Saturday, July 14, 2012

As Long As It Takes

Because it's exactly where I am, in so many different ways.....and when I can't find the words, I can usually find a song....

 ♪♫ I'm tired, do I have to keep proving myself
I'm weary and drawing from an empty well
I need You more than I ever have
So, Jesus, come and shatter my darkness somehow

I won't speak until You speak
I won't move until You move me
I won't sing, sing over me
I will wait as long as it takes

I'm restless for something significant
But I'm helpless cause I've done all
I can I want You more than I ever have
So, Jesus, come and hold me, I'm shaking right now

I won't speak until You speak
I won't move until You move me
I won't sing, sing over me
I will wait as long as it takes

You are the Comforter so comfort me
You're the Sustainer so be enough for me
You are my Father and Your love for me
Is where I find my rest

 I won't speak until You speak
I won't move until You move me
I won't sing, sing over me
I will wait as long as it takes ♫♪

Signs, Miracles & Wonders

Thursday, July 5, 2012

They Say She Looked Beautiful.....

.....but I don't know for myself. It took everything I had to walk  into that steps got slower and slower as we approached the door and emotion threatend to take me under as we entered.  I couldn't make it past the closest chair.  Everyone else kept going, but I couldn't.  I was trembling, trying so hard to keep from falling apart and Mark came and hugged me, asking if I was sure I didn't want to see her.  I couldn't look, couldn't force my body to go the number of steps it would take to reach the far side of the room.....I just couldn't do it.

The hour reserved for the family may have been the longest of my life and I was glad when others started coming in....mostly older people and the sound of their sweet, weathered Southern voices comforted me and they helped to distract me from the presence of her casket, from the sad oppression of my thoughts.

I eventually made it further into the room, sitting on a couch with my own family, my boys suffocating me, squishing so close, trying to help.  For the next two hours, I was introduced to people I've never met, smiled as I was introduced and even held my composure when unexpected drama erupted and the emotions of shock and incredulousness were added to the ever-growing list. The anger at what had happened help me get through the remaining time, helped to cover the feelings of grief.  Fortunately, it was kept low-key and only those of us involved even knew what was going on. I was able to smile some more as people told me over and over again what a good woman my Granny was, how beautiful she much younger than her age, how pretty her dress was. 

I wouldn't know.....I couldn't look. Just couldn't do it and I'm happy to take their word for it. That wasn't really her there, anyway, I told myself.....she's in the Land Eternal.

The funeral was this morning and I couldn't stop the tears as we pulled into the cemetary. I sat on the front row with my mama on one side and my sister on the other.....Mark and the kids behind me. Mandy sang one of Granny's favorite hymns, "Amazing Grace", beautifully....Mama had asked me to do it but I couldn't. I can barely get words to come out of my mouth, how on earth would I have been able to sing??? The pastor talked about Granny, talked about her life....but I only heard bits and pieces.

It was so very hot, beads of sweat rolling down my neck, back and legs and it was hard to hurt to breathe, but it hurt not to breathe, too. It just hurt. The Lord sent a breeze and as it drifted over us, I thanked Him for it. I looked at her's the first time I had really looked at it. It's beautiful, and it matches her dress, a detail that was not intentional. Not the same shade, but a lighter one and a perfect blend. There are roses engraved on it in places, her favorite flower. Mama told me later that they didn't even think of that when they picked it out....another unintentional detail.

The tears came and went in waves, and people walking by us after the service to speak to us was a welcome distraction from what I was feeling. I don't know most of them, and my heart warmed when I saw my cousins.....I didn't know if they were going to come and I was so glad they did.

We talked and caught up a bit and I was distracted from the presence of the casket by their chatter, by their sharing their memories of Granny and PawPaw.....they and my sister share their memories,  they can all remember him and how I wish I could. How I wish I had something of him, some memory to share. We talked some more and they took pictures, and it seemed so strange to be reunited in a grave yard, snapping photos of our reunion.

The small crowd started thinning out, one by one and two by two, until there were few left. I couldn't leave without taking one more moment....I wasn't ready and not sure I ever would have been. I stood there with Mark, tears came again and he put his arm around me and I was glad. I stood by her casket several minutes, quiet tears escaping, trying to say good bye, wanting so badly to tell her I love her just one more time.

