One Foot in Front of the Other

Thursday, August 09, 2012 19 Comments A+ a-

It wasn’t the normal grandparent relationship.  The kind where you only saw them on holidays and received a card once a year on your birthday.  It was never the relationship where visits and phone calls were an obligation.  Grandma Nancy was such an integral part of our daily lives.  From impromptu meals and outings to biweekly bible studies and weekly church services to school programs and ball games.  She was there in the important moments and the daily details.  And I hate that I’m using the past tense in writing about her. 

This morning she left us.  From being officially diagnosed with stage 4 cancer on July 9th to her death on August 9th, it was the shortest 30 days I’ve ever experienced.  And some of the most painful.

I realize that I’m fortunate to have experienced such a significant loss only once in all of my 32 years.  And don’t think for one moment that I’m not thankful for that.  Now that I’m walking this journey of grief, my respect for anyone who has walked this walk more than once shot up a few notches.  This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

It hurts to breathe… it hurts just sitting here.  With every beat of my heart, my body cries.  And every time I think I’m getting a little bit better, I’m quickly reminded that this is just the beginning.

Grandma slipped into a coma on Monday and so the past three days have been lived in a sort of alternate reality.  These past four days were experienced in a fog… Looking back, I’m not sure any one of us has a crystal clear idea of all that transpired in those days.  Today was spent trying to recreate the timeline from last Thursday through today, and I can’t tell you how many corrections were made or how many it took to finally complete the whole thing.

I will never regret keeping the Littles with me during the first two days.  The sounds of their laughter and play filled the background, everyone taking breaks from Grandma’s bedside to interact with the babies.  It was a stark contrast, death and sadness in one room and the sounds of youth and beginnings in the other.

One of my most treasured memories from these past days, and a healing balm for my heart, were the moments Reagan stole into Grandma’s room to sit in my lap at her side.  We sang song after song, from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to Jesus Loves Me to Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.  I watched as she reached her little hand through the bars of Grandma’s hospital bed to stroke her skin.  There we sat, three generations of women, connected by song and touch.  I’m not sure Reagan will ever know how much those moments meant to me.

This morning, before the funeral home arrived to take Grandma’s body, I grabbed my phone, Pandora’s Hillsong station already on play, and left.  By myself.  I went for a walk, to the fields east of my parents home, and climbed to the highest point of the tallest mound.  As ludicrous as it sounds, I just had to get as close to God as I could.  There I sat and wailed.  Not the feminine tears that trickle down one’s face, but with the cries and wails of a person in pain.  I had no idea I was capable of such sounds. 

I’m not ready.  I’m not ready for her to be gone, to have this void in my life.  I want to see her at more of Hudson’s games, I want to hear her tell my mom she isn’t doing it right when we pickle over Labor Day weekend.  I want to hear her laugh at Elliana and Reagan’s antics.  I want to see her hold more grandbabies.  I want one more card in the mail, with the gift card she knows she’s not supposed to buy.   I want one more meal where she grabs and pays the bill before anyone even knows the waiter dropped it off.  And I especially want to hear her call me “Jenn-Jenn” just one more time.

I know she’s healed, free from the pain.  I know she’s dancing on streets of gold, worshipping our Lord alongside her Mama and Daddy.  I know she’s cuddling Christine’s babies, the ones who were conceived and lost in a short time.  I know that the beauty of her eternity is laid out and ends at the glory of our God.  But the fact of the matter is, she’s there and I’m here.  And that reality is far more painful than I ever imagined.

30 days.  It just wasn’t long enough…

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

19 comments

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11:02 PM delete

Jenn... again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

Praying for you and your entire family in the coming days ahead.

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Jessica
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11:18 PM delete

Oh Jenn, tears stream down my face as I read your post. You & your family are in my thoughts & prayers during this very difficult time. (((hugs)))

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Taylor
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6:49 AM delete

I'm so sorry for your loss. I pray for peace and comfort in these coming days, weeks and years for your family.

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Sheri
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7:32 AM delete

Jenn, I'm so sorry for your loss and I prayed for you and your family, while reading your beautiful tribute to your grandmother. You describe your relationship so much like I would describe mine, with my grandmother. She went home to Jesus, last year, and some days, moments, and especially holidays have been so incredibly hard. Continue to be hard... so, I'm praying for you Jenn, and again, am so sorry for your loss... sending hugs from across the miles.

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Jamie
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8:25 AM delete

A beautifully written post. Your family is in my thoughts & prayers! I'm so sorry for your loss. *hugs*

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Kay Holt
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8:27 AM delete

I am truly sorry for your loss. I have been there...twice. The hardest was my grandma last year. I still break down sometimes at the thought of her not being here. Our relationship was the same, my grandparents were an integral part of my life. I am thinking of you and your family. Praying for comfort and healing.

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Kerbi
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8:31 AM delete

What a legacy she leaves behind. I am so sorry for your loss. I wish there was something I could say or do to help ease the pain, but I know I can't. We are continuing to pray for you and your family.

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Bourg Family
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8:59 AM delete

This is exactly how I feel about my Nana. When I think of the day she is no longer with us my chest tightens & tears threaten to spill down my face. Praying for you.

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Kamma
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9:03 AM delete

I resonated with much of what you write when thinking back on my mom's death. Know that even though the pain and missing her never go away, it does get easier, kind of dulls bit by bit, as time goes by. I love you, and you and your family are all in my prayers. Please hit me up if you need anything, even just a listening ear. By the way, what a writer you are...

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Amanda M.
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9:15 AM delete

I am so sorry for you loss. We lost my husband's grandmother on Monday the 6th, so I can empathize. Thoughts and prayers your way.....

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Dareth
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11:21 AM delete

Jenn, This is a beautiful post- one I am so sorry you had to write so soon.
I love you.

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12:05 PM delete

What a beautiful woman you were blessed to have in your life! I hope you feel God holding you through this time.

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Elle Hattan
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12:51 PM delete

This is such a beautiful post and I'm so sorry for your family's loss. It sounds like she was a very special woman and will always be treasured in your heart.

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Barbie Murphy
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1:18 PM delete

I just tried to read this aloud to Jim and had to keep stopping so the eyes would clear of tears and the print become readable again. What a beautiful tribute to your Grandma---a strong in the Lord woman! Thanks for sharing. "All the days ordained for us were written in His book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139. Love you and praying for everyone grieving Nancy's passing

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Mindy
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1:28 PM delete

You just ripped my heart apart. Thank you for that (seriously). Beautiful, Jenn. What a beautiful word picture about Reagan. What a lovely image to picture her holding on to Christine's lost babies. Wow, Jenn. Wow.

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Christina
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9:16 AM delete

You are a powerful writer to touch people the way you do with your words. As I sit weeping, Tori pats my cheek. You are in my heart

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Christine
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1:51 PM delete

I'm sorry I didn't comment sooner. It was because I couldn't stop the tears long enough to comment. This is beautifully written Jenn. I will always cherish our last days with Grandma. Some day the pain won't be so great.

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Kelsey
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5:12 PM delete

Oh Jenn, my heart just breaks for you and your family. You wrote such a beautiful post and I couldn't hold back the tears by the end. I know this week will continue to be hard for all of you, especially with the burial and the memorial service. Please know that you have been, and will continue to be, in my prayers.

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Sarah
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8:26 PM delete

I've been praying for you daily friend, I love you so very much and I know how deep this cuts. I made a similar run when my dad died, just started running and the tears flowed and I cried out to God to hold the pieces of my breaking heart together... and he did... and there is beauty for ashes. hugs!!!!

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