Thursday, May 17, 2012


Hello...hello...tap...tap...anybody out there?

I wouldn't be surprised if you weren't.  A three month blogging break is a long one.  And since it wasn't planned & you had no warning, I won't blame you for not being here.  
I've changed a lot since the last time I logged in.  I think my last post was a pep talk to myself about not being discontent with my job & trying to put on an attitude of gratefulness.  It was written on Tuesday, February 21st.  Little did I know that less than 48 hours later my life would be changed forever & my faith would be tried by fire.

My phone rang at about 3:15 in the morning on that Thursday.  I guess you can't really say it rang; it was my parent's house calling & I assigned their number a ringtone that sounds like a barking dog.  I thought it was funny, I suppose.  When the dog started barking at that early hour I was all confused.  Surely it wasn't time to get up yet?  Finally I realized it was the phone & not the alarm & I answered.  My dad was on the other end & his voice was high-pitched, almost a sobbing scream.  Something was wrong with Mom.  In my confusion & shock I didn't really process the phrase "she's cold."  All I really heard was that he couldn't wake her up.  I reasoned that something bad had happened so I dialed 911 & got the ambulance on its way.  We threw on some clothes & ran out the door to drive the two blocks to the house.

I won't give any more details.  Part of me is desperately trying to forget; another part of me wants to remember every detail & I'm not sure why.  It's just one of many questions that I have as I process what happened.  It just all happened so fast.  My dad had just talked to Mom not three hours before he found her.  I had talked to her on the phone just three hours before that.  Mom had been sick with what we thought was the stomach flu or possibly food poisoning.  She got sick in the early morning on Wednesday.  I called & checked on her after work; she wasn't feeling well but she wasn't worried.  I called her on my way home from church that night.  I had missed her; we usually rode together on Wednesday nights.  It was a little difficult for Dad to wake her up so that she could talk on the phone but she brushed that off by saying she had been up sick all night - she needed to sleep!  I was uneasy about it & worried that she hadn't had any medication all day (she had lupus & some related conditions which required prescription medication).  I gave her a warning: if she wasn't better by morning we were going to do something about it.  She agreed & we hung up.  The uneasy feeling persisted but I prayed & asked God to watch over her.

And He did watch over her.  He brought her home to be with Him.  He took her in a way we didn't expect and He took her at a time when we most certainly did not expect it.  Truthfully, even after an autopsy I don't really understand what happened or what really caused her death.  It was just God's time & His choice.  I remind myself of this fact numerous times every day.

Those first few days when we were making arrangements, gathered so close together as a family, & loved on so sweetly by our church family, I literally felt the prayers & God's grace holding me up.  Looking back I know that He strengthened me to endure those days.  Devastated sounds like too nice of a word to describe the state of my emotions.  How could I have done it on my own? 

But those first few days were just the beginning of dealing with the rest of my life without my Mom.  I have been startled by several observations through this grief process - the most startling of which is how physical grief is.  I'm not just talking about the painful lump in your throat when you cry or even the headache you get after a big sobbing session.  I'm talking about the moments when I just couldn't catch my breath.  Or the moments when I got weak in the knees & it felt like I was going to fall.  And the tiredness is unbelievable.  This might sound melodramatic or exaggerated to you.  I hope you never find out for yourself.

At the beginning I also had the comfort of shock.  Shock is like a layer of insulation.  I wasn't so deeply covered by it that I would forget that she had died or that I could deny it happened.  But I didn't feel the full brunt of my emotions until later.  The Lord is good to have created us like that.  My emotions have kind of peeled down, layer by layer.  I've had pervasive sadness.  I've had blistering anger.  I've even had moments of joy as we have remembered Mom.  I've had deep gratitude as I've seen & heard others honor the life that she lived.  I have always known my mom was a fabulous person; it has done my heart good to hear others say the same & show their respect by attending her funeral, sending flowers & cards.

And oh, how I have cried.  I was kind of a cry baby from the very start.  I remember Mom being exasperated with me as a child because of all of the tears (she just was not wired that way).  And crying seems to be a daily thing for me now.  I miss her so much; I miss her pep talks; I miss her hugs.  I remember her softness, try to conjure up her scent, try to remember what her hugs felt like... and I cry, you know?  When I sit down in church & she's not there beside me...or when I call home & she doesn't answer...
I'm sure you know what I mean.  There's a huge, gaping hole in my daily life.  I know it will get easier but I also know I'll never get over it.

But life goes on.

