Life is full of ups and downs. It can be something you planned, something that wasn’t necessarily planned but expected, or can also be completely unexpected. When life goes down it can be hard to experience the laughter or even feel the Love.
We recently got to go back to the states for about 9 days. It was completely unexpected. My mom had lung cancer. We found out last year, just before her birthday. She went in head first. My mom, Stacey, was the strongest woman I have ever known. She had been through so much in her 55 years: several frogs before she met my Daddy; losing custody of me and 2 of my sisters for a short while; she battled depression, and bipolar disorder. Yet she always kept fighting. My mom’s faith was so strong and so was she. So when we learned about her having cancer, her exact words to me were, “baby, this is just another thing to beat, and God is with me so I can!” She was like that. No matter what she was going through, she smiled because of her faith. Mom also made sure you were smiling. She put everyone before herself, especially her kids and grandkids, even when she probably shouldn’t.
We got the call last Friday. I felt like my heart had been ripped from my chest. I don’t think I have ever screamed like that. Then, I learned that she had called me the night before, I was up but my phone didn’t ring. I also learned it was not the cancer that took her. The reason for her calling was to tell me her latest scan showed the cancer had shrunk. It was a mix of medications she had just been given.
I was feeling so much. Anger because it wasn’t fair I had the chance to talk to her but, technology failed. It wasn’t fair that it wasn’t the illness she was battling, but something else that took her. Pain because my person was gone. My mom was my best friend. I called her when Z did something funny or when Rob drove me crazy. I called her when anything good or bad happened in our lives. Who was I going to call now? When was this hole in my heart ever going to close?
I went for a run the day I found out. I fell to the ground crying, I punched a tree. I screamed and I didn’t care who heard me. I was going to let myself feel every single emotion no matter how bad it was.
From the moment I found out, everyone I know reached out and rallied around my family and I. People we have only been friends with a short while here in the Netherlands called and texted to see if they could do anything, even keeping Z for a while so Rob and I could have a chance to breathe and figure things out. A Friend in Charleston offering to come help with Z if I needed them. Rob and I were not sure how we were going to get back to the states. It was going to cost €5000 to get all three of us back.
We did not have that money to spend. I could have gone without them but I needed them. A very close friend of mine who was also very close with my mom reached out to his uncle and got me a buddy pass, so we only needed to get Rob and Z’s tickets, still not cheap but we could afford that. If you know anything about our airport experiences you know there is always something that goes wrong. From the moment we checked in, everything went smoothly. I have to say something about the KLM employees, every single person from the time we checked in did everything they could to ensure I would get on the same flight as Rob and Z. The guy working where I checked my luggage said I could carry it on or have FAITH that I would make it on the flight and check it.
I decided right then that I was going to do just that. I was going to draw from my mom’s faith, and also remember that I had Faith. God was in control. At the gate, I checked in and started the waiting game, a woman overheard Rob and me talking and even offered to give me her ticket. I declined, so she just hugged me until I stopped crying. I not only ended up making it on the flight but I got to sit with Rob and Z.
Once we were in Atlanta, I spoke with my uncle who asked when we would be there, after I told him the next day because we were staying at Rob’s family cabin, which was about an hour and a half from where the funeral was going to be. He told me to hold for a second, and then, came back on the line to tell me he had just booked us a room at the hotel where the rest of my family was staying.
At this point I was in tears, I wasn’t sure if it was because I had lost my mom or the kindness and Love I felt from everyone, even a stranger at the airport.
My mom’s service was just how she would have wanted it. Everyone laughing, telling stories about how she was always their dancing partner at the Adairsville festival every year. How she helped their family even when she had nothing herself. How her smile lit up a room. My best friend and her fiancee drove from Atlanta to be with me at her funeral, many of my other closest friends called and fought Atlanta traffic and their own illness to try and get there. It was a big reunion, complete with Dolly, Loretta, bud light and margaritas. All of her favorites.
After it was all said and done I said goodbye to my family and we went to see Rob’s parents. As I watched Z play with his Mimi it made me sad but also made my heart smile. Z is so lucky to have had his mawmaw in his life for a short while, but he is also very lucky to still have his Mimi.
We didn’t think we were going to get to Charleston, South Carolina, but we did. I am so glad. So many of our friends came out to see us, hug our necks and just let us know they were there. We had beers and even got some bbq (we really miss good bbq). Z even got to see some of his best buddies. We laughed and caught up with everyone. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine. We are beyond blessed with the outpouring of love and support from everywhere.
I know it’s not always going to be easy. I am still randomly crying and I expect that will happen for a while. I have faith though. Faith that God is in control. Faith that my mom is in a better place. Faith that my daddy and sisters are going to be ok. Faith in people. Faith in Love. Faith in Loss, and Faith in Laughter.
Dedicated to Stacey Margena Huggins aka My Mommy
Stay tuned for more adventures of Rob, Z and I.