. I had no idea what was involved in the procedure or how serious it was. I knew that a collapsed lung in my Mom’s condition was very serious, that alone scared me senseless.

The next thrity minutes felt like an eternity. I was ready to check out. Again I was in a moment of shock. How did this happen? It was so quick.

At the moment where I didn’t think I could take anymore, I just closed my eyes and prayed. I repeated the same words over and over… Please God make my momma okay… Please God make my momma okay… I think I said it a hundred times.

Then a calm came over me, and I knew it would be okay.

Another 15 minutes or so passed and one of the resident doctors came out to talk to me. She explained that they were able to get the chest tube in and that her blood pressure was back to normal, and she was stable.

I was relieved. So relieved.

I go back into the room and I had a hundred questions, which I don’t think the nurse was ready for.

It appears that the reason for the collapse of my Mom’s good lung is related to the ARDS and the fact that she is on full support from the respirator. Since the chest tube was put into place, her lung has already started to reinflate but it will take time.

Sadly due to the colapsed lung her oxygen has dropped to the low 80s. Which is scary. It felt like another blow. That is where the ride picks back up and you go through some other hills and turns.

It was just too much to take and I needed some relief. So I laid down and slept for three hours.

This complication today got me thinking about the Devil. I was raised Southern Baptist. My father put the fear of not only Satan but God as well… They became on in the same in a way. I can’t begin to say what I believe in when it comes to the Devil. I went through a period where I didn’t believe a devil existed and I think that was my way of protecting myself from something so scary and evil.

My father enstilled this unhealthy fear of God, Jesus and the Devil, that it became a phobia. I have since learned to overcome this in regards to God and Jesus, though I still struggle with it.

I have started to equate the devil with negative thoughts or behaviors. I have certainly had negative thoughts come at me, or what I thought were my own thoughts.

I am not saying I believe in the devil but I put a face to the negativity. It has helped me fight away the negativity.

I don’t care what the Devil presents to me, I won’t believe it. I won’t let anything get to my core and my beliefs.

That is stronger than the Devil or anything else in this world.

Light will always conquer the darkness. My Mom, Sister and I are filled full of that bright light. So when I am faced with something scary, I am going to shine my light on it. The shadows don’t stand a chance…

This whole experience has me thinking… What my sister and I have gone through this month, shows how strong we are. Granted we are stressed but we are still standing. We are a lot stronger than any of us expected.

We are who we are today because of our Mom, we are a direct extention of her and her love.

So if we are able to get through this, she will get through this.

She is the strongest person I know. She also has the light of God in her heart. That is pure and stronger than anything else in this world and beyond.

This is just another hurdle for her to clear, and she will with flying colors.

We just have to continue to hold on…

It will get better and all three of us will be stronger for it.

Individually we are stronger than most people in this world but when we are together, nothing is able to break apart that bond.

NOTHING!!!!!!

Hope is alive and well…

So I have had a rather rough week… Actually a rather rough month but this past week has tested everything in me.

I have been a wall for so long… I had fought some strong negative forces prior to last Saturday but I wouldn’t let anything get through my wall.

I am not sure what happened but Saturday I woke up and I felt incredibly depressed. The faith I found (reconnected with deep inside) could not be felt. I had certainly felt very disconnected since my Mom has been in the hospital but this was the first time since I had connected to my faith, that I couldn’t feel it. I was heartbroken and troubled, wondering where did it go to?

I guess things caught up to me and it all hit me at once, the severity of the situation. I hadn’t had a chance to catch up to my feelings about my Mom’s condition. Now I just felt like a cement truck had just ran over me.

I felt so trapped and helpless. I just wanted to sleep and that is what I did for a couple of days. I slept more hours of the day, than hours awake. I was overwhelmed and there seemed to be no relief in sight.

I didn’t want to leave my mothers room and I fought hard when my sister tried to push me to get out.

I felt so negative. So far away anything good. I couldn’t dig through the muck because it was suffocating me.

Though I felt very depressed, I never gave up believing. Deep down inside I still had it. It just got very foggy. Add to that everything I am going through, it easy to lose sight of what is important.

The one thing (among many others) that this experience with my Mom has reminded me, that I am not alone. It also reminded me that I can’t do this alone. I think a big part of spirituality is connecting with others. I have also learned that there are many wonderful caring people out there. Meeting someone who has God in their heart helps mirror what I have inside. It is easy to lose sight of your gifts but it is more difficult to do so when you meet someone like you. Having a person like that in your life, you can’t help but let it open up your mind and heart.

