Monday, December 8, 2008
I wasn't ready for this. But then again, I don't think I would have ever been ready to lose you.
The last few weeks have been emotionally draining. I remember when I got the call from Dad that you had been knocked over at church and were taken to the hospital with suspected broken bones. I was relieved when I heard that it was your arm and not your hip. When the doctors said that surgery was inevitable, I knew it would be hard on you because you were so afraid of pain, but I also knew you could do it. It was miraculous how wonderfully the surgery went and how you were in NO pain just a couple days later. Unfortunately, you needed a little bit of rehabilitation and going to that rehab hospital changed a positive outlook into a nightmare.
I can't imagine how scared you were when you were getting sick and the nurse assigned to you that first night, turned off the call button because she was tired of having to come and clean you up. I don't understand people like that and I am sorry that you, in your frailty, had to endure such circumstances. But, even more heartbreaking is that you contracted that horrible bacteria while you were there. Only days later you were back at the hospital because it had firmly gripped your body.
I was sitting at the kitchen table feeding Mia when I got the phone call. The doctors were only giving you a 10% chance and I needed to fly home if I wanted to see you one more time. Only hours later I was there. It was so hard to see you all connected to machines and unable to talk to me, but I smiled and talked to you about the kids. That helped you calm down and my heart smiled. I only got to see you awake twice during the week I was home. I had pictures to show you of the kids, but you never got to see them. I flew home praying that you would be healed, but somehow knowing that I would be back because you were headed to your heavenly home.
I try so hard to think about the joy you are experiencing there, but I miss you here.
You see, I had a special place in my heart for you. You were a constant in my life. I knew that early EVERY morning, before the sun came up, you were reading your bible and praying for me and so many others. You were the most faithful person I have known in my life. Many others would say the same. Your prayers and God's answers to them, got me through some of the hardest times in my life.
Your love for me was so very apparent. You would have done anything and given everything to help me if I needed it. You were selfless in so many ways. You taught me to love, have faith, forgive, persevere and serve. I am honored and blessed to have had such a wonderful example and teacher. I mean it when I say that I hope that I will someday be half the Godly woman you were.
Mark asked me on our flight home from your funeral what my favorite memory of you was. I was too emotional to speak, but what rushed through my mind were all of the small things. I remember spending my days with you when I was very young. It was fun to get special attention because you owned and ran the day care center. Then there were the Saturdays when you would go to get your hair done in its trademark bun and it was so funny to see you with your hair down. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy the long, boring wait while you were getting beautiful but it always had its perks. I fondly remember the summer trips to Naples and how my sisters and I would argue in the car on the way there. You always bought us paper dolls or coloring books hoping it would appease us, but it never did. I vividly remember your utter frustration and the threats to never take us again. I recall that you wouldn't let us go to the pool or the beach after we had eaten, for fear that we would drown from cramping or something. I also remember the look on your face when you would discover that we had gotten the approval from Papi before the allotted time had passed and we were happily swimming, cramp-free. I laugh when I think about how when you and Papi moved to a smaller house spending the night meant sleeping on a mattress on the floor of your room. We would "rush" to fall asleep before the two of you, because the snoring was so loud that we could barely sleep. In fact, there was never any silence because you never snored in unison. Your snoring even fascinated Austin.
Disney World, cruises, day trips to the beach and to see the ships, ice cream and churros at King's, your fabulous cooking, the way you wrapped your bun in toilet paper to preserve it while you slept at night, your firm belief in old wives tales, your insistence that I wear the frilly, pink cape at my quince, the time that I lived with you after college, our Wednesday night early bird dinners ...the memories flood my mind and time and space do not allow me to document them all. But, if I was able to do just that, what any reader of this letter would see is that you blessed everyone that you came in contact with.
It is because you were such a wonderful person that you will be so greatly missed. I will miss the way your whole face scrunched up when you laughed really hard. I will miss your snore that could set dogs to howling and little children to crying. I will miss the phone calls telling me that I hadn't called recently enough. I will miss your signature dishes and the way you lovingly prepared them for all of us. I will miss the beautifully written cards that you would send for my birthday or other holidays. I will miss your patience, generosity, gentleness and humility. I will miss your devotion to all of us who loved you so much. I will miss the way you praised me for my accomplishments, even the smallest ones. I will miss the way you shared in my joy and my pain. I will miss your advice, encouragement and support. I will miss seeing you with my kids and being a part of their lives. I will miss YOU.
I have been so blessed in my life to have known you, spent time with you, be taught by you, live with you, be loved by you, have you as a beautiful example and share so many wonderful moments. It is because of the depth of the impact you have had on my life that I chose to name Mia after you. I hope that I will be able to convey to her the beauty of her middle name. And, more importantly I hope that she will strive to live up to it. I am so glad that you got to meet her in May. That was really important to me and though I wish you could have seen her when we were there in your last days, I know that you are getting to see her all you want now. Papi told me, as I held her at your graveside, how special Mia was to you and how glad you were to have spent some time with her. I wish she could have really known you, but I will do my best to convey that to her in years to come. Mark and I agree that she has your smile. Each time I look at her I see a piece of you. I love that.
In your life your priorities were God first, then family. Your devotion to Him was so very evident and I know that you are enjoying the rich rewards of your many faithful years of service. My greatest comfort in these last few days has been that I will see you again. I look forward to that glorious day. But, in the interim, I want you to know that I will do my best to continue the legacy of love, faithfulness and devotion that you so beautifully lived.
See you when I get home.