Tag Archives: death

Crossing Over

Our dear Elizabeth crossed over to the other side this morning. Even though you try to prepare yourself for the inevitable, reality in losing a loved one and having to say goodbye, still has a way of slapping you in the face! Never mind that she was 105-years young, it was hard to see her go.

Many of you know that Elizabeth was not my mother but a dear, precious friend of some 30+ years; however, I realize that many of you don’t know that. I got to know her intimately these past few years while my husband, daughter and I cared for her around the clock. She was like a grandmother to me, but she was more like a mother to my husband (he had lost his own mother at age 15). The picture I have of my husband saying goodbye to Elizabeth this morning, I will never forget. I love the way he loved her!

Elizabeth’s feistiness, wit and humor held her in good stead for all these many years. She was easy to love, a precious gem to all who knew her. She loved life, she loved people, and she loved her God.

In the days ahead, much preparation needs to be done. We are also planning a Memorial Service at our church next week. Elizabeth’s funeral will be held in Tulsa as she wished.

I thank everyone for their love and support extended our way. I thank God for the Blessed Hope that one day we shall see our loved ones again that went on ahead to glory! Imagine the grand reunion Elizabeth is having with her Savior, family and friends!

I have blogged about Elizabeth several times. Here is one of my post about her.

So long for now Elizabeth. May you rest in peace with no more pain, dancing with your Father God in fields of grace. Until we meet again.

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Bronze sculpture in the Spilsbury Mortuary in St. George, UT

In Loving Memory …

Elizabeth Bearden

January 6, 1911 – August 12, 2016

 

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Filed under Blessed Hope, In Loving Memory, Loss of a Loved One

Goodbye Joey Feeks

On the day I die a lot will happen.

A lot will change.

The world will be busy.

On the day I die, all the important appointments I made will be left unattended.

The many plans I had yet to complete will remain forever undone.

The calendar that ruled so many of my days will now be irrelevant to me.

All the material things I so chased and guarded and treasured will be left in the hands of others to care for or to discard.

The words of my critics which so burdened me will cease to sting or capture anymore. They will be unable to touch me.

The arguments I believed I’d won here will not serve me or bring me any satisfaction or solace.   

All my noisy incoming notifications and texts and calls will go unanswered. Their great urgency will be quieted.

My many nagging regrets will all be resigned to the past, where they should have always been anyway.

Every superficial worry about my body that I ever labored over; about my waistline or hairline or frown lines, will fade away.

My carefully crafted image, the one I worked so hard to shape for others here, will be left to them to complete anyway.

The sterling reputation I once struggled so greatly to maintain will be of little concern for me anymore.

All the small and large anxieties that stole sleep from me each night will be rendered powerless.

The deep and towering mysteries about life and death that so consumed my mind will finally be clarified in a way that they could never be before while I lived.

These things will certainly all be true on the day that I die.

Yet for as much as will happen on that day, one more thing that will happen.

On the day I die, the few people who really know and truly love me will grieve deeply.

They will feel a void.

They will feel cheated.

They will not feel ready.

They will feel as though a part of them has died as well.

And on that day, more than anything in the world they will want more time with me.

I know this from those I love and grieve over.

And so knowing this, while I am still alive I’ll try to remember that my time with them is finite and fleeting and so very precious—and I’ll do my best not to waste a second of it.

I’ll try not to squander a priceless moment worrying about all the other things that will happen on the day I die, because many of those things are either not my concern or beyond my control.

Friends, those other things have an insidious way of keeping you from living even as you live; vying for your attention, competing for your affections.

They rob you of the joy of this unrepeatable, uncontainable, ever-evaporating Now with those who love you and want only to share it with you.

Don’t miss the chance to dance with them while you can.

It’s easy to waste so much daylight in the days before you die.

Don’t let your life be stolen every day by all that you believe matters, because on the day you die, much of it simply won’t.

Yes, you and I will die one day.

But before that day comes: let us live.

Poem by John Pavlovitz

This past Friday Joey Feeks – of gospel duo Joey & Rory – died in her hometown of Alexandria, Indiana, ending her brave fight with terminal cancer at the age of  40. Joey, beautiful and talented, was a woman of love and faith. She departed this world from the loving arms of her husband, Rory, into her Savior’s loving arms in heaven. Heaven is getting top-heavy. As I heard about her passing on the radio, I couldn’t help but cry. I was sadden because she had everything to want to live for. She had a devoted husband, a two-year-old, along with a couple of older daughters, and of course family members. But God’s ways are higher than our ways. And God had other plans for her. When we don’t understand God’s ways, we shall continue to trust in His will for our lives.