Ashlyn walked over to me and started rambling on about something, but I couldn't really focus on what she was saying and was trying not to be irritated.....something about how country people talk and I caught the words,"they say 'yonder' a lot. Instantly, the words from the familiar old hymn "When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder" went through my mind and I thought about the fact that when that roll is called, I will be there....and my Granny will be, too.

It was so incredibly difficult to leave....difficult to accept that this was it, to make my feet do what I was telling them to do.  But with sweat rolling down my back and my eyes stinging with tears, I turned and walked away, feeling as though I was leaving a piece of myself there at that gravesite.

This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, letting go of someone who has been such a significant person in my life that her worth cannot begin to be measured and who holds such a large piece of my heart.  I know I'm not the first nor will I be the last to walk through this.....I  know this is part of life, part of loving someone, but knowing that doesn't make it hurt less. 

Claiming so many of His promises, and waiting for the morning to come again.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy Comes in The Morning."
~ Psalm 30:5 ~

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more, And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise, And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"My Husband's Come to Get Me"

I don't know what time I finally went to sleep.  Funny how a body can be so tired and the mind just keeps going and going and going and they won't work together sometimes.  I fell asleep with tears on my pillow and slept fitfully, waking often.  When I finally woke up for good, the tears and overwhelming feeling of loss were waiting, but I kept them somewhat at bay, let them fall silently.....Ashlyn was sleeping next to me and I didn't want to wake her, didn't want her to hear.  Mama keeps saying that someone can sleep in the back bedroom, that there's plenty of beds, but that's Granny's bedroom.  I used to sleep in that bed with her when we were here, until the day I decided I was too big....I think sometime shortly after we moved to Florida.  I suspected that she was somewhat sad when I stopped.....that king-sized bed was awfully big for one person.....but she understood.  I was growing up.

The thoughts & feelings are bouncing around like pinballs out of control today.  I feel like I have cotton stuffed in my brain.  Georgia cotton, like we'd see in the fields on our way here.  This time of year, we take in the view of peach trees laden with their sweet fruit on the trip.....when we'd come for Thanksgiving and Christmas, those trees were bare, but the cotton plants would be filled with their puffy white offerings.  I remember asking Mark to pull off the road on one trip when the kids were smaller and had him go pick one pieace of cottton so that they could see what it looked like and felt like before we would buy it in plastic bags from the store.

She's everywhere I look in this house.  The memory of her in the bathroom while I dry my hair....putting on her make-up.  Standing in the hallway, opening the closet to get towels or washcloths for us.  In the kitchen cooking up a storm.  In the years I lived in Georgia, we were here every Sunday, without fail.  We'd come into this house and there'd be a spread of food on the counter/buffet that you wouldn't believe.  Unless it was a holiday, there was always fried chicken and cornbread....the other dishes would vary, but it was always way too much.  That saying about cooking with love was never more true than it was about her.....she planned her menus making sure there was something for everyone, each dish was someone's favorite and she made it with them in mind.  "Dan, I got you some Red Velvet Cake  in there", she'd say.  Squash Casserole for Mama.  Something for Aunt Joyce.....different things for different people.  For me, it might be Macaroni and Cheese one week, Zipper Peas or Fruit Salad on another, or maybe a dessert..... Chocolate Torte.  Turtle Cake.  Banana Pudding.  The list could go on and on.

I look out the kitchen window and I think of Smut, the fluffy black kitten I left with her the summer we moved to Florida.  She was never one for pets....I don't think she'd ever had one before, but she said she'd take care of my kitten for me and I could visit him when I came to see her.  That little kitten worked his way into her heart before she knew what was happening.  He grew into a beautiful cat and would sit on the sill on the other side of the window while she did dishes and she would talk to him.  She would give hinm little bits of her food.....whatever she had cooked for herself and I think she may have cooked a little extra just for him.  She loved that cat, and it surprised us all.  He ran behind her car one day when she was backing out of the carport and she didn't see him.  She talked for years about how much she hated that, would talk about the way he'd look at her though that kitchen window and would come and wind in between her legs when she'd go sit on the back porch swing, in and out, round and round.  In the last year or so, she would have bouts of dimentia...not constantly and usually when she was sick. She would see all kinds of things that weren't there......often she would see cats, lots of cats all over the place and I wonder if one of them that she saw was Smut.  I like to think that it was. 

