Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Two Years.

Two years. 24 months. 104 weeks. 730 days. And that's still not as long as she fought the cancer beast. Paige has still been gone less time than I spent taking care of her. Two YEARS. Some days it feels like a lifetime ago. Other days it seems like yesterday.

I've traveled the road of a bereaved mom for two years now and have come to discover it's still a very new road for me. I made it through the fog of the first year naively thinking that would be the worst. I was quite mistaken. Maybe that fog was God's way of protecting me from day after day of unbearable pain those first days and months. Maybe He knew I needed that cushion after watching Paige step into Heaven. Maybe it served as a shield as He comforted me through the worst loss imaginable. I will never know this side of Heaven, but I do know that each day God gave me exactly what I needed to get through the day-to-day and take care of my guys. That was Year One - Year of the Fog. This year--the second year without my girl--the passage of time became all too real. It hit me, and it hit hard.

For starters, there's Jeremy. He looks nothing like the boy in pictures with his sister. Two years later he is a young man doing well in tough high school classes while coming into his own in golf and bowling. I often see glimpses of Paige in him--they were actually more alike than either would ever admit. Goal-oriented. Determined. Witty. Jeremy serves as an everyday reminder there is still life to be lived. There are still great things to be accomplished.

Then there are the pictures. Two years in, and I've not quite built up the strength to put up new photos. Sure, I've taken pictures--but as of yet just haven't had it in me to get them printed and up on the wall. I don't yet have the stamina to make it through video clips of Paige without melting into a puddle of tears. There's so much life in a video. Life. Movement and speaking and laughing--oh, how I miss that laugh. From here on out, there will always be someone missing from moments captured in photos and videos. There will always be someone whose smile I long to see, whose voice I long to hear. When that someone is your child, it's a very bitter pill to swallow. In fact, sometimes it feels like I'm choking on it.

The reality is I have no choice but to swallow that pill. To play the hand that was dealt. To continue moving forward one day at a time. It baffles me how my heart is almost living a double life--doing life here with my people and at the same time missing Paige so much it hurts. I guess that's yet another thing not meant for me to understand. God sees a much bigger picture from His perspective, and I will continue to trust Him. I know He had a purpose for Paige's life. I will continue having faith in His plan for my life. He is always good. He is always faithful.


Paige, my sweet girl...

As time forges ahead and we mark another year without you here, I am reminded how beautifully you lived out Romans 12:12. Joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Faithful in prayer. I want to be like you when I grow up, girl. I'm trying--I promise.  I miss you. I love you. Always and forever. I'll see you in a little bit.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Blessings in Brokenness

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Broken. Crushed. It hurts to even type these words, but that's where I've found myself the last couple of weeks. Getting ready for bed one night, I was hit by memory upon memory of the gut-wrenching decisions we made about hospice care. Out of the blue, that was the scenario that camped out in my head. Hospice. That word should never, ever, ever have to be in a conversation about your child. Yet there it was again. Right at two years to the day we signed paperwork that made me sick to my stomach. Back to rob me of any thoughts of sleep that night.

I was hopeful peace would return the next day, but I was mistaken. A rough morning and afternoon were just the beginning. It all came undone that evening when I came across a couple of pictures I had long forgotten. They were the absolute last pictures of us with Paige, taken just a few hours before all pain medication was increased to the point of no return. Just about 30 hours or so before my baby girl went to be with Jesus. I stared at them for what seemed like hours--though it was likely less than a minute. She was so sick. So, so sick--but trying her best to smile through the pain. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I put the phone down, walked out of the room, and fell to my knees on my bathroom floor. I totally, completely lost it. At that moment--and for several days after--it was like I lost my heart, my purpose, even my mind. I could only see the broken. Thankfully, God saw more than that. He was right there with me on the floor that night, gently putting this broken mom back together yet again.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.   2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Comfort. My epic meltdown occurred just a few days before a planned trip to the hospital with some friends who are fellow cancer moms. In the works for weeks, we would be serving dinner and delivering gift cards to families on the 9th floor at TCH. Families who are walking a road we had all traveled. Families who needed encouragement from people who have been there. I prayed and prayed about whether I should go through with that visit. My head and heart fought back and forth--and my heart won.

Serving those families that night blessed my heart immeasurably. Loading their plates and encouraging seconds. Dishing out desserts. Seeing exhausted moms leave smiling because their families got to eat a 'real meal' together. Watching kiddos' excitement upon receiving their gift cards. Taking something off those parents' shoulders for even a split second--now that's a blessing. God brought me out of my mess that night so I could spread His message of love with others.

