We Love You Momma

September 13, 2012

Early this morning, my mother took the final breathes of the incredible life that she has blessed so many with. The past four years of her fight with stage four breast cancer were filled with ineffable strength and grace, and her last hours here with us embodied just that as she was surrounded by the people she loves. As daughters, sisters, husbands, mothers, and fathers we ache for her loss but only as much as we are at peace with how she no longer has to suffer. Understanding that my mom’s race was about to end, we gathered around her; keeping her comfortable as we cycled all of the love she’d given us back to her. Although she didn’t have the physical strength to respond very much, she listened while we sang songs and talked to her. The sun was shining until late in the afternoon, and warmed us all with its rays just as my mom was a light of inspiration to everyone in her life. Surrounded by those she loved, my mom took in the words & memories we shared and although there were many tears shed, there was a sense of peace in the house that night. As my mom had done countless times before, I baked bread in the kitchen we had all built together and its familiar and comforting smell filled the house and we played the songs we had sung so many times with her throughout the journey. My sisters and I read the same books she had read to us so many times, particularly I’ll Love You Forever which repeated this little song:

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”

The story is about a mother and her son, and how as the son grew up there were days that the mother thought she was going to go crazy with various troubles her son got into, but at night when the son was asleep the mother would come into his room, rock him “back and forth,” and sing him the little song. The mother does this as long as she can, but at the end of the story, time has passed and the mother is very old and sick and can hardly sing the song. So the son who now grown with a family of his home goes to visit his mother, and when he visits her, he picks her up just as she had done with him and rocks her “back and forth” and sings the little song replacing “baby” with “mother”. It was our turn to sing the little song. My mom devoted her life to ones she loved and gave so much into making sure that my sisters and I would be okay now and in the future, but at that moment it was our turn to have strength and grace for her. And I am so thankful to have been given the gift of time with my mom, however short it may have seemed, because so many people don’t get the time to have the “long goodbyes” that my mom loves. Time is a precious gift and I will always cherish the joys and heartbreaks I experienced with my mom.

My mom said very little in her final hours, but the one phrase we picked out multiple times was “I love you.” I suppose you could say, “I love you,” were my mom’s last words, but I don’t believe in last words in the sense that they are the last. I along with my family believe with all our hearts that my mom is always with us, keeping us strong and at peace with life.  As we move forward, I will carry all of the virtue and grace that my mom instilled in me and my sisters. From graduations to weddings to starting families of our own, my sisters and I know that our mom is there with us. In the mean time we are there for each other as we mourn the loss of a remarkable woman, but more importantly and as she would hope for: celebrate the wonderful life she lived. I love you Momma.


34 Responses to “We Love You Momma”

  1. Kim Mosley Says:

    What a journey you’ve all been on, looking life so squarely in the face. And you have all been such warriors! I’m sure Ronnie will always be with you all, and with all those that she touched so profoundly. Kim and Linda

  2. Patty Kious Says:

    Beautiful words from beautiful young ladies — Ronnie you have to be very proud as you look down on them !!\

  3. Larissa Forsythe Says:

    I saw the sun come up this morning and I knew your mom was in it. God bless you all today. As you know, Ronnie was such a gift.

  4. Your mother’s blog was such and inspiration. You are as gifted as your mother and she must be so proud of all of you. Prayers for all of you.

  5. That was beautiful. I was surprised to see the notice from Glass Half Full in my inbox this afternoon. I love reading your mom’s entries and am glad that her gift of writing has been passed to her daughters. You are an amazing family.
    Amy Wilson-Stronks (a Porter Beach peep)

  6. Thank you for sharing with us. Ronnie is such an amazing inspiration and it appears that her daughters are just as strong and beautiful as her. My prayers are with you all.

  7. Michele Renth Says:

    You girls carry your mother’s spirit everywhere you go. Thank you for writing down your words and feelings. It was so nice to see this entry pop up on my email.

  8. keri Says:

    Ronnie is blessed to have you all, and the love and joy you brought to her every day. My heart is aching with the loss of such a spirited friend, but filled to almost bursting with the outpouring of love from you beautiful girls and your entire family.

  9. Bonnie Safran Says:

    I knew your Mom only through her blogs and through my daughter, Wendy, who was a colleague and friend. It sounds like she did everything right with her daughters. You are blessed to have wonderful memories of a wonderful woman.

