Happy to be Sad (The end) From Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power, and welcome back to the “Happy to be Sad” series. Grab your coffee and a few tissues and come on in. It’s the final blog in this series and a bit long, so get comfy.

So I’m sitting there, reeling from the reality of the just-pronounced death sentence for my mom, thinking about hospice and within a few minutes, I reached a decision and I knew in my heart it was the right one.

I called my brother Steven first, and told him everything Ty had relayed to me and then I just blurted out my plan: “I’m bringing her home with me. She is not going to die in some home, alone.” I could hear my brother let out a big sigh. “Are you sure, Kim?” “Yes, I’m very sure. I never want her to feel lonely again,” I sobbed. “Do you realize that Mom’s going to die in your” – I didn’t let him finish. “Yes, and I don’t care. I’ll deal with that when it happens. What matters is that when it does happen, that she’s not alone.”

We talked for a few more minutes and then I asked him to call Patrick for me and I was going to call Karen to give her the news, which I did. She took it pretty calmly, and told me she was planning on coming up for the weekend and bringing Anna, her daughter. That made my heart smile because I hadn’t seen my niece in a long time.

After I talked with Karen, I called my husband and through my sobs, I told him the news about Mom and told him I needed him to come home and drive me to see her. “I’ll be right there, baby.” His tenderness made me cry harder. Then I got a phone call from a hospice company – I can’t for the life of me remember their name right now — and we agreed to meet at Foothill Nursing at 2:30 to discuss mom coming home with me and the care that they would provide.

I lay there and sobbed until the phone rang again, and then I got up and paced in the kitchen while I spoke with my brother Patrick who was alarmed and asking questions. I called my BFF and another one of my book team members and told them what was going on. I was drained and didn’t think I had any more tears left to cry, until my husband walked in and I blurted out that I wanted my mom to come home with us; that I couldn’t let her die alone. He agreed without batting an eye. He held me for a while before going upstairs to get cleaned up before taking us back to see Mom. I was at peace with the decision and actually looking on the bright side of having that time with her. We had no idea how we were going to do it, where we would put her, but we knew we’d make it work.

We were getting in the truck when we got another phone call. It was Ty, again! “Kim, are you on your way down?” “Yes, we’re just leaving now as a matter of fact.” “Okay. Good because your mom’s not going to make it through the night.” I can’t even begin to describe how my world stopped, but it did and I almost forgot to breathe. “What are you talking about?” I screamed. First I have to wrap my head around three to six months, now you’re telling me three to six hours? I wanted to scream it at her but I didn’t. “I don’t understand. What happened?” “These things are hard to predict, Kim. She’s taken a turn for the worst and she’s leaving us so try and get here as fast as you can.” “I will,” I sobbed, “and, Ty, please, tell her I’m on my way. She has to wait until after I get there.”

The drive down there was filled with phone calls first to my brothers and George called my sister. Then I called my BFF and told her about the latest twist, and asked her to please have the team pray for me, for us. I was completely in a daze and don’t even remember waiting for George once we pulled into the parking lot. I took off and ran to the elevator, oblivious of anything and anyone else. When I walked into the room, death was hovering over her. I ran to the bed where she lay with her mouth wide open, and she looked as if she had already gone. “Mom,” I cried, “Mom, tell me I’m going to see you again. You have to tell me I’m going to see you again in heaven.” Nothing, no movement, no sound, nothing. I then began to sob and she woke up and focused in on me and smiled. I stopped crying. “Hi, Mom, I’m here and look who we brought” Up until then, I had forgotten that our four-legged kids had come with us and they began gathering around her. Mom smiled. She always loved seeing Sparky and Baraka.

I went to grab a chair and George moved over to where I had been and sat on the bed with her and Sparky and Baraka who were trying to get comfortable, one at her feet and the other on her tummy. She smiled at them. I turned my back to move my purse and grab the chair at the same time I heard George say, “Shirley, do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior?” I turned just in time to see her face light up in a smile and she said, “Yes,” and let the “s” linger. George broke down in sobs and I moved over to the bed on the other side. George looked up at me and said very quietly, “She’s not gonna be here much longer, baby. You better call your brothers.”