He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.   Psalm 107:29

Calming the Storm. That evening at the hospital, the waves of grief that threatened to take me down subsided. God calmed the storm inside of me and gave me words to comfort and encourage. As we shared the message "No One Fights Alone," God reminded me I am not alone--in any of this. I was there with a group of incredibly strong women--moms who know childhood cancer all too well. Some have even watched their precious kiddos go to be with Jesus. This is a hard, hard road to travel, but we don't travel it alone. We have each other. We have the Lord. I think we all need a reminder of that now and then. I certainly did.

A joyful heart is good medicine...   Proverbs 17:22

Jake from TCH, not State Farm :)
Good Medicine. Not only did we visit with kiddos and their families at the hospital that night, we had a chance to reconnect with several of our nurses. These ladies and gentlemen truly serve with joyful hearts--even when the circumstances are less than joyful. They smile at our silly attempts at humor that provide distractions from the storms raging inside our children's bodies. The love and compassion they share is nothing short of amazing.

They are busy, busy people who treat many, many children-- and have said, "See you in a little bit" to far too many children. Yet still they smile. Still they laugh. Still they remember. They remember smiles and laughter. They remember challenges and fighting spirits. They remember.

It did my heart so much good to hug their necks. To see their faces. To hear they miss my girl and think of her often. To be told she will never be forgotten. Ever. That was good medicine for this momma's heart.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.   Philippians 4:13

On the roughest of days, I look to Him. On the best of days, I look to Him. The Lord gives me strength, and because of Him I will not fall. I will continue to follow where He leads--even when it happens to be on one of those rough days. He blesses me in my brokenness, and I never even see it coming. What an incredible God we serve.

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Time of Restoration

Survival Mode. That's been our life the last few months. We have gone to work, taken care of the day-to-day necessities, and maybe even outwardly seemed like things were going okay. That's how this grief thing works. It ebbs and flows--threatening at times to swallow us whole, yet at other times making it look like we have it all together. This summer, it didn't feel like I had much of anything together.

Almost opposite work schedules and Jeremy's busy-ness in the worlds of golf and bowling did not give the guys and me much time together at all. We were always going, going, going--and even when we did happen to be home at the same time, we just weren't connecting. Something needed to give.

And then came Camp Nate. Several months back (in the spring sometime), a fellow bereaved mom shared info about a camp geared for families who have lost children to cancer. I did some research and came to the conclusion it would be a nice getaway for the guys and me. It would take place in August just before school started, making it a great sendoff to summer. At the time, I had no clue just how much we would need the experience. But God did.

Set at Young Life's Trail West Lodge in Buena Vista, Colorado, Camp Nate has a mission of "finding hope after loss and rebuilding families who have suffered so greatly." It would include moments of remembrance while at the same time provide opportunities to create new memories. It was just what this weary trio needed.

We began our road trip to Colorado on the morning of Paige's birthday. I had no giant waves of grief washing over me that day, only an incredible peace. A sense of certainty knowing we were doing the right thing for our family at that time. Maybe it was the fact we were heading to one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Maybe it was God leading us to some much-needed time together. All I know is that it was just right.

That drive. Oh my goodness. It was loooooong. There's a stretch of north Texas where there is basically nothing. Seriously, nothing. For miles. We crossed into New Mexico and got our first views of taller landforms--even a volcano. We crossed the state line into Colorado the next morning, and there we saw mountains. Real mountains. It was like we were in another world.

We made our way to the lodge in Buena Vista and were immediately taken aback by the view. Everywhere we looked we saw the incredible handiwork of God. Mountains so perfectly placed they looked like layers in a painting. Trees everywhere--for all kinds of purposes. Hammock holders. Disc Golf obstacles. Mountain beautifiers. The whole setting was simply breathtaking--figuratively and literally (we were at about 8600 feet elevation, after all). Catching your breath was part of the daily activities.

And oh...the daily activities. The Family Challenge and Horseless Rodeo began with silly tasks for points and bragging rights and later included a tug-of-war battle for the ages that Boyce is still feeling. It was so much fun. There were smaller-group activities, like the Jeep ride up the side of a mountain that took us to an old mining town where we fed chipmunks right out of our hands.
There was even time for the three of us to just hang out. Jeremy found the Disc Golf course our first day there, and the word "golf" should have clued me in he would be good at it. Boyce was even pretty good at it. Me, not so much. No matter how I tried, I kept throwing the thing so far right that if not for the trees surrounding us it might have ended up back in Houston. The competitor in me didn't even mind I was losing. What mattered was that we were having a great time--and we were together.