I swang on that back porch swing with her countless times....her on the left, me on the right.  We'd all be out there on a Sunday afternoon, the adults shootin' the breeze, and me just listening, taking it all in.  She'd sit slightly turned, her right arm sometimes propped up by the back of the swing, her right foot wrapped behind her left leg, using her left leg to rock back and forth, gentle and steady.  I'd get up, go play, and always end up right there again.  Sometimes someone else would sit with us, but I always tried to manipulate it so that I was the one sitting by her.

I look out towards the shed, weathered and worn now, with Uncle Dan's John Deere  parked in the car-port type area underneath.  For so many years, PawPaw's old Ford pick-up would be there.  I remember hopping up in that pick-up beside her when I was here and she needed to collect rent from her rental houses.  We would drive, turning and bouncing along the dirt road to where they were.  People would come out of the houses and give her the money, calling her "Mizz Hortman", and I thought my Granny must be very important.  Then we'd go take all that money down to the BB&T to deposit it, and I'd walk in so proud that I was with my Granny.

In the wood-paneled family room, I look at the faux brick fireplace and the hearth that extends past it, along the entire length of the wall.  There's a long leather cushion and it creates extra seating......and I think about my PawPaw.  He died when I was only 4, and I only know him by photographs and other people's memories.  Granny has told me over and over again how much he loved me, loved all of us he would take a Sunday nap on that cushion underneath the window and pull my little self up beside him to take a nap with him, wrapping me up in his arms.  It hurts to think about it and I wonder what that would have felt like.....a little girl all wrapped up in the arms of her PawPaw, to have the love of the kind of man that he was in my life.  I imagine the feeling that little girl would have felt is safe and secure....and happy and completley loved..... a little like Heaven and much like what it will feel like when I get there one day and am finally wrapped up in the arms of my sweet Savior.

Every person I've ever met in this town has praised my PawPaw up and down.....what a good man he was, God-fearing, hard-working, always kind and gracious, a friend to everyone.  They always talk about the restaurant/grocery store/gas station they owned on 341 and I like to try to imagine what it was like in those days.  Before I-75 was built, 341 was the main route to Florida and they had quite the booming business.  I-75 put them out of business and I always think of them and their restaurant when we watch Cars.

Granny would say that there never was a man on this earth that was as good as he was and she missed him every single day that she lived on without him.  She would often talk about getting to see him again, to be with him again.  I think she was quite the woman to have to live with at times, a feisty Southern gal with quite a kick to her.  I've never seen that side of her...... she was never that way with me.  But he loved her and she loved him.....the last time I was here, someone mentioned him and the look that came over her sweet face was priceless.  "He shore was good to me", she said.  "He shore was a good man....he died in 1978 and I've missed him every day".  In the week after I left, she started saying things that now, looking back, everyone says are signs that she knew it wouldn't be long.  Instead of saying "I love you" to my mama, she would say, "Now, just remember.....I love you".....other little things, too.  She told one of her sitters a week or so ago, "My husband's come to get me"....

We went to take some shoes to the funeral home not long ago.....slippers for Granny to wear.  Her viewing is tonight.

I can't do this.

I don't want it to be real.

We got there and there was a sign on the door that they're closed until 3:00 for Independence Day.  I keep forgetting.  It dawns on me that this is the one holiday that hasn't had Granny written all over it, and I will now think of her on this holiday as well for the rest of my life.  The sign on the door has her name on it and the times of the viewing as well as the graveside funeral in the morning.

Louise B. Hortman

Seeing her sweet name, her precious name, on that announcement makes me feel like a tidal wave has hit and I don't know how I'm going to walk into that funeral home.  I don't know how I'm going to make it through this.

She was sick and she had lived a long was time for her to go.  I wouldn't have wanted more pain for her, not a bit more suffering....and yet I don't want it to be true.  I know she's been reunited with her love, with her Savior, where she belongs, and yet I don't want it to be true.

I wish I could get a grasp on this and think I should be handling it better than I am.

I feel so very selfish.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A New Dress

We drove into Macon today to get Granny her new dress.  When Mandy was here yesterday, she couln't understand why we just didn't get something out of her closet.  Granny had lost quite a bit of weight and nothing would fit, but even if she hadn't, we would have done it anyway.  She would want a new dress.

She was Down-Home Country, a woman who worked hard and didn't shy away from hard work, but she was a woman who liked to take care of herself, too.  She loved "purty" clothes and jewelry to go with it, loved to go to the "beauty shop" and get her hair done, loved to put on her make-up, to look good and smell good.  She would have wanted a new dress.