Joey Feeks will be missed by many.

http://theboot.com/joey-feek-tribute-video/

 

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Filed under death, Joey Feeks

So Long for Now …

“Fred, Eric, Sarah, and Michael – to all of Susan’s extended family and beloved friends: My family and I extend our sincere condolences.”

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Susan’s family

 

“My heart is heavy today. Susie was my friend. She reached out to me when I was going through some personal pain in my life. She welcomed me and my family into her heart and into her home some 30 + years ago. Our daughters the same age, became close friends, her youngest son and my son, a year apart, became diaper-buddies. Our husbands (during my first marriage) even grew close!”

“I’d watch Susie. She had such an up-beat personality and her words were always so encouraging. Even when I didn’t feel so ‘upbeat’ and ‘positive’, I couldn’t remain feeling down for too long around her. She had a way of hugging you while she patted you on the back … hard! Being around Susie, I learned how to communicate with my small children. I learned how to laugh with them. Susie just had a way with children – she genuinely liked them! I don’t think she ever met a stranger; conversation simply flowed out of her mouth and she truly cared for that one she was speaking to.”

“Susie had child-like faith, always believing that her Heavenly Father was ready to grant her simple requests. Whether it was the petition for the salvation of loved ones, or to save our nation, whether she sought a miracle for a deformed child or for the healing of herself – she knew that there was nothing too hard for God to handle, and never wavered in standing on His promises. She was a true worshiper. She loved to danced before the Lord and become lost in His presence. I don’t doubt she is up there now, dancing with our Savior!”

“Susie believed in hope. Hope against hope. Hope for a better day. Hope that God had something better. Hope that tomorrow would come. She trusted, loved, prayed, believed, laughed, encouraged, interceded, danced, worshiped, sang, rejoiced, wept, and praised! She convinced me that I could make it, that everything would be okay, that I was destined for greatness, and that with God ALL things were possible to them that believed.”

“I enjoyed being around her, but towards the end I am ashamed to admit that I grew uncomfortable. We sometimes cower in the things we do not understand. We cringe from anything that may appear bleak before our eyes and before we know it our resolve weakens, our faith wavers, our hope diminishes. Yet, our God is constant. Aren’t you glad His love’s unwavering, His tender mercies unfailing, His grace enduring? He doesn’t give up on any of us! He says in His Word His grace is sufficient for us – His strength is made perfect in weaknesses.”

“Susie, thank you for the memories. You will be sorely missed. I rejoice knowing that your pain and suffering has ended. When you took you last breath here on earth, your next breath became your first one in heaven.  You get to experience Christmas everyday now, while we plod along doing all we know to do just to make it through another day.”

“And we who are left behind, may we not grow weary as we continue on this journey. May those of us who know Christ, remember that this is not our permanent home. Through every tragedy, every trial and every triumph, remind us Lord, that You, oh God, have something greater in store for us. Although there are times we may not understand Your ways, God, may we remember that we can trust Your heart – for You know what’s best for Your children.”

“They say that I was a great friend to Susie, but it was she who was a great friend to me.”

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Doing what she enjoyed doing best.

 

I’ll always remember my friend, Susie Bubeck, and forever treasure our friendship of the many years we shared together! One day we will all reunite, but today we sadly said goodbye to her.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” II Tim. 4:7

© M.A. Pérez 2015, All Rights Reserved

 

About "Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit & Grace"

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December 23, 2015 · 7:48 PM

My Sister, If Only …

I remember first holding you, so tiny in my arms.
Next thing I knew, you turned two, angelic, and quite a charm.
Your silhouette dancing in my dreams before my eyes –
Remembering your joy with my simple lullabies.

I imagine your eyes, your voice, your laughter,
Spending time together, nothing else mattered.
Thinking about you often before crawling in bed at night,
I loved you so much, never wanting you out of my sight.

I wish you could tell me what’s on your mind today?
What are the things you’re longing to say?
Would you have married a wonderful husband?
Live in a castle and have many children?

Oh, if only, if only, I could see you now,
I would run to you, hold you and twirl you around!

Oh, sister, there will always be a hole in my heart,
But I guess I knew that from the start.
If I still had you now to talk, share secrets, laugh and cry
I would not be here now thinking: Why did you have to die?

Photo Credit: LuLu Taylor via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: LuLu Taylor via Compfight cc

 

© M.A. Pérez 2014, All Rights Reserved

In memory of my sister whose birthday is around the corner. She would have been ten years older than my first born! I had to say goodbye to her when I was nine, a month after she turned two years old. I remember so much pain and suffering back then, looking back, I believe God spared her from something worse. I look forward to the Blessed Hope that one day we will embrace one another again. She will not come to me but I will go to her. And we will NEVER have to be apart.

To read more about my sister from last year’s post, click here . . .

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Filed under Loss, Personal, poetry

Farewell …

If I didn’t know better, I’d thought he was peacefully napping.