A group hike of 1.5 miles took us a little further up the mountain from our lodge. Considering the elevation, it was a challenge--but so worth every single step. At the top we witnessed a view so spectacular it brought tears to my eyes. A butterfly release honoring our sweet children made the time on that mountain even more special. I felt closer to Paige. I felt the amazing presence of God. I felt unexplainable peace. Something changed in me on that mountaintop. Maybe it was a perspective thing. Maybe it was a purpose thing. I'm still trying to figure out what, but it was a change for the better--that's for sure.

I could go on about the week's incredible experiences. A trail ride that had me questioning whether my 'elderly' horse would make it down the mountain. Jeremy conquering the treetop ropes course. Boyce's determination to do every activity he possibly could--hurt hip and all. Worship songs and silly songs. Skits that had us laughing more than we had in a very long time. It all came back to having that time to reconnect as a family.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.   1 Peter 5:10

More than anything, our week in Colorado was about restoration--of our minds, hearts, and souls. We grew closer to each other and closer to God. Jesus was shining through every single staff member and volunteer who served us that week. We felt the love of Christ. We discovered a new sense of peace, hope, and purpose. We found joy. It was a reset we all needed.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   Romans 15:13

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Another Birthday in Heaven

My heart. My sweet girl. My precious Paige.

Eighteen years ago today you came into the world--a 10-pound, 1/2-ounce beautiful baby girl. You made me a mom and stole my heart from the second I laid eyes on you. You melted me with your smile. You challenged me with your sass. You strengthened me with your bravery and determination. You inspired me with your unshakable, abiding faith.

Today marks the second birthday you're spending in Heaven. Your 18th birthday. Once upon a time I figured we would celebrate it as we moved you into your college dorm. Never in a million years did I think I would find myself bringing flowers to your gravestone.

You've been with Jesus over 21 months now, sweet girl, and we are doing our best to continue your mission of helping others--any way we can. Sharing your incredible story. Fundraising for research. Helping other families. Your sassy spirit and beautiful soul are the inspiration for all of it.

As brokenhearted as I am to mark this second birthday without you here, I am truly thankful you are perfectly healed and whole. You, my love, are in the presence of Jesus. Happy 18th Birthday, Paige Madison. I'll see you in a little bit.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Eighteen. Just a number, right? In my world right now, that number speaks--actually, it screams--volumes. April 24th marks eighteen months since I last held my daughter's hand in mine. Since I last kissed her cheek and stroked her hair. April 24th marks eighteen months since my sweet Paige went to be with Jesus. 18 months. 78 weeks. 547 days. It doesn't seem real, yet it truly is all too real. I have missed and thought about and grieved for that girl every single day since she left this earth. How could I not? Eighteen months ago I lost a piece of my heart that I won't get back until I join her in Heaven.

Once upon a time, I didn't cringe at the number eighteen. Paige was supposed to graduate this year as part of the Class of 2018. This was supposed to be a season of senior pictures, college plans, prom, graduation--the list goes on and on. This was supposed to be a time I hesitated to let her go, knowing all the while it was a necessary part of growing up. But my girl didn't get the chance to grow up. That chance was taken away by a form of aggressive leukemia that relentlessly attacked her over and over and over again. 

Paige would have turned 18 in August this year. She would have been an 'official' adult. She would have been starting school in pursuit of that nursing degree she wanted so very badly. She would have been checking off her 'To Do' list of plans as she met her future husband and sought a job at TCH to follow in the footsteps of nurses she absolutely adored. She would have done so many things. So many good things. She would have. Those words hurt me to my core. How do I manage to trudge through days that seem like they will never end? How do I keep going on days when I miss Paige so much I can barely breathe? 

One word: God.

When I struggle to make it through the day, He is here. When the waves of grief knock me to my knees, He is here.  When I am unsure of my next steps, God is here. He guides me and constantly shows me evidence of His goodness and mercy and grace. He gives me reminders I am not alone on this road that can sometimes seem incredibly lonely. He loves me on the good days and seems to pull me in even closer on the messy days. Without a doubt, He is my strength--always.

I find another source of strength in my incredible daughter.

