Thursday, September 24, 2009
We will Praise You in this Storm!
( Been working on this one for awhile)
July 2nd -- Results from the scans come back clear and hadn't spread to the organs.. only a few more lesions on her spine and skull. Praise God! Jared and I surprised her by driving there that evening. She celebrated by going to water aerobics and even taught the class because the lady that usually teaches it wasn't there. Jared got to spend some precious time with her that next morning playing with bubbles and she was teaching him how to play with the jacks/balls. We left during the day so she could rest. We got back that night and decided to rest till the morning. Mom woke my up that next morning needing my help with breakfast. I told her I would do all that but she still wants to cook. She was so tired after just beating some eggs. I finished breakfast and she rested on the couch. That was so hard to see the beginning stages of her tiredness.
July 10th -- She had a blood transfusion along with her bone infusions.
That really perked her up a bit for awhile. She even went grocery shopping.
The next days to come she did okay tired still but hanging in their.. living for Christ daily.
July 20th -- She went to the Dr's and had some blood work done, after being exhausted that day more then ever.
July 21st -- We all got a email saying that they were almost positive that the cancer had spread to her liver.
My dear children:
Vonda has been feeling particularly tired the last 3 days - sleeping most of the time. We were hoping another blood transfusion would help.
We just got off the phone with Dr. Balzar, and following blood tests today he is fairly certain the cancer has gone to her liver. The last scan did not indicate as such, but the high enzime levels seem to clearly point in that direction.
Normally there's not much that can be done at this point; we know another transfusion is not the answer.
How much time does she have? Only the Lord knows. We're still planning on going to Colorado on Monday (27th).
We're still planning on a wedding in August, seeing all of you, dancing and living life to the fullest.
I wish I didn't have to write this email - but I know the Lord is gracious.
Liver cancer normally moves quickly, but nothing has been normal with your mom.
She doesn't necessarily want to talk right now, nor is she needing lots of company, but you can phone anytime you want this evening - I'll be home.
I can't say I'm dealing well with the lates news, but I'll be OK.
Love you all dearly,
I was training on my new job in Lake Whitney and I was blessed to not be to far from Paul and Abby's when the email came through. I didn't know about it until I got to Abby's house. My brother Paul was my amazing protector and Abby was so sweet and protective and so loving as well. I missed my boys and husband so much, but I needed to provide income, life goes on as my mom says.
I stayed busy the next day and then on Thursday morning I received this email..
Dear family and friends -
From a conversation with our doctor a few moments ago it appears that Vonda has a fairly short time to live (maybe a month or so or less - the Lord only knows). Our oncologist and primary care doctors both feel there is nothing else that can be done, well, except pray...
She's had an amazing journey as mom, grandmother, nurse, and pastor's wife. We've had an amazing marriage. It seems, as the cancer has spread to her liver, that it's quickly becoming a "firestorm" for her. She's mainly needing to sleep. We're surrounded by wonderful caring people.
She'll be on hospice care starting today. I pray there will be many good days yet in her earthly journey.
We still want to go to the mountains, be with our children and grandchildren, and attend Jeremy's wedding in August. Time will tell.
I hope to preach this coming Sunday on Ephesians 3:14-21
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Those are amazing verses! And even more meaningful following today's news. Right now I'm particularly glad Vonda and I have been surrounded by the "deep...love of Christ".
Dad, Grandpa, Papa,
I honestly hyper ventilated at first and had someone get my boss. I calmed down after alittle bit with the help of my sweet boss. I tired to keep working but decided to go home to be with my family that I had been separate from. I talked to a few people on the way home to includes my wonderful aunts Janean and Kathy. I did listen to alot of praise music and praised God through the storm.
I spent some needed time with my family ... that night. My hubby just loved on me and was the sweetest ever. I loved seeing my boys and we told Jared that night.
He tried to understand and I believe with my whole heart that Jared knew Jesus will take care of her, love her and help her be whole again. He is such a strong little boy with a big heart.
We left the next morning to go see mom. That day was Friday July 24th. She wasn't doing too good that day but very happy to see us. Gabe got to sit with her and hold her hand and be so sweet to her. I told Jared to go give her big hugs and kisses but be very gentle.. and he looked at me all serious and said, "But she will get me sick." I laughed so hard. We explained to him that Nana isn't contagious. I got a sweet picture of mom holding Jared right after that moment.
I have been so blessed to have so many wonderful time and moments with my mom.
I laid with her in the camper and let her know that I will make her proud, her grandsons will grow up to be good kids, Gabriel will take good care of me, and I will do always be there for daddy through and through... She asked me if we were going to try for a girl in the future.. and I assured her when we do it will be in the future.. She said with a laugh, you are probably pregnant right now, Ms. Fertile.. ha momma I am not.