In the hospital, time stood still as I gazed down at the man who fought his demons since I’d known him. Vivid memories of our fifteen years of marriage before it ended many years ago, churned in my mind’s eye: his dimpled smile, lilting voice, broad shoulders, bow-legged stance, the shuffling of his feet when he walked, his unselfish generosity. Recurring thoughts raced through my mind of all the what ifs?  At that moment, nothing else mattered. I remembered the good and not the bad, his strengths, instead of his weaknesses, his triumphs instead of his failures.

Anna Marie barged into the room, rushing to his side as if to wake him from sleeping. “Dad! Dad!” she shouted, shaking him. “Dad!”

“Anna,” I spoke sharply and held her hand still. I softened my tone, “He’s gone.”

“But why, Mom? Why…?”

“Anna, I don’t know. It was his time; he was ready to go. He never wanted to grow old, become a burden . . .” my voice trailed off. I recalled what he had said, how he wouldn’t live past sixty, as if sixty was old, too old, and he never wanted to get “like that.” How soon the years pass.

“No, Mom!” Anna Marie shook her head in disbelief, red face. “Not yet!” she sobbed.

I held her tight and cried with her.

Soon the others arrived. We gathered around. My baby girl, Angela, was nine months pregnant with her first and due any day. Naturally, I was concerned for her well-being. But when she gently placed Donny’s immobile hand over her swollen belly, I broke down.

As always, Mark — my husband of eight years — was there by my side to comfort me.

(A short excerpt from Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace)

Note: Eleven years ago today, the father of my children sadly passed away. It was just six days before Christmas. Ten days after bidding him farewell, the cycle of life continued as we celebrated the birth of our grandson.

I am reminded of this passage of scripture: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born and a time to die …” Ecclesiastes 3:1,2

© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under death, Memoir

The Little Green Dress

I held her close and cradled her head.

Soft, velvety cheeks. A round rosy nose. Dark hair like mine, but curly. Eyes, blue, that sparkled like the ocean I’d seen in storybooks. I kissed her sweet-smelling face. Her soft, pudgy hand with tiny fingers, curled inside mine. My new baby sister, Anna, melted my heart. I won’t be alone anymore and she won’t be alone. I caressed her face and whispered, “I’ll stay by your side for always.”

Soon left with the responsibility in caring for her, I became my sister’s substitute momma. I loved her and took care of her as best as a seven-year-old could.

The day we ran out of baby formula and diapers, I didn’t know what to do. I waited until Anna stopped fussing and fell asleep in her carriage (we didn’t have a crib for her). Then I ran to the corner to a hole-in-the-wall where I knew my mama and step-dad Jimmy were.

A blinking neon beer sign over the door clattered when I pushed it open. Dimmed lights hung from the ceiling. The hazy, smoke-filled room from cigarettes made my eyes water and nose run. Loud music played on the jukebox. Boisterous men and women engaged in a game of shuffleboard, others threw darts. Still others sloshing their drinks perched themselves on bar stools, carrying on like screaming peacocks.

“Whataya have?” yelled the bartender. I jumped at his voice, thinking he meant me.

“Hey Charlie, whose girl is this?” a man grinning with a silver tooth asked.

“She’s Ruthie’s little girl,” Charlie answered, pointing in the direction where Mama sat.

The all too familiar rowdy voices of my parents’ cursing at each other reached my ears. I ran toward them. When I told Mama about Anna, she and Jimmy started arguing over money.

I waited, feeling forgotten, wishing Mama would hurry and come home with me. Then someone handed me a nickel to play the jukebox. I remembered my manners, thanked him, put my coin in the slot, and punched in the numbers to Spanish Eyes.

At last, Jimmy gave Mama what she wanted, but he remained roosted on his stool.

When we returned home, we never imagined that someone had called the law. They met us at our front door holding my naked sister, wrapped in a soiled blanket.

“Is this your baby?” an officer demanded of Mama.

“Yes . . . yes . . .” her voice cracked.

“Ma’am, have you been drinking?” The other cop asked in a gruff voice. But before Mama answered, he stepped forward and said, “Turn around and put your hands behind your back. You’re under arrest for child abandonment.”

“Ma—?” I choked back the burn in my throat.

To my horror, the police officer put handcuffs on Mama and started telling her something about “remaining silent.”

Why can’t she talk? “Tell him, Mama,” I insisted and started to cry. I turned to the officer to explain, “We were going to buy milk and diapers for my sister . . .”

He didn’t hear me and shoved Mama in his police car. She looked at me; her face glistened with tears running down as they drove away.

“Where . . . is he taking my mama?” I choked, sobbing. I hovered close to Anna, ready to grab my sister, to run fast and hide before he took us to jail, too. In my confusion, I don’t recall what he said except that they were there to help and to take us to protective custody. I protect my sister, I thought. I begged him not to separate us.