Paige found joy in every single day. That smile--oh, that smile--could brighten any day and led to Paige being known as the "sunshine in the room" to so many who cared for her. After her second relapse, Paige displayed unmatched courage when she helped make decisions difficult for adults to fathom, much less a teenager.  Her brave, fighting spirit served as inspiration for people in and out of the hospital setting. From the very beginning, Paige was a determined young lady. She didn't know the word "quit" and faced every trial head-on. My girl fought hard every moment of every day--even in her last days. Paige was smart, strong, and oh-so-sassy. She is my heart. She is my hero.

I will work to follow Paige's lead the rest of my days. Like her, I will continue to lean on my faith. Like her, I will look for the joy in every day. There is joy to be found in the sweet memories of her. There is joy to be found in the days to come. Like my amazing daughter, I will hold on to hope. Hope for the future. Hope the sting of her absence lessens a little with time. Like Paige, I will remain determined. Determined to keep going--no matter what. 

Paige had a purpose in this world; she wanted to make a difference, and she did. She still is. Runners honoring her fight. Students organizing ways to help other childhood cancer families in Paige's memory. A community coming together to raise money for much-needed research for her type of leukemia. A mom who will not stop sharing her heartbreakingly beautiful story. 

Eighteen, you may knock me down--but you will not knock me out. I'll take my cues from the bravest girl I ever knew. I will be joyful. I will be patient. I will remain faithful. Thank you for the lesson, sweet girl. See you in a little bit.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Teacher Becomes the Student

Teacher. It's a role I've played for about twenty years (on and then mostly off after Paige got sick). It's a role I wanted ever since I was a little girl playing school with my friends. It's a role I worked to improve each year--for myself and for my students. Teaching was my calling. I was totally, completely in my element. One day in January 2014 changed all that. It was the day I became the student. Over the course of the next 3 years I would learn from Paige--her fight, her faith, and her refusal to let cancer define her. I would learn from Paige even after she made her journey to Heaven. My girl has been with Jesus almost 14 months now, and I'm still learning new things each and every day.

I must admit--sometimes it feels like I am a living, breathing version of the "Groundhog Day" movie. No matter my thoughts as I doze off and on throughout the night, I find myself hoping I will wake to a different outcome. To our old life. To our family of four all under one roof.  Of course, that doesn't happen, and it's a tough lesson to learn. Every morning is a jolting reminder of this new way of doing life. Yes, over a year later it is still a new way of doing life. It is all too easy to get bogged down in the reminder that Paige is not away at camp or off to college or some other adventure. That she is really absent from this earth and present with Jesus. It is all too easy to get so overwhelmed by this fact that I sometimes struggle just to make it through the day. I say it's easy because that's exactly where I've found myself the last few months. Devastated. Overwhelmed. Struggling.

This week marked the two-year anniversary of Paige's bone marrow transplant. That transplant was supposed to save her life. It was supposed to mark a new beginning, and I guess this year it did--just not in a way I would ever have imagined. On that day, believe it or not, I somehow managed to start trying to break out of the fog that has had me trapped since mid-August. I reminded myself that Paige is okay. In fact, she's more than okay. She's wonderfully, perfectly healed. It's what I prayed for--it just came in a manner different than I'd hoped. I stopped and thought about the things I pray with people every week. About God's goodness and love. His amazing grace and mercies that are new every single morning. I stopped and reminded myself about the joy to be found every day, and the fog began to lift. It's not totally gone, but it's starting to lift. This journey is filled with challenges, but I am learning to face them. Again, the teacher becomes the student.

Because I've been so scattered the last few months, it only seems fitting to let a few of the things I've learned--and in some cases, simply just remembered--land here. No particular topic in no particular order, except I really did save the best for last.

Well-meaning people say hurtful things. If you haven't walked this road, it's hard to know what to say. I get it. You want to say something without causing more pain. Unfortunately, sometimes what sounds good in your head doesn't translate so well once it's spoken. Before I go any further, here are a few suggestions of things to avoid:
  • "It's been a whole year. Aren't you better now? She's fine. You're fine."
  • "At least you have Jeremy."
  • "You know where she is--you should be happy. You should be rejoicing. You should be thankful."
The statements above, while not a comprehensive list, have been spoken to us time and again by friends, acquaintances, and others who followed our family's story. I'll be honest. They come across as judgmental--even though I'm certain this is rarely the intention. It takes everything in me, along with a giant helping of grace, not to reply the way I'd like to. These words hurt. They minimize my daughter's existence, and I am not okay with that.