  10. Elka Nelson Says:

    I can see that you are your Mother’s daughter. Just reading your note made me feel her presence. I could smell the bread and see her smile. You guys are champions…

  11. Jeanie Wilcox Says:

    Ahhh. . . she was in my thoughts today. I realized I hadn’t seen anything posted in a while and went in to explore how she was doing. I only knew her through her blog and photos. I am an almost 8 year survor of breast cancer, so did find a lot of strength and truth in her pstings since July. Sorry her time was so short after her diagnosis, but sounded like she was ready to begin the next phase. Take dcare of each other in these tough days ahead and remeber Ronnie with some laughs.

  12. Bridget Lanfersieck Says:

    Beautifully written! I lost my mother to cancer 2 years ago. I don’t think time eases the pain, but I find peace in the memories of her. I hope that you do as well, and know that she is no longer in pain. My deepest sympathy to your family.

  13. Wendy Kenville Says:

    You write as beautifully as your Mom – talent runs in the family. You are lucky to have had quality time, even if it was not the quantity you would have liked. You have wonderful memories of your amazing Momma! I read your post today and your sentiments made me think that you would all be ok, your Mom taught you well, prepared you well and raised you well. I wish that you and your entire family find peace and strength in the memories…celebrate her life everyday! I am lucky to have known her!

  14. Debbie Says:

    What a beautiful story. I am a cancer survivor. My daughter showed me your story and I cried when I read the beginning of it and was simply at peace when it ended. I think your mother had a graceful exit from earth. Your story is so heart warming and full of memories. So sorry for your loss and so happy she suffers no more.

  15. jlze Says:

    Dear Erin, it sounds like your momma had a beautiful sendoff surrounded by her most important treasure – her family. Thanks for writing so tenderly about these precious moments! Now I have a wonderful vision of my friend Ronnie basking in all that love swirling amid the generations of grace and strength, while the comforting smell of bread wafts between the voices of her daughters raised in song … so beautiful. Much love to you all ~ Janet

  16. Tish Chism Says:

    I only knew of Ronnie and her beautiful family through my friend, Bev; I have been reading the blogs for months now and feel like I know her and you girls. From reading what you wrote, I can see that Ronnie passed on her incredible strength to her daughters. I have 3 daughters myself so I feel such a connection to you all, and because I love Bev, and she loves you. Thank you for writing this for us. God bless you all, you’re in my prayers!

  17. marja Says:

    She will be missed I was a BABW manager coming to st Louis and seeing your mom was always fun. She loved to sing and just have a great time always a smile and kind words for all…Sparky what a great name with someone with such a spark for life…. thanks for sharing your mom with us..
    prayers and hugs to you all…

  18. I only knew your Mother through this blog…thank you for taking the time to write this…you have done her proud and you write as beautifully as she:) My thoughts and prayers are with you all…

  19. Carolyn Engel Says:

    Beautifully said, Erin. Your mom must be smiling down on you right now. She touched so many lives in a wonderful and powerful way. Thank you for sharing your words with us on this blog. Just like your mom, you have an incredible way of expressing your feelings. May
    God continue to bless you and your family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  20. Robin Dechane Says:

    Such a beautiful tribute to your Mother. She was well loved and will not be forgotten. Over the years she touched so many peoples lives, I think often, not even realizing, that by simply being herself she made a difference to many. I was welcomed, a stranger/traveler, in such a sweet way to your home for this past Christmas party. Your home was filled with people, friends and family, and yet your Mom made time to make sure I was welcomed, comfortable, fed and part of the family that night. She nurtured those around her not only with the wonderful food prepared that night, but with her spirit. She was a remarkable woman and will remain so in out thoughts and hearts. My prayers are with you and your family as you love each other through this time.

  21. Renee Rose Says:

    Beautiful… She gave the incredible gift of her words and the even more incredible gift of being a true friend. Kay, her sisters and little brother and I are here if you need Erin. Your mother has been an inspiration to all of us from the moment I met her, before she got sick… I will share her story with anyone that will listen. She was an amazing woman and I pray that my daughters have learned from her grace and grow to be as close to like her as possible. If you need anything please feel free to let Kay know… I am sure the offers are overflowing, but just know we are here. Much love to you sweet girl…. and your sisters too. You are amazing and she is so proud of you!