And this is something she would have told me with a direct gaze & maybe even slightly clenched teeth.  My momma was a strong lady, her spine stiffened with the purpose God gave her to get up each day & do her best for Him no matter how she felt.  And I don't want to shame her with my self-pity & moping day to day. Grief is a natural process & has to run its course but I should not wallow in it.  I have much to be thankful for:
*my God who supplies all of my needs, watches over me like a shepherd, is infinitely wise, good, & patient with my struggles & questions
*my sweet gift from God, Michael who has been my rock; his understanding heart & patient love have sustained me & kept me from despair
*the lovely, faithful, godly people in my life who have prayed, texted, called, sent cards, sent food, sent books, given hugs, wiped tears, & supported me & my family.  You know who you are & I pray that your reward is great for the lovingkindness you have shown us
*the college teacher who reached out to me to let me know about a song that ministered greatly to my heart, "It Is Not Death To Die"; I have listened to this wonderful message in song over & over & over again
*my coworkers (remember, all men!) who wisely have kept silent & not made me feel small in the moments when I haven't been able to control my tears & a boss who gives time off without question when I need it
*the lovely plants that have lived on long after the funeral; their presence in my home comforts me
*the deeper, sweeter relationship I have with my dad where we talk, hug, & spend more time together; this gift came at a high price & I intend to cherish it
*my struggle with my faith in God; I'm grateful for this hard thing because it has forced me to be brutally honest with God - about my feelings, about my fears, & about my questions; I know He'll never let me go & I know He'll help me wrestle through this

I just don't want to forget these things. 

But I also have to be careful that my mom's home-going doesn't consume me.  Lately I've been trying to remind myself that life goes on.  I can't be overwhelmed daily so that I am just barely keeping my head above water, letting things slide, living in the mode of just getting by.  My responsibilities have changed because there have been many decisions to make, things that my dad needs help with, different items to put down on the to do list.  But these changes are no excuse for eating anything & everything I want whenever I want...sleeping in until the very last second every morning so that I barely make it to work on time which is only made possible by arriving with sopping wet hair...letting the house get in complete dusty, dirty, cluttery disarray because I just can't deal with it...not running or working out because I am just so tired when I really mean sad...spending money on unnecessary things...trying to escape any way possible (movies, books, trips, & so on)...

Once again, I'm sure you get the picture.  I've gotta make some changes & quit hiding out.

This blog used to be a place I would come to because I had something that I thought would make you laugh or encourage you.  I thought I could make friends & network & reach out to others.  I'm not sure if I can do that anymore but I might try.  Maybe something will come out of the effort.

Sweet Linda, this post is for you.  Thank you for your love, support, & encouragement.  You & David have literally held us up & I'm forever grateful for the way you have faithfully shown God's love to us.  I love you.


melinda said...

My heart breaks for you and all that you have gone through. Thank you for sharing.

Melinda (Murrell) Fox

Shannalee said...

Beautifully written. You have me crying over here with you, mostly because I feel your emotions in this and I get that it's hard and it makes you wrestle and brings you to places you can't believe you're in. Thinking of you and grateful to have gotten to read this.

Mrs.T said...

Mary Ann,

Thank you for writing this. Yes, I was crying too as I read it. I have been praying for you ever since Carrie first told me the news about your mom. As time went by I would glance at Pharm Girl's place in my blog list and would pray for you as I saw it was still that older post about the attitude adjustment.

I am SO thankful for the opportunity to read this and to understand more about what happened and how you are doing. God is so good! It is such a blessing to read about how He is sustaining you. Thanks again, so much, for sharing.

the johnson crew said...

Dear Mary Ann, Thank you for sharing all this with us. I am so glad you are blogging again, and you are such a gifted writer. Thanks for sharing all these details. Praying for you. With love, Janelle

Carrie said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post. I cried for you again as I read it--I'm sure it was not easy to write, but I appreciate you sharing your heart and being "real" about all you have been going through. I can't even imagine. I have been praying for you over the past few months and will continue. Your momma sounds like such a wonderful lady and I wish I could have known her. I'm glad I will get to meet her someday in Heaven. :)

And I'm glad you came back to blogging. I have really missed your posts!! Sending a hug across the miles and continued prayers ...

Alicia said...

As others have said, thank you for opening your soul to us and re-opening the wound of your mother's sudden death in order to move forward. I'm sure writing this post was incredibly therapeutic and healing for you but also incredibly painful in the process.

I so appreciate your perspective on life and reading how God not only sustained and kept you through this trial but gave you such abundant grace! It sounds like He truly drew you deeper and closer to Himself through this ordeal.

The song you mentioned is a dear one to me as well -- not because I've personally lost anyone close lately but its truth is so powerful and needed for me as I go through daily life usually completely ambivalent to the reality of mortality. Another one that I really really love along the same theme is "More" by Andrew Peterson. (Pretty sure you can hear it for free on spotify.) "This is not the end" by Gungor is another good one.

I'll be praying for you, dear bloggy friend, as you rely on Him for each new day's strength and wisdom!

Nikki said...

I have read here from time to time. I usually come by Mrs.T's blog. So sorry to hear of your loss. I am glad you shared with us. I will be praying for you.

Karen said...

Oh, my. I just signed into my Blog Reader, and I had over 1000 unread blogs. I'm so sorry to read of the difficult trial you're going through. Thank you for sharing your heart.