Saturday, July 31, 2010


I feel like time should stand still. Just for a little while. Give my head and my heart time to process everything that has happened in the past two months.

It all happened so quickly.

I think I'm stuck somewhere between shock and disbelief, and overwhelming pain and sorrow.

I continue to replay the last few weeks over and over in my mind each night. There are many moments that stand out. That give me a sense of peace--well I guess as close to peace as I can be for right now... and then there are also those moments that pierce my heart and steal the air from my lungs.

I think about how she was not alone, not for one second, since she first went into the hospital. All of her children surrounded her with love, just as she has always surrounded us. From time to time she would actually look around the room and count, to see if we were all there... She loved having all of us there. The night she died was no exception. She waited. She waited until all eight of us were there, in her bedroom, right by her side. It was perfect and beautiful. Exactly the way she wanted.

I think about the many conversations we had in the last weeks and days, just the two of us. Her words will stay with me forever. Hearing her say that my children, are happy and wonderful children, because of what a good mom I am... that was a true treasure.

I can honestly say that in a matter of weeks, we had more meaningful, in depth, real, conversations, than we had had in a very long time.

It gave me such joy, relief, peace, whatever, to be able to have that connection with her again.

I had my mom back.

I knew it was just for a short time, but she was there. More clear and herself, than she had been in a very long time.

I guess I should back track.

When my mom was admitted into the hospital, they determined that not only was her oxygen level dangerously low but her carbon dioxide level was dangerously high...they suspected that this severe imbalance had taken quite some time to get to the point that it was, and that this dangerous combination had left her brain, basically starving for oxygen...for quite awhile.

It kind of made sense...

You see,

The past few years, my mom was different.

there were


slowing progressing.

She was getting very forgetful. And frustrated.

My siblings and I had all noticed these changes. Something was different. She was different. Not herself.

We talked to her about it. Talked to our dad about it. Even talked to her physician about it.

It didn't go well. She was very upset. defensive. felt like we were accusing her of being crazy or worse, having Alzheimer's. The doctor basically dismissed everything we said. (reason 5,647 why I'm not a big fan of small town doctors.) He tried to convince us that this was just normal forgetfulness that comes with the natural progression of age. Our carefully detailed outline of examples and concerns, out the window.

I was pissed.

I knew in my heart that something was going on. Something was stealing my mom away from me. I hated it.


Years went by.

Lots of little things happened, easily dismissed I guess. Then a few bigger things...they would start up the conversations again. But eventually, due to her insistence, the conversations would stop...or at least they would stop in front of her.

It began to get increasingly more difficult for me to be around her for extended periods of time. And she knew that. Obviously. I wasn't very good at hiding my frustrations. If she forgot one of the kids birthdays, or called to tell me some story that she had already called earlier that day to tell me, I would always call her out on it. I didn't let anything slide. If she came back from the grocery store after 2 hours with one bag, I'd ask her if she got lost. I didn't back down. If I couldn't come up with a snide remark after she was confused about one thing or another, I would just shake my head and roll my eyes.

This is what I'm having a hard time with right now.

The regret of my actions.

I regret being such a pain in her ass for the past few years. I regret waisting time making her feel belittled or unappreciated.

I regret pushing her so hard.

Selfishly, I wanted the prepared for anything mom I grew up with, not the confused and disheveled woman I was beginning to see.

But it was still her.

I just didn't look close enough.

I always focused on what was missing, rather than what was still there.

I will regret that for the rest of my life...

I keep wondering.

what if?

what if she knew?

What if she knew something was going on?

What if the ending was inevitable, but she chose the way to go?

She was smart like that.

I wouldn't put it past her.

Friday, July 23, 2010


It just keeps getting better and better.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dancing with Angels

Patrica Jean Vandenhouten

August 30, 1938 - July 14, 2010

Memories surround me
But sadness has found me
I'd do anything for more time
Never before has someone meant more
And I can't get you out of my mind
There is so much that I don't understand
But I know

You're dancing with the angels
Walking in new life
You're dancing with the angels
Heaven fills your eyes
Now that you're dancing with the angels

You had love for your family
Love for all people
Love for the Father, and Son
Your heart will be heard
In your unspoken words
Through generations to come
There is so much that I don't understand
But I know

You're dancing with the angels
Walking in new life
You're dancing with the angels
Heaven fills your eyes
Now that you're dancing with the angels

We're only here for such a short time
So I'm gonna stand up
Shout out
And sing Hallelujah
One day I'll see you again

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Holding on tight. Preparing to let go.

The past few weeks have been a blur. I feel like I'm in a fog most of the time. When I'm at home, I'm wondering how things are going at my mom's. When I'm here I'm wondering how the kids are doing at home.

I'm learning a lot about myself. How I grieve. And I have to say it's not pretty. Nor is it good for my marriage. I know it's been hard on Jud, I just have nothing left to give. I feel empty. He wants to help, desperately. But he can't. He wants to listen, but I can't talk. He wants to hold me, but I can't stop moving. Because when I stop, it hurts. Terribly. When I stop, I start to think about what it's going to feel like when I wake up one morning, very soon, and she won't be here. I won't be able to see her, call her. She'll be gone. Forever. I will have lost my mother.

So I keep moving.

This week I've spent every minute I could with her, with my brothers and sisters and my dad. I've learned just how much we need each other. I've learned that I'm not the only one who has this insane way of coping with grief. My sisters and I have all been busy pacing around the house, washing windows, mowing the lawn anything to keep from stopping for too long. One of my brothers and I had a great late night talk/cry. It felt good. I think I'm getting there.

I can see how at peace my mom is. It's very comforting. She made sure to tell us all how proud she is of us and how much she loves us and that she'll be watching over all of us. When I asked her if she was afraid, she just smiled and said, "oh, not really."

Right now I'm just holding on tight but at the same time preparing to let go... I only wish I had an ounce of her strength and courage.