A Life Well Loved

11 08 2010

Very early, in the darkest part of Monday morning, we watched as beautiful Jessica floated away.  I had never seen anyone die until that moment.  I was not sure what would happen.  The doctors, nurses, and hospice staff, trying to prepare me for what was to come, cautioned about involuntary peri- and post-mortem movements and sounds.

I was ready to deal with those ugly and wrenching details.  Death, they said, was not like the romantic end portrayed in movies. Just as she had many times in her short life, my Jessica defied the expectations.  She patiently allowed herself to take less and less oxygen into her body until she simply stopped.  The monitor went to zero, her heart ceased to beat, and she was gone – quietly, elegantly, beautifully, peacefully gone.

While wondering why we only got twenty years with Jess, I realized I’d spent more time with my daughter than most mothers ever get with their children.  Kids head out of reach of the apron strings as soon as they are old enough to ride a bicycle.  They get part-time jobs, hang out with friends, learn to drive. They go off to college, graduate, and relocate for work; marry and have families of their own – all away from their mothers. 

I have had Jessica every day of her life.  She held my hand to cross the street, I brushed her teeth, we sat together on the front porch swing, I tucked her into bed (often getting to snuggle close to her and rock her until she went to sleep,) and did many other everyday mundane things for her that most mothers’ children outgrow before they start kindergarten.  I had these lovely mothering moments for twenty years. 

My heart will not be broken.  It is too full of the love Jessica brought to my life for me to allow one precious drop to be lost.




11 responses

11 08 2010
Designs By Roxan

you were so blessed to have Jessica in your life, it isn’t how long we live but the impact we have on others and how full a life we live. Jessica filled every bit of her life with joy, living in the moment. What a great girl she was and the legacy she has left will fill you forever. Blessings.

11 08 2010
Maggie Little

Your description was very very much like when my mom died. It was one of the most peaceful things, no, THE MOST peaceful thing, I have ever witnessed.

11 08 2010
Linda Hoffer

The heart hath its own memory, like the mind,
And in it are enshrined
The precious keepsakes, into which is wrought
The giver’s loving thought.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

11 08 2010

I lost someone very close to me much to early in her life. At the time she was away and it was a surprise to all of us. Even though it is a sad thing to have to go through and there really isn’t any good in it you were at least fortunate to be with her for all of her life and during he final moments.

11 08 2010
Amy Grace

You are an amazing woman, and much more important so was Jessica. I enjoyed everytime I got to come see her. She was just a joy and pleasure to see. Thank you for letting me be a part of her life.
Amy Grace RN (Critical Care Systems)

11 08 2010
Tammy Estep

I’m so fortunate to have know Jess for the past twenty years. I can remember holding her in my lap as a baby when she did her cheerleader “L” with her arms and the last time I saw her several weeks ago. I was always humbled that she always shared a big hug and a laugh with me. I remember how she would sing an play her instruments as we would practice for our gigs. I loved buying her gifts and she loved getting them! I was blessed to have known her at all. She was surely and Angel among us…..

12 08 2010
Jean Van Brederode

Thank you, Paula, for the beautiful post. I did not have the pleasure of knowing Jessica personally, but I have shared many happy moments with her mother. Having three grown children myself, I understand how you are blessed to have had this special relationship with your daughter. God speed, Sweet Jess!

12 08 2010
Jean Van Brederode

A poem to share that brings much comfort:

Crossing the Bar by ALfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

12 08 2010
Erin Keck

Paula, You put it all so beautifully. I am not very good with words but I am with feelings and what you shared about her passing is what I shared with my own mother when she passed. What a blessing when they can go so peacefully. You will never forget that moment. It is something that you will hold dear in your heart. You are loved very much.

13 08 2010
Linda Schultz

I believe our loved ones never leave us. We feel their spirit surrounding us and in our hearts. You are blessed with sweet and loving memories of Jessica.

13 08 2010
Bobbi Bassett

In love, I would like to share with you a small piece of a poem by Maya Angelou. I had the entire poem read at my dad’s memorial service:

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

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