On this day a year ago, it was my second day off in a row. I was out running routine errands. My mom had an appointment scheduled with her oncologist that day. Sort of a routine checkup after radiation, and sort of to talk about some concerns. I was waiting for a call from mom, as I usually did after one of her dr. appointments. I was in line at WalMart and my phone rang....dad's cell phone. Immediately I picked up, anxiously awaiting mom's voice of what her doctor had said. Only it was my dad on the phone, and it was so hard to understand him through all the emotion.
"Rachael, we have a real problem. Mom can't speak or write. ".....silence.... "ok, dad, I'll be right there." and that was about the extent of the conversation. Between phone calls to my sister-piecing together what she knew and what I knew-and call to Michael that I was headed straight to the hospital-I drove over the speed limit to get to my mom and dad's side as fast as possible. I was very confused and scared as to what was happening. All I knew was that morning, Novemeber 5, mom woke up and couldn't talk at all. And at the dr. office as they discovered this more, she couldn't write either.
As Becky and I both arrived at Good Samaritan North, where mom was being treated, we sat by mom's side and got the story from dad. Really, we weren't all supposed to be there, but the nurses were quite kind. All we knew was that something was happening and it hadn't been a stroke. We were waiting as mom was going in for an MRI immediately. Meanwhile, we played phone tag with Tim and STeve to get them the story of what was happening. Soon Michael arrived. We could do nothing but wait, so we went to Steak N Shake for lunch. Seems a strange thing to do, but we did. After mom's MRI, I can't remember if we saw her oncologist or not. But I do remember going down to the radiologist's office. We all squeezed in there. There were 7 of us, including the radiologist. But we were supporting one another. Here we found out mom had 3 new tumors-2 on the brain, 1 on the skull. That is what caused mom to not be able to speak or write. They gave mom a radiation treatment then and would proceed to give several more and then determine from there. But the radiation should shrink the tumor so she should regain some of the speech and writing skill. We asked a lot of questions and took in all the information. We were all exhausted from tears, fears, praying, learning, and being in a hospital environment all day. Finally, the radiologist said there wasn't much more we could do that day....just to proceed as we were and just get her to the hospital if there were more dramatic changes. Meanswhile, Steve was on his way home.
Together, Michael and I decided I'd stay the night out at the farm. It had been a very long day ....I drove home and grabbed some clothes and ordered pizza to pick up for dinner on the way to mom and dad's. Mom was a very loved woman and news traveled fast....when I arrived at the farm, a good friend of mom's, who had just had her own mom's funeral that day, was at the farm bringing food! Now that is the love of Christ shining through. Anyhow, all food was brought in and after talking a few minutes and praying together, they left and dad and I (and Elizabeth, as she was staying the night with me) sat down to eat, weary after a very long, emotional day. We had no idea what to expect. It was very scary. And so hard to understand ....we'd never been a position of mom not being able to communicate her needs. I cannot remember at what point Steve showed up in the night...but he arrived and it was so good to have my big brother home. I slept fitfully that night-partially due to not my own bed, but more so due to worry . The next morning, Saturday, November 6, Michael came out to the farm early to make breakfast for everyone. As he cooked and Becky and all her family arrived, I helped mom get up. It was hard not knowing totally what she needed. We had to figure out ways to communicate like we never had before. She was unsteady, but she got out to the breakfast table ok. As we sat down to eat, it was noticeable that her functions were slightly worse that morning. Fast forward about 30 minutes....dad and me and ....I can't remember who else was with us...were in the back talking. We were called out in an emergency fashion. Mom was having a seizure.
Part of me hates reliving this. And sharing it here is a hesitation I have. But it's part of the process....walking through the events kind of again. It's sort of natural. I heard a quote today....it was "LIfe is a journey-not so much the destination, but the transformation..." And i realized how true that rang for me,e ven on this specific day. To see what God is doing in me through this journey of grief. He is transforming me...I see things in such a different light. But as I do that, I still have to get through these yearly milestones.
But back to a year ago. The ambulance was called, paramedics came, mom had come back to a non seizure form . Michael got the kids off to our best friends' house, BEcky, Steve, and I all piled into Steves car and we sped off to the hospital. None of us knew what to expect or what was happening or what would be to come in the next days, let alone months. Friends piled into the hospital little by little. The love of Christ was surrounding us. It was only by that and by Him that we got through that day..and the days ahead. Mom was admitted, and they kept her there for a few days. TEsts were run, meds were given, explanations were spoken and countless hours were spent beginning a new understanding of what was happening. Cancer was spreading. But mom was amazing through all this....determination shone through. Faith was evident. The months to come would be difficult, but we'd take them one day at a time. It was this time last y ear that I really began to understand and embrace one day at a time.....
Mom taught me that.
I don't want to end this post on a sober note. Yes, a year ago this day was very very hard for me. And today I remember it quite vividly. But I also mean this when I say it....I rejoice that my mom now has no pain. Shoot, I envy that she gets to be in heaven. But I will see her healthy again one day, and that is just one reason to keep smiling through the tears. And keep plugging through this first unknown year of a new normal. Some days that is hard to embrace....but I'm learning to. Because, as I said, it's not the destination, it's the transformation. And somehow, losing mom is a new transforming experience, albeit painful at times. But one day at a time, I begin to see Him in new ways.
"The Biblical view is that waiting is not so much about when I will get what I'm waiting for, but WHAT I WILL BECOME as I wait." Dr. Paul David Tripp