Colleen's Journey

The New Normal

Life with mom on hospice is interesting to say the least. Mom spends most of her time in bed and sleeping. My sisters, our husbands, and our kids spend almost every waking moment at her house waiting to tend to her every need. Our Aunt Kathy has spent many nights at the house, which makes Billie much more relaxed. Our main goal right now is to make our mom comfortable. Her pain is well-managed and we love her doctor, Rene Beckham, and her nurses. She is in great hands. The hardest part of where we are is managing people’s expectations of how this process should be. Some people are upset our mom is having too many visitors, while others are upset she isn’t seeing enough people. Some people feel our mom is over-medicated, while other people worry her pain-levels are too high. My sisters and I had a hard time with these differing expectations at first, but ultimately had to conclude that as long as we are acting in our mom’s best interest and in accordance with her wishes, then we shouldn’t worry too much. It’s still hard not to worry though. We feel we are doing the best we can at any given moment, while understanding the situation is extremely fluid and fragile. In the end, we all want the same thing, which is what is best for our mom. We are all acting out of love. The visitors, cards, meals and flowers have been overwhelming. We are so thankful. I have never known a woman who has touched so many lives. She is a model human for us all. Our mom taught us that to have a good friend, you must be one. She did that gracefully and without reservation and its being repaid tenfold.

Since coming home from the hospital almost 12 days ago, mom has had good days and bad. I am happy to report that the last couple days have been fairly good. When I say “good,” its relative. Yesterday morning, we had a hard time waking our mom up and she was making a “gurgling” sound as she slept. Michelle, myself, and our Uncle Jeff panicked a bit and tried to wake her up. When I put my hand on her hand, she immediately opened her eyes in a “what the ‘f’ are you doing!” kind of way. What a relief!! The day got progressively better and ended with her being wheeled to the living room to enjoy a bit of the Super Bowl, along with dinner and a beer! We felt like our mom is back!! While those moments are short-lived (maybe 10-20 minutes), they are everything!! Today, mom looked great and sat at the kitchen table this evening to pay bills and eat some dinner. I always hate when these moments end.

My sisters and I are trying to come to terms with the idea that mom is not only on hospice care, but is actually dying. Its honestly still impossible to believe. Is this a mean joke? She looks as beautiful as ever. She is totally alert and is still laughing and cracking jokes. How can she be dying? She just drank a beer? In order to help accept our reality, us girls and our husbands have been doing weekly counseling with a chaplain from Banner Hospice. It has been beyond helpful. She gives us confidence that we can’t make a mistake at this point and that all journeys are different. I think the hardest thing about where we are right now is already missing our mom. Its difficult to see her in bed and sleeping all the time. Its also difficult to know that we won’t get to do a lot of the things we talked about doing – seeing Zero Dark Thirty, having dinner at Binkley’s, or taking Chloe to the Nutcracker. We are already mourning these missed moments and opportunities. Its not just the girls and I who are in pain, but our husbands too. I know Billy (and the other boys too) adores my mom as one of his closest friends and confidants. The love and respect they have for each other has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I will always consider the way my mom has loved him unconditionally to be one of the greatest gifts she ever gave me. I am thankful my husband has returned that love without reservation.

At the end of the day, when people ask how my sisters and I are, I think our response is the same – “Today is a good day because our mom is still here. We will worry about the rest later.” We are taking life each moment at a time and making the most of our time. I still have baby thank you cards to write, groceries to pick up and laundry to do. Those will remain on the back burner because I won’t dare miss out on seeing my mom at the dinner table…even if its for a minute.

The moral of this story is – hold your loved ones tightly, cherish each moment and say I love you.

Thanks for letting me ramble. I feel better.

Good night,


  • Aline B

    Nicole – I don’t know your Mom well but I thought it should be said that, while she is certainly a model to us all through her graceful yet fearless fight, you and your sisters and families are a true inspiration as well. Following this journey through your eyes has taught me a great deal about how important family is and how I hope to behave if presented with this kind of challenge within my unit. You, all of you really, are “model humans” and I know your Mom must be immensely proud of who you are and what you do.

    Please tell Colleen that she has touched the lives of many she didn’t know with her words, her resolve, and through her gift of life to her children. You are special because she is.

    Steve and I are sending peace and love your way.


  • MJ gannon

    Bless you all- ur love and words have touched my heart- your mom is so blessed to have such a wonderful family

  • Jimmy, Imelda, Richard, Rayna, Hart

    We ♥ U

  • Heather Wilson

    Nicole, you can ramble all you want!! Beautifully said!! I love you guys 🙂

  • jenny scott

    Having been where you are now, I can say you are doing everything perfectly! You are addressing the most important thing and that is your mom’s comfort and care. It is a bonding experience for all of you as a family, and one you will never forget. Praying for you and your family, that you may have strength and peace in the following days.

  • Lanie

    Love, light and peace to all of you. There are no words to convey my sorrow.

