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Christina Michelle Photography 

                                        

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THE MONTHS.

Updated: Aug 29, 2019


This is my first blog in two years.

Art always captivated me, no matter the medium, because it exposes a part of life and unlike typical social standards, art is an acceptable way to express otherwise under discussed parts of life.

My goal to expose a part of my life during the time I took care of my mom.

Regretfully, there aren't many pictures. It seemed too invasive to document such a personal time and I felt taking pictures was an invasion of her dignity. The pictures I do have were taken in a moment and most with my phone.

My mother passed early on the tenth of April, 2019. I was in complete shock and disbelief, even though she had stage 4 lung cancer for the past 8 months.

She told me that I should prepare myself for her death. "Positive thinking, Mom. " I would lecture. I was, after all, devouring the scriptures and had bible verses to back up my words.

Matthew 9:22

22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

"Thy faith had made thee whole."

Maybe it does have to do with our faith and maybe she was just tired. Maybe she wanted rest. Maybe in her final months, she was submitting to death.

Or maybe she was silently begging God to heal her, but trying not to offend him by asking. Maybe she was afraid to put her hope in him for healing fearing if she died then we would blame God.

I will never know.

The impact of these experiences in my life changed me. I will never be the same.

Here is a mix of poetry and pictures. The poetry written after her death. Many of these were written while I wept in the late night or early morning.

THE MONTHS

Family holidays

Our last Thanksgiving

She loved Thanksgiving dinner, it was her favorite meal so she was so happy this day.

Us.

In the middle of sickness there is still so much normal.

Our last Christmas

Christmas 2018. Beema and her treasures. Joey, Nate, Brandi, Jacob, Natalie, Ana, Danny, and Abby. This was their last Christmas with their Grandma.

Beema and basically the 'last supper.' She couldn't sit for long periods and on this day she was so happy and I am sure, in so much pain.

My mom wrapped most of these presents! In her room she had a lot of time and she asked if she could wrap presents to help. I hate wrapping presents so I was so delighted!!! She would do a few a day and I would hide them around the house.

On Christmas one of her gifts was "gummies" CBD oil gummies. She thought it was funny that this was in her stocking.

Her taking pictures of the girls on Christmas morning.

Ana, of all the grandkids, reminds me of Beema the most.

We love eagles in our family and consider seeing them a sign from God for my twin brother Danny, who passed when we were 23. My older sister gifted this picture she took of an eagle to my mom for Christmas.





My mom was our common ground. I am not sure we will ever all be together again without her.

life in motion.

Home life

Beema and Joey, her Grandson. This was my mom's room at my house. It is Abby's room. She spent most of her time here.

Abby was generous in lending her her room. At times she would want her room back and we would have deep talks about how Beema is in a war in that room. I would tell her God put Beema in this room, of all the places in the world, for some very important work.

Recipe cards. I asked my mom if she could write down her recipes for me. She had a lot of time and I knew this would always be something I valued. She did and she wrote them for my sisters as well.

The food situation was a crisis. She enjoyed only the same 10 meals over and over our entire life and any variation from that was met with resistance. I, on the other hand, can cook a totally different recipe every day for months. Also, I have celiac and can't have wheat and she has wheat in almost all of her recipes.

She critiqued my meals so harshly that I would often cry. The seasoning had to be a certain brand, the meat from a particular store, everything the right brand, etc. At one point, when she completed the recipes, I took them and began making her meals for her. I decided that she should have what she wants and the least I could do was give it to her. One night, I made her cubed steak (super annoying because she cooked it on the stove over a period of 4 hours) and I did everything the recipe said and served it to her with joy. I went down to make plates for the rest of the family and she called me on my phone and said "Is this supposed to be cube steak? This needs to cook at least another 3 hours" I threw my phone across the room.

She was not an easy patient. This was something that came between us. One day we finally talked about it and she told me that she was so harsh with me because I needed to get her recipes perfect because after she goes I will be the keeper of her recipes. Oh.

Looking back I think recipes were just where I directed my emotions because I didn't want to face life without her.

This is her showing me how to make deviled eggs the 'right way.' I can't even look at these without crying because I have so many memories of her chopping. she chopped things so small and for so long.

I am so different and just rough chop, this horrified her. hahaha.

