I got up, got ready for work and got the boys dressed and ready for school.
I checked on The Hubs to make sure he was comfortable and had everything he needed for the day.
He'd had minor surgery the day before so he was staying home the rest of the week to rest and recover.
I dropped the boys off at school and got in to work.
I was checking emails and doing my usual work duties when the phone rang.
It was my mom.
I could hear the panic in her voice immediately.
"Brandi, I just got a call that Mema went into cardiac arrest and is unresponsive. They are taking her to the ER. I am heading up there now."
Out of all those words the one that made my heart sink was "unresponsive".
It stuck out more than all the others.
I told her to call me when she knew more details.
Her voice was shaky and she said "I was going to go see her last night. I called her to come see her and she said she was tired and was just going to go to bed. I SHOULD HAVE GONE!"
I told her "Mom, it's okay. Call me when you find out more. I love you."
When I hung up the phone it's all I could think about.
I thought about the last time I saw her.
It was on Thanksgiving. Just 6 days ago.
She wasn't doing very well so I made it a point to go and sit by her for awhile to talk.
I held her hand and talked to her. She had tears in her eyes when I asked her how she was feeling.
The doctors had just found a mass on her leg a few days earlier and she was really bummed about that.
She has been on dialysis for 6 years. She is a 3 time cancer survivor and had a mastectomy back in April. She had been in and out of the hospital for the better part of this year. To say she has been through a lot in her 74 years of life is an understatement. And she was tired.
Tired of fighting.
Tired of being in pain.
Tired of dialysis.
Tired of being in the hospital.
Tired of the rehab center.
She told me that. And it took all I had to hold the tears back when she did.
Instead I held her hand, said "I know, Mema" and was as sympathetic as I could be while trying to be strong for her.
My heart broke for her. I knew she was sick of being sick.
I honestly think, deep down in my heart, that I knew that would be the last time I'd see her.
I knew I wanted to remember her like that, so I got my phone out and took a picture of us, sitting on the couch together.
As I pulled my phone out the thought went through my head "this is the last picture we will have together".
And I think she knew, too.
We sat there, on the couch, holding hands, as she told me how much she loved watching all her great grandkids play on the floor in front of her. She told me how beautiful my boys were. And I joked with her and said "it's a good thing because they are a handful!" She laughed at my stupid joke.
It was the last time I'd hear her laugh.
We talked about my marathon and she told me how proud she was of me.
She told me about how much she loved Christmas and that we were all together. She said she didn't care what she got for Christmas, that it didn't matter if it was a pair of socks, that she'd rather have one sock wrapped in one box and the other sock wrapped in the other box because that's how much she loved opening gifts. She didn't care what was in them, she just liked to open them.
That made my heart smile and I locked that piece of information away in my head and made a mental note to buy her a ton of socks for Christmas and wrap each and every one in a different box.
I just knew she'd get a kick out of all those packages to open and I wanted to make that a special day for her.
She won't make it to Christmas. She won't get to open all those gifts.
After I thought about our last encounter, I texted my sister and asked her if she was going up to the hospital and what she thought I should do. I knew she'd talked to my mom more than I had. She's the oldest and always has more information than my brother and I.
The reply I got back from her sent me over the edge.
"Call dad. She is on a ventilator right now and he said mom is going to let her die."
It seemed like such a harsh word.
It seemed like such a harsh word.
That's when the tears started.
They haven't stopped since.
I called my mom back and she informed me that I needed to go to the hospital to say my goodbyes.
I rushed out of my office and got in my car.
The very first thing I did was lay my head on the steering wheel and pray.
I prayed hard.
I knew at that point praying for her healing was selfish.
So I prayed for strength. For my mom. I prayed that I could be strong for my mom. I knew she would need it the most.
I prayed for God's will to be done.
I prayed like I'd never prayed before.
Tears were falling from my eyes and onto my lap. And for the first time in a very long time, my heart hurt.
I talked to myself the whole way to the hospital.
I said out loud the things I was thinking.
I wondered about how it happened, if she was in pain...
And I kept talking to God.
I cried the whole way there and wondered how my mom was doing.
I got to the hospital, hugged my dad and prepared myself as best I could.
When I saw my Mema she was already gone.
She was still on oxygen and seemingly breathing, but she was gone.
She had gone into cardiac arrest when the cap in her shunt in her arm came out and she began to bleed heavily.
She'd been without oxygen to her brain for at least 10 minutes.
She wasn't coming back.
I knew all that, but seeing evidence of it was different.
It felt like at any time she was going to open her eyes and speak.
But we knew that wasn't going to happen.
Holding her hand, her cold, limp hand, I began to cry again.
She didn't look like I remembered. She didn't look like she did on Thursday.
She was tired then, but she was still full of life.
Her husband, my Papa, stood by her side and cried with us.
He said with a shaky voice, "We were together 36 years" as the tears fell from his eyes.
My heart broke a little more right then.
We held her hand as she took her last breath.
And when she did, it was as if all the life drained out of her in one full swoop.
You could almost see her spirit leave her body to be with Jesus.
Finally, she was free.
After years and years of fighting, she was free.
She was no longer in any pain. She was no longer suffering.
And we cried.
Because she was gone, and because we were going to miss her like crazy.
She always had a smile on her face, no matter what she was going through, no matter how rough she had it. She was a fighter.
She fought to the very end of her life.
We could all learn something from my Mema.
She was one of the strongest women I've ever known, and I'm grateful I got to have her in my life.
But Jesus called her up today. He needed her more than we did.
And I take comfort in knowing she's in a much better place, and that I gained a guardian angel out of the deal.
I love her beyond words and I will miss her always.
I write this now because, as I sit here, on my couch, after the longest day ever, with a swollen face and tears streaming down my cheeks, I wanted to remember all that happened today.
How we said goodbye and how I felt.
Writing is, and always has been, very theraputic for me.
I went through one of the toughest things I ever have this morning.
But I take comfort in knowing my Mema no longer has to go through tough days.
She'll never have to dread dialysis again. She'll never have to worry about cancer or infections, or sickness and weakness.
She is walking with Jesus now, has the biggest smile on her face, and has more gifts than she can open.
I love you, Mema.
You can read more about my Mema HERE.