We arrived back home today from being gone since last Friday 12/24. How can I sum up these days?! Certainly not the holiday traditions I wrote about in the Christmas Quiz post. I’m going to try with a couple of posts. Beware, there’s some emotional vomit/trying to journal out my thoughts…

I received a text then phone call from my Dad 12/23 around 10a saying that my Ma has slipped into a coma and that my parent’s where heading back to Charlotte. {I thank God so much that I had this chance to say goodbye while she was able to know it.} I believe most of y’all know that from my tweets & facebook {thanks for the love}. I called Jason, we finished up our work for the day and headed home {I was kind of a mess}. After talking to my mom, I decided to spend Thursday cooking, baking & packing. I made SIL chicken casserole {which we ate Christmas night}, these Kris Kingle cookies, and packed all the bread, crackers, chips etc we had in the pantry as well as clothes for us both for at least 5 days.

We left Friday morning after picking up my aunt’s husband in North Ral. I went straight to the nursing home; meeting my mom & aunt at the door. I held Ma’s hands, read her Christmas stories, gave hugs & whispered “I love you”. My Dad & other aunt stayed with Ma while my Mom, aunt, & I went to 11p Christmas Eve church service. Her breathing had changed that afternoon/evening and the CNAs advised we didn’t have her for much longer. My mom had stayed with Ma Thursday night, so my aunts stayed Friday night and sent my Dad, Mom & I back to the condo to sleep around 1:30a. We left after tearful goodbyes as she lay appearing to be peacefully sleeping.

Around 2:30a, my mom got a frantic phone call from aunt Sue saying she wasn’t sure Ma was still breathing. By the time, my mom got back to the nursing home (2:30ish Christmas morning), my Ma had passed away. Mom arrived back to where Dad, Jason & I were staying around 4:45a and told us the news. We tried to go back to sleep for a little while. I went back over to the nursing home {Papa is living there for now while in rehab from his recent surgeries} around 11a. I thought I was ok until seeing the one of the awesome, amazing women who had cared for my Ma for almost 2 years. We hugged & cried together. Papa & I did the same that morning as I let him talk about Ma. Ma loved Christmas; in a way her passing Christmas morning is fitting. How special is it that she was able to meet Jesus on the day we celebrate His birth?!

Another wonderfully sweet SHC employee took care of Papa & I, then Mom & Sue too, as they joined us for lunch. It meant so much to us that Donette was able to make us smile and she gave us the gift of more food than we could have imaged eating that day {turkey & cranberry sauce, stuffing, beans, carrots, cookies, pie, & peppermint ice cream}. The rest of the day is a blur. I remember a few random people saying “Merry Christmas” in passing & either not remembering that it was Christmas or just doing all we could not to cry in reply. It began snowing that evening. I shared my Ma’s Hands post with my family that night.

Sunday we woke up to winter wonderland {I think at least 4 inches}. Photos below from Sunday evening then the Phillips Place frozen fountain from Tuesday.My parents, aunts & I tried to rally around my grandfather. My mom, Sue & I cleaned out Ma’s room Sunday mid-morning. My mom, aunts & Papa met with the minister to plan the funeral. My brother Steven & future-sister-in law Beth arrived Sunday evening. My aunts, Mom & I wrote the eulogy that night.

Steven, Beth, Jason & I took a little break to go out to lunch {at Upstream}, see The Fighter, & have a little Pinkberry. Mom & I also ran to Crate & Barrel Monday evening; that sale was one holiday tradition we didn’t miss. More family arrived Monday afternoon including my cousin Preston & his wife Krissie. It was very good to see everyone as we hadn’t all been together in a long time.

flowers from my aunt’s friends & my mom’s friends

My family had planned to have the funeral, visitation & graveside all in the same day. We gathered together Tuesday morning. My mom helped get my grandfather ready for his first time in public since his surgery 2 months before. Papa is one of 6 children. The family on his side met us at the church. Another gathering of supportive family; most of which we hadn’t seen since our wedding 3 years before or even longer. The funeral was complete with beautiful hymns, the readings of Old & New Testament passages, Preston reading the eulogy perfectly, Psalm 23, and wonderful prayer. Papa chose to have Mom, my aunts, brother Steven, Preston & I receive the 200 family & friends who came in support & love for my grandmother. It was so nice to see familiar faces, hear their stories, receive their hugs. Ma was cremated and just immediate family gathered at the snowy graveside service. The minister said a prayer, we hugged each other & said a final goodbye. Here’s a copy of the obituary from the funeral home website.