I am not sure any of you will want to read this, because its going to be depressing (especially you Dad and sisters). Mainly, I’ve been lying in bed for the past hour, unable to sleep because there are so many little memories from the time when Mom was really sick that I am scared I’m going to forget.

Tonight, I thought I was safely drifting to dream-world,, when I suddenly saw the way Mom would hold her shoe halfway on her foot and jiggle it back and forth while she was talking. Stupid, yes, but I was trying to take a picture with my mind, hoping I wouldn’t forget that little nuance, when one memory after another from her very sick time started jabbing their way into my mind, begging not to be forgotten either. So, I finally decided to come here so that I would know they would be recorded some place a little more trustworthy than my mind. Maybe then I’ll be able to get some sleep.

Walking in to Mom and Dad’s room to find my big, full-grown husband lying with his head half on Mom’s pillow and half on her shoulder, with his arm thrown across her middle. Both of her arms were curled up around holding his. I thought, wow, she really does love him like her own son.

Mom, Dad, Taylor, John David, Jeremiah, and me all piled in their bedroom watching a movie. Mom decides she wants a supreme pizza, so Jeremiah and JD jump up to go pick one up. Then, as we’re all sitting there eating, she sits up stick straight and pops her eyes open huge (they looked so much bigger because her face was so thin) and says, “Ohhh! there’s grease in this isn’t there!?” We all just died laughing. She looked so innocent and funny, and who doesn’t realize there’s grease in pizza. (She’d recently found that late-night grease gave her stomach problems, but claimed she’d forgotten)

The way Mom was always trying to look over my shoulder at Mary Aplin to catch a glimpse of her smile.

Dr. Maddox handing Mary Aplin into Mom’s arms (not realizing she’d been too weak and swollen to hold her for almost a week) and Mom looking at me like, please don’t take her yet. I know it must have been horribly painful to support a wriggling baby on her distended, cancer filled belly, but she just wanted to hold her so bad.

Caroline and I taking the night shift with Mom and both of us trying to hide our frustration and fear as she feebly asked if she could walk outside. She was just so weak and she might collapse on you at any minute–it made me so nervous to let her walk around but that’s all she ever wanted to do. She must have sensed our impatience and she looked at me and whispered, “I’m sorry.” It nearly broke my heart in pieces to see her try to apologize for wanting to go outside.

Late night, all four girls, each at an arm or leg, either massaging or tickling, trying to make her comfortable. Looking at each of their faces and thinking, God knew exactly what he was doing when He gave her four daughters. Then looking up to see a picture of Aunt Alice and Mom on the table behind Mom’s head and laughingly saying, “Look Mom, all your girls are here.”

Reading Streams in the Dessert and Mom’s daily encouraging cards to her on the back patio with Grandma and Aunt Alice.

Dad asking Mom 20 questions at once (he was just trying to figure out how to make her comfortable) when she had just stumbled back inside from getting a blood transfusion. She cut her hand sharply at him and burst into tears. Dad threw his hands up and said he didn’t know what else to do. I said, “Dad she’s not mad at you. She’s just so weak she doesn’t know what she wants right this minute, and she’s crying because she’s just so worn out.” Later, when she was resting in bed she whispered, “Thanks for knowing what I’m thinking, when I’m too weak to say it.” and she squeezed my hand.

The way Pace instinctively knew to be gentle with her. She wanted to rest her head on Mom’s leg, kiss her booboo’s (where the IV had been), lay beside her on the couch, hold her hand, and bring her baby dolls and blankies. She adored her.

The last restaurant she ate at was the Waffle House 🙂 Sometimes you just need it.

The last food she ever ate was Carolyn West’s roasted red pepper soup. Most people who are so weak they can hardly open their mouth eat things like ice cream or Ensure, but not Mom.

Dad and I were having an argument and I was balling my eyes out. Mom, in an effort to make me feel better said, “Abby, you know what Dr. Edwin said to me today? He said all your girls are wonderful, but one is a jewel–cut straight from your back and that’s Abby.–He was right.” Then, Dad walked up and grabbed me into a hug. Mom, was bent over in pain, but she walked over and pressed the side of her face against my back and wrapped her arms around me too. That’s the last time I got a hug from both of them at once. Sometimes now, when Dad hugs me, I try to remember what it felt like to feel her holding on to the other side.
(Sisters, if you are punishing yourselves and still reading I need to say two things 1-I could tell by the way Mom was holding her mouth and looking down as she said the above, that she didn’t really agree with it. We all know I am definitely not “cut straight from her back”, or a jewel for that matter. 2-Dr. Edwin said this after one of those question sessions where I’d fired off relentlessly. I think he was trying to find a nice way to say, your oldest daughter acts towards you about like a rabid dog defending her young. Still, it was a nice thing to hear.)

All four girls dancing and singing Sarah Bareilles, “Love Song,” at the end of Mom’s bed and her bouncing her head and snapping her fingers along with us as she tried to ask (over the blaring music) what the song was about.

After the Candlelight Walk, Jeremiah kept asking her if she was ready to get back in bed. She looked him in the eye and quietly whispered, “I’m ready.” How poignant that those turned in to her last words, even though she was talking about getting back in bed.

The first time we thought she was about to meet Jesus, and the way it felt to see my whole family huddled around her and chokingly singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and meaning it.

