Colleen's Journey

A Long December…

As my sisters and I prepare for our first Christmas without our mom, I would like to reflect on last December.

This time last year we were all focused on squeezing out every last minute and memory with our mom, as we thought it might be the last of our time with her. We celebrated our many December birthdays, including Nicole’s, Chloe’s and mine. We went to Disneyland and California Adventure. Mom spent time riding the roller coasters and watching her grandchildren play with Mickey. If only we had known we she would die two months later. After we got back from Disneyland, on December 15th, our mom then ended up in the emergency room complaining of difficulty breathing. We spent the next week trying to figure out how to get her home from the hospital in time for Christmas. We barely left her bedside, as we had never seen her struggle so much. We felt so blessed that her physician promised us he would make sure she was home for Christmas. He kept his promise and we spent Christmas Eve curled up on her floor watching movies. That night every single one of her daughters, their husbands and her grandchildren slept at her house so we could spend one more Christmas morning waking up all together. We woke up on Christmas morning with so many presents that it took the kids 45 minutes to open all of them. We made mimosas and pancakes before heading to the Coach House for our annual get together with friends. Such a wonderful, painful, heart-wrenching December. We would do anything to relive every single moment.

This December has been a little different. I woke up the morning of my birthday with a very empty feeling. I couldn’t believe I wouldn’t hear her voice on this day of all days. She wouldn’t send me a text wondering what I was doing for lunch or buy me silly buttons to wear to dinner. However, around 7am that morning when I opened the door to leave for work I heard my wind chimes ring for the first and last time that day. I knew it was my mom coming to say Happy Birthday. I was overwhelmed. She truly is around all of the time. I felt blessed. As our family approaches Christmas, I am not looking forward to the empty feeling I am sure to feel. We are told the first Christmas is the most difficult and so far everyone is right. My sisters and I are so lucky to have each other and such supportive, patient husbands who understand our waves of emotion because they love our mom as much as we do. And Billie will be home from Chicago on December 23rd to spend the holidays in Phoenix. I can’t wait to see her!

My wish this holiday season is for everyone to reach out to your family and friends and tell them how much you love them. You never know when it will be your last Christmas together.

Peace to all this Holiday Season.