Reflections of a True Warrior – My Hero – My Mom

IMG_3168It’s been 3 weeks since my mom passed away.  I have been deeply introspective, remembering her and the gift of having her as my mom. I’ve been even more in tune with beauty around me- sunsets like I’ve never seen before, the radiant glow of the moon, light bursting from clouds in the most touching way, even a visit from a beautiful grasshopper…signs of her presence everywhere.

With tomorrow being my daughter’s first birthday I felt called to write; Honoring my mom on my daughter’s special day.  The two of them shared a bond that to witness it you could see the twinkle in not only my daughter’s eyes but my mom’s too. Her only granddaughter brought her the biggest joy this last year.

Anyone who is going through a long-term, chronic illness, like my mom had, is a warrior in my eyes. Those who may have discovered a late stage condition and going through the fight are warriors.  All my sisters around the world going through infertility challenges are warriors.  I am an IVF warrior.  Interestingly enough my high school mascot was even a Warrior- an Arapahoe Indian Warrior. YES.  I believe in signs and they are here to guide us.

What my mom went through in her struggle to breathe is something I wish for no one to have to endure. The simple act of breathing became her biggest challenge.  She described this moment-to-moment essential part of life much like “breathing through a straw.”  In her early 60’s she was diagnosed with bronchiectasis and then at the age of 70 a test confirmed a rare gene linked to cystic fibrosis.  The amount of medications and breathing treatments she had on a daily basis is just more than most can imagine.

As I reflect on the lessons my mom left me, (and she’s still teaching me every day), I feel full of gratitude for the incredible person she was and how I still feel her presence guiding me as I move forward in life.

One of the things I know my mom had a hand in is the strength she passed down to me.  Being the example of a strong woman is probably one of the single, biggest gifts a mother can give her children.  I know I got much of my strength from her.  Fortunately I was able to tell her how much I admired her…how much she was loved.  Not everyone gets the chance to do that.  Somehow I was able to stand strong and give her eulogy at her memorial service and I couldn’t have felt prouder standing at the pulpit, with my husband by my side and honor my mom as her only daughter.  One of the stories I shared was about a Christmas gift I gave her in 1997.  It was a blank journal in which I asked her to share anything- favorite things, what she’d learned, and to one day give it back to me.  She wrote an entry and it was dated on my 21st birthday.  We chuckled as she wrote only 1 entry, but the message she wrote, (four pages in all) can apply to anyone at any stage of life.

“If there is one thought I would share it is –

It’s not what happens to you in life- it’s how you deal with it.

You have a lot of inner strength – use that to guide you.

Take responsibility for your own life. 

No one can do to you what you won’t let them.

Be your own person but be open to learning from each new experience. 

Life is full of change, growth and new insights! 

Remember that happiness comes from within.

What is most valuable is not connected to material things. Your good name, feeling proud of the way you live your life, valuing friendships of those who are important to you – this is what brings you peace and contentment.

Life can be simple or complicated- I choose to keep it simple- and fulfilling!”

How thankful I am to have found this journal in her closet before she passed away.  I read it with her and believe that was a gift from above.  She lived a very fulfilled life and was the best example of that for me.  One of the things that stands out most on how I benefited from having a mom like her is the way she handled her illness.  Her attitude of positivity, perseverance, and even some acceptance when one is faced with a challenge was truly admirable;  She dealt with it the way a warrior would.

In thinking about my IVF journey, I recall times where I could have let fear take over. It would have been easy to surrender to a limiting belief mindset, but I chose not to.  I stayed focused on the outcome I envisioned and knew what was waiting for me.  I did not lose hope on our one viable embryo;  Now that sweet miracle of ours turns one tomorrow.

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There is change in the air- the leaves turning color, the weather turning cooler, celebrating my daughter’s first year of life, and starting a new chapter of life “without” my mom.  I put “without” in quotes because I know deep down that she is always WITH me; It’s just a different kind of presence.  Not the physical kind.

There is so much of my mom’s gifts left to discover.  I treasure the books she inscribed to me with personal, heartfelt love notes.  As I look back these books connect the dots in my life- different stages growing from childhood to adulthood. Especially now with my daughter, she will continue to be a guiding presence in my life.  I hear her voice saying, “Livy has part of me in her.” My mom does carry on in my daughter and she lives on in me.  A true warrior who lives on forever in the hearts of all who loved her.

xo lisa

 

 

 

 

 

A Mother’s Love

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As I write my heart feels full of hope and yet breaking a little at the same time.  I can hardly believe our daughter is approaching her 1st birthday.  IVF brought us a precious new life.  A new little one who has completely captured our heart.  We’re embracing each stage of our evolving journey, taking it one day at a time.  As excited as I am for all to come in her sweet life, my heart feels an ache… a deep ache that’s been ever so present … my mom is dying.

It’s an interesting place to find yourself in the middle of caring for a young infant, and caring for your ailing mom.  If you know me and my family well, you’ll know my mom has been sick for quite a while. It’s been a constant on my mind wondering if she would make it to the day I would get to tell her we were pregnant. Wondering if she would make it to her only daughter’s baby shower.  Would she be there to hold her only granddaughter for the first time or share in her first Christmas?  The list goes on, but I count my blessings and can’t say enough how special this first year has been. My heart still has a bit of an ache as I can’t help but worry and think…will she make it to her first birthday?

I think what gives me so much comfort is we’ve been able to say the things we want to say… to express how much we truly love one another.  She reminds me, “The love will always be there. It never goes away.”  Tears are welling in my eyes as I write this, but she is so right.  Love lasts forever.  There’s immense comfort in the joy I get seeing my mom in my daughter. Her eyes twinkling…her sweet, endearing smile.  Olivia has so much of her Grammy in her.

My mom is one of the most joyous people you will ever meet.  She has been the best example of what a mom is, what a loving, devoted spouse is, and what a true friend is.  Despite battling her chronic respiratory condition that spans at least 10 years, and more significantly in the last 3 years, she has been a person who does not complain.  She accepts “what is” and lives her life each day with a grace I can’t help but have deep admiration for.

This personal entry is one I wanted to share.  By sharing our heartbreaks and struggles we help give permission for others to do the same.  I believe in using our life to the fullest – if that’s living a life of authenticity and vulnerability, one where we share our joys AND our sorrows…not sugar coating and talking surface level talk, but living with our WHOLE selves, then that is the life I want to be a part of.

As I embark on my new calling to be a voice for others with infertility, I get a rush of excitement following this new passion.  Yes, life is challenging me in many ways –  chasing around a 10 month old while doing my best to be there for my mom and give support to my dad, while pursuing my dreams as an IVF mentor, writer, and creator of the life I desire.  This highly reflective time is one where motherhood is at the forefront.   I’m a new mom seeing my own mom nearing the end.

When people ask what they can do for me at this time- I ask for love, light and prayers for our family.  Prayers for my mom to pass at the right Divine time, without pain, with all the love of those she has loved and who have loved her.  My tears are frequent these days.  I know for sure I wouldn’t be nearly as strong if I didn’t have the kind of mom who raised me.

Now go call your mom – Whether here or in heaven.  I know I’ll still be calling her, talking to her and feeling her loving touch as my husband and I raise our daughter to know the woman I call Mom and the one she calls “Grammy.”

xo