It’s Been Three Years.

I know I’ll think this every year, but in many ways, it’s hard to believe three whole years have passed since my mom passed away. In some ways it feels much shorter, and in others, much longer. The grief is different as time goes by, but it’s always there. Today, I’m rerunning a post from July 11, 2008.

Warning: this post is going to be all over the place. And long.

What started out as a one-nighter turned into 15 nights away from home. The longest I’ve ever not been here. I am ready to collapse, but as you may have guessed, my head is just swimming after the last several days. However, it’s good to be home.

The funeral on Thursday was really, really beautiful. It truly was a celebration of Mom’s life. That’s not to say that it wasn’t sad, because words cannot do those emotions justice. But, I think (and my family does, too) that not having her body at the visitation and funeral made it so much easier to endure. It’s just hard to look over and see your loved one lying there, not looking like herself. So, I encourage you to think unconventionally when you have to deal with something like this in your family…I hadn’t ever given it any thought until going through this, and now I know that I don’t want my body at my funeral.

We were incredibly moved by the number of friends and family that came to see us last night. Just really overwhelming.

Today we spent the day writing thank you notes. It was a huge job, as we were working from several lists that we’d created of people that had helped our family over the last week, but we got it done. Between my brothers (who were part-time helpers), their wives and me (I did have to take a break and bring my kiddos over to my dad’s house), we wrote nearly 170 thank yous today. My sister has her own stack of probably 20 that she’s going to do this weekend. I am so glad that we decided to just hammer it all out today. Those girls are workhorses!

Over the last several days, I’ve pondered why it took God so long to decide it was time for Mom to come home to Him, when she was obviously so sick, and watching this happen was so hard. In my incredibly limited ability to think about things like this, I kind of just tried to be okay with “because it’s his decision” (duh). But today, I think I may have stumbled upon a thought that helps me be more at ease with watching her struggle during her last several days. I think she was holding on so long so that she could give us one last gift, which is just like her.

My mom loved to have all of her kids and their spouses at home at once. Not only were we all there at once, but we were all there at once A LOT. Lots more than we usually get to be. And only these circumstances could have pulled all of us away from our respective jobs, homes, commitments and cities for such an extended period of time. I’ve never been able to spend so much time with my siblings and their spouses and my dad since we’ve all been adults. The last time would have been when I lived at home for the summer 9 years ago before I married Matt. And Hayley was only 13, so that doesn’t count.

I already knew that they were amazing people. And that my brothers had married wonderful, smart, strong women. And that my dad is just indescribably awesome. But getting so much time with them? Absolutely priceless. Thursday night after everyone else had left the house except us is a time I won’t ever forget…we were able to relax and have a good time together. Zach was totally on his game, with gems coming out of his mouth repeatedly. My mom would have been laughing right along with us, I’m sure.

14 responses to “It’s Been Three Years.

  1. Thinking of you and your family today Nicole.

  2. I wondered a lot of the same things when my dad died (2 yrs ago next month). My one nighter turned into 12 days away. I did get to spend so much time with my siblings and even though it was a horrible reason to be together, we had so much fun. I know that sounds strange and I’m sure the other people at the hospital thought we were crazy but humor is how we dealt with everything. I like to think my dad just wanted the 5 of us to hang out for a while.

  3. Praying for you today!!

  4. Nicole, I cry for you every time I come across an old post of yours where your mom has commented. I can’t imagine your grief but I admire you for the way that you continue to live with it.

  5. I’ve been praying for you today. I know your mom is so proud of the mother, wife, and woman you are today. (((hugs)))

  6. Thinking of your family today. After reading this and pondering, it completely makes sense about not having a physical representation of the loved one at the funeral. As soon as I see a casket, I instantly get emotional. I think that not having the body there makes it easier to focus on the celebration of the person’s life, rather than mourning as what happens when the casket is there.

  7. This post just reminds me of how I’ve grown to love your whole family and have enjoyed so much watching it grow–in numbers & in every other way! You have no idea how many times I thank God for bringing you & Matt together! Even if I only knew YOU, it would be a huge blessing, but getting to know your parents & silbings & being able to share some of your family times has been a huge blessing PLUS!! Your mom was a special, special lady.

  8. You know I ache for you so often regarding your mom. Though it changes, the grief IS always there. But thankfully, so are so many people who love you!

  9. Thought about all of you often today, Nicole. Your mom definitely was one amazing lady! She’s watching you every day, and I know she is SO SO proud of you and your siblings. With every new baby that comes into your family, my mom will always say with a smile “Arlene would be so proud.”

    Hugs and Prayers to you, Nicole.

  10. I’m so sorry, Nicole. The annivesaries are the hardest. I’ll definitely be thinking of your mom tonight when we walk in Relay. Hopefully someday no family will have to hear the word “cancer” again.


  11. Thinking of you and your family today. I can’t imagine how much you must miss her.

  12. Though this comment is a week late, your Mom’s anniversary never passes without loving thoughts, memories and prayers. We always have a Mass said for her on this occasion. And yes, Nicole, she is looking down so proudly on all of you, including the newest ones who bear her name and constantly interceding for all of you, too. We love all of you.

  13. This is a terrific post, Nicole. I think you were right on target with your mom leaving you one last gift. It must have been an enormous and comforting gift to her too, to have you all there with her. And that you recognize the value and love of your siblings, sisters-in-law and father… you can’t buy manufacture that. Best of all, it stays with you. When lots of other things fall away, it stays. Thanks for reposting. May need to become an annual tradition.

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