Where Does Time Go?

We got the call last week that it was time to go pick up our quarter cow in Indiana.
We bought Betsy the cow from our relatives and were just waiting for the go ahead
to come get her.
All neatly packaged up.
I know.
So sorry for those of you that are vegetarians.
Around these here parts we love ourselves some good red meat.
But don't hate.

Anyway, I say all that to say that
while over in rural Indiana, a couple hours from Chicago,
I wanted to make sure to stop by Jack's mom's grave side.
We only get over to Wakarusa once a year at Thanksgiving,
so it was special for me to visit.
I had every intention of bringing flowers,
but forgot.
Just like me.
Great intentions.
Terrible follow-through.
But that's okay.
I'm coming to grips with the reality of who I am.

She'll be gone 11 years this June.
That hardly seems possible.
And it still seems so sad to me.
I mean, the reality is, she's cured of cancer and her body is perfectly healed 
and she is up in Heaven with her Jesus, whom she desperately loved.
She's playing that master grand piano and leading the angels in song.

And while the reality is that we look back on fond, loving memories of her,
we still miss her.
I wish she had met Jackson.
I wish she could see Maddie now, as a middle-schooler.
I wish they knew her.
I wish she could see Jack be a daddy.
She would have been blown away by how good he is at it.
She would have been so proud of him.

So I'm just a little sad.
Or a lot.
And I wish you would have known her.
She was quite a woman.
She loved deeply.
She was moved by her convictions.
Her word was her word.
She was gifted with people and never met a stranger.
We still joke about how she could meet someone standing in line at McDonald's 
and by the time she had her food she'd know their story
from birth through the present.
She just had a way with people.
[ And my Jack gets that from her. I love that about him, too. ] 

 As I think back to June 4th of 2003, the day she passed into eternity,
I'm reminded of how Maddie 
helped me through the loss of Mama Clark.
It really is amazing to me the gift of a child in the time of great loss.

Here's what I wrote in my journal back then:

I love this picture of your grandma, your Aunt Becky, and you. 

This was taken on Memorial Day of 2003, just days before she passed away. This was such a great day -- she was alert, and happy and seemed to be coherent enough to know who we all were. This picture was taken at their Wheaton home, as we took a nice walk over to the little park so you could get down and play before your nap. Later that day, we got the baby blow up pool out, filled it with water, and she squealed with glee as you played and splashed in the water. What a happy day this was.

There were, however, sad days too. I especially remember the last two or three days, when I would just get so sad. When I would hear your daddy reading the Bible to his mommy, I would hold you and hug you so tight and silently cry, just wishing that your grandma would be miraculously healed. 
Selfishly, I wanted her to live so that she could watch you grow up. 
Selfishly, I wanted her to live because I loved her and 
she loved me as if I were her own daughter, 
which made me feel so special and I wanted her to be around to 'do life' with us. 
Selfishly, I wanted her to live because your daddy needs his mommy... 
all children need their mommies.

Early on Wednesday afternoon, June 4th, 2003, your grandma's breathing started to really slow down, and we knew that this would be the day that she would pass away. Your grandpa and I called your Aunt Becky and your daddy (who were both at work) and told them they ought to come back to Wheaton as soon as they could, because it seemed eminent that today would be the day that your grandma - their mother -- would be leaving us and joining her loving Heavenly Father for all of eternity. We called Aunt Ruthie and told her to come too, and before long we were all there, gathered around her hospice bed. 

As I put you to bed that night around 7pm, 
I sobbed and sobbed, 
and held you SO tightly.
Because I knew that when you woke up in the morning, 
your grandma wouldn't be there.

Shortly after 8pm we gathered around and began singing to your grandma. 
We sang her favorite old hymns in what I recall to be perfect harmony.
 I love your grandpa's deep voice and I really hadn't heard him sing a lot, 
so I remember thinking how hard it must be for him to be losing his wife, 
yet he sang so beautifully, for her. 

I remember your daddy's strong voice, too -- I love his voice and 
while he often says he can't sing, 
he really has a great voice and can harmonize so wonderfully. 
And your Aunt Becky -- she sings like an angel --
 I love her voice and could listen to her sing all night long. 

It truly was a beautiful moment. 

After we did some singing your grandpa began a prayer at around 8:30pm, 
and it was during that prayer that your grandma took her last breath 
and was ushered into heaven. 
I kept looking at her, just assuming that she would take another breath... 
I'd watch her chest as I'd done all afternoon, 
looking for the next rising and falling. 
But this time, it didn't come. 
We sat around in silence 
( I think. My mind is a bit fuzzy on this) ... 
such a surreal moment. 
She was gone but now she had a perfect body and her cancer was gone 
and she was playing the piano in Heaven, with Jesus by her side.

While I wish your grandma was still with us, I'm thankful for the Lord's timing ... 
your Grandma Clark received the joy of knowing you for ten months. 
She experienced your birth and all those "first's" that you did like smiling 
and crawling and sitting up and on and on I could go. 
She had been battling cancer for years (since 1996) 
and He could have easily taken her Home earlier, 
but the Lord gave her the gift of knowing you and 
the joy that comes with being a grandparent.

Your grandma would go in and out of knowing who you and I were -- she seemed very aware of those she had known for years and years, but Daddy would sometimes have to say, "Remember Mom, this is my wife Alysa and my daughter, your granddaughter, Maddie." She would perk right up and we would even let you sit on her lap for a few seconds. You squiggled and wiggled so much that we'd have to take you before too long, but she loved holding you.

We'd dress you up in her wig,
just for grins,
and my how we laughed.

 Maddie, the last few weeks and days for your grandma's life were so difficult, 
but you were a source of great joy in the midst of deep sadness. 
You brought smiles to our heavy hearts. 
As I found myself beside Mom Clark's grave last week -- 2014 -- 
I couldn't help but wonder
where the time goes,
and found myself lost in the final few days of her life,
wishing she were with us just one more day. 

Just one more day.


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