Amy Elizabeth Kelley
The last time I blogged was January 5, 2015. Three months have passed, along with many, many changes. We are no longer living with our daughter and her family. My husband, my mother-in-law and I had been in Colorado Springs since the end of September, 2014. Our daughter, Amy, who was diagnosed in December, 2010 with a brain tumor, succumbed to that horrible disease on February 4, 2015. After surgery to remove the original tumor, and receiving radiation and chemo, she enjoyed a little more than two years with no signs of cancer. But, the unthinkable occurred in April, 2014 when another tumor was discovered, too deep and too large to be removed. She didn't give up. She fought and she fought hard. She was brave and courageous and never stopped believing that God might choose to heal her. And He did, just not here. Now with Him, she is whole again and we rejoice in that. But, the light of her sweet spirit has been taken from our family and we grieve her absence.
When we arrived on that September day she was resting on the couch, her walker close by. When she saw us, she cried. A few days later she could only walk with assistance, and for long distances she needed a wheelchair. She needed help. Her children needed help and her husband needed help.
Our nest has been empty for many years and my mother-in-law's nest has been empty even longer. Moving into a home with four boys was new territory for all three of us. Not to mention learning to live with a total of nine people in the home. But we dove in and after a few weeks a routine began to emerge. We wanted to provide her husband relief from household and kid duty so he could focus on his job, and when he was home, have the luxury of time to spend with Amy.
Days began early and ended late. We scheduled trips into Colorado Springs (we were in Black Forest) for appointments for radiation and chemo, and scattered in between were doctor appointments. Someone always had to be with Amy and someone always had to be home when the bus arrived in the afternoon. Laundry was done almost daily, boys can cause lots of that. Eva, my mother-in-law, became the queen of laundry, my husband became the professor of homework and I became the (smile) scullery maid.
We became immersed in their lives. And by doing that we left our own lives behind. Locking the doors to our home, and loading our van with everything we thought we would need, we drove across country, not knowing what was ahead or how long we would be gone.
It was such a drastic change for all of us. We didn't know the rhythm of their home, or the words to their love language or the cadence of the life they were living, so we struggled to find our place without disturbing theirs. I tried to cook in their kitchen, but didn't have a favorite pan or skillet, didn't know which knife was the sharpest or where the measuring cups were and I felt like I was a little girl again in the kitchen for the first time. I know there were many things we didn't do wrong, but just not right for them.
I wanted to be home, but I wanted to be there. Amy was becoming sicker and sicker and more and more dependent on everyone. The stress level increased as we tried to be gracious to each other and accept the different ways each of us chose to do things. Sometimes at night I crashed as soon as my head hit the pillow and other nights I had insomnia and stared at the ceiling and prayed. With God's grace and strength and the prayers of all our family and friends, here in Virginia, in Arkansas, in North Carolina and in Colorado and honestly many other places across the country, we held together. Then on February 21, 2015 we arrived at our home here in Virginia. I didn't have the feeling of euphoria that I thought I would. It felt good, but different, almost foreign. I was lost. In Colorado I had had such a strict daily schedule and the days had been so full there that now I found I didn't know what I was supposed to do when I got up each morning.
Like a lot of tragedies, and yes our daughter's death at the age of 39 was a tragedy, it felt surreal. Though we believe she is with her Heavenly Father and whole and healthy now, her family misses her. Her husband has been left alone to raise three little boys. They love their mom and they need their mom, so knowing that makes it so difficult to see the reason why.
But I know this: Isaiah 55:8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways." This is the Lord's declaration. "For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher that your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Her dad and I have good days and bad days. Some days it seems that it was all a bad dream, but I know it's not and this side of Heaven we will never hear her sweet soft voice, or hear her humor or feel her hugs or receive her perfect gifts that she was known for. It is a void in our big, big family and we know that the next reunion with everyone will be difficult. We are thankful for the opportunity we were given to care for her in her last days, as painful as they were.
But, I am finding me again. I know what to do when I get up each morning and my home is beginning to feel right again. I know, though, that the me I am finding has changed. I came home a different person. Each time we say goodbye to someone we love here on earth we have another reason to look forward to our own eternal home. I hope and pray that if you are reading this post, you know where your eternal home is and that you have put your trust in Jesus. That would be Amy's hope for you as well.