Greetings from Uganda to all my dear family and friends!! Big Lily hugs to you all! I really do miss home (that is Michigan and Seattle), and I really really miss Oliver!! It has been some time since I was able to sit alone with my thoughts and write them out, but I promise you're not going to get them all ;). And though I'm not really alone, because Moses is here, I really am bummed I haven’t been able to blog more. Life as you know has been so unexpected. These last five weeks have been the hardest phase of my life. Between the loss of my dear sweet mother, to permanently moving to Uganda and having Moses move in with me, I have days where I ask myself, “what just happened?!!”. So, as you read on, you’ll get a glimpse into the emotional chaos of my life these past five weeks. I hope it opens your eyes to truly try to see people deeper, love stronger, and not give up so easily.
Michigan 12/13 - 12/31
Back on Tuesday December 13th, when I had flown home to Michigan, I never would have thought life would play out as it has. I arrived into Michigan around 10pm and found my mom extremely ill. I had talked to her previously on Sunday December 11th, and she was so happy and doing so well. She was like, “bring me your clothes to sew”, she liked sewing them for me. It was something she could do for me, and even though I could manage, I would let her because it just warmed my heart in so many ways when mom did something for me. Because she was so limited on what she could do, I told her I’ll bring you enough to keep you busy the entire time I’m there, and she just laughed.
Well, things didn’t exactly play out that way. From that Tuesday night, my life changed. I was by her side just about 24/7 until the moment she died, and thereafter. It’s still too raw to open up about the small details of living in the hospital next to mom, watching the agony and pain and not being able to do much. From different medical decisions to sleeping on chairs, I will never forget this part of life. I'm so thankful to my siblings, though it was hard for us all they daily encouraged me, brought me gifts to cheer me up and fed me better then I've been fed all year, lol!
What I do want to say is LOVE your parents, regardless of their shortcomings or faults. I LOVED my mom and was so honored she wanted me there by her side, but I truly do not wish this upon anyone. I’m a very strong individual, I know it and for those who really know me, you know it as well. God has given me grace and strength insurmountable and undeserving, and though I have to wake up each day and still relive it all, He comes through. Mom died on 12.28.16. Surreal and final. What made the date even harder to bare was the fact that it was my only brothers birthday as well. It's like how can we celebrate when our world has shattered unimaginably?!! We couldn't! Mom was declared dead at 2pm. As I left my family in her room, crying and still not understanding that death had come, I left the room. I pulled myself into a logic state of being because someone had to handle the funeral arrangements. I remember sitting on the window sill of the hospital hallway, shaking uncontrollably and trying to have a conversation with the Funeral Home director. It was strange, scary, and really just unbelievable that I was actually setting arrangements for mom. I’ve never had to make funeral arrangements or buy land to bury someone before, let alone my mom. So soon after my conversation, I left the hospital with dad, and went to the funeral home to make arrangements, in house shoes nonetheless. They were my moms, and since I was living in the hospital it was all I had.
It’s so crazy as I'm sitting here and writing this, that grandpa (mom’s dad) died in January, and Mom in December. I remember I kept having conversations with mom about possibly putting plans into place for "some day" when something similar might happen, after Grandpa died. She would get so upset every time I brought it up, so I eventually let it go. But I can’t help thinking that that wasn’t just a coincidence. During this last stay in the hospital, she had such moments of agony and pain that she would call out to her mom and to God, to come get her. It broke my heart each and every time! Does anyone know what it feels like to love someone so much and know without a shadow of a doubt that they're done fighting for their earthly life? That nothing is as important as when they see Jesus and he's calling them home to heaven? Well, I unfortunately got to experience that, and it still makes me have a mixture of human logic emotions such as anger and hurt, but also wondering thoughts of how glorious that encounter with Jesus is, that nothing you love on earth will keep you from going to him. Mind you, mom was extremely ill. Doctors said she would need an entire new body if she was ever to function. So the peace I get, and I have to remind myself of daily, is that mom no longer is in pain. She's free and happy and probably running around for the first time in her life and doesn't have to slow down because she can't catch her breath. This and the fact that I will once again see her in heaven gives me solace.
