June 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


My Nana grew up very poor

At a young age, her parents married her off to her teacher

Because that meant one less mouth for them to feed

She had little choice in the matter

And soon after that she had a baby–my mom

Maybe Nana didn’t know how to handle it

Because she was so young herself

So she ran away

And the teacher–the father of that baby—he left too

That baby was my mother–the innocent victim in all of this

She ended up being raised by her grandparents

The very people who had married my Nana off as a teenager

The very people who didn’t want her either

But Nana was long gone

Leaving the small town and dirt trails behind her

Off to the city where she became a beautician

Met a man 25 years older than her

And began a glamorous life

Traveling, partying, living the high life

Forgetting that baby left behind on Hunter’s Trail

The one growing up alone on a farm with grandparents who didn’t want her

They told her every day she was a burden

They would even dress her up and take her around town trying to give her away

Nana would come back  to visit every now and then

Bringing my  mother expensive gifts from her world travels

But what my mother really needed

She never got

Her mother’s love

My mother grew up unwanted by everyone around her

Most of all—her own mother

That pain followed my mother all of her life

But my Mom made a choice

To forgive

She chose to treat her mother with the respect and caring that she was never given as a child

When I was born, Nana was a part of our lives

I would never have guessed that Nana hadn’t raised my mother

That she’d abandoned her as a child

But I always sensed the tense dynamic between my mother and my Nana

As I got older, I learned more

My Nana never fully  acknowledged what she had done

I think a part of her couldn’t accept it

Because it made her feel guilty

So she tried to make up for it in other ways

In every way she knew how

That wasn’t always emotionally

But when we needed her—she WAS there

When my parents got divorced and my mom couldn’t pay the mortgage

She paid off the house

She bought me my first car

She put a down payment on my first house

She paid off my student loans

She paid for my surgery

There were many things my Nana did for our family

Things I will be forever grateful for

Much of my life I observed a very tangled relationship between my Nana and my mother

Much hurt and pain and misunderstood intentions

Many times Nana would introduce my mother as her sister

Because she often forgot that my mom was her child

My mother loved my Nana but was never able to get over being abandoned as a child

Just as my Nana was never quite able to understand the depth of my mother’s pain

This dynamic permeated their relationship and was a recurring theme in our family

Affecting all of our relationships in one way or another

We don’t all get the start in life that we wish for

We don’t all get the parents of our dreams

And we can’t always control what will happen to us in this life

It was hard when I lost my mom 18 months ago


Out of no where

She was here—and then she was gone

I have often wished in the past year that I had had more time to prepare myself

But after watching my Nana suffer in her last days

I’m thinking now that my mother’s quick exit was a blessing in disguise

I no longer regret that Mom went quickly

Now I’m grateful for it

Because I’ve seen face to face

That while there is much suffering in life

There can be much suffering in death

Sitting next to my Nana these past few weeks

Watching her suffer

Knowing there was nothing much I could do to ease her pain

Was a lesson for me

That I should never again wish my mother had left me any differently from the way she did


For 18 months I’ve felt guilt and regret that I wasn’t there when my Mom took her last breath

This time was going to be different

Somehow with Nana, I was going to redeem myself

I was going to do it right this time…you know?

But guess what

I still wasn’t there

When Nana took her last breath

I was not at her side

I had gone back to the condo to take a shower

The 12 hour days were getting to me

And I just wanted a break

From the pain and suffering I was witnessing day after day

And next thing I knew

She was gone

Did I have to choose THEN to take a break?

My immediate response was guilt

Overwhelming guilt

I wasn’t there for her when she died

I dropped the ball again

But I have come to realize

That guilt gets you no where

Except closer to McDonald’s

And Burger King

And Chocolate cream pie

You know what I’ve realized?

We all drop the ball



And in my case–always in the last few seconds of the big game

When it seems to count the most

I would be sitting in the hospital room

And I’d find  myself often running to the bathroom to get away

Because seeing her with the tube down her throat suffering

Just hurt too much

I ran many times into the hallway

Not wanting to face the pain

Isn’t that how we often are in life?


Running from what we don’t want to face

Hoping if we don’t face it…then it won’t be true?

For years I did this with my weight

If I hide the scale

If I don’t go to the doctor

If I get rid of the full length mirror

Then maybe I’m not really obese

But when we know we’ve failed on some level

Beating ourselves up with guilt

Doesn’t make it better

We all feel guilt, don’t we?

