Deana is the tall one in this picture. Most of you know that she had been battling a terribly rare and aggressive cancer. She is finally at rest after almost a year of fighting like a champ. When I looked up her cancer when she was first diagnosed, the stories were not good. I tried to find survival stories but most battles were lost within weeks or months of the diagnosis. Last December, I picked up Deana to go to a late night movie. Some of the moms and I have tried to do that occasionally after the kids and husbands are in bed. It is our only time to go see a "chick flick" guilt free. We were so happy thinking she had won the battle and just needed to recover. But she still had a pain internally that she did not like but the doctors were telling her it was most likely shingles, a common side effect to chemo. Her suspicions were confirmed a few weeks later when it was obvious the cancer was back and the doctors told her they didn't think she was ever really clear of it. They told her they had done everything and she probably only had weeks and to contact hospice. Instead of hospice, she and her husband Jack contacted MD Anderson in Houston to find out if they had any trials or any other protocols that could help her case. A few days later, Deana and Jack were on their way to Texas. They were given a small amount of hope and Jack and Deana said that even if it was a small chance, it was better than the alternative.
In Texas, she fought hard. She ended up in ICU several times and she gave us a few miracles. She made it through all the chemo, a stem cell transplant, and more discomfort than anyone deserves. She was trying to build up strength for one more transplant when she became very ill with pneumonia. There is only so much fighting one body can do. Her spirit wanted to continue the fight but her body finally gave in yesterday.
I was at Legoland yesterday just getting to the exit area of the new Aquarium they have there. We had to take an elevator down to get to the main exit. While waiting an unusually long time for the elevator to move, I checked my iphone for any messages from our friends who were on their way to our house on their RV trip. I wanted to make sure we were leaving in time to get home before they arrived. That is when I saw an email with a Deana update and from the subject line, I knew what the news was. I shut down my iPhone without reading because I did not want to make a scene by bawling in the elevator. Then I realized the elevator was still not moving. The woman near the control panel kept pressing the button and nothing. Finally the doors opened again and we were still on the second floor. A few more attempts and we finally gave up. I had to fumble around to get the stroller down a flight of tile stairs while still trying not to lose it. We make it down and of course the exit dumps you in to the middle of a vast gift shop. The kids start grabbing shirts and toys and telling me what they want to add to their Christmas list. I can't take it. My eyes start to tear up and I beg them to come with me. "It's time to go, we need to get home to see our friends!" I try to say this in a happy voice even though the tears are starting down my cheeks. I can only imagine what the other Legolanders thought about the crying mom, trying to look happy as she is putting all the toys and pink shirts back on the shelves and begging her children to follow her out the door.
As we walked back to the car, Sam noticed I was sad and asked why. I told him Zane and Zach's mommy went to heaven and that I was sad because I will miss her. He replied, "so they only have their daddy now?" I was worried this was going to freak him out since he has never had to even think about death. He was quiet for a minute and said, "Well good thing they still have their daddy to take care of them!" I agreed. He followed that with, "Mommy, don't be sad, you can see her again when you go to heaven."
Then Keith called and I had to quickly get back to the moment because I had to race home to make dinner for our friends. They were here a day earlier than expected and I wasn't completely prepared. So we entertained last night and I had to work first thing this morning. Mom's don't even get a moment to grieve properly. It doesn't feel right. I am actually looking forward to the funeral so I can have time to be sad. But I fear that even that won't feel like enough. I remember years ago at a friends funeral, at the end of the day, thinking, that's it? Now I am supposed to go back to regular life? It just seems disrespectful to those who pass to not really get time to grieve.