Posted in Death

Gratitude for Miles

Tonight I am thankful that when my husband’s mother died last evening, she was in his arms, as he so desperately hoped and prayed that she’d be.

I am grateful to two amazing women, Lori and Adrienne, who offered us information and comfort at a time when we felt lost and scared. Through numerous phone calls and emails, they each offered their extensive knowledge and kindness.

I am grateful to my dear friends, Andrea, Kris, and Loni, who checked in on us regularly and repeatedly offered shoulders to cry on and kind words when we truly needed them and Chris, Corey, Ana, and Briana, who took such amazing care of our children so that we could be by Craig’s mother’s side.

I will be ever thankful to the hospice nurses who cared for Craig’s mother in her last days; Jan and Arlene helped to ease our worries and provided us a comforting presence through their tender care and compassion. There is a special place in Heaven for these two beautiful women.

I am grateful for the nurses who carried out the hospice care–Cora, Jemma, Maggie, and Nathan. These nurses ensured that she remained pain-free and peaceful. They also put up with our constant questions. We were able to get a few hours of sleep each night and slip out for quick meals because we knew that they were keeping an eye on her. Despite the stressful environment that these nurses work in, with demands and cries coming from every direction, each of these kind souls paused time to kiss her on the forehead, whisper in her ear, pray for her, or tenderly wash her hair. Compassion is a truly beautiful thing to witness.

I truly appreciate each and every one of the phone calls, emails, texts, notes, and direct messages we received, as each message felt like a huge hug.

Craig’s brother, Sean, and his wife, Janelle, were always just a phone call away and their daily emails, calls, and words of appreciation kept us going through the darkest moments.  We are blessed to call them family–we treasure them and value them beyond words.

And lastly, I am thankful to have had a mother-in-law who raised such a beautiful son–a son who wouldn’t leave her side, who brushed her hair and read to her, who reminded her, until she took her last breath, that he loved her dearly.

Sixteen Random Thoughts From the Past Six Days

1.  There are many kind people in this world.

2.  Katie has astonishingly bad morning breath.

3.  Sharing a hotel bed with a three-year-old child is equal parts bad idea and effective means of torture.

4.  You can, in fact, get sick of eating out.

5.  Katie has consumed a steady supply of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil over the past six days.

6.  I don’t handle death well.

7.  You probably can’t run out of tears. I’ve tested this out this week.

8.  Three cups of coffee each morning is my new minimum.

9.  Babies don’t always smell good.

10.  Craig and I need a will.

11.  Never travel without nail clippers when you have children.

12.  Always overpack.

13.  I am eternally grateful that my grandmother insisted that she teach me how to wash my panties in the sink.

14.  I’m not young anymore.

15.  Pack way more diapers than you think you could possibly use.

16.  Hotels are the perfect place for Play Doh.

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.

So That You May Know Her…

Dear Katie and Matthew,

Your grandmother is lying in a hospital bed tonight and she is dying. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, but very soon.

Daddy is with her, holding her hand and telling her just how much we all love her.

Neither of you will remember her and that breaks my heart.

There is so much about her that I want you both to know.

She was dynamic. She could quote Shakespeare, discuss philosophy, and sing and play the guitar. Daddy tells a childhood story of camping with her–he remembers her sweet voice singing over the crackling of the campfire. I wish I could have heard that.  I wish you could have heard that.

She was eclectic. I will never forget the outfit she wore to your Uncle Todd’s graduation. She was dressed from head to toe in the most vibrant shade of turquoise, complete with floppy hat and arms adorned with bangle bracelets that just sparkled in the sunlight. She was lit from within in that wild outfit and it suited her beautifully.

She was intelligent. She was a well-respected trauma nurse who pursued her education while raising three young boys. She saw so much in her days as a nurse that made her even more compassionate and empathetic.

She was kind. She was quick to tell you why you were special to her. She was so generous with her words and never missed an opportunity to tell you exactly what made you unique. Sometimes, she would make me blush with her compliments, but I always appreciated and welcomed them.

She was whimsical. She loved astrology and loved to tell you what your sign meant and how it impacted you. Daddy and I would roll our eyes, but that didn’t stop her–she believed it and it was endearing.

She was the most optimistic person I’ve ever known. Her glass, even in the most difficult of times, was always half full. When life dealt her a terrible hand, she found inner strength that astonished us.

She will live on in your daddy, who is the man that he is because of her. She taught him to be a gentleman, to be kind and courteous. It was from her that he learned how to treat women and how to respect others.

I want you each to know that she loved you. She was so happy to have grandchildren and you made her just light up. She exuded happiness when she spoke of all of the fun that you would have with her as you grew and I’m so sorry that you won’t have that opportunity. She would have caused all sorts of fun trouble with you.  She truly looked forward to being, in her words, “your partner in crime.”

I am so truly sorry that you didn’t have the opportunity to know her.

I promise to share all of my stories with you. I will do all that I can to keep her alive in my memory so that I can share her with you both.

She has had such a rough time of it. Now it is time for us to wish her peace.

With all of my love,
Mommy

His Name Was David Edward

Tonight I lay my son down to sleep and I cried for my mother, a woman who laid her baby boy down to sleep and found him gone forever the next morning.

He was barely older than Matthew and he was my mother’s first born, the one who taught her just how inconceivably intense the love of a parent is for their child.

She found him dead. Crib death they called it then. This baby, my older brother, gone before he had truly lived. Gone before he walked, but not before he smiled. Before he ran, but not before he laughed.

His name was David and he was breathtakingly beautiful.

I think of him often, wondering what he would have been like as a grown man, as my older brother.

I ache for my mother. No, not ache, because that cannot begin to touch what I feel. My heart is shattered for my mother. Young, full of love and joy. With a baby who died in the very next room. That is an unfathomable pain.

My mother…
You are brave
You are strong.
You are forever changed by your sweet son…by both his life and by his death.

I never take bedtime for granted.
I can’t and I won’t.

I love and admire you, Mom.

You are stronger than you know.

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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