  • Kathy Hamler Thompson

    God Bless you all May his love comfort you at this time. You Girls are so strong and a real gift to your Mom. May you have more happy good days. Love and prayers being sent your way all day every day.

  • Kathy Priester

    A beautiful mother, surrounded by beautiful daughters…what love.
    Wishing you peace

  • Amanda Moorhead

    You all are very strong women. I am sending you love and support.

  • Brittany Brockman

    Nicole, I am touched and brought to tears by your candid sharing of what you all are experiencing. I’m so sorry that you have received any judgement during this time – that’s not warranted, and it’s so evident how much you love your mother and are just trying to navigate your way through a heart-wrenching time. Your mother is clearly a wonderfully loving, caring, beautiful person. Thank you for sharing her with us all. I hope that those of us reading your family’s journey can (in some small way) help lighten the weight of the grief you are feeling.

  • Michele Avery

    Nicole, my heart is breaking for you and your whole family. Colleen is an amazing woman with a gracious and kind spirit that will live on in all of you and to some extent in all who know her. I am so thankful our paths crossed, even though too briefly..the world is truly a better place with Colleen.

  • My heart is pouring out for each of you on every level. Your family is honestly one of the most amazing I have ever known! And your mom continues to inspire me…she always has! Her beautiful smile, her eyes so full of life, her genuine love of life and her family, her never ending positive attitude and upbeat approach to any obstacle….I always loved being in her presence.
    As a mom with daughters, I can only imagine how hard this is for Colleen. As a daughter who lost her mother, I also know how the 4 of you feel watching all this happen and having so little control….And as a parent who lost a child to an illness that we fought so long, I know how you feel about the WHY???
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts and experience.

  • Emily Stephens

    Nicole, what a beautiful post. I did stop by Sunday…later than I had wanted to come 🙁 but thank you all for allowing me to come by. It was nice to see Pete and Michelle (and George) and feel the love and warmth of your mom’s home. You are all truly amazing. I know how your hearts are breaking. We continue to pray for you all!!

  • Chris Roundtree

    Dearest Colleen: Even through all the years of your triumphs and pain … you seemed to always bless us with your presence, your smiles, your grace and shiny personality that lit up the room wherever you were and still are. Every time I saw you at the office where we worked, you would always greet me (and everyone else you would come in contact with) with that special hello that said … “you’re important to me.” You were never too busy to say hello even as you quickly walked by. I thank you for who you are, for your joy and the caring heart that everyone would always see. Even through your pain, you are always smiling … a wonderful example of the power of positive thinking. You’ve been strong through all of these years and I believe God has blessed you to be the Angel in the lives of other people who have come in contact with you. To this, I want to say to you …

    Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
    Matthew 25:21 (KJV)

    While all of our days are numbered, we don’t ever want to let anyone go away, but I know that the Lord is preparing us here on this earth so that we can rejoice in heaven for an eternity. I know that I personally have prepared my heart and am not afraid for that moment of time to come in my life when the Lord tarries, but I know it’s not for me to decide. It’s always in His timing. I love you Miss Colleen and I wish only the best for you … I will continue to pray for your health and happiness with your family. Thank you for bringing such wonderful young women into the world and growing them into great ladies that they are and have yet to become.

    I am not saying goodbye because I will continue to pray for your strength and healing.

    Thank you for being a blessing to so many!!! Know that you are loved.

  • Kelson

    Beautiful Nicole….sending so so so much love to you and your family. I love this picture of you and your mom too-could you two be any more beautiful?!? I wish I could be by your side…hugs.

  • Sherry Coltman

    Nicole, you and your sisters write so beautifully because it comes from your hearts. Your support and love for your Mom comes thru strong. Continue to spend every minute you can with yourMom. Colleen is an exceptional, loving lady. Am so glad that Don and I have the pleasure of knowing her and the Drury family. God’ richest blessings to you all. Sherry and Don Coltman

  • Nancy Whalen

    Hello dear Drury family. Billie and my boys are friends from high school. Just found your Mom’s blog. Praying for you during this time. Your mom is so blessed to have you amazing daughters to care for her, and your wonderful husbands who love her, too. I’m so sorry that you are having to say goodbye to your Mom. She seems to have equipped you all with strength and love and wisdom to see her through this time, and to help each other through what follows. Will keep praying for you to have courage and endurance and faith. love to sweet Billie

  • Ardie Larkins

    Dear Colleen and family,
    The love you all show for each other at this challenging time is unmatched. Colleen, you are a remarkable women with incredible grace, tenacity and a love for your beautiful family. The comments people have shared I couldn’t agree with more. You always focused on others despite your own needs and health issues. You have set the bar high for all of us and you have lead by example. You are loved and admired by so many and we want this to be as peaceful a time for you and your incredible family. With much, Ardie

  • Mike Keliher

    Thank you for sharing this special time with your mom. My Dad passed 10 years ago jan 26. We went through all the feelings you are having. At the end, and ever since we realized that dad and I had nothing left to say. We simply loved each other and knew it would be sad. However since he passed he has remained ingrained in my life everyday. I know that it will be the same for you all.