The cop drove us to a children’s hospital for routine examination and to remain there for safekeeping until a suitable family member claimed us.

(TWO YEARS LATER):

A siren blared nearby.

I turned to Mama and asked, “Where’s Anna?”

“That drunken louse came by to bother me again,” she huffed.

“Mama, you said you were finished with him.”

She swatted the air with her hand as if shooing a mosquito. “He insisted on taking his little girl for a short walk.”

A neighbor came running and whispered breathlessly with Mama. Right then, a police car pulled up, its radio static coming from within. An officer climbed out of his cruiser and walked toward them. Within seconds, someone let out a cry, her voice sounded familiar. In shock, I witnessed my hysterical Mama sprinting down the street. I stifled a scream. My heart pounded in my chest. I didn’t know what happened, where she was going or why.

I don’t remember who drove us to the hospital. But once we arrived, a nurse pointed down the hall to where they cared for her. Except I couldn’t go to see her because I was too young.

I had to see her.

My legs trembled as I crept to her room and peered through the glass-paned door on my tiptoes. First, I saw a blinking monitor. Then I saw her—my baby sister—with soiled feet still in her favorite, green denim dress, tattered and torn. On her back Anna lay motionless, her curly brown hair matted with blood. Her face bruised and swollen, her baby blues closed tight.

I felt light-headed as I slumped on the floor, pulling my knees to my chest, crying.

That night, we returned to the scene of the accident. I will never forget the puddles of congealed blood that saturated the street. I wanted to scream. To run. To hide. Blood-soaked rags from my sister littered the pavement.

Others offered shallow words of comfort. “Don’t cry,” they said. “Think positive thoughts,” they chimed. “The doctors are doing everything they can for your little sister.” But all I heard was my sister’s blood calling out to me, along with my broken promises: “I’ll protect you,” pounding in my head.

A couple of days after, I awakened to the sound of rain and a car door slamming. I peeped out my window and saw a taxi pulling away from the curb. My grandparents, their faces grim and eyes downcast, walked to our doorstep. A shiver ran down my spine and a horrible dread washed over me. I threw myself on the bed, a knot lodged in my throat. Then I heard my mother’s wails. I curled up in a ball and covered my ears. God, it hurts! I cried. Make the pain go away.

My sister was gone. Forever. A month earlier, we celebrated her birthday. She had just turned two. I was nine, but felt ancient. Empty. And heavy. The weight of the world on my thin shoulders.

Like a fuzzy video tape, fragments of blurred images and sounds played across my mind: Anna’s dancing blue eyes, laughter like the morning sun, vibrant flowers . . . Mama’s primal screams, hushed voices, muffled sobs.

At the funeral, I held my breath and willed my feet toward the small white casket. Grandma squeezed my hand. I took my finger and stroked my sister’s face that reminded me of a doll made of plastic, stiff and cold to the touch. Heavy make-up could not conceal her bruises. Her grotesque head cradled by a bonnet, much too small. She wore a new green dress, cleaned and pressed, with no stains. Or blood.

I glanced up at Grandma. “Your sister’s in a better place now,” she choked. Then I placed a small cross under Anna’s tiny, rigid hands. My tears blinded me.

“. . . If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.”

Why, God? Why? Why did you have to take her?

Anna, I’ll love you for always.

Mama sat by the farthest wall away from people, away from the coffin. Her eyes were swollen and red. She didn’t seem so tough then. I went to sit by her.

The year 1968 was a year of deaths that shocked and changed history. But the girl in her little green dress was the one who mattered to me. She was my sister. My best friend. She lay in an unmarked grave.

(FOUR DECADES LATER – a flight to Miami):

The area was a lowly, plain grass-field devoid of even a tombstone for my sister. No headrest. No name written. Or flowers anywhere. Just hard soil. Plenty of weeds. I crumbled to my knees and sobbed.

Anna, I’m sorry. Sorry I couldn’t do better. Sorry I failed you. I promised, “for always,” yet fell so short. If I could hold you now, I would.

Closer.

Tighter.

Never let you go.

If only I’d done more, fought more, loved more. I see myself holding you. Holding you so tight, that time stands still. Darkness cannot swallow us. Pain cannot touch us. Death cannot rip you from my arms. Sorrow cannot engulf us.

God, it still hurts . . . bring healing.

Before I left the cemetery, my brother and I purchased a tombstone and had it engraved.

Por fin,” I imagined my grandma saying.

Yes, Grandma, finally,” I whispered. “At last and long overdue.”

sister's tombstone

In memory of my sister, Anna R. Molloy, who was struck down by a hit-and-run driver.

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© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

37 Comments

September 21, 2013 · 5:50 PM