It is interesting how people react to death. Some handle it with the peace and grace of a butterfly. Others handle it like they are walking through a war zone with the pain and anger etched in their minds and emotions. We are all different and so accordingly, we will handle it differently. I have friends and family that have been blessed enough to not have any loss in their immediate family and it always amazes me how they have lived unscathed by the shock of loss whether sudden or they knew it was coming. Myself, I had to deal with the loss of my 19-year-old brother suddenly in a car accident when I was 15. As a young girl losing her only brother, it was a shock to my world. I handled it like I described, walking through a war zone. The pain and devastation to my family was visible then and my world was unrecognizable as it was before his death. Life never was the same for us and as I have heard many times from the loss of a child, my parents’ marriage couldn’t handle it. They divorced about 2 years later. That experience, however, made me who I am today. I learned quickly that survivors have to wake up the next day. Time goes on even if you don’t want it to. You have to find a new normal. We have 2 choices. Find the strength to move on or lose yourself in the depression. I chose to find the strength and felt I had to be strong for both my parents while they figured out their own path. In many ways, I found strength in controlling what I could since the world around me was out of control. If I could find something I could do, no matter how small, and own it and take care of it, I did. Today, some may say I am a control freak 🙂 , but it is how I find my strength. Finding the things I can control when the world around me is out of control.
Many have heard by now that Phyllis passed this last Monday April 3rd. This time while the shock is still there, I found peace and strenght knowing the following:
I could say goodbye and I love you.
While the last time I said it, it was on the phone because I couldn’t make it down to their home till later in the evening, she gave my dad her ‘thumbs up’ and I knew she heard me. I missed her by 2 minutes. I pulled into the drive at my dad’s house and he walked out and said she just passed. This wounded me to the core for about 10 minutes. The shock of being 2 minutes late. But during my drive down, my dad kept calling and asking “how far out are you?” about every 15 minutes. The last time when I got to the exit to their home which was about 5 minutes away, he called again and I said ‘ I will be there in a few minutes’. Phyllis was holding on and the nurses couldn’t understand why she was holing on so long. But someone had said to me ‘maybe she was holding on till she knew you would be there for your dad’ and that made sense to me because, true to Phyllis, even in the end, she was making sure he would have me there to help him though this.
The suffering was gone
During the whole diagnosis and even before, I watched this vibrant, strong, and sociable woman fade quickly. For those of you that knew Phyllis, she loved to talk to people. Having her lose her voice was such a blow. Having her lose her freedom and ability to take care of everyone and everything was an additional blow. Then at the end, watching her struggle to just take a breath and watching her in constant pain, I wanted the suffering gone for her. I knew it was selfish to have her here because we needed her. I didn’t want her to suffer anymore and she was suffering horribly.
Today, we start to find that new normal. One day at a time, I will worry about my dad and my brothers. I know it takes time to heal. I know everyone is hurting. I also know from experience, that after time, we heal. We never forget, but the pain of the loss fades. Oh, it crops up when you least expect it and it is there again just when you think you have it under control, but your heart is never the same.
I called my mom this weekend to let her know I loved her. That she is an awesome ‘Harmony’ (Korean for grandma) and that I am so blessed that she has her health and that I can still talk to her. I am lucky to have 2 moms. Mine and Phyllis, my bonus mom.
The overwhelming support we have received from the family, friends and the community are a true sign of how special of a lady she was. I have said it numerous times, but I will say it again. I cannot thank everyone enough.
I have said before that I have a strong faith in the lord. I know others may or may not believe, but I do and I believe that he has given me the strength to get through this and be there for the family. I also believe that while he heard our prayers to help heal Phyllis, I know he doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we want. He did heal her by ending her suffering. My belief is that she is in Heaven, free of pain, walking with our dogs that have passed, and talking to my brother Jeff telling him all the stories she was a part of in the last 25 years my dad and her were together and laughing. I see her smiling and laughing and that is where I find my strength during this time.
Rest in peace Phyllis, love you.