So Much to Say

In the hours that I’ve spent at Craig’s mother’s bedside, I have found it difficult to be silent.

She alternates between moments of alertness, making eye contact and nodding in response to questions, and moments of unconsciousness. She is in there still…and she is trapped. You can see that she has much that she’d like to say, but she cannot speak.

So I talk to her and for her. I talk about her grandchildren, her sons, her friends. I retell stories that she has shared with me–stories of her youth.

I continually ask her if she wants me to talk and she always nods yes.

But, I can’t help but wonder if she’d appreciate it if I was just silent for a bit, or maybe if I would just slow down and let the memories wash over her, like warm sunshine on her face.

I find myself going on and on, afraid of the silences, afraid to waste one precious minute of the time that we have left, afraid that she will go and I will have some little thing that I want to share with her.

I tell her that I am eternally grateful for her son. I tell her that he is strong and true. Patient and handsome. Loyal and tender. (She knows all these things, but I tell her all the same.)

I tell her that Katie grows more confident every day and that she loves gymnastics.

I tell her that Matthew has turned into an impossibly happy baby and that he adores his sister.

I tell her how her granddaughter Keelin has an eclectic spirit that illuminates any room.

I tell her how her grandson Zai is turning into such a fine young man, intelligent and kind, silly and serious.

I don’t tell her that I am scared that I wont know how to help her son when she passes.

But, I do tell her that he is safe with me, that I will figure it out, and that I’ll never let go of his hand.


  1. Adrienne

    I'm sending all the love I can muster in your direction. It's so, so hard to say goodbye. We should all be so fortunate as to make our exits surrounded by love as she is doing.

    When the time comes for her to cross the bridge, she won't be alone. She'll reach for another hand before she lets go of yours and she will be safe.

    I promise, you will know exactly how to help Craig when the time comes. You won't be able to make it easier because grief is a horror that insists on having its way, but you'll make sure he's not alone with it. That's all there is.

    Peaceful nights and days to you all.

  2. Sarah

    I was with my dads mom when she died. I was 14 but I remember I sat with her in her room the whole time. Even when her kids, my aunts and uncles, hung out in the cafeteria and went outside to smoke cigarettes the entire time. You will never regret being by her side during this time-I know I never have.

    Strength and love to you all.

  3. Janelle

    Nichole, sister, Thank YOU. Tears are streaming down my face. Thank you for including my children, Zai and Keelin, thank you for holding mom's hand. Thank you for talking to her. Please give her my love, speak for me…you know I want to say all that you are saying. Tell her that her son Sean is like Craig in that he is strong, sensitive, loving, handsome, and oh so loving of her, me, our children. Tell her thank you. Thank you both for being by her side. 900 miles away is terribly hard…I'm wasted and not even there. I love you.

  4. KLZ

    Anyone would be blessed to have you as a daughter-in-law, mother, wife or friend.

    A big hug to all of you from this little corner of the world.

  5. *hugs* Sending love and good thoughts for you and your family.

  6. Janelle

    Tell her all I can do is hold her son while he crys because he is losing his mom. Tell her I'm scared. But tell her that her faith in me, she's always had faith in me, will carry me through and I will always do EVERYTHING for her son.

  7. Lori

    You are amazing and saying all the things she needs to hear right now.

    We've been thinking about you and Craig all weekend. We hope that things are calm and going well.

    And CALL if you need anything. K? It's really, really, really, fine!

    Love to you all.

  8. Amy

    Nichole, this was beautiful in a heartbreaking way. My thoughts and prayers and love go out to you and your family, my sister and her's. I pray that God wraps his arms around you all as you go through this, the toughest of times. That he holds you all close and surrounds you with his love.

  9. Peggy

    Oh Nichole, this blog brought me to tears. I think because those of us who have had to deal with losing a loved one, have been there. The silence is painful…especially for us type A personalities.
    You are doing the best thing that you can for her….letting her know that she raised a wonderful son, who is loved and appreciated, and sharing memories with her. I'm sure she is eternally grateful for that.
    Hugs from Maine.

  10. Nichole

    You never fail to bring me comfort, Adrienne.

    I will be forever grateful for the advice, kindness, and compassion you have shown us through this difficult time.

    Thank you for being my friend.

  11. Nichole

    Thank you for sharing your story with me, Sarah.
    Though death is no stranger to my family, I have witnessed very little of it firsthand.

    I pray that we are there with her when she does go. I can't bear the thought of not being there.

  12. Nichole

    When we tell her stories of the kids, her eyes widen and she listens so intently. When I ask her if she wants to hear more, she nods and often closes her eyes, almost as though she is trying to picture it all.

    I have told her so much about Sean, about the relationship that you and he share, and about the nurturing and loving family that you have built together.

    I know that it is so difficult for you all to be so far away. If you want to talk, please call. We could also arrange a phone call today–I could put you on speakerphone, perhaps?

    I love you.

  13. Nichole

    Thank you for stopping by and offering words of comfort.

    And a hug is exactly what I needed.

  14. Nichole

    Thank you so much for keeping our family in your thoughts. It is so incredibly comforting.

  15. Nichole

    Thank you, Lori.

    I will never forget the kindness that you've shown our family. You advice and encouragement got us through those difficult, painful days.

    Thank you for helping to empower us and for being a calm voice on the other end of the telephone line.

    She is so peaceful now. I pray that she remains this way until her time comes.

    Love to you.

  16. Nichole

    Thank you for leaving this note and for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers, Amy.

    Love you.

  17. Nichole

    You know me so well, Aunt Peggy!
    My type A personality is crumbling here, as I have absolutely no power in this situation. No amount of hard work, dedication, or extra effort can change things.

    Perhaps this experience will teach me something about finding grace in powerlessness.

    I love you and I'm so grateful for your words–they are like the huge hug that I need.

  18. Kelly http:/

    My heart is with Craig and you. A decade of hellos and conversations from the big man is enough for me to call him a very good friend and seeing you two share this life with us all is priceless. I cherish you two having seen you both rise above all the troubles life throws at us. This time will come and pass many times but it's the love you share that bonds the hearts together. You're good children to your mothers and fathers which shows in the children you bring to this world. Peace, Love, and Harmony from my family to yours. We are there for you.
    Kelly, Marina and Darla

  19. CDG

    What a wonderful daughter-in-law you are.

    Sending thoughts of peace to your family.

  20. Megan (Best of Fates

    Your posts about your mother-in-law are all so beautiful. Your family's still in my thoughts.

  21. Heidi-D

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you. Sometimes the hardest part of a loss, like the one you will inevitably feel, is knowing that you still have to be strong for someone that will need you. You put your own grieving and pain aside for a strong facade to protect those closest to you.

    Adrienne is right… You are a bad ass.

  22. Nichole

    Thank you…for the wishes for peace and also for the compliment. I truly appreciate both.

  23. Nichole

    Thank you, Megan.
    Your blog has been a great place for me during this time…it always makes me smile.

  24. Nichole

    Thank you for coming by, Heidi.
    You're right, remaining strong for someone else is difficult and knowing what to say and how to comfort them is never easy.

    You're a bad ass too. ;)

  25. Cheryl @ Mommypants

    You truly are an amazing, amazing soul. I am sure you were exactly what she needed – just as I am positive you are and will always be exactly what Craig needs.

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