Of course I know where Paige is. I know Whose she is, and that alone serves as hope to keep me going. And I am thankful. Thankful God chose me to be her mom. Thankful for the sixteen years I had with her. Thankful for our relationship that got closer and closer through her treatment. Thankful for the inspiration she was and continues to be. The grief journey is a work in progress, and each day presents its own challenges--much like life in general. We can't be expected to justify why we are feeling a certain way on a particular day. We are simply doing the best we can and trusting God to keep nudging us forward and heal our hearts. And He will.

I will always miss my daughter, and that's okay. As of this writing, time has not yet wiped the grief away. Quite honestly, I don't expect it to. I carried the child in my body, for goodness' sake. I spent just about every waking moment with her for almost three years. Paige had--and will forever have--a huge piece of my heart. I talk about her. I think about how she would react to various experiences. Paige may no longer be able to move forward in this lifetime, but her sweet memories can. I am working on getting to that seemingly distant place where I can carry her with me while moving forward without breaking down. I am trusting God to get me there. And He will.

I am not the person I used to be, and that's okayWhen life does a 180-degree turn and the bottom drops out from under you, it's very difficult--if not nearly impossible--to be who you once were. Maybe that's how it is supposed to be, though. Things happen in life that change us--not always in as drastic a fashion as we've experienced, but things happen nonetheless. Those changes can break us, or they can actually be part of the healing process.

I used to feel like I pretty much had it together. The wife thing. The mom thing. The teacher thing. I was a multi-tasking maniac with a slight touch of Type A perfectionist personality (my husband will argue it was more than slight). I had very specific goals, many of which flew out the window with Paige's diagnosis. She was my priority. My purpose. Since she left us, I've struggled with just who I am. I struggle with who God wants me to be now.

Every day I pray He will guide my steps in this next season of life. And He will. He already is. I'm working and serving alongside some amazing people at church. I've still got a foot in the education door teaching two undergrad classes. I've even been blessed with a few opportunities to share Paige's story and hope to make a difference however I can. When I step back and take a look at how different things have come together over the last year, I know for a fact it is God at work. The changes in my life do not define who I am. I'm a bit of a mess right now, but I am also the daughter of Almighty God. I'm trusting Him to get me through. And He will.

God really is always here with me, and that's more than okay. Not only do I acknowledge His constant presence, I truly feel it. God's grace got me through the year of firsts without my sweet girl. Now into the 'seconds,' I will continue to rely on His strength to get us through each and every day. He is here through the storms, when waves of grief try to pull me under. He is here on the sunny days, when memories of Paige leave me with a smile. I seek Him. I trust Him. He is always faithful. Always.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Journey to Her Heavenly Home

I shared in my last post that October is a rough month for our family. Now that I think about it, rough is actually putting it mildly. October is difficult. It is heartbreaking. It is absolutely gut-wrenching. As I write this, we are just days away from the one-year mark of Paige going to be with Jesus. One year. 12 months. 365 days. 8,760 hours. Over 500,000 minutes. Over 31 million seconds. And I have missed, mourned, and longed for that girl with everything I have every single one of those seconds.

Boyce and I have heard on more than one occasion that it doesn't seem like it's been that long. Trust me--it's been that long. To our hurting family, it feels like it's been a whole lot longer. I get it. People around us have moved on. Life must go on, yet we find ourselves struggling as we try to move forward without feeling like we are leaving a precious piece of ourselves behind. Figuring out this still-new way of doing life without Paige is a very slow, painful process.

As much as I've tried to avoid it--by staying busy and go-go-going nonstop--October just won't let us be. Memories of our last month with Paige overwhelm me day and night. Just last week I awoke from a dream sobbing--full-on sobbing--because in that dream I relived every second of Paige leaving us. Every second.

Over the last few years, I've shared how our family's faith and trust in God has carried us through good times and bad. That has not changed. He is always good. He is always faithful. We prayed for Paige's healing over and over and over again. She received it--not in the way we were hoping, but she received it nonetheless. A while back our pastor talked about three kinds of healing: immediate, gradual, and ultimate. While my head and my prayers always steered toward gradual, my baby girl received her ultimate healing when she went to be with Jesus. She is free from the shackles of cancer. She is whole. She is rejoicing.

I've talked a few times about those last days with Paige--but I've never put them in writing. Until now. It's time. It's time to share how I know that I know that I know Jesus came for my beautiful girl in the wee hours of October 24, 2016.