This week also reminded me of what I have been fighting all my life. During various periods of my life where I struggled with my past, it never dawned on me that my spirituality wasn’t still there. I just thought since I couldn’t feel it, that it went away… Not only did it go away but I was unworthy of it. When you feel like you are unworthy of God’s love, how could you be happy?

My Mom’s illness and recovery, has also reminded me of my own experience. As much as wish we could rush the healing process, things have a natural way of working themselves out. Sure you hold the key to your recovery, and sometimes there are others who you need to help you along with the healing. Like the Doctors in my Mom’s case.

There is no switch or easy way out. Even if there was, you would miss out on a lot of life experiences. A wise woman once told me, it is like attaching a cocoon to a stick, and then trying to whip it around to force the butterfly out. By doing so, you not only will miss out on the experience but you will kill the butterfly in the process. I have learned sometimes you just have to be patient, ,which I really struggle with. It is what I call the “holding on” phase. That is currently what we are doing with my Mom, and that is what she’s exactly doing as well!

Having hope is key, without it everything is a lot more difficult and dark. Sometimes you need others to show you the light. During some of my darkest moments in life my nieces and nephew were my lighthouses. Their light offered me not only comfort and protection, but they also guided me out of the darkness.

While I am no longer in such darkness, it still tries to surface. I am thankful now carry my own flashlight that I can defend off any attacks.

Though it doesn’t always seem like it, hope is everywhere. You just have to know where to look.

Hope is in the laughter of a child. It is also in the kindness of a stranger. Hope is in the triumph of getting through a difficult time.

Hope is not giving up, believing in faith even when the odds tell you differently.

Hope is faith.

Love is the hand of god.

All this time I thought God had abandon me, when all this time God was deep within me. I just let the world alter who I was.

As tough it was to go through various events in my life, like the sexual abuse, they prepared me for today. I won’t lie this is extremely difficult. There are times I feel like I am going crazy, mostly stir crazy. I am stressed, overwhelmed and tired. There is one word I can say without any doubt that I am not, and that is weak!

I strongly believe in God, my Mother and Hope…

and there is NOTHING that will take that away from me.

NOTHING!!!!

Our journey in this life is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes you will need or want to walk, then sometimes you need to take a break. While other times you will need to run. It is not how fast you get to the finish, it is just getting there. Life is about the experiences, they not only enrich our lives but they mold us into who we are today. Being first may win you a medal, but you will have passed all the wonderfulness that the path had to offer.

Signs…

It is easy to ignore a whisper, a gentle wind that whistles in your ear…

Now when it is a gust of wind that knocks you to the ground, you can’t help but take notice.

Sometimes signs are not that obvious, while other times they are as obvious as being right in front of your face with all the bells and whistles going off.

Then there are times when you get subtle signs during a period of time. You might be quick to ignore one sign but if you are presented with a bunch of signs, you have to take notice.

Signs have a way of letting you know that you are either on the right track or that you need to do something.

Sometimes the signs are quiet, like a whisper. If you are meant to hear it and you try to pass it by, it will present itself more loud and clear. I like to call it a TKO sign. It is kind of like a train whistle, the closer the engine gets to you, the louder the horn.

During my mom’s healing journey to Nashville, TN to get treated for Carcinoid Cancer, there have been so many signs that I can’t even count them all.

I have come to learn the importance of opening my mind and ears to the universe and the signs they bring me. There has been little signs like random zebra strip sightings, from a pen that a nurse reluctantly let me borrow. When I asked if she knew the signifance of the zebra strip, she didn’t have any idea. Then there was this time I picked up an individual pack of donuts for my sister, not realizing that it had a zebra print on it. Zebra prints keep popping up in very non usual places.

The universe has also provided for us as well. During the first couple trips to see the Doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center we were fortunate to have the Hope Lodge that offers families affected by Cancer free lodging. While my Mom has been in the hospital we have been fortunate to stay at a hospitality house that a church owns. Without these places we would not been able to afford it, and I am forever grateful that these places exist.

The whole experience at Vanderbilt has me believing that God brought us down here. Patients who have Carcinoid Cancer typically get the run around when it comes to treatment. My mom was no different. The tumor was blocking her airway to her right lung by 75% and it was causing her to get bronchitis and pneumonia often. Something had to be done but we were getting no where in Michigan.

My sister started to do some research and found this Carcinoid website. Through other survivors she heard about a doctor who specializes in Carcinoid Cancer in Nashville, Tennessee. I can remember my sister and I telling my Mom that we would do whatever was possible for her to get better. Even if that meant driving nine hours.

