Updated: Apr 16, 2022
This is a very personal blog post. Please bear with me - as this is the best way to share this across several social platforms - and because I need to share my heart.
A week ago yesterday, after lots of discussion and affirmation, I hopped on the Wonder of the Seas with my friend Cindy. Jim always says she is my "ride or die" BFF and boy, she was this week. My Mom was in the hospital a month ago followed by a 2 week stint in rehab to get her strength. Anyone who was near would see her decline one day and bounce back the next, so we knew time was waning. Mom encouraged me to go on the girls trip Cindy and I had been planning - one we both desparately needed - to relax, nap and have some great girl time.
We had all kinds of plans for FB lives, other videos we could make and just being silly - as the pink boas and fedoras might hint at. I talked to Mom Friday afternoon on a hospice planning call and all indication was she would be around for at least a few weeks. However, early Saturday morning Mom's heart quit beating. She got her wish and was at home - and she was surrounded by love.
To say I was stunned would be putting it mildly! She sounded good and I promised we'd make Easter bread when I got home. I really thought we would too. Cindy sat up with me til 5 am - talking, hugging, sharing and shedding some tears. We had brunch reservations that day and told Mom we were taking her with us virtually. She loved cruises and food and we were going to share both with her. The only way I knew to even begin to both grieve and celebrate the woman I love so much was to still take her to brunch with us.
Sometimes, you go back to certain resorts or cruise lines because you know them and have a level of comfort. One would always hope to find good people at both. And sometimes, the people who work on the cruise ship (in my case) go above and beyond to help a grieving daughter. The crew at the Mason Jar did just that. Maybe it's because they spend months at a time away from their families and they understand more than I could at that moment. No matter why, they were my heroes last Saturday.
Our reservation for two became one for three. I found a picture of Mom with a peach bellini from our last outing to Olive Garden. Mom had her own place setting, her water and "phone Carole" as I called her all week, had her peach bellini. We stacked pillows up on a chair, gave her a napkin and set the phone up so she was seated with us. Then we ordered food! We wanted to try it all so we ordered a lot, under the guise of "Mom needs food too"! (A blog on the amazing food is coming soon...)
We had a picture taken of Cindy, Mom and me toasting. We took pictures of Mom with me and the menu; with a cinnamon roll she would have loved and in front of the Elvis stuffed french toast. It might seem silly and crazy and it probably was. But in that moment, sitting on a ship on its way to Roatan, so far from everyone I wanted to hug, it was the one way I could hold Mom close. And my wonderful friend encouraged every silly idea, understanding that tears and mourning would come soon enough.
Here are some of the life lessons I was reminded of last Saturday:
Love doesn't die when the heart does - especially a parents love.
Even in the worst of circumstances, you can make priceless memories.
You can choose find joy in your pain.
More times than not, people will come through for you if you give them the chance.
Everyone needs "that friend" who will be there no matter what.
I was blessed to have the Mom I did - and our family was blessed with the eighteen months we were a four-generation home.
It's been a week since Mom died. Because of Holy Week and family coming to town (including me), we will bury her soon. She would want us to remember the cruises we took together. She would want us to remember the laughter and the teasing. She told us multiple times a day we were loved and we echoed it back to her at least as much.
We are going to celebrate this special lady over the next few days. We'll celebrate her birthday in June with her favorite cake. We'll tell stories. We'll laugh and we will cry. We will be there for each other because Mom was always there for us and taught us well.
We ask your patience if we are slow in our responses this week. And we ask you to tell the people in your lives that you love them - and please, make those memories. It's not a slogan. It is our belief! Those memories are the things that last.