Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It Is Well...

Nana back in the day...wasn't she so beautiful!

I haven't blogged it what seems like forever...big things have happened since the last time...
I've wanted to write so badly, but I knew the pain it would bring
and I don't know about you...but I love to AVOID pain
of any kind...physical and emotional.

But...today is a good day
Today, my sweet Nana would have been 90 years old!  
My family & I had grand
plans of how we would honor and celebrate her life.
God had even bigger plans because she is spending
this birthday with Him!

To fill you in...
I got a phone call on New Years Day this year
that Nana had fallen at her house & was on her way
to the hospital but she was unresponsive.
I quickly started to get ready and pack my bags to 
get on the road to Tulsa. We didn't know how bad
it was yet but I knew I had to be there because
Nana had been there for me my whole life.
For those of you who don't know
Nana was my great-grandmother and she
is also the one who raised me...off and on until I was 
six years old then permanently after that.
She supported me from elementary all the way through
college. She also provided me with a place to stay
after college so I could attack the massive debt 
that came with getting an education.
 I could go on an on about how she sacrificed 
but I really should save that for another post.
Needless to say...she was INCREDIBLE!

So...New Years day, I'm on the road to Tulsa.
What's usually a quick drive from Oklahoma City
seemed to take FOREVER!
By this time I found out that Nana had suffered a
massive stroke which caused her fall...

I FINALLY arrived at the hospital...my mom & brother
were outside waiting for me.  My sweet brother
was a wreck.  We just cried and hugged for a bit
then I went in to see Nana.
There's nothing that can prepare you for what you're
going to see...all the tubes and her just lying in the bed
unable to speak, move or open her eyes.
I saw her and burst into tears &my breath was taken away.

They moved her from the ER to another floor.
I can't tell you the number of people that filled 
the waiting room.  She loved so many people
and they loved her right back.
Our pastors, people I grew up in church with, 
family, friends, neighbors
all came to show their love & support.
Friends back in OKC texting & praying.
I can't tell you how much that ministered to my heart.

A family friend was Nana's Neurosurgeon. 
It was that time where we gather as a family
to hear what the doctor has to say about her condition,
the prognosis & that moment when we have to
decide what to do.  Unfortunately the hospital
couldn't find the DNR that Nana had filed with them
years ago when she was getting ready to have another
surgery.  Leaving the decision up to us and, thankfully,
we knew her wishes.

The nurses came in to take all the tubes away leaving 
the oxygen and IV.
Once she was finished our entire family and a couple of 
friends gathered around her bed, held hands and sang hymns.
As the hours went on the waiting room started to empty,
family and friends started to go home.
I was convinced I couldn't leave because I wouldn't
be able to get over it if I missed the moment she left us
to go be with Jesus.
Robin & Adam friends I've had since childhood and grew up 
in church with were so sweet to stay...
I can't tell you how sweet it was to walk out of her room
and into the waiting room to see them there...I don't know
if they'll ever know just how much that meant to me.

In true Nana form, she didn't give up right away.
She is a fighter...always has been.
The hours went by...each day I was only 
getting 3-4 hours of sleep because I wanted to be 
with her as much as possible.
I was so thankful for my dear friend from college
who texted to say if I needed a break from 
the hospital to just call & she would 
be there.  She is a wife, mother of three kids and 
works full time but when I called she was there in 
half an hour.  She took me to dinner and 
just helped me to get my mind off of things for a while. 
(my view from the hospital couch as I tried to nap)
On the morning of the 4th, my Memaw (grandma - Nana's oldest daughter)
called to tell me the doctor came by and said it would be less than
24 hours.
I couldn't get up there fast enough...
My cousins, Rhonda & Josh, and I got to the hospital
and Nana's dear friend, Arvilla, from church was visiting.
I sat down and when there was a break in the conversation
I asked Arvilla how her grandson was doing.
At this moment, Nana's eyes opened up widely.
I got a phone call from my mom & stepped out into the hall.
Rhonda came out into the hall and said, "Leesh, you really
should get in here, you'll want to see this."
So I quickly got off the phone with my mom and rushed to Nana's side.
I held her hand and said "thank you Nana, for letting us see your pretty green
eyes again.  We love you so much...it's ok to go be with Jesus."
I noticed the time in between her breaths were getting longer.
I said, "this is it, we have to start singing, Josh."  And Josh, who had been
so strong, in that moment, couldn't sing...he just grabbed my arm and we started crying.
I began to sing "Amazing Grace"
Josh, Rhonda, Memaw, Arvilla, Aunt Earline (Nana's youngest daughter) & Susan
joined in.
We sang two verses of that song and she was still
breathing and her eyes had closed a little bit.
I started singing "I love you Lord"
as we were finishing up that song
she opened her eyes real wide and 
she took in a soft gasp as if she had 
just seen Jesus.
It was the most amazing moment of my life.
I can't tell you what an honor and privilege 
it was to hold her hand as she breathed her
last breath and went to be with Jesus.

