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!