As I got ready to go, visions of what seems like the kazillions of times we got ready to go to Macon went through my mind.  There was a phrase she used to say every time as I would pass her in the hallway, either before or after she got herself ready, and it frustrates me that I can't recall it.  She was always ready first and would be waiting in her recliner in the den.  Without fail, I would walk in, and she would smile and say in her Southern twang, "AlrightLook out, now!!" and I'd laugh at her and off we'd go, traveling the expanse of country highway to Macon, country music playing.

I get myself ready this morning in the same pink bathroom I've gotten ready in so many times and it's hard to put my make-up on because the tears are so close to breaking through.  I'm shaky today and walking a fine line, trying to maintain composure.  I try to push away the thoughts of what we're doing, pushing them away, pushing down the tears, the thoughts, the memories that hurt.  Now's not the time.

Driving down that familiar highway, my thoughts keep taking over until someone says something that jars my mind back to where it should be.  I say a prayer of thanks for the friends who have said they're praying for me because I know their prayers are getting me there safely.

We get to Macy's and walk inside ~ begin to look for just the right dress, but nothing seems right.  And it has to be just right.  A sales associate comes up to us and asks Mama what we're looking for.  After a slight hesitation, she tells her and she shows us several of which is quite beautiful and we can't put down.  It's perfect for her, feminine, but not too feminine, dressy and classy.  I can picture her in it and the tears try to escape, so I walk away to distract myself and hear my phone notify me of a text.  It was from my precious friend, letting me know she was thinking of me and praying for me right that moment.  God's timing is perfect.  We ask the associate to hold it for us so that we can walk through the mall and continue to look, just to be sure.

Walking out into the mall, I'm hit with instant pain in my chest as I take into view the mall I haven't been to in so many years, but it's so familiar to me.  I don't even know how many times I've walked this mall, but as we walk through it now, I can see us walking through it together, sometimes for something specific, sometimes just to get out and spend time together and have a good time.  In my  memories, the mall is always crowded, eager shoppers there for some huge sale just like we were.  Now, it seems so empty....many of the stores have closed and relocated to a newer mall across town and it makes me sad.  There's not a thing wrong with this mall, it's very nice & beautiful and I hate to think of it not doing well because I want it to always be here. 

We  make our way through, looking and making a few purchases as we go.  I glance down the mall and see one of the major department stores closed.  "Is that Sears?", I ask and my mama says, "Yeah....good ole Sears is closed up".  I'm instantly gone, back in time so many years, to a shopping trip.....just me and Granny.  It was summer, and I was spending the week with her.  This was the day we went to town; she wanted to buy me a new dress.  I remember walking beside her, happy as a clam, when she looked down at her wrist and panicked when she didn't see her watch on her wrist.  Pawpaw had given it to her......he had passed away years before, and it was precious to her.  She was so upset, the more we retraced our steps and didn't find it.  We finally made it back to Sears, back to the Pretty Plus section of the children's department {I was quite the chunky monkey for several years}.  We were about to give up, about to leave with her so upset, when I saw it.  It was underneath a rack of dresses and our day was saved.  I don't know how many times I heard her tell that story.....the story of How Jill Found Her Watch.  "Good ole Jill', she'd say.  "I don't know what I would've done without her".

Fastforward many years, and at another trip to the Macon Mall,  I lost my engagement ring.  We didn't find it, and I had to go home and tell my fiance what I'd lost.  The fact that I didn't have a pretty ring on my finger bothered Granny so much, that on our next trip up, she handed me that watch that she loved so much because my PawPaw had given it to her.  She wanted me to take it to a jeweler and have the diamonds in it made into a ring for me.  I wear those diamonds on my left hand represents not only my commitment to my own marraige, but her sweet love for me and legacy of strong love Granny & PawPaw had for each other.

We walk a little more and I'm constantly alternating to feeling in control and losing control, pulling the reigns tighter and tighter on the dam that I'm trying to keep up.  We pass the food court, and the Wendy's that used to be on the corner is gone.  Mama and I would change up where & what we ate, but Granny always got a Wendy's single with chesese, small fries and a coke.  Every single time.

We ended up going back to Macy's and purchasing the first dress we saw.  As mama stands in line, she tells me how beautiful the casket is, how much it cost but it didn't matter because Granny deserved the best, and mentions that she didn't even look at the price of the dress.  "Doesn't matter", she said.  "She never gave us anything but the best, and the best is what she's going to have".

