It's Not A Bad Dream, It Is Reality: One Week Without My Mama

This past week has been a whirlwind of events and emotions.   For the first few days I was operating on adrenaline and auto-pilot.  Nothing seemed real and it all sort of felt like a bad dream.  Monday morning came and after having breakfast with my Daddy, I started going through photos to take with us to the funeral home so they could make a slide show.  As I looked through them, I reflected on so many memories that my family created.  We never really went on a lot of vacations when I was a child, in fact, I only really remember 3 trips out of town with my parents.  One when I was around 8 or 9 to Myrtle Beach with Carroll and Bobby and their kids, one the Summer before 7th grade when we went to Nashville and another when I was around 14 when I went to Myrtle Beach with my sister and Mama and a group of friends.  I know we went a few more places, but I was young and don't really remember them like I do these trips.  Even though we did not travel the world, as I looked back at the photos, I consistently saw the same thing, happiness and joy.  We are not a perfect family, but my parents raised us in a happy home full of love.  We "discuss" things loudly a lot of the time and don't always see eye to eye, but I know that we are there for each other through thick and thin.

After planning my Mama's services on Monday we came back to my parent's house.  Flowers and a complete BBQ meal had been delivered while we were gone and people were arriving and bringing even more food, drinks, paper products and snacks than the kitchen would hold.  We have had meals offered every single day.  Even last Sunday, on the day my Mama passed, two of her best friends brought a meal to us.  And I know they were hurting and heartbroken for their own loss.  Seeing so many people offer their kindness during our devastation was humbling to say the least.  And it still has not stopped.  For those that called, texted, visited, sent flowers, food or anything else, it did not go unnoticed.  My family appreciates you all more than words can ever express.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  No matter what you see on the news, there are GREAT people in this world, don't let anyone tell you differently.

The visitation for my sweet Mama was quite overwhelming.  We started seeing people prior to 6pm because they were lining up outside and we did not shake the last hand until around 9:15.  I knew that my Mama was loved and respected, but WOW.  I can't tell you the number of times I heard, "Your Mama was my favorite niece, aunt, co-worker, cousin, client, fill in the blank"; everyone thought the world of her because of her genuine kindness to those around her.

On Wednesday, we laid Mama to rest.  It was the first day of Spring, a gorgeous day without a cloud in the Carolina blue sky.  Ironically, it was also "International Happiness Day" and I wanted to scream that there was not a dang thing happy about it for me.  The funeral was also a packed house at Cedar Springs Baptist Church.  There were so many people that not only was every seat taken, the choir loft was filled and people were standing, as well.  My Daddy says that you preach your own funeral, and he is right.  If you lead a life full of love and respect, people will show up  and want to pay their respect to you in return.  There is not a doubt in my mind, that my Mama led a life of love, compassion and kindness.       

As I sit and type this blog post, it has been a full week since I got the call that turned my world upside down.  It has been one week since I spoke to my Mama in person.  In all my 37 years I don't recall a single time that I went more than 2 or maybe 3 days talking to my her, and that was extremely rare.  If I went on vacation and she did not go, I was calling her bright and early while she was cooking breakfast to tell her about the previous day and to see what was happening on Green River.

On Friday, I walked to Mama's grave.  It seems surreal to even type those words or think them.  I sat on the ground beside her and told her all about her services.  I told her what she would have loved and that she would have fussed and told my Daddy to close her casket because her neck was swollen. (I get my vanity honest, LOL!)  I promised her I would keep her resting place clean and with flowers on it so it would not look trashy, just like she did for my Papaw. Ha!  I shared with her all the people that came to her services and the kind words they said and then I told her about the people that did not show up, call or even reach out to us.  I told her how angry I am at them for  not showing her the respect she deserved.  I confided in her my own struggles, fears, and secrets we shared and cried and cried and cried selfish tears for her.  I think I sat there for over an hour before I dried my eyes and got up, told her goodbye for the day and walked home.

As the week comes to a close and I reflect on things, the only way I can describe the way I am handling things is one breath at at time.  Someone close to me told me this past week that when you lose your Mama "you don't cope, you don't ever heal completely and you will always feel sorrow, but after time, it gets easier to manage and it is not crippling on a daily basis".  I am not sure how long that will take, but I am going to try to remember that Mama would not want me to be sad all the time and I am going to honor her memory in the best way I know how, to be like her as much as possible.   