We took a leap of faith and we drove the nine hours to Nashville, Tennessee. For the first time in three months not only did we have a treatment plan but we found a doctor who treated my mom like a person and not her illness. He told my mom that she would not die from this tumor and that it was treatable.

Now the place we are at today with my Mom, is unfortunate and not what we expected. It is easy to ask why? and question the choices we made? Trust me the thoughts have went through my head at one point in time. Part of me just wanted to go back to Michigan and pretend none of this would have ever happened but then again she would continue to have complications from the location of the tumor, that could have lead to death.

That is when we started to see more signs confirming we made the right decision to come to Nashville.

One TKO sign was when the surgeon who performed the lobectomy to remove the tumor. When things were at their most unknown, he asked me my thoughts on prayer and if it would be okay if he prayed with me and my mom. I knew the importance and significance of him doing that. He prayed, out loud, at my mom’s bedside. I was in awe of a humble servant (angel) of God.

I don’t believe people just happen to appear in your life, they come into your life for a reason. God brought Dr. Grogan to heal her.

Originally another hospital had thought one of her lymph nodes was positive for cancer but after the surgery it was confirmed that it wasn’t the case. All of the lymph nodes in the area were negative. The tumor was the only thing cancerous. After a biopsy of the tumor it was discovered the progression rate of the Cancer was less than 1%, which means the chances of it returning are very rare. After Dr. Grogran removed her tumor, she was Cancer free. That itself is a TKO sign!

Speaking of angels like Dr. Grogan. I have also been reminded of the true message of God and Jesus. Healing, Service and Love. Encountering people like Dr. Grogan reminds me that there are many humans on this earth who are angels.

Another angel that was brought into our world was Mom’s oncologist, Dr. Liu. He has become not only my Mom’s cheerleader but me and my sister’s as well. Even though he really does not have a role in the surgery and hospital stay of my mother, he has came to visit us almost every day. He has been a huge emotional support for us.

Being surrounded by those who embrace and embody the light and love of Jesus, is not only remarkable but infectious as well. It has liberated me to do so as well.

Dr. Liu and Dr. Grogan didn’t just happen to cross our paths, we were guided to them or them to us.

The choice to drive so far away from home, has been tough. Especially since my Mom has had complications. The closest relative is my Aunt, who lives a couple hours away. To have the support of Dr. Liu as been of comfort.

Another sign is a preacher and his wife, that we come to know. They had heard about my Mom from a friend of a friend of my sisters. Even though they didn’t know any of us, they came to pray with my us. Their presence has been of such comfort to my sister and I. They have became familiar faces, in a very unfamiliar town. Their love and warmth has filled our hearts. They have been to visit my Mom numerous times. Even another family from their church came by on Sunday.

In addition to these angels, my sister has became friends with a couple angels as well. Two in particular have been so supportive and loving. In a world full of turmoil it is such an impact to see such compassion and kindness, especially from people you have never met. I have come to know one of these angels that my sister has befriended and she is beautiful in every sense of the word.

Not to mention the 250 plus people who have liked and seen the prayer page on Facebook for my mom. So many people, many of them I don’t even know, praying for my family. It has renewed my faith in the universe. I wonder if they realize how much of an impact they have had on our lives? During some very dark and scary moments, just having that page was so much of a comfort.

How could you not see that this is all due to the glory of God? and if you are reading this, and are not religious… that is okay. I am not really religious either but I am deeply spiritual. For me, it is what is behind the name. I have come to learn that God to me is love and humanity.

My mom is not the only one being healed on this journey because I am as well.

I have come to realize that my faith is stronger than ever. My heart is pure and my spirit is alive. I am a child of God and I was put here to shine. I have also realized that even during the toughest times, I am never alone.

All of these signs have just confirmed and strengthened my faith, and my beliefs.

God brought us to Nashville for a reason.

All these signs add up to my Mom having a full recovery and returning home to her grand-babies. Our test will be turned into a testimony.

There is nothing that will topple my faith or my belief in my Mom’s recovery. No amount of negativity will make me crumble. My faith is deeply planted in the earth. There is nothing that will ever be able to unroot me, ever again. Everything I have ever been through has prepared me for this path I am on today. Granted it isn’t easy, but no one ever said life is.

It is our experiences and the people we meet that help us grow into the people we are today.

Signs help us grow and gain confidence. I think in a way it is how God speaks to us. I might not have always listened or even ignored them, but I am learning that signs are gifts that are meant to be treasured.