    • Shirley Outlaw Says:

      My heart is hurting for your loss because I lost my Mother suddenly from a Massive Coronary! I didn’t have a chance to tell her I love you but I am so happy that all of you did. It will mean alot to all of you through out the years to come. My thoughts and prayers are with you all during this tough time. This is only the 2nd time I read any of this and I wish I had gotten to know your mom. She sounds like a wonderful mother and wife and sister and all the things she was. God Bless you all!!

  22. Ted Hellmann Says:

    Wonderful words, Erin, and a loving tribute to her as a mother, and her spirit for life. Our best to you, your sisters, and Doug.

    Ted & Sandy

  23. Virginia Says:

    I join everyone in saying thank you so much for sharing those precious moments and memories with us …..Your Mother was truly an inspiration and from what I read on her blog she prepared you as best she could for this moment …her whole being was focused on concern for her family …. and she has given you the gift of her love & strength which will be with you forever … she shared her journey with so many ..her family, her friends and even total strangers like me who were truly inspired by her strength and admired the way she was able to express and share her thoughts …. Thank you Ronnie for all that you gave to so many .. may you rest in peace .. and you will never be forgotten by all those that your journey touched. xx

  24. I learned of your Mom’s story yesterday; I was so moved by her strength and her love for her family; you all were so blessed. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

  25. karen missler Says:

    Words do not express how I felt when I read the news of your Mothers passing. I remember well, her telling me of her diagnosis shortly afterwards and she amazed me at her strength. I am sure you have heard many times what an inspiration she is, but know this, she will not be forgotten…We all thank you and your family for sharing this time with us and you all need to know what an impact you have all made on all of us with sharing your journey. God bless

  26. Froso Eccher Says:

    I had the privilege to meet and talk to Ronnie years ago at Bella Vita Studios Grand Opening in Belleville. She was truly an amazing woman and I am so honored to have personally met her. She knew my Mom has been fighting breast cancer. And still is today.
    I will never forget her kind words and positive attitude she expressed to me. I know she is up in heaven watching over you all. May her memory be eternal.

  27. Cathy Broski Says:

    I can not express how I felt when I sat down to email your mother Fri and found the announcement of her passing. I know theses words will not ease your pain but know that time will. Your family had something most never get to experience when a family member is so sick, quality time.
    Erin, I can see you possess her spirit of life as well as her talent with words thank you for sharing her last moments. You are all in my prayers.

  28. gaye g.p Says:

    Thank you, Erin. It is a great comfort to me to know some details about the love that continued to move to and from your mom in the last bit of her long goodbye. Thank you for moving through your own grief to give us solace. Like your mom, you have a wonderful way with words. That, I believe, is a gift that can comfort you throughout life, as well as allow for release. Carry on. Namaste (the Light in me honors the Light in you).
    a cancer buddy

  29. CookingBytes Says:

    Wow!! What a wonderful tribute to your mom. I bet she is smiling upon reading this. Your sisters and you should continue living your life to the fullest and to your very best. For you will then let her live on, through you and through your happiness.

  30. kelly Says:

    How beautiful. While I have never met your mother, she has touched me deeply. What an inspiration and wonderful woman. 14 weeks ago, I joined a team for a women’s retreat. From that first meeting I had 30 amazing, faith filled women praying for her, giving little updates along the way. Thursday our fist day of retreat, I received the message that she passed. I passed it along to the team, and the 13 women that had joined the retreat. There were prayers for her and all of you all weekend long. Your story really touched me as I have a 16 yr old son, and a 13 year old daughter. I can only hope to be as amazing mom as she was to you! I made the ‘beautiful grace joy” necklaces for you and your mom. It was my thought that you could take each of your names from her necklace and add it to yours so that part of her would be with you. Just a thought. Thanks so much for the beautiful tribute to your momma, I’m positive she is BEAMING with pride.

  31. Ronnie was such a special lady who fought cancer with bravery, courage and conviction. I take comfort she is no longer suffering and I know she is resting in the loving arms of our Creator God. I pray for her beautiful daughters, Doug, her mother and siblings and all other members of her family. May you know the peace that passes all understanding and may God’s grace abide in your heart always. Warm regards….

  32. Margrett Patton Says:

    Very beautiful… I know the book well as I read this to my children. I am sure your mother is very proud and you are blessed to have an angel looking over you.

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