Guilt when we run away because we don’t want to face reality

Guilt at not being able to do more, give more, be more

None of us are perfect (Romans 3:10)

We’ve all made mistakes (Romans 3:23)

Thank God

He tells us our perfection is not required

That it is in our weakness where He shines (2 Corinthians 12:9)

But hold on to that regret and that guilt

And you’ll end up in a drive thru

WEll….I will at least

So no guilt

We all have made mistakes

Instead of guilt with a large fry and Coke

I’ll order up some forgiveness

For whoever needs it




Because I know this

Today my Mom and Nana are in Paradise (2 Corinthians 5:8)

They walk down streets of gold hand in hand (Revelation 21:21)

No longer entangled with the bitter memories of a broken childhood

No longer weighed down by the hurt and pain of this life

For the first time ever they celebrate the mother/daughter relationship they were always meant to have

Finally there is healing

And I will forgive myself too

For not being there when she took her last breath

For not being able to do more

I have lost my mother and my grandmother now

But I have learned in the process

That my loss is their gain

They are both healed now

No more suffering and no more pain

And I fly home

Back to my children

Back to the noise and the dishes and the laundry

Back to dirty fingerprints on the windows and silly fights over who had the toy first

And you know what??


Because it’s in that loud and crazy chaos

Of the little zoo in which I live

With my 4 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats

That I will truly find my peace

It’s where I belong



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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Tess June 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Oh Holly, I am so terribly sorry for your loss. Hugs to you, dear. Perhaps, in some way, Nana waited for you to be on that break. She knew your pain, and perhaps she didn’t want you to hear her last breath, to hang on to that last bit of her, because that’s not how she wants you to remember her. Being with her these last few weeks meant a lot to both her and you. Throw away the guilt and keep the cherished memories you have. The guilt isn’t worth it, the memories are.


Sarah June 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you. xx
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Amy June 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm

So sorry 🙁 But you are right, your loss IS their gain, for they are in a happier place without pain. Thoughts with you and your family.


Dawn June 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm

This is a beautiful post, and yes, we all drop the ball – but you didn’t. ((( hugs ))) What a beautiful story!
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Staci June 23, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I’m sorry that your Nana suffered through a long death, but I’m glad you have peace over a long time’s worth of struggles and guilt, and I know that this trial is what helped bring that peace to pass. Romans 8:28. Happy Homecoming… to your Nana and you.
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Kelliann June 24, 2012 at 1:07 am

Holly, I’m so sorry for your loss!
I have heard it said that when people love us as much as your Nana obviously loved you, they sometimes wait until we “take that break” to let go. They don’t want us to endure that moment.
So glad you will see your kids soon!
Prayer for you-


Laryssa (Mrs. O) June 24, 2012 at 1:15 am

Holly, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother’s passing. I’m praying for God’s comfort for you and your family during this time.

Please don’t feel guilty for not being there when your Nana took her last breathe. I believe she knew you were hurting and maybe she didn’t want you there when she finally left this world. It was one last thing she wanted to do for you.


Mari June 24, 2012 at 1:33 am

I’m so sorry for your loss – but you are right. She is in perfect health now!
I have to talk to you about being there when she took her last breath. I’m a nurse in a nursing home and have been with many people when they have passed. It is most always a families wish to be with there loved one at that time, but I truly believe that some people want to take that final step on their own. You would not believe the number of people I’ve cared for that have had family stay with them for days, and we can’t believe they are hanging on. Then – when the family member runs home for an hour, or in several cases I remember – the family member stepped out to use the bathroom and that was when our resident passed.
This was probably the case with your Nana – she didn’t want your last memory to be that moment. So please – don’t feel bad. You were there for her during these last few days and she knew you loved her!
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Heather June 24, 2012 at 2:18 am

I’m sorry for your loss. Please don’t feel any guilt in not being there. Sometimes patients either wait for someone to come or they wait for them to leave. I’ve seen it many, many times. Nana is in a better place and now you can return to normalcy. You can feel proud of the time you spent with her in her last days as I’m sure she was happy you were with her.

God Bless you. He has wrapped his arms around Nana and taken her home. Be at peace.


Leigh Costa June 24, 2012 at 2:33 am

So sorry for your loss. What a beautifully written tribute to your Nana. I was with my mom when she passed, and the vision of her struggling for her last breath still haunts me to this day. I think your Nana wanted to spare you that because death is not always peaceful. Prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.
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Banded with Favor June 24, 2012 at 2:54 am

Holly, I am sending prayers your way… So sorry for your loss… But how inspiring and filled with incredible life lessons you have discovered and shared with all of us, who have also learned as you have been on this journey…Thank you again for your wonderful heart felt expressions of life, love, joy, pain, sadness, and elated joy!!! Fly home safe!!!


suzanne June 24, 2012 at 3:22 am

Holly I’m so sorry for your loss.
What a beautiful tribute to your Nana and mother.
I also have a tangled mother/grandmother/daughter history. But I do believe that we love in our own way and we are here for a special reason.


