Monday, May 6, 2013

Taking comfort from the mouths of babes

On Thursday, the boys and I drove to PA to be with my husband at his mother's bedside.  We took our time getting there, stopping for 2 hours at New Market Battlefield in Virginia.  Battlefields and museums of war do not excite me, but my children read a book that took place there and have been begging to visit.  I enjoyed the homestead that was there - the 19th century Bushong Farm - as well as the mile-long walk through the battlefield.  Donald, of course, started to complain, but Jason, wonderful big brother that he is, offered to carry him.

When we finally made it to my mother-in-law's house, I was shocked at the difference in just a few short weeks.  She could no longer speak or move more than her head and hands.  Her breathing was labored and she only opened her eyes for short periods of time.  I could tell the end was near.  She died surrounded by loved ones on Saturday afternoon.

My heart is broken -

for my husband and his sister who lost a mother who was always there to help in any way she could,

for my children who lost a generous, patient and loving grandmother,

for Adam's grandmother, who will bury her firstborn child just days before she herself celebrates her 94th birthday,

for her best friend of over 40 years,

for her entire extended family for whom she was the rock, the foundation, the voice of reason and the beacon of hope,

and for myself, as she was as much a friend as a mother-in-law.

But my 10-year-old, Jason, who sat with her on her bed, holding her hand and breathing with her for most of her last two days, telling her over and over that he loved her, reminded me that "she doesn't have cancer anymore."  She is no longer in pain, and for that, I am grateful.

Snapshots of this weekend are seared into my heart:

Jason being sent to bed on Friday night, and him kissing his grandmom and saying, "I gotta go now, Grandma.  I love you.  Goodbye."  He didn't see because he was walking out the door, but her lips trembled and tears leaked from her closed eyes.  I know that she heard him.

The keening wail that my sister-in-law released when her mother took her last breath.  She has been by her side, caring for her day and night, for months.  This is not going to be an easy transition for her.

Walking around the neighborhood with my husband on the incongruously beautiful day that she died, stopping in the middle of the street and holding him when he couldn't be strong anymore.

The surprised sob that escaped me when I started the car just half an hour after she died on my way to take the kids for an outing so they could escape some of the pain in the house for a while, and the first words I heard on the radio were from Sarah McLachlan "'re in the arms of the angel, may you find some comfort here..."
Jason and his grandmom - summer 2012
The night before we got married - May 2000
Our last vacation together - Bermuda, August 2012
My favorite photo of her of all time!


The Cozy Quilter said...

What wonderful memories you all have to comfort you! My FIL just died three weeks ago and it is still very fresh. We miss him like crazy. There are things I still want to talk to him About but can't. May God comfort all of you Nd bring you peace.

andsewon said...

My deepest condolences to you and your sweet family. Losing a dear Mama is so very hard.

Becky said...

Awwww, I am so sorry for all of you, but happy for her. Heaven is rejoicing and she is free from pain. Big hugs to all, this isn't an easy transition at all. My MIL was a special lady too and I loved her very much. I'll be keeping you and your fellas in my prayers. Love you.

Loris said...

Hold onto those sweet memories till you are together again. Your sons are just sweet love in the flesh.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I hold you and your family in my cyber arms.

quiltfool said...

My thoughts are with you. I've never been there when someone was born, but I've held the hands of several while they took a last breath. It is an important time to be there with someone. Be well and be strong and when you're ready, take care of yourself. Lane

Michelle said...

What a beautiful tribute to beautiful person.
Hugs to you all,

Pam said...

All that I can say is that the pain does soften with time. You and yours are in my prayers.

Wacky Woman said...

You wonderful memories will help you during this most difficult time. She sounds like a wonderful soul. Big hugs going your way.

Julie Fukuda said...

Your Mother in law has left behind a great legacy in her children and grand children. My prayers go out to you all.

Karen H said...

I am so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful person. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Auntie Em said...

I'm so sorry for your loss of your mother-in-law. She sounds like a wonderful person who will be remembered always.

Char said...

I'm so sorry Erin your family is in my prayers.
It's so wonderful that you have such lovely memories of the times you spent together. The love you shared is evident in the pictures.

Marls said...

What a beautiful tribute. Although hard, how special that you were all able to be there for her as she passed.
Sending you all cyber hugs.

Moneik said...

What amazing words and a tribute to the woman your mother in law was and always will be in your hearts. Losing someone is never easy, but knowing she is free of the pain of cancer makes it easier to find comfort. Thinking of you and your family as you celebrate her life and remember her in the days ahead.

Anonymous said...

In the first days of your grief, you found beautiful words. I hope sharing your pain, writing it down, and receiving kind thoughts and compassion from strangers and friends is some comfort in these dark days. I do so feel for your boys, your husband, and you and will keep you all in my thoughts. Grief comes in waves, but as others have written it does get better. Give yourself time, and then quilt it out. xx JJ

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Hold onto what your son said, that she isn't in pain anymore. That is what got me thru my father's death. So sorry for your loss, and your families loss. Keep her alive in your son's memories.

terry ellis said...

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your wonderful mother-in-law. She is now without pain but she will always be with you. Just talk to her and she will hear you. May you and your family find comfort in your wonderful loving memories of her.

Carla said...

A very moving post. I am so sorry for your loss
May you and your family find strength and love in the love that surrounds you.

Kim said...

So sorry for your loss,,, aren't you glad you did that vacation last August? Your boys are going to be such fine husbands and Daddies.

Best wishes on your new are a brave girl!

Thinking of you and yours