A Tribute To My Mama

Yesterday, March 17th, was the worst day of my entire life.  Truthfully, I don't even know where to begin.  For those of you that know me personally or have read some of my previous blog posts, you know that my Mama was diagnosed with Amyloidosis in 2017.  She had a stem cell transplant in August of 2018.  Two weeks ago, her transplant doctor at Chapel Hill released her for all activities and told her she was doing great.  She felt the best and was able to do the most since before her diagnosis.  But yesterday, the Lord saw fit to take her to Heaven.  To say my heart is broken is an understatement.  

I talked to my Mama every single day.  I called her on the way to work at 7:40 every morning.  I talked to her every night.  I would laugh because no matter when I came home in the evening, I would no sooner walk up the steps and the phone would ring.  We laughed and said she must have a tracking device on me.  I talked to her the last time on Saturday afternoon.  She had been to a baby shower and was going to the grocery store.  I asked her to pick up some slaw mix for me so I could have hotdogs and hamburgers on Sunday for Morgan's birthday.  She asked me if I wanted to eat spaghetti with her that night, but I told her I already had food laid out.  We talked about getting a car for Hope and going to look at some in the next few weeks together.  

My Daddy told me she cooked that night and had a great meal with him, my brother, sister-in-law and some of her grandkids.  Then she went to bed after watching television with my Dad and had a low grade fever of around 99.

When my cell phone rang at 8:10 AM and it was my dad calling from his cell phone, I knew immediately when the phone rang that something was wrong.  My mom usually calls and from their house phone.  He told me to come to his house (I live right next door) and help him get my mama dressed because she was burning up with a fever and not lucid.  Immediately, I jumped in the truck and ran down the driveway to their house.  When I arrived my mom was lying in the bed and was so sick she could not sit up and nothing she said really made a lot of sense.  But I talked to her and asked which pajamas she wanted to change into and then I told my Daddy that she was the most sick I had ever seen her and that I thought we should call an ambulance.  I came home and changed clothes, brushed my teeth and ran right back down there.  The ambulance was on the way.  When the first responders arrived they could not get her blood pressure it was so low and her oxygen was registering at 65.  I could see that she was doing worse than even 10 minutes prior.  When they started to the ambulance she went into cardiac arrest.  They were able to revive her and brought her to Pardee Hospital.  My Dad and siblings arrived with the ambulance and we sat in the waiting room for an update.  They finally came to get us around 40 minutes later.  The ER doctor told us that he was not sure what was going on but it appeared my mom had a terrible infection and they could not get her oxygen levels or blood pressure up and that her white blood cells were very low and so were her platelets.  He indicated that they needed to intubate her so she could breath and get oxygen.  In the middle of the explanation the nurse yelled for him and he went running.  About 20 minutes later we were told that her heart stopped again while they were placing the ventilator but they were able to get a pulse again and once she was stable they would transfer her to ICU.  Maybe 10 minutes later, the doctor came in and told us that her heart stopped again and they were unable to revive her.  Everything in my world shifted at that point.  I do not understand even a little bit.  However, I know one thing for sure, I will see her again one day.  While this does not take my sorrow away, it does give me a peace in my heart that passes all understanding.    

The best that I can understand, based on information we have received, is that my Mom somehow contracted a bacterial infection (but I don't know what kind yet), her immune system was still compromised some from the stem cell transplant and it attacked her very hard.  The infection made her oxygen and blood pressure drop dangerously low and that made her heart work extra hard.  Additionally her lungs were filled with fluid.  Medically, we may have answers, but in my heart all I can think is that God wanted her with Him. And I can't blame Him, she was the best.   

I tried to go to bed around 11 last night, I am not sure when I finally fell asleep.  But I woke up around 2 and have been up cleaning my kitchen and doing laundry and thinking of all the good things with my Mama.  I can honestly say that I don't have one bad memory with my Mom.  Not one.  She was the most amazing person that I have ever known.  She was kind and generous and would go out of her way to make you feel happiness.  She has been there for me through thick and thin and never made me wonder if I was loved.  

