“Mrs. Ware, we’ve done all we can. I suggest you make every effort to enjoy your life while you still have it. Go on vacation. Be with your grand-kids. Live it up. I’m sorry. I wish there was more I could do.“
We were lost for words. All three of us: my mom, my dad and me. After years of chemo and countless blood transfusions to defeat and manage the rare form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma my mother had, the doctor tells us this is it. He’s done everything he knows to do. He’s exhausted his resources. Nothing was making my mom better.
After we left the doctor’s appointment, my mother and I sat in the car holding hands in complete silence. It seemed impossible to wrap our heads around what the doctor said was inevitable. We tried so hard to push the lump in our throats down, but when hers gave way, so did mine. We cried. Together. In the car. In the parking lot of Riverside Cancer Center.
To console the shock, she wanted her favorite sweet treat: Yogurt V – the frozen yogurt place in Peninsula Town Center. The conversation we had that day is one I’ll never forget. As much as it hurt, we talked about all the things we’d feared, but was even more afraid to voice. Things like, what life would look like without her? How she wouldn’t be at my wedding or meet my future husband or be with me when I have my children. How she wouldn’t get to see Jaxson, Judah (and the other kids John and Kristen have) grow up. Her worries about my dad and him taking care of himself. How she wanted me to continue teaching dance and investing in my students. It was the kind of conversation you hope you never have to have, but are so thankful for on the other side of it.
So, that day, right there in the courtyard of Peninsula Town Center, we made a Live It Up list. The list included spending as much time with her family as possible. Going on a Disney Cruise. Seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains, going wedding dress shopping, and more. I’m happy to say we were able to check all the items off her list, except for the wedding dress shopping. She couldn’t bear the thought of wasting the sales associates’ time knowing full well we weren’t going to purchase anything. So, we spent hours on Pinterest making wedding boards. Those are memories I’ll never forget.
She’s gone. She’s really gone. 2.21.16.
Every night before I go to bed, I ask God to let me see my mom in my dreams. There was one particular dream that was so vividly real. In it, I was able to hug her. (I can still feel how that hug felt.) We laughed. She encouraged me to keep going, to not give up, and that she was proud of me. As she got in her car and drove away, the tears I shed in my dream became the tears I shed upon awaking. So much joy. So much sorrow. All at one time.
Here I am, exactly one year to the day after my mom’s passing. I still can’t believe she’s gone. The details of that 48 hour time period still haunt me. There are days I still wake up praying that 2016 was just a bad dream. They say the first year is the hardest. Honestly, I can’t imagine it ever getting any easier, but that’s the nature of the grief process; However, I’ve learned to not just embrace God as I go through it, but to invite Him into it. That’s made all the difference. And, He gladly accepted the invitation.
As I continue to dance through this life, I imagine how my mom is dancing right along with me. Knowing she is healed and with Jesus is the only comforting thought I keep in the forefront of my mind. I feel her spirit. I feel her strength. I feel her love. Everyday. And even more so, her legacy inspires me to love God and love people…. just like she did. Everyday.