On this day, she sat down and I gathered everything around her - but I would unintentionally give her the wrong knife, the wrong cutting board, etc. so after everything was done the 'right way' this was her set up. I am beyond grateful that I got these pictures.

I made them, the deviled eggs. I made them multiple times a week. Her favorite lunch was deviled eggs and cucumber salad. I remember the day I made the eggs and brought them to her and she told me that I made them perfect and that I was the only one who ever did them perfect.

Her shaky handwriting...

I love this of her. It has a house plant in this shot, her hair in the towel, and a robe. This is my mama.

My mom's brother sent her some 'wigs' and they were silly. She tried them on for us to send him pictures. She was a good sport. This is her getting lipstick to put on for the pictures so she looks pretty.

she is getting lipstick here to put on for a picture.

Making sure she looks pretty

The picture.

Her braiding Ana's hair.

Me taking a picture secretly to capture the moment.

Her getting ready. I don't recall if it was for the Doctor visit, visitors, or a holiday. I remember her when she was so weak and she would still put lipstick on as we got to the Dr. office. It didn't matter, beauty was important to her.

One of my favorite portraits of my mom. It shows a side of her that isn't usual, she reminds me of a Warrior.

Joey and Beema. I love this because they both look so vulnerable. It's as if you can see him praying for her. Her arm looks so skinny here and she is trying to grasp on to the time that is fading.

Both holding on.

She is comforting him. Grandma.

This was the day we got "Finn" Abby's bird for her birthday in March. Beema gifted her a bird cage. Finn loved Beema and was sweet from the beginning. Our whole life we had birds. Not dogs. Not cats. We had birds. She taught the kids about them and each one of my mom's daughters has a bird in their home.


My mom hanging out during the day downstairs with us.



Medical

We were at this office so many times. I wish I would have taken pictures of it more. The people and the rooms. Here my mom is in a wheelchair and we had her oxygen tank positioned so she could hold it while I wheeled her. I was not the best and bumped her many times.

This is a drainage kit. This particular picture was taken because they sent us the wrong ones and I had to show them what they sent. My mother had a pleural drain in her lung and I drained her daily. I remember opening these packages and laying out the blue sterile clothe and laying out everything on it. Using gloves I had to complete this procedure.

Tumor markers. We were at the doctors often and each visit she had to have her blood drawn and each big visit we would find out from her main Doctor her tumor markers. Here it shows 9/17 compared to 4/18 and 11/2018. Obviously they went up by a lot.

Here is some great news! We were so happy that at 11/13 the numbers fell and again in December. This was a wonderful sign.

The drains again. Me showing the company that sent them that they didn't have the packet of the sterile objects we needed.

I know this is a tough one. This is what would come out of my mom daily. This time it was very dark red instead of the more usual see-thru yellow. As it filled, I talked to my mom and pretended everything was okay. I didn't want her to worry. When I was done and cleaned up I went into the hallway and took this picture to send to a nurse to make sure it was okay.

My mom sat there while blood colored fluid was being drained from her lung and I sat there talking to her like everything was okay. I am sure she was doing the same thing for me, pretending to be okay so that I wouldn't worry. I wonder if when I would leave the room, if she too would cry. Both of us crying in our corners of the house.


A blood clot. I had to send this to the nurse to make sure it was okay.

This was at the doctors office and they made blankets for people going through chemo.

We had my mom's last worship service there singing praise songs and praying healing over her. She had just found out they were taking her off chemo and only continuing immunotherapy. She found out on a Tuesday and I began to ask people to come that Sunday and everyone said yes, her Sister was coming out from Wisconsin and her brother flew in from Arizona. It was not forced and it came together naturally and perfectly. That is evidence it was put together by God. I didn't realize it would be her last worship service on earth. God knew.

My Mom began getting red bumps on her feet and I was so freaked out. This was near the end of her life and it was getting worse and worse.

My mom was on Morphine for the last couple of months and I would sit and talk with her and she would pass out. Some mornings I would go in there and fear would take a hold of me and I would worry she was dead. The tray on the floor was her food tray. We would set that up in her lap so she could have her meals. Her water bottles are at the head of the bed - the kids would bring them up to her daily. We were always buying water bottles. We hardly do anymore and we didn't before this.




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