There are some things about my Mama that will always stick with me and I hope and pray that I can be even half the woman and mother she was to me.  She loved her family and was selfless.  She always took care of all of us.  She would cook supper and call me after work and tell me to come eat if she knew I had a long day.  She loved to bake and made the best cinnamon rolls.  My Daddy says they would melt in your mouth they were so light and good.  She took care of sick kids and grandchildren more times than I can count.   When her Mom had a massive stroke, she cooked supper practically every night, took her to doctors appointments and to the beauty shop and cleaned her house for 7 years and never one time complained or took a break for herself.  It was only when she got sick that she was forced to put her in an assisted living facility and she struggled with the guilt from even that, even though she made it a point to see her almost every day.  She has picked up Hope from school and been a taxi for me more times than I could ever imagine.  But she was also fun.  We watched certain TV shows together and talked and analyzed them and try to predict what was going to happen.  I got my love of shopping and clothes from her.  I have been to Greenville and Asheville buying (and returning) things many times over the years.  She always wanted to look nice and wanted her clothes and jewelry to compliment and match.  She recently bought a green jacket and loved it.  She came to show it to me the night she bought it and told me I could borrow it to wear with my green heels from my previous post because it would look so good with them.  She went all over creation looking for a necklace to match and she finally found it just last week.  But the most important thing about my Mama?  She loved Jesus and she loved everyone.  I can't think of a time where she was not taking care of someone and showing them compassion and love.    

I keep thinking about the lyrics to a song by Brad Paisley.  In the song, "Last Time For Everything" he talks about all the things in this life that we take for granted or never think will end but they always do.  One of the lines is "Biscuits and gravy at my Mama's house", I can't tell you the number of times my Mama made biscuits and my Daddy made sausage and gravy.  At least 1-2 times a week growing up.  And she made biscuits basically every morning I can remember except Sunday when we had muffins because it was faster to get to church.  I never thought that the last time I had biscuits and gravy with her would be the last time. For anyone that has a Mother still alive, I would urge you to never take them for granted, go give them a hug and tell them how much you love them.   I would love to have one more day with mine.  

So now, I am going to take a shower and go to my Mama and Daddy's house.  It is early, but I know my Daddy is awake.  And I am going to attempt to make biscuits that might be 75% as good as my Mama's and I am going to get him to make some sausage and gravy.  It won't be quite the same or nearly as good, but I am hoping it is good for our soul at least.  


St. Patrick's Day Outfit: White Eyelet Dress, Green Bow Heels and Statement Bird Earrings

Fun St. Patrick's Day Outfit with white eyelet dress, statement bird earrings and green bow heels.  And good friends are lucky.

Fun St. Patrick's Day Outfit with white eyelet dress, statement bird earrings and green bow heels.  And good friends are lucky.

Fun St. Patrick's Day Outfit with white eyelet dress, statement bird earrings and green bow heels.  And good friends are lucky.

Fun St. Patrick's Day Outfit with white eyelet dress, statement bird earrings and green bow heels.  And good friends are lucky.

Fun St. Patrick's Day Outfit with white eyelet dress, statement bird earrings and green bow heels.  And good friends are lucky.

Fun St. Patrick's Day Outfit with white eyelet dress, statement bird earrings and green bow heels.  And good friends are lucky.

Fun St. Patrick's Day Outfit with white eyelet dress, statement bird earrings and green bow heels.  And good friends are lucky.

St. Patrick's Day will be here soon and it is one of those holiday's that I always make sure I wear green to celebrate.  I remember even as a kid my mom would come into our room on March 17th and remind us to wear green so we wouldn't get pinched at school.  I am not even sure that they could get away with pinching in school or anywhere these days, but I never leave home with out my Irish green on this day!

One evening while I was having a sit and shop moment, I came across these gorgeous green bow heels and I knew as soon as I saw them that I had to have them.  Jewel tone colors tend to flatter my skin tone well and I justified these with the fact that I could style them for everything from St. Patty's Day to Christmas so it would be money well spent.  Ha!  I also scoped out about 5 different dresses I already have that they will look great with too.  

I also had this white eyelet dress, but honestly, you can't go wrong with a classic white dress.  They can be dressed up or down and take you through Spring and Summer effortlessly.  I have several similar options linked below if you are looking for some cute options!

I was searching for something extra fun to make this outfit pop.  I was still unsure of what I was going to use to pull it all together.  But this weekend, I got together with my girls, Jessica and Michelle to shoot some content.  Jessica had these amazing bird statement earrings and we all three fell in love!  And the best part, they are only like $4.  How fun do they make this look?  St. Patrick's Day outfits don't have to be all about four leaf clovers and leprechauns!  

It is true what they say "A good friend is like a four leaf clover, hard to find and lucky to have". Truly, it is so hard to believe that I met Michelle and Jessica just a couple of months ago.  We encourage each other when we feel like we are failing, bounce ideas off each other and just have formed the best bond.  Somehow we found each other and that I am lucky to call them both my friend.