It's true.  Only the best for those she loved.

I walk away again, pretending to look at clothes while she waits and pays......this is so hard.  My sweet girl walks up and says, 'I love you".  She keeps telling me she loves me, which is unusual for say it this much.  She sees me hurting and wants to do's the only thing she can think of to do. 

Thank you, Lord, for my sweet baby.

We're almost done, almost through with this trip.  I walk back towards my mama as the sales associate hands her the dress and her receipt, saying something about "in case it needs to be returned".  As we walk to the car, mama says, "I think it's going to be kind of hard to return it".  She's killing me with these things she keeps saying and I say a prayer, thanking God that I have my sunglasses on.

This day has been so difficult.  It's raining now, and I read again through several texts that came in today from my closest friends.  I wonder if they know how much it matters to me.....that they've prayed for me,  thought of me and cared enough to send them...... to try to love on me through the miles.  So much like family, I wish that they were here with me.  They get me.  They would know what to say to me, but wouldn't have to say anything.....just their being here would help.  They understand what I need most and would surround me with hugs and prayers, would comfort me with their sweet presence and reminders of God's love and faithfulness.

I check my email and make my way through so many thoughtful messages from so many other sweet and precious friends.....the Lord encouraging me and loving me through each one.   Most from friends in Jacksonville, and then a few that surprise me.  People sending me messages through the contact section of my blog,  people that I don't even know, that are reading the posts, telling me they are praying for me and my family, telling me of their own recent or not-so-recent losses, offering me comfort through their words and thanking me for posting about my journey through this.  I'm amazed at how Christ can and will use anything and everything for His Glory.  Who would've thought that writing about my pain because I don't know how else to deal with all my thoughts would cause someone to thank me??

I don't want to face what we have to do tomorrow, and what we have to do on breathing gets shaky and a panicky feeling takes over when I think about it......this hurts so very much.  But I know the Lord is with me, every painful step of the way......I don't know how people do this without Him.

  "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
                                    ~ Deuteronomy 31:6 ~

Monday, July 2, 2012


95 North to I-10 West.  75 North straight into Perry.  Exit 136 and I'm off the Interstate and headed down 341 to Roberta, to Granny's house.  Past rows and rows of peach trees, pecan trees and Georgia red clay and into Fort Valley.  Past the Dairy Queen where I always remember going to one time but not how old I was or who I was with.  I had gotten a green slushy type drink and the worst case of brain freeze I can ever remember getting, but it didn't stop me from finishing my treat. ;)  Over the train tracks, past Blue Bird and past more rows and rows of majestic looking pecan trees and shorter, squattier rows of peach trees....and of course, "red dirt" as Jacob likes to say just to hear me correct him.  "It's not's Georgia red clay", I tell him and then I see his grin and pinch him for setting me up.

I reach Roberta and turn onto her street.  My chest begins to tighten and the knots in my stomach let me know that they haven't gone away despite the destractions of my kids teasing me or picking on each other.  Pulling up into the drive, I pull in , past the huge Magnolia and the brick house that my PawPaw built over 50 years ago comes into full view.  I push down the panicky feeling that threatens to engulf me, blink back the tears that threaten to appear as the thought of her not being inside freezes momentarily in my mind. 

I want her to be inside, waiting for us in her recliner, waiting for a hug and a kiss.  I want to hear her say my name when she sees me....the way she says it, with that Southern accent and the inflection in her voice that makes it sound only the way she can.

The way she could.

I park beside my mama's car and before we're all out, she's coming out, meeting us.  We walk inside, past my Granny's car that I've ridden in countless times and I can't help looking inside and seeing us all in there ~ Granny, Mama & I.....on one of our trips into Macon for shopping and eating....and I stop the memory for going any further.  It hurts and I have to push it away for now.

We get our things settled and go over the viewing and ceremony info......and my head hurts, my eyes hurt.  The smell of the house, walking through the rooms, the fragments of memories that come randomly....... I quickly distract myself to make them stop.....I'm tired and I can't go there now.  I took 3 Tylenol PM's last night to try to get more sleep and they didn't work very well.  Yawn.