It was incredible to think about what exactly was going
on in the Spiritual realm that we couldn't see in that moment.
Aunt Pat (Nana's middle daughter) & Uncle Burt arrived shortly after
and we just had a moment of prayer and worship.

The next few days was spent mainly with Josh & Rhonda.
We worked on the obituary, we went through
her THOUSANDS of pictures to put together 
a slideshow for her service and picked out her clothes
and jewelry.
It was tough to do the slideshow...we really saw
ourselves working on that for her birthday...
not her funeral.

We had lots of time to just talk and share Nana stories.
We realized, God was really preparing each of us
in His own way for this moment.
A couple of weeks before all this happened, I went
to a funeral for a sweet little girl I worked with
in our special needs nursery.  I went home that
afternoon and laid down to take a nap...
I woke up with my heart racing becuase
I was dreaming that I was at Nana's funeral.
I was so relieved it was just a dream but looking
back I think the Lord was preparing me for what
was coming in a couple of weeks.

Josh had this sense of urgency to go spend 
a day with Nana and video tape her making
cinnamon rolls & telling her childhood stories.
He was on winter break and knew this was probably
the last time he'd have this opportunity.
This was Thursday before Nana had her stroke.

Rhonda, Josh's mom, felt the need to go get
a picture of Josh's car parked out in front
of Nana's house on this special day he was
spending with her.

God had even started to prepare Nana...
She had a letter to Josh on top of a Bible
sitting on her desk...
She did this for all three boys
Josh, Connor & Braden.
In the letter she wrote about how
she prays guardian angels over him
all the time and that one day she would be
his guardian angel soon.

God was not only preparing us but He was
even helping us by making arrangements for her service!
He is so amazing...Nana LOVED our former worship
pastor, Scott, and she loved when he sang
 "I bowed on my knees and cried holy"
Well, Scott had moved to Virginia to be the Director
of Ministry Teams at Liberty University.
He was coming to Tulsa on Monday with 
his group "Sounds of Liberty" and Nana's service
was scheduled for Tuesday...
He was able to direct and sing for Nana's service!
My mom's friend who is an incredible pianist was able
to accompany him and it was absolutely beautiful and flawless.

The service was very honoring to Nana and the Lord.
My dearest friends were all there...Erika whom I've been friends
with since 6th grade and her parents, Mollie - since 11th grade, 
Amy & Donna - college and Veronica my first rommie 
after I moved to Oklahoma City.
That was so special to have them there.
The women of the church all prepared an incredible meal
for our family and friends.

(Amy, Donna & I after the funeral with the cutest
photo bombers ever, Conner, Josh & Braden)

I was overwhelmed by the prayers, texts, 
flowers & gifts thatcame in.
My boss & his wife sent Hydrangeas, sweet friends sent me Tulips
These were extra special because Nana grew this in our yard.
My dear friends Amy & Donna got me a beautiful 
necklace from The Vintage Pearl 
with the words "It Is Well" - That was Nana's
favorite hymn...I wear it almost daily.

(Braden's shoes he wore in a basketball game
the day Nana passed away)

 (Christmas Eve 2012
I had no clue these would be my last days
with her...I would've spent sooo much more
time with her had I known!)

 (Spring 2012 at Aunt Gail & Uncles Charlie's 
60th Wedding Anniversary Party
Aunt Gail is Nana's younger sister)

If you've made it this far...thank you for taking the time to read this story.
God is good and even though today is a sad day for those of us left
here on Earth...I can rejoice and say "It is Well"
knowing Nana is with Jesus and having the best birthday,
better than anything we could've given her here!




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James Vaugh said...

yes, she was beautiful...
nice blog
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