She assured me that Daddy will be okay and he is so much stronger then he thinks he is.. and he draws his strength from the Lord. She was needing to go to sleep and she then told me nicely.. "Get out and go forth"!! I just love it!
I enjoyed waiting on her hand and foot. She will tell me to get her just one more ice cube.. I laughed at her and she said.. I am serious.. I need one more..
One of the most special moments I will never forget was when a few of my brothers were talking to her on the couch on Saturday afternoon and it seemed to of really hit her and we all then ( the original 7) all say around her. She had many tears and we all cried together some. She looked at all of us and again said Dad will be okay..and I know you will take care of him.. I am not all really sure what she said. Dena, Melisa and Gabe got the kids with an unspoken response knowing we needed our time as just the 7 of us and took the kids to the other room. Of course AJ tried to run back but Melisa caught him in time.
This same day was Madi's First Birthday. I was so happy that Mom got to be with her youngest granddaughter on her birthday. How special!
The next day was the wedding...after planning this wedding in one day.. it was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever had the pleasure of attending..
From the music, to the wonderful sermon, to the laughter, to Melisa and Jeremy's happy and sad tears, to seeing mom being able to be there for it all.. she looked on as such a proud momma for sure!
Gabe left with the boys that day and I stayed till the next afternoon. Those were some of the most precious moments I had with mom. I loved hearing her sassyness that next day. She told John, "lets watch a funny movie, hurry up and start it for me, oh wait get me the phone, I need to tell your father to get home so he can watch it with us." I got to lay next to her and she rubbed my head alittle bit which I treasure so much. Later that day when I was getting ready to leave ( I wanted John to have some one on one time) we chated. I honestly can't remember everything we talked about, what matters is I just got to sit and talk with my mom!! She was explaining alot of things that will happen in the end, giving me the hospice nurse explanation. I gave her the biggest hug and told her I loved her a million times. "She said that's enough lady, now get on the road."
I so badly wanted to see her again soon after that, but she said no, I wanted to respect the time that see wanted with my dad. They were so blessed to have their last vacation together in Ruidosa, NM. When I watch alittle of that video, wow what a God sent gift for them to share.
I did get to talk to her 2 times on the phone. She was worried about our job situation and I reassured her that we would be okay and the Lord is continuing to take care of us. We were continuing to be faithful to Him as well. Our church has been wonderful and so encouraging to us as well. I reminded her that I am encouraging Gabriel everyday as his # 1 fan. I was excited to tell her about AJ attempting to potty train and that it is hard to keep clothes on him. She said, "Would you do something for me Sarah?" I said anything mom thinking it was about something more serious.. she said, "Promise me you will keep his brown bootie covered, do not let him streak through the front yard." I had such a good laugh with that one. I assured her that he only streaks through the back yard since we have a high fence back their. She ended the conversation with telling me she was going to try to eat some dinner and she was enjoying watch my dad cook it for her. She said goodbye by saying God Bless you Sarah Renee, I love you. I sadly can't remember the first phone call, i wrote it down somewhere I am still looking for that notepad, pray that I will find it soon.
My dad had let me know that she was becoming more and more less alert and if I could come after I got back from work on August 11th. I wanted to come that weekend but I knew that I had to work and I wanted my brothers to have their time.
I finally got their on Tuesday night and my mom saw me where she was laying at and said, "Hi Honey." I climbed in with her and she put her arm over me tightly. I tired not to cry but I did and I told her I love her, and she said I love you too. I wanted to hold her forever but after a few minutes she said that she needed to rest.
I was so glad to I got to be their for dad as well. We just talked all evening about their vacation and precious time together. I was honored later that night to lay on a small pad next the hospital bed in the living room. I was so worried that I wouldn't wake up if mom needed me. I just prayed before I went to sleep that if she did, God would wake me up. Sure enough 4 30 am that morning, I woke up to mom having labored breathing. I question whether or not in my head if she needed oxygen or not. I put it on her and she was unresponsive by this time. I didn't think anything of that at the time because I knew of the toxins in her brain, and that later we could give her some meds to help her be more alert again. I wasn't sure or not if she was in pain, and I didn't want to wake anyone else up. I wrote her a letter and then I sang her favorite hymns to her. Those seemed comforting I believed.
About 6 30 am dad woke up and I told him that at that time I thought she was in pain and if we should call hospice or not. We decided to and the most wonderful nurse that was on call came and her name was Odilia. She allowed me to help make my mom more comfortable by giving her a sponge bath and changing her clothes and her sheets. I didn't cry I just went into nurse mode and asked God for his help. She was in alot of pain, and that was the hardest to see. The right mix of meds did the trick and we were so thankful for that. No more suffering for my mom, no more pain.
Pretty soon after that, she started showing the signs of going to see Jesus.
