Here it is already the end of July, and I haven't blogged or hardly read all summer. In case you missed my posts, my mother was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer at the end of April. She hadn't been feeling well, and thought it was the flu. When she recovered from the flu, she couldn't walk, her balance wasn't right and she kept falling down. Finally, my family took her into the emergency room, and they performed an MRI. We learned that she had four large metastatic cancerous tumors in her brain that had spread from her lungs. The prognosis was grim, she was given weeks to live. I immediately grabbed a flight and flew home to Idaho, taking my five year old son with me. I had planned to stay a week and then return home to await for Risa to finish school, but once I got home, I knew there was no way I could leave, so opted to stay. I am forever grateful to my husband for working shorter hours and taking care of our daughter for seven weeks so I could be with my mom.
We brought mom home from the hospital, and she was given the choice to do radiation in hopes of buying a bit more time. She opted to do the radiation, and even though it was hard on her, and she ended up losing all of her beautiful hair, she persevered. We ended up getting two months, and for the most part, our time was pleasant. Mom was upbeat and she never cried or was down, she was the one that kept us buoyed, often reminding us not to cry, and to smile as her time waned. I spent the days cooking, cleaning and helping take care of my mom, and though it was tough sometimes and emotionally draining, I wouldn't have traded that time for anything.
On June 30th, surrounded by those she loved at home, my mom ended her journey. I held one of her hands, and my older brother held her other until the end. It wasn't easy letting her go, but sometimes you don't get a choice, and even though the time we had left was short, in retrospect, I think we were blessed. When mom received her diagnosis, we learned that there could be some terrible side effects from the tumors. She might endure personality changes, blindness and even violent seizures. Needless to say, we all lived in fear wondering what horrors might await, but lucky for us, mom seemed to have other ideas in mind, so after we had a couple of relatively good months, I think she decided it was time to go, even though none of us were ready. In the end, none of the horrible things that doctors predicted might happen came to pass. She was with it until the end, and she talked to us up until her final hours. Some of her final words to me were, " To smile because you have the most beautiful smile, and to be joyous." So I am reminded of Dr. Seuss' immortal words:
"Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened."
I am trying each and every day to smile for her.
Before she passed, I told mom that each time I saw a dragonfly I would remember her, since we both love dragonflies. Since then, we have been seeing dragonflies, sometimes in unexpected places, and I know somehow that mom is with me.
I am home now slowly putting the pieces back, and it is easier sometimes being back in Portland since I am used to only seeing my family a couple of times a year, but then on the other hand, there is a big hole in my heart, that I am learning to live with. I know that that hole will never go away, but somehow as each day passes I will find it a bit easier to live without her. My mom was only 67, and I thought we would have a lot more time, but life is unexpected like that, and one thing that I have taken away from this whole experience is to grab life and live it to its fullest. Since my return home, I have kept extremely busy, taking my kids walking every day, doing all kinds of activities and I have even dug out my cross stitches. I used to spend hours cross stitching, and I haven't done it since my kids came along. I have a mermaid cross stitch that is nearly complete, I just need to finish the beading. I have taken great comfort in doing something I used to love, and I plan to continue. Here is my cross stitch in progress:
As far as blogging and reading go, I miss my blog and I miss the blogging community, but I am still not quite ready to jump back in. I have only read three books since this whole thing started at the end of April, which is startling considering I usually read 12-15 books a month. This past couple of weeks, I am slowly getting back to reading, and I have written up a couple of reviews. I am shooting to return sometime in August.
So for now, I want to thank you all again for all of your love and support. It has been a tough road, but all the messages of encouragement I received along the way helped more than you will ever know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
In closing, I want to urge all of you to grab hold and live life to the fullest. Put down the electronic gadgets and unplug from the Internet. Spend time with those you love, get out and walk and enjoy nature, pick up hobbies and crafts you have neglected, and most importantly pick up the phone and call your loved ones. Don't ever miss an opportunity to tell someone you love them. I am forever grateful that I was able to do just that.
I plan on visiting some blogs here and there in the next couple of weeks to catch up, especially since I am so out of the loop. I expect to be back here full time in August. So until then happy reading.
I will leave you with my mom's obituary that I had the pleasure to write:
Carol Ann Christensen was born on April 16,1949, in Twin Falls, Idaho, to Wes and Armrell Christensen. She was the second of four daughters. Carol grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho, where she attended school, graduating in 1967.
After finishing high school, she attended Brigham Young University where she met Steven Permann. They were married on March 22, 1968. Steve and Carol were blessed with four children, Shane, Heidi, Cody and Misty. She considered her children and grandchildren as her greatest accomplishments, and they brought her tremendous happiness.
Carol had talents beyond measure, and she did everything to perfection. She was a remarkable seamstress, picture framer, calligrapher, floral arranger and baker. She also made pottery, macrame and jewelry. Her hands were rarely still as she spent many hours crocheting intricate doilies. She also loved plants, flowers and animals.
Carol was blessed with a talent for music. She played the violin and piano, and she possessed a beautiful singing voice. She passed the gift of music on to her children. Nothing brought her greater joy than listening to her children play music.
Carol is survived by her husband, Steven Permann; her four children, Shane (Erin), Heidi (Bladi), Cody (Amber) and Misty (Zachary); seven (soon to be eight) grandchildren; and her three sisters, Sherry, Barbara and Joyce. She was proceeded in death by her parents.
Carol believed that the two everlasting gifts she could bestow upon her children were roots and wings. Her legacy will live on through the roots and wings she gifted to her family, and she will forever remain rooted in their hearts while she soars free on her new wings.