Just before the Candlelight Walk Mom was in a “deep, deep sleep.” We’d all been trying different things to wake her up for about an hour, when Dad came literally jogging into the room. He grabbed a “Best of Disco” CD (I still am not sure where that came from or why it was in their room) and turned up “Brick House” as loud as it would go. My sisters, always ready for a party, came running upstairs to see what was happening. Dad started dancing and reminiscing over the music about all the times they’d danced to that song, like at their prom. When she still wasn’t responding much, he took her hand, looked down at it and said, “I held this hand and led you to a lot parties, and you’ve always loved a party. I’m not about to let you miss the biggest one of your life, when you’re the guest of honor.” Then his body started to shake with sobs and he lay his face down on her hand. We kept dancing until he joined back in, and he was able to lead her to that party a short time later.

12 Responses to “Tales from the Foxhole”

  1. Lori says:

    Abby, As we left “Outback” last night I had a flashback to an evening we had met your mom and dad there for dinner. They had just gotten the new silver SUV (the name escapes me). They were both so excited about it. And I wondered as we pulled out of the parking lot how you all were doing with the “memories”. I missed Becky so much yesterday. It was my birthday and she had faithfully celebrated with me for the past 15 years, gathering our friends for a tasty “Mexican Feast”! My thoughts are that all these reflections are a good healthy way to work through the grief process. I guess we could even say the grief we still feel is honoring to your mom’s legacy. She left such a strong “impression” on our lives. I don’t think you will ever forget the little details of Becky’s life, good and sad. There are so many of you all to remember! You can all get together and recall her time here on earth. Each one of you adding their own special memory. I pray that God will bless you all with peace. Write some bible verses out and put them beside your bed. When the memories flood into your mind at night, read over them. God’s word is soothing.

    Much love and prayer, Miz Lori

  2. Darby Stickler says:

    Abby, I’m so thankful you shared these memories with us. What precious, precious, precious memories of your mom. They are absolutely priceless. I’m praying for you. I hope you were able to sleep…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Abby, I sobbed as I read all of what you had written! Its truly amazing to me how you manage all of the things in your life on a day to day basis. Why God chose to take such an amazing woman that this world really needed is beyond me, but we all know he has his reasons. Write every memory down that you can and keep it close to your heart! (Nothing wrong with thinking you would forget!) You are in my thoughts and prayers daily!! Your blog has become one of my daily devotoinals! Much LOve…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Abby, I’m sitting here sobbing, these memories are so sweet. I have always been one to take pictures or movies of everytime my children, grandchildren and family are together, only since reading your blogs have I started putting my memories to blogs. You have inspired so many people through your blogs.I took my cat in today for surgery with your Dad,and I thought about all the memories you shared with us. You truly have a special family, Thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. Tegan says:

    I kept procrastinating in leaving you a comment….what’s one to say…having been in your similar situation, I too went through a time where I thought I would forget memories of my Dad. This might sound crazy to others, but I think you might understand. When Dad passed away and everyone(Mom, Cord, Heather, and Dave) left the romm. I couldn’t quite seem to peel myself away from laying next to Dad and smelling his shirt. I was so scared I was going to forget what he smelled like. The nurse was there that day and had just given him a bath and a shave and he smelled so good, like lotion. Finally, Mom came in and said that “they” were there to take Dad. It was then, that I think it hit me, that was goodbye(for now)! I don’t know why I share this, but after reading your post, I was flooded with memories that I guess were hidden away in my heart. My Prayer is that the Lord will hide ALL of the precious memories of your mom away in your heart. I still think of you daily!

  6. Taylor says:

    hey abby.
    i cant read the post right now because I am in Rome and around many people but seeing the pictures bring tears. I cant wait to get in the quiet and read it, I am not sure what it is exactly about but Dad said he cried when he read it and told me to read it on a happy day here.I just wanted to say hello and I miss you_hope you got the pictures i sent. bye

  7. Natalie McGough says:

    Gosh Abby, I don’t think I’ve cried this hard in a long time. Your family amazes me. I love that you are all so close, and I think while I was reading your post, I was longing for my family to be this close and to be so full of life…your mom just seemed so full of life! Just think, she’s in Heaven dancing away and nodding her head to the heavenly choir. Thank your for sharing your heart and know that these memories have touched so many.

  8. Konie says:

    Hey Abby,

    I’m just sitting here sobbing! Guess I needed too, but also, believe this writing would make anyone teary eyed! What a wonderful outlet for you, to be able to write like this. Beautiful readings for us also. Have a great day!

    Konie Bryant

  9. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t know your mom—but I think she would be so touched that you are trying to savor/keep these memories. I know as a mom that I would be so humbled, and so amazed, and so in awe that my daughter loved me that much….that she would want to remember what might to me have seemed like tiny details about me. So, Abby, know that…not only are you recording those memories for yourself and for your daughters…but you are honoring your mom by even wanting to.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I know we talked the other day about this blog and how much I loved reading the memories. However I forgot to comment on the last story. That one is my favorite! It makes me smile and cry at the same time. That one is sweeter than the Notebook!

  11. Gray Matters says:

    Dear Abby – my brother, Josh, emailed me your blog. Grieving is definitely an exhausting thing – there is great healing in writing. Your words are also helpful to many. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  12. Cstargel says:

    Abby – I stumbled across your blog because you had posted on my friends blog (Heather Heaton)and I’m at work bored today. You are so amazing and we have so much in common! I loved your 100 things list! I have cried and laughed with you through your blog. So sorry to hear about your mom but it sounds like your family and your faith is amazing. I’ll be back!

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