My sister calls.  I haven't seen or heard her voice in 12 years.  She's coming.  She's afraid there will be a scene, she's afraid to see my mama face to face.  She left at 18 and never came back to see my Granny and says she's been crying all day.  She's not the only one afraid that there will be a scene.....I don't think there will be, but one can never be sure.....

We have a couple of visitors, bringing food and condolences.  Including Mandy.  Mandy was one of my Granny's sitters, one of the ladies that would come take care of her.....she had sitters round the clock to help her, to grant her wish of not entering a nursing home, of staying in this house that my PawPaw built for her until her last days.  Mandy brought a full-course southern meal for our family, cooking up a storm this morning not knowing we were coming.  "I just love to cook," she says in her loud voice, "and when I heard you was comin', I knew right what to do with it".  She gets to work, doing dishes and sweeping, cleaning and organizing, without anyone asking her to and in spite of my mama's telling her not to, to sit down and relax.

Mandy was with Granny on her last night in the house.  She starts moving furniture back into place, furniture that had been moved to make the room more functional for Granny.  She clears off little tables that held medication and cups, tissues, the Pond's Cold Cream that she used to cleanse her face,....and asks if it's ok to put the nightstands back in bedrooms where they belonged.  My mama keeps saying things like, "Might as well, no one lives here any more.  They're no longer needed in here", and I want her to stop.

Mandy finally sits down and her loud voice never stops......she says she wished we had all come for Thanksgiving (I wanted to come on wasn't my decision not to), how good it was for us all to be here now.  She talks about Granny, the things she would do, the things she would say.....and I can hear Granny's voice saying them in my mind.  She tells us what she used to say about us, what she used to say about me, that she sure loved Jill.

I wish she was here.  And I take a deeper breath and blink back the tears.

Mandy says how much she loved it when my mom and Uncle Don were here with the sitters, how she loved to just sit and listen to the chatter.  My visits over the past several years been sporadic and I start to wonder if Granny knew why.  I was told not to come.  That the kids would make too much noise and upset her.  I offered to come, just me & Mama, but was told "No", she doesn't want anyone to come.  "She's moody and we never know what her mood will be".  But as I listen to Mandy talk, I start to get a sick feeling in my stomach and I start to doubt.

My kids are hungry and I get up to fix their plates full of Mandy's meal.  Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, squash casserole, collard greens and corn bread.  I wash my hands off at the kitchen sink and look out the window at the back yard and take in the view:  the basketball hoop she had put up for us, the old swingset, the old lawn furniture, past the apple tree and the fence to the land beyond....and I abruptly stop the onslaught of memories hitting so fast that they're all running together.  The food is good and I put a little on a plate for myself even though I don't want to eat.......I don't want her to think I don't appreciate it.

I sit with my kids while they eat and rave over her cooking, and I can't stop thinking and wishing that I had come even though I was told not to.  Mandy starts looking in the refrigerator and freezer for things that might need to be thrown out, always busy, always talking.  She reaches in the freezer and starts taking out little cups with small amounts of ice cream in them.  "She loved her ice cream", she says with a boisterous laugh, and my mom smiles and says, "She sure did....Butter Pecan".  She didn't eat much in the last months, always wanted it in a cup, and rarely finished it.  Taking out a red bowl, Mandy looks at us and shows us the remains.  "This is from her last night here......look, you can see where the part she ate was, but she couldn't finish it".

I force the food in my mouth down and can't eat another bite.  I look down and blink the tears away as Mandy scrapes the bowl of frozen cream into the trash can, and washes it clean.

I'm so tired.  My eyes hurt and my head hurts, but my brain won't stop thinking.  I feel like I'm in a daze when I'm not battling the sadness and grief, the tears and the emotions.  I prefer the dazed feeling.  I can't stop feeling guilty.  Mama told me not to come all the times I wanted to.  Told me I couldn't.  I think about when I left a few weeks ago, that I didn't really want to leave yet.  I leaned over her and hugged her, not too tighly for she was frail, and kissed her forehead.  "I love you, Granny", I said, and her fragile voice responded, "I love you".....more fragile than in the past, but still said in the same way as only she could......those little inflections and emphasis on the syllables.

I add the guilt to the other emotions coursing through me and wish I knew that she knew how much I really did want to come and how much she meant to me.  That I didn't just get wrapped up in my own life and stop visiting as often because I was too busy.  That I really wanted to come.

I wish I knew for sure.

How Can I Help You to Say Goodbye

She's gone.