Our last hospital stay was a true roller coaster ride. There were at least 3 times from admission in late September until the day our girl journeyed home that we were told to 'be ready.' That the leukemia was starting to gallop out of control. And it showed. Paige slept more than she was awake, wanting nothing more than her mom and dad right where she could see them when she did open her eyes. The pain--oh, the pain. It hit every part of her body with such force that her usual regimen for pain management wouldn't touch it. There would be a few rough, scary days--and then my girl would perk up, ready for pancakes and maybe a visit or two from family. Then down she would go again. The back and forth was so hard on her. Hard on her parents. Hard on everyone who loved her.

There were tears. So many tears. Tears in the eyes of doctors and nurses as they delivered more and more bad news while doing everything in their power to keep Paige comfortable. Tears in the eyes of a grandmother whose heart was breaking seeing her granddaughter suffer. Tears in the eyes of a brother who said over and over that if Paige left us on his birthday, he would never celebrate it again. Tears in the eyes of a father who realized the only thing he could do--the most important thing he could do--was to be there. And then there was Paige. The most heartbreaking of all the tears shed were those in the eyes of my 16-year-old daughter telling me she didn't want to die. That she wasn't ready. That she knew where she would go, but there were still so many things she wanted to do.

One particularly rough day, Paige awoke so confused she didn't know me. She didn't recognize me--the person who had been by her every minute for more than two years. She didn't recognize her mom. There was fear and panic in eyes that were usually filled with joy and some kind of mischief. Her brain was able to 'defog' after a few minutes, but the damage was done. Paige knew things were getting worse. The confusion became more frequent. Nurse schedules were adjusted to provide consistency with the hope of making things a bit easier on our girl. I cannot say enough about Amber and Emily, our nurses the last few days. Those ladies were patient, loving, and took incredible care of Paige (and her parents) as our girl was becoming less and less connected to her earthly home.

Just a day before she left us, Paige woke up particularly agitated. It took many gentle assurances to get her settled down. Convinced someone was trying to take her away, she kept pointing up and saying, "No. No. No! I'm not going yet. I'm not going with that man!" Paige was adamant in her protests as she drifted back to sleep while the rest of us looked at each other in amazement at what she had said. My girl slept a lot that Saturday. A whole lot. That night she awoke crying out in pain and with still more confusion. As I held her with likely the tightest hug ever, she said, "Mom, I can't do this anymore. It's too hard."

God surely spoke through me that night as I told my daughter that she didn't have to do this anymore. That we knew how hard she had fought. How very much she was loved. That I was sure that the man who came for her was Jesus--and that when He came back, it was okay for her to go with Him. He would take away her pain. He would take away her disease. She would be whole in Heaven. I held her tightly and told her I loved her. Paige's reply: "I love you too, Mom." Those were the last words I would hear my daughter speak to me.

The next 24 hours or so felt like an eternity as medications were administered to keep Paige comfortable. That was our only goal at that point--to keep her free from pain and suffering as she made the journey to her Heavenly home. Our TCH family members were in and out of her room that day, many of them simply looking at Paige with tears in their eyes, unable to say much of anything. They loved her too. Boyce and I held her hands, stroked her beautiful, curly hair, and told that girl over and over and over again that we loved her. That we would always love her. That even though our time together on Earth was coming to an end, we would all be together again one day.

We didn't leave her side.  We couldn't. We had to soak up every single second we had left with our precious Paige. I kept my eyes on her the whole time, watching her chest slowly rise and fall. Paige's oncologist came to visit late that night, and in her typical fashion managed to make us laugh about something I can't even recall now. Yes, we were actually able to laugh at something in the midst of the most heartbreaking time of our lives. She stood up to leave, assuring us she would check in the next morning (which was just hours away at that point). Boyce and I went to hug her, and for the first time in about 24 hours nobody was holding on to Paige's hands. I turned around, and my girl had quietly left. So completely at peace-- and so very much just like her to wait until I wasn't watching. In the blink of an eye, Paige left behind her broken body and stepped into Heaven, forever healed.


Paige, my's been a year for us, but probably more like a second or two for you. Thank you for the privilege of being your mom. Thank you for putting up with my fierce love for you. Thank you for helping me find joy on the hardest of days. Thank you for living out your faith in a way that just made you shine Jesus' love all over the place--even in your sassiest moments. I love you, sweet girl. Always. See you in a little bit.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Romans 12:12