Steelers6 June 24, 2012 at 4:49 am

I’m sorry for the loss of Nana, Holly.
Please don’t say you weren’t there for
her, bc you sure were!! What a gift you
& your brother were able to give her!
All that precious time you 2 spent
with her. And I know you wouldn’t
want it any other way. Don’t allow
satan to mess with you- it was very
special that you were there in her last


Liz June 24, 2012 at 10:19 am

I am so sorry for your loss Holly.
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Linda Kuil June 24, 2012 at 11:01 am

I am so sorry for your loss, Holly. I don’t think you dropped the ball. I truly think God SPARED you seeing your Mom and your Nana take their last breaths. He didn’t want you to relive that disturbing moment over and over in your mind. You have to focus on what you did do for Nana in her last weeks and know that it was enough, that even though she didn’t do the right thing for your mom, you did the right thing for her. You set a very good example for your kids, and that they’ll remember forever.


Nikki Nicholas Mohamed June 24, 2012 at 11:57 am

Wow. Well, let me start this out properly: I’m very sorry for your loss. May God be merciful and forgive her her transgressions here in this life and allow her her place in Heaven. May He bless you and your brother with patience and understanding during your time of grief.

Now, back to WOW. You just hit me in the face with a baseball bat. Being pretty much alone in a foreign country raising five TEENAGERS (substitute with Monsters, Freak Shows, Emotional Balls of FistFighting), I battle feelings of depression and overwhelming guilt and frustration that hit me in huge waves daily. Just yesterday I told my 13 year old and 17 year old sons that I want to “quit my job.” (Hello. I’m a SAHM. What exactly does this mean? THEY know.) And it never occurred to me that my hateful mouth is nothing more than emotional abandonment of them….that when I say, “I wish I could be the parent who goes overseas to work and your father be stuck here to raise you alone,” I am no better than a parent who marries off her young daughter or dumps her young sons off on someone else to carry her “burdens.” God forgive me for my selfish behavior and hurting words. There is a REASON that God promises us in the Holy Quran that “Heaven lies at the feet of the mothers.” It’s because He knows how hard this job is. And I don’t deserve the blessings that I have in these kids. God forgive me and all of us mothers who are ungrateful for what we have.
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Elizabeth June 24, 2012 at 11:57 am

Holly, wishing I could give you a hug right now..I am sorry that you weren’t able to be there when your Nana breathed her last (and the twofold guilt of not being there for your mom’s last breath) but you have the knowledge that someday you will be able to be reunited with them as well, walking hand in hand with them. No more anger, no more bitterness, no more pain, only peace as you come together again. In the meantime, cherish each moment of time you have with your children, because they need, and want your energy, and you need theirs 🙂
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Lynn June 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Holly, so sorry for your loss. Praying for you and yours at this time. I know it’s hard when you lose someone and you are not there. I lost my dad in 2008 and I didn’t even get to see him in the last 4 months of his life. I chose not to see him before they cremated him because I didn’t want to see him that way – I wanted to remember him as Daddy. Your kids will truly make your day when you get home. I know mine do all the time, and they are 21 and 19.


Wendie June 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm

A few things:
#1 your Nana was beautiful
#2 I am happy to hear your thoughts & understanding in death. I’ve also lost people both ways and while sudden is a hard pill to swallow sometimes, it sure does have a purpose.
#3 Your Nana may have been waiting for you to not be there. Mine was. We all gathered with her & she went on and on. When we all left (except one) she went. She was full of grace & dignity and never would let people see her certain ways. I believe the same about her death. Your Nana may have waited too.
My deepest sympathy to you in this time. Rise up and shine!
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Trish @I_am_Succeeding June 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I am so sorry for your loss Holly, but I am also so very proud of how you have handled it and seeing your family when you get home will just fill your heart with even more joy! {{HUGS}}
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Tori June 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I’m very sorry for your loss….prayers are with you and your family. BTW…you weren’t meant to be there for her last breathe; It wasn’t in God’s plan.

and thank you for the “No longer entangled with the bitter memories of a broken childhood”…My mother and gram had a similar relationship (gram divorced grampa and forever shipped my mother off to different relatives for them to care for her) and your closing words give me hope that all is well between them (my mom passed in 1995 gram in 2000) now.
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lori June 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I know you will miss your Nana’s presence here on earth, and I’m glad you know she waits for you in heaven. I know personally, I look forward to that place more and more because more and more people that I love are there.