At 7:00 this morning, my mama called and I knew as soon as I heard her ringtone.

She died at 10:00 last night in her sleep and I didn't know when I saw her three weeks ago that I'd never see her again.  I sat on the phone and tried to reign in the emotions that hit me,  tried to tell my mama that I was ok and not to worry.  She's worried about me driving up there and wishes I was already there.  She's waiting on me to get there to go buy a new outfit for my Granny to wear at her funeral.

I can't do this.

But I can and I will.  I'm the strong one.

The quiet one......the one that you can count on.  The one that always does the right thing and always knows what to do.  Good, strong, dependable Jill.  My hands are shaking and I'm begging the Lord to give me control, to help me keep my self together so that I can do what I have to do to.

I can't lose it now.....I have to get the rental car, wake up the kids, finish packing in a hurry.  So that I can get there, get to my mama who needs me.

I'm afraid these blog posts will annoy my friends.....but I don't know what to do with these emotions and I don't know what to say and I don't know how else to cope.  I've always journaled, always written my feelings down when I had no other way to express myself.  I hope that if they're annoyed, they just won't read and they'll be patient with me while I work my way through this.....because I don't know what else to do.

I just lost my Granny, the one who comes to mind when I hear the word family, because our family is more dysfunctional than any soap opera that they've ever played on TV.....and she's the one who gave me so much that I needed and I don't even know if she knew how much she gave me.  I don't know what I would have done without her in my life.

So very thankful of the gift of her......

416.  My ♥♥ Granny ♥♥

417.  Her ♥LOVE♥

........and for

418.  My mama

I have to stop crying.  Lord, please help me stop.  Please help me breathe.  Please make my hands stop shaking.  Please help me get myself together.

I have a lot to do.  I have to go help my mama.  I have to be strong.  For her.  Because I just lost my Granny........but she just lost her mama.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you."

~ Isaiah 43:1-2 ~

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I Don't Know What to Pack

I've been trying to get ready to leave all day.

Finishing up book keeping work, making lunch, stopping here and there to wait for the latest tears to dry, the latest pangs of loss to pass.

My suitcase lies open with a few items inside......make-up.  Running clothes.  Running shoes.  Bible.

My kids keep asking how much to pack for themselves, what kind of clothes they'll need, and how long we'll be gone.

I don't know.

I can't think.

My head hurts.

I keep trying to just do the next thing.  I don't know how long we'll be there.  I don't know how long we'll stay.  There's not much food in her house and we'll need to go to Piggly Wiggly when we arrive.  I pack a bag of grocery items that I just bought yesterday.  Snacks.  Fresh produce that will spoil if we don't take it with us.  Bananas.......

Banana Pound Cake.  

A treat that my kids  love to have for breakfast, for a snack, for dessert.....pretty much any time I'll let them eat it.  It's one of my Granny's of the favorites that I now make for my family, tweaked ever so slightly to make it healthier, but it's still her recipe all the same.

I was baking it on Friday evening.  I had recently taken it out of the oven and was letting it cool when I read the email that she wasn't going to pull through and that she was fading fast.  I went downstairs to take it out of the pan and thought I was going to vomit from the sweet smell - usually so pleasant & comforting ~ and  from the emotions that threatened to overflow and I tried desperately not to spill any tears on it as I sliced some pieces for my husband and children.  They were watching a movie and I breathed a prayer of thanks as I handed them the was dark in the room and they couldn't see my face, couldn't see the tracks of my tears or evidence of them in my eyes.  They didn't know yet and I didn't want to say it.

The tears come again as I wrap some up to take with us.  We're leaving in the morning to go to a place that is just as much home as my current address is.  In some ways, maybe even more so.   This will be the hardest trip that I've ever traveled there, every mile so ingrained in me that I think I could drive it in my sleep.

I look at my clothes and I can't decide which ones to take.  "This shouldn't be a difficult task", I tell myself.  "Just pick some out and be done with it".  And I move them around on the hangers, pull them out of drawers and then put them back, finally putting one or two things in the suitcase along with the few items already there.  But it's not enough and I can't decide.  I feel so stupid.

I don't know what to pack.  

I can't do this, Lord......I don't want to do this.

"You have to.......but you are not alone.  I am with you", is His reply that I hear so surely, spoken directly to my heart.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." 

(Isaiah 41:10)

I know His Word to be true and I know that it will get me through.  Holding on to it now.