For those of you who know my family and me, you know that I lost my mom a few weeks ago. Tuesday, April 5th, I was down stairs attempting to work out on my treadmill when I got the call from my dad telling me that my mom was gone. At first I was numb. I didn't believe him. I knew my dad wouldn't joke about something like that, but I thought..."it can't be true". I knew that my mom had been ill for some time. She has always had health problems. As a child she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Then in her mid 30's she suffered a mild heart attack and it was soon discovered that she was in congestive heart failure. The doctors told her there was nothing they could do. The diabetes had shrunk her arteries so small, that surgery was not an option. At the time, our family was devastated. I was only 12 years old, and I worried about losing my mom, but she didn't give up. She could have come home, stayed in bed, and given up. Instead, she dove into her own research. She changed her diet, drastically. She bought a treadmill, and got to work. She lost nearly 70 lbs. She ate low-fat foods, and a fiber-rich diet, and with a prayer in her heart, she pushed through the pain, and worked out every day. Against all odds, my mom changed her life. Her heart grew stronger and she held onto her life, much to her doctor's amazement and surprise. She was a wonderful example to those around her.
We had a fantastic time as a family. We spent every weekend in the desert or up on the mountain, camping, hiking and four-wheeling. We made some amazing, fun, memories that I cherish. As the years passed, my mom continued to do all she could to remain as healthy as possible. Then, several years later, she suddenly suffered another heart attack. After an initial exam, the doctors determined that they had no choice but to try and perform heart surgery in order to save her life. Fortunately, new technology had been discovered and new methods were in use to perform heart procedures. The doctors warned us that Mom might not survive the surgery, but they would do all they could to save her. At the time, my husband and I were living in Washington State. I was pregnant with my first child, but I flew home to spend the first few days with her before her surgery. I was frightened for her, and worried that she wouldn't make it. But my mom had faith. Her faith was an inspiration to me, and as I watched my dad and another priesthood holder bless my mom before her surgery, I was suddenly impressed with the knowledge that I knew the Lord was watching over our family and the peace of the comforter surrounded us. I remember thinking...I should feel scared....I should feel worried, but I didn't. It was as if a wall had been built around us, and I knew those feelings and those fears were there, hovering on the edge, but I was calm. I felt peace. It is a hard feeling to describe. My mom survived a 5-bypass surgery, and our family was blessed once again. We had been allowed to keep her with us.
The recovery was hard, and extremely painful, but again, Mom pushed her fears and pain aside, and fought for her life. The years passed. We continued to make wonderful memories. My children were born and I had the blessing of watching her spend time with them. She loved my kids, and they loved her. They called her "Honey" and she was so special to all of us. Things settled down, and for a few years we thought we were finally safe. Her heart was stronger, her diabetes was managed, but once again, she was suddenly very ill. After my daughter was born, they discovered that on top of everything else, my mom had a disease called systematic scleroderma. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/scleroderma/DS00362 They had caught the disease too late. It had affected both her lungs and kidneys. She spent several weeks in the hospital and they gave us no hope for her survival. The doctor told her she would likely succumb to the disease within six months. But, Mom didn't give up. She was able, after much debate, to convince doctors to start a process called dialysis. The doctors didn't believe this would work, but with no other options, they went ahead and started my mom on dialysis. Miraculously, it did work. They were able to assist her breathing with specialized oxygen and keep the fluids from accumulating in her body. She spent the next year and a half on dialysis. It was hard for her. It sapped her energy, but she lived, and she lived for us. We knew how difficult it was for her to continue with the dialysis as the time went on, but we were selfish. We wanted to keep her, and we always encouraged her to 'just deal with it' and 'keep going', and she did without complaint. I didn't want to think about losing my mom, so I convinced myself that the dialysis would continue to work. I convinced myself that she had many years ahead of her. My dad's call that morning shouldn't have come as a shock, but it did. My mom died peacefully on a Tuesday morning while sitting in her chair. I now can say, her passing at home was a blessing. She wasn't hooked to tubes and needles. She wasn't lying in a strange bed, away from home and the people she loved. My dad did all he could to bring her back, but my mom's heart just wasn't strong enough. Over the last few weeks, I've been blessed with the knowledge that families truly are eternal. That same peace that I felt during her open heart surgery has come to me now. I feel like I should feel despair, fear and anger. Those feelings are there, just like before, hovering on the edge, but a deeper, calmer feeling of peace and love has wrapped about me and our family.
I can feel her presence. I can feel that she is happy. She is free of pain and suffering. I miss her. I ache for her, but I'm blessed to know she is still there, just beyond the veil. These last few weeks have been difficult, with the release of my novel in a couple of weeks. She was so proud that I was getting my first book published, and I was very excited to give her her very own copy. I was able to pick up my finished novel at the publishers on Monday. It was a bittersweet day. It was exciting to see my novel in print, but my heart ached. My novel will be released to stores close to Mother's Day-- exactly a month after my mom's funeral. In a way, I feel it's appropriate. My mom was so proud of my sister's and my accomplishments, even the little ones. She always encouraged me to dream and to work hard to make those dreams a reality. She taught me so much. Her courage has inspired me. She fought for life, and won the battle. Now the Lord has taken her home to rest. I treasure her lessons, her laugh, and all my memories, and I know that her love surrounds me still. I love you, Mom.