For those that have experienced this, to you I say I now know what and how you feel. To those that haven’t, push yourself to LOVE and do more for your parents or even one parent if that's all you have. We are only given two biologically, so if they're still alive make every moment count! 12.29 – 12.31 we had mom’s funeral viewings and burial. I was so numb and exhausted that I’m still trying to comprehend what happened. Mom's viewings and burial truly were great! She had so many people that loved her show up, probably more then she even knew. But can I be honest..? Well I will because it’s my blog, lol. I felt like I had to console people. I was thinking to myself, why am I consoling others when it’s my mom that died?! And it took me a bit to realize something but in all this wonderful wisdom God has given me, I realized the shock of losing mom was and is too much for me to comprehend in three days. It’ll take a lifetime to heal and be able to understand, or maybe I never will… I truly don’t know. But what I also realized is that people grieve with you in those moments, when the funeral viewings are happening, because it’s so true, it’s starring you all in the face. I don’t want anyone to take what I said the wrong way. I’m truly thankful to everyone, and words will never truly express that gratitude. The downpour of heartfelt condolences that surrounded our family for weeks and still continues is truly the essence of what the bible says in Romans 12:15 ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’. But I’m human, and in those brief moments that is how I felt. I think that those that have passed through this probably understand.
BUT, for my family and I, every Christmas and New Years Eve will be a difficult time of year going forward. As others before me and my family have passed through this road, I know we will heal and we will continue to serve our amazing heavenly Father, for we know that all good things come from Him and in time we will understand. More than ever though, I have such a fervency in my heart to go to heaven, to see Mom. I talk to her sometimes, though a bit strange I’m not going to lie. It’s something I have to get used to, because I have no other option.
Though super blurry, Christmas day was moms last cognitive day where she was able to eat real food, since she hadn't in weeks. I'd taken her off most life support by then as well, and she was SO HAPPY. She wanted to match her daughters so she asked for her glasses. It truly made us laugh and still makes my heart ache knowing I don't get to hear her anymore.
My sister Mirela found this cute little troll that sang the song 'Get Back Up Again'. It really made me laugh and want to cry, because she said she saw it in the store and it reminded her of me. It's now in Africa with me, LOL!
This was our last night with mom on Tuesday night, when we'd moved her to hospice.
Seattle 1/1 - 1/4
So as mom's journey ended with 2016, my life started a different journey on literally the first day of 2017. On Jan 1st I flew home to Seattle, ran around like a chicken with my head cut off to finish my errands and packing because I was set to fly out to Uganda Jan 4th. Talk about more chaos! I’m so thankful to Mandy, who helped me in so many ways in those two days. From buying luggage’s, to helping pack and ribbon my 11 luggage’s, to bringing my loving dog Oliver over. Thankful to those that did all they could to come by and see me or meet me, no matter how late it was, to encourage me or simply just to catch up. I’m honestly still trying to recap those few days, but it’s still a work in progress.
I flew out Jan 4th super early in the morning. Thank you Amber and Adrianne for going with me… my heart broke even more, when I didn’t even think there was more left to be broken. Seattle has been my home, and I’m hoping to return right back, Seattleites ;). But in those moments, when I was standing in the airport security line, I had to keep telling myself, Lily get through this and once you’re in Kabale, Uganda you can have your breakdown.
Little did I know I can’t control uncontrollable emotions, so as you can guess there were lots of breakdowns along my four-day journey. Whether it was on my 14hr+ trip from Seattle to Dubai, or my overnight layover in Dubai, or my 5hr+ journey from Dubai to Kampala, or the 8hr drive from Kampala to Kabale, there were constant reminders of what I had just lost. I tried so hard to keep it together in public, and honestly for the most part it worked, but when those emotions came, I felt like I was skydiving again. If you’ve been, you know the feeling I’m talking about. Where you’re uncontrollably falling, and can’t seem to catch your breath. Where you feel like you’re having an out of body reaction but you’re still able to somehow pull yourself together before crashing to the ground. Well folks, that was my journey into Africa. Full of unexpectedness!!
Thank you again to those that have sent me private massages, who have continued to encourage me, pray for me, and support me. I may never be able to thank you enough or repay you but I know a mighty God who can and my prayers are that blessings be given back unto each of you in insurmountable ways and amounts!
Love you all dearly! Feel free to send me questions, any really. I'll do my best with my limited internet to respond.