Please don’t was any precious time feeling guilty for not being there when your Nana slipped away. So many times our loved ones hang on for us. She probably didn’t want to leave while you were with her. I’ve heard too many stories of loved ones passing alone after days and weeks of vigils held by their bedsides. It has got to be true. Let that bring you some comfort during this time of loss.
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Tracy aka My Tiny Tank June 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Holly, you are so full of grace. I am so sorry for your loss. My first thought was that your Nana may have waited for you to leave. You were there for her in her time of need. But when it’s time to go everyone does that on their own. Thank you for sharing with us your strengthen and insight. It lifts me up everyday!!
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Elizabeth June 25, 2012 at 1:39 am

Just in case you don’t go back to my comment section on my blog, I want you to know something- YOU are silly 🙂 You are an Inspiration, REALLY AND TRULY!!! 🙂 I am so glad that I stumbled upon your blog, I look forward to checking it daily to see how things are going for you 🙂 Sending a Hug Your Way! 🙂
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Katie June 25, 2012 at 2:35 am

I am sorry for you loss. You are right she is in perfect health now! I agree with what the others have said, she may have waited. Seeing someone take their last breath isn’t the easiest thing to see. I watched my Papaw die, and it is something I wish I would have never seen, he was sick for a long time, and we knew he was dying, but nothing prepares you (at least in my case it didn’t). I came out thinking.. I wish I wouldn’t have known it was going to happen, I wish there was no warning. Until 6 months later when my uncle was killed in a car accident.. one day there, the next gone. I didn’t get to say goodbye, I didn’t get to tell him I loved him. And I was really close to him. I then became very thankful for those last few days I had with my Papaw, to say by, to say I love him, to hear those words from him. I still wish I wouldn’t have seen him die though. God knows what we can handle, and what we can’t.
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Holly June 25, 2012 at 2:49 am

So sorry about your nana, Holly. Big squeezy hugs. Families are complicated, aren’t they?
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darlene June 25, 2012 at 3:04 am

So sorry for your loss.


Amanda June 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I am so so sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in my prayers.

Please don’t feel guilt over this one. In truth, that last breath was probably the most peaceful moment your nana has ever had. She didn’t need you there for that. She needed you there for the days leading up to it. And you WERE there and you did right by her. There is NOTHING to feel guilty about. ((HUGS))
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Dawn June 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Sorry about your Nana but what a sweet post about her and your mom. You’re words have helped me today, thanks for that. Sending care and good thoughts your way.
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EmDub June 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Holly, I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother’s passing. I’m glad you were able to be there, no matter how difficult it was for you, at least you know you could be there for your Nana. And God bless your friend who looked after your children (and pets?), although I am certain your oldest held down the fort pretty well 🙂
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DebbyH June 26, 2012 at 12:50 am

OH HOlly!! You did not drop the ball!! You did not fail!! You sat by her side for many hours and she knew you loved her!! I choose to believe that she did not want you to see her take her last gasp for air!! She wanted to spare you the pain of ‘seeing’!!
Mourn the loss,
Rejoice in the victory,
Be in awe of grace.
Prayers to you and your family!
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Gi June 26, 2012 at 1:21 am

Oh Holly I am sorry for your loss. I pray for you at this time and send you all my love and support.
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Mary June 26, 2012 at 1:39 am

I’m real sorry for your loss of Nana and also of your Mom. I agree that they are now healed and suffering no more.
I’m sure that good memories of them, lots of togetherness with your kids and pets, and your faith will be of much comfort to you in the days and weeks to come.


Katie J June 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm

My condolences for your loss Holly. I think Tess said it perfectly. Sending you virtual hugs and love.
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Christina June 26, 2012 at 11:29 pm

So sorry for your loss 🙁 (((((((((HUGS))))))))))
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Angie Mizzell June 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

I’d like to think that your Nana sensed you were there, and waited until you left to depart this world. Also, I’m the third generation… and I’m breaking the cycle. I think you are, too.


Kim Wales June 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I am so sorry for your loss Holly.


Sheila July 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Holly I am so sorry about your Nana, sending you hugs!!!
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Gen November 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I know this was months ago, but pain is pain….it knows no date. I’m sorry for your pain and your hurt. Maybe your Nana didn’t want you to watch her when she left…it may have hurt too much. From what I’ve read, both women loved tremendously and tried to protect you and care for you. Sometimes what we want and what we get are two different things. Just maybe the Lord called her home when you left because of His grace…not your failing. The Lord too looks after our best interest….even when we don’t understand.
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