I called and got Steve on the phone and whispered that she was going and he needed to talk to her. I turned toward Mom and told her he was on the line. She came back to us for a minute to say hi to him. Steve’s emotions could be heard over the phone. “I love you, Mom.” His voice cracked. “I love you, too,” she said. Steve’s sobs were her answer and she dozed off again. A few minutes later, I got my little brother on the phone. He was driving from Las Vegas and had been driving for only about an hour. I told him what I had told Steve, and when I told Mom that Pat was on the phone, she said, “Oh, my baby boy” with such a sweet smile. He told her he loved her and she reciprocated and lay back down. I told my brother to hurry and I said good-bye. George and I prayed with her and for her then.

I lay down beside her, my arm hovering over her head on the pillow and our four-legged kids. Sparky kept going up to her and giving her his Sparky specialty, long puppy kisses all over her face. It was getting a bit crowded in the bed so I moved off the side and sat with George beside her. Her next words stunned me. I have never, ever, in 49 years ever heard her say the word “blessed,” and this is how she said it. She was looking right into George, and she said, “How did I get so blessed to have you both here? And to have both of the puppies here, I’m so blessed.” I let the tears fall as she faded out again and I moved back over beside her.

I don’t know how much time passed before she started getting restless, so I moved again. George had taken the kids outside for a potty break so I moved to where he had been sitting. I didn’t know if she was awake but I said, “Mom, you will never be lonely again.” I let the comment linger. “I love you,” and she startled me when she woke up and had the sweetest smile wash over her face, and said, “I love you more,” and laid her head back down on the pillow and closed her eyes.

The tears were flowing now. I don’t even know if she knew that Jeffery and I always have that little “I love you more, most” thing going on, but when she said it, it rocked my world and filled my heart up so much I thought it would burst from the mixed emotions.

She never came back again. She was breathing, but laboring to do so. When my son walked in, he was stunned and I don’t think he will ever forget how she looked. He had seen her just a few days prior and the difference really rocked his world. Shortly after my son left, my sister and my niece made it there. Then my BFF came, and then my step-son stopped by and stayed for a while. The staff at Foothill were amazingly compassionate, longsuffering, and the real miracle of it all is there were two RN’s who cried at her bedside when she passed from this life into eternity and just two weeks prior, whenever you said the name Shirley Bowers, everyone pretty much rolled their eyes as if to say, oh, that one!

The rest is pretty much as I said a couple of weeks ago. Her last three breaths were sort of like small gasp-like breaths, and then she was gone. Seven minutes after she passed, my brother, his wife and daughter walked in. I’m thankful that my brother had been able to say good-bye, sort of, on the phone.

I know I’ve kept you for a while, but I have just a couple more things to share that I have realized. God’s grace is painted all over this two-week canvas. He allowed her to fall to sober her up so she could choose Him while of sober mind.

Another amazing thing He did is He allowed her to die with dignity. He gave her a clean liver test a week before she died, and now her death certificate will not read that she died of alcoholism. She may have been a victim all of her life, but my unlovable mom became lovable and died a victor and Jesus gets the victory! I miss you, Mom, more than I ever thought possible, and I’m so happy to be sad!

Thanks for staying a little longer today.


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2 Responses to “Happy to be Sad (The end) From Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power”

  1. Gail says:

    Wow, what an incredible testimony. I am so glad you journal so you can put it down into words for all of us to read. Since I went back to work, I have missed reading, and today was the perfect day to read this series. Our God is so awesome and faithful, and through His promises, your mom is with Him right now. Love and miss you my friend.

  2. Tasha Iturbide says:

    I’d just like to say i love this site so much!!! thhanks for it all