Dad and I got to sing to her all her favorite hymns. We didn't know exactly how long but we knew it would be soon. He even encourages me to go take a shower and I am glad I did. Not only did Dad get to have that one on one with mom but it seemed to relax me alittle bit. I did call grandma and she got to talk to her one last time. With grandma on the phone, we pray that Jesus would take her. Then alittle later that morning my mom was called to her eternal home to be with Jesus. I was the only kid of the 5 their with Dad. I was so honored to be with dad, but I wanted my brothers and my husband so bad! Everything was so much better when all the family started arriving. I got to talk to one of my best friends, Sarah Angelica, and I was so grateful for the comfort she brought me in that moment.
The viewing was actually not that bad. I was so happy that all our Indiana family had come in and dad's cousins and uncle and aunt from El Campo area had come.
I was so blessed with my special friends from Houston and San Antonio that came. My husband made a beautiful slide show that we all contributed pictures too. He even had a wonderful idea of adding each families favorite bible verse starting with mom's, Jeremiah 29:11. That was so helpful, I felt it made the viewing so much more of a celebration and not depressing. I even gave out Vonda hugs.
Here is the slide show of the tribute on you tube.
Wow the funeral, it truly felt like Easter morning to me. The music was amazing and their was even laughter. My godfather Jeff did the service and he started the sermon with.. " Well Gerald I don't usually watch how women walk I am a married man, but Vonda had a sa-sha about her, and Sarah you got that from her." My mom would of loved that. She was sure dancing in Heaven at the time. I didn't cry the whole time until we exited the church and the pale bearers did their job. I had one of my hardest cries in my husband's arms at that moment. Gabe cried the hardest I have seen him cry as well. He loved her like I loved her, deeply. He always loved being in my moms presence and they had such a strong bond. She always called him her son. Gabe always kissed her on her forehead, so sweet.
He protected me after that but not letting me talk to long and took me to sit down and drink some water. I wanted to take care of everyone that weekend and failed to take care of myself. I know I am alot like my mom and she always wanted to make sure everyone else was okay before herself in her good days. I was so happy to have so many good times with my grandmother that weekend. I made it a point to spend some good moments and talks with her. I treasure her so much. I try to call her once a week if I can. I was taken care of by my aunts this weekend as well. I am so close to my aunt Janean and I hope I continue to grow even closer to her. Her gentle voice is so comforting to me, and her prayers are felt daily for me and my family. Gabe and the boys left early that night because they had both started acting out. Jared had never been to my mom's house without her there before. He wanted to be able to talk to her. Gabe let him know that he still could talk to Nana in heaven, she just could not respond. He then proceeded to walk out on the front porch and say very loudly, "Nana I Love you." He then asked me to play jacks and balls with him outside so Nana could see him beat me in that game that she taught him to play.
Jared is actually doing well, I feel school and being on a good schedule has made a big difference. AJ is okay as well. He has stopped acting out at home and is adjusting.
I miss my mom so much, their really isn't any words to describe the depth of that.
I have been so blessed to have dreams about her a few times now. One of the best one was her seeing me cry when we were sitting on a bench and she asked why.. I said that I missed her and I wanted to be able to just talk to her again. She said, I know sweetie and then went on to say, "You be strong honey, you be strong."
Last week was the first time I was productive besides working on the weekends. Gabe has been pulling all the load at the house. I just prayed for God to give me the strength to live again and go on, and Live for my Mom! Then today was the first time that I felt like a mom again. I took the boys around the block on their bikes (pushing and protecting them the whole way), I made dinner, I gave them their baths, made Jared a new chore/ no whining chart, read books, and even made up a story for Jared. I honestly could feel my mom's spirit around me, feeling proud of me. What an amazing feeling to have. I am wanting to start some official counseling with my pastor here and have help with the "guidelines" of dealing with grief. I feel like I am in a fog sometimes and I know that is normal. My Lord is a amazing heavenly Father and he will not forsake me. I desire to rest in His word.
This was the post I wrote for her awhile back for her emmaus walk she went on, my "poem" to her, says how I feel about her.
One More thing to add as of yesterday when I was driving Jared home from school.
He hasn't asked a whole lot about Nana lately besides saying he misses her from time to time, but he did yesterday. He said, "Momma, I know Nana is in heaven but how did she get there?" I said, "Jesus came and took her sweetie." He said, "Was he extra careful with her because she was so weak?" I then reminded her that she was healed and not sick anymore. He said with a laugh, "oh I forgot, I'm silly, Jesus Healed her and is taking good care of her." He then went on to ask, "Do you think Nana is playing hide and go seek with Jesus right now?" I laughed. "Maybe they are playing duck duck goose," He chimed in. The last thing he said was, "why is nana there and we are here?" I tried to hold my tears and say, " Jesus needed here there and it was her time to go, and Jesus still has plans for us here on earth, but we will reunite with Nana one day in Heaven, because of our faith in Jesus.
I just wanted to share that.