Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Strength to the end!

Strength can have different meanings for every person. However, one thing that is common in life is the ability to find strength in certain people who are meant to be in our lives. These people may only have one purpose or their purpose may be endless. No matter how long they stay their footprints never leave and their lessons walk with us forever.

As a child I didn't understand why my grandma treated me how she did. I saw her as someone that hated me. She would say things that hurt my feelings and then would laugh about it. My parents would constantly tell me that she did that because she loved me. Never understood why she couldn't truly show she loved me in a normal manner. I would learn that was just who she was and that she loved me with everything she had. As time went on, I obviously got older and my relationship with grandma took a turn for the better. My grandma became my best friend. I would call her often and we would have some of the best conversations. She loved to talk to me about Gods love. You could hear her voice just light up any time we talked about the Lord. Our relationship continued to mature, which probably also had to do with me maturing. We talked about life and we also talked about death. I had a conversation with her shortly before my father passed that I will never forget. I called her and was so happy. She said I sounded different, that I had a sound of peace in my voice and I told her that I had finally accepted death. I accepted that it would happen and that people would be in Heaven. I also told her I couldn't wait to meet my grandpa, her husband who also passed away from a heart attack when my dad was 16. She was so happy to hear me trust in life and death but most importantly to fully trust in Heaven.

As time went on I continued to notice the incredible strength my grandma had. She had more faith then any one person I have ever seen. She battled life raising four kids without a dad, death one family member after another, and on top of all that she also fought cancer. She never once gave up and she always had a positive attitude. I never could understand how she stayed so positive with all that she was dealing with. When she lost my dad I saw a different side to her. It was as if a huge piece of her was ripped away and couldn't be replaced. A huge piece of all of us was ripped away and our family has never been the same.

A few months ago my grandma did one of the bravest things I have ever witnessed. She knew her life was coming to an end so she moved away from all she ever knew in Pennsylvania and came to California where her family was. She left the house her family grew up in and so many other things she loved just to make life easier on the rest of us. She knew in her heart she didn't have the strength to make it much longer and that all of us couldn't be back there with her constantly. One of the most selfless acts a person could do.

After only a short time in California, her health began to take a turn for the negative. Each week brought new challenges and although she kept fighting, she was losing strength daily. She was never willing to give up though. She kept telling me I want to go home and be with Joseph. It was a point in my life where I felt helpless. I knew I couldn't do anything to make her feel better. All I could do is reassure her that when it was her time God would take her to be with my dad.

The last week my family saw a steady decline in her health and we were advised to begin goodbyes. I took the day off of work today and decided to take the train up to LA with my mom. I was excited to be going to see her but I also knew it was going to be difficult to see her in that condition. Within the last couple days she lost her voice so she was unable to speak and was very unresponsive. As I laid my hand on hers I told her who I was and she immediately opened her eyes and her whole face lit up. She smiled so big and I told her I loved her. With the little strength she had she mouthed I love you too. I spent the rest of the day right by her side holding her hand. We listened to her favorite Josh Groban song "You Raise Me Up" and I pretty much played "Here Come The Irish" on repeat. "Here come the Irish" was the song she listened to with my dad before every Norte Dame game.

I continued to sit there helpless as things became even worse. Although she was unable to speak all day the one thing she had the ability to say was "I am going home". She knew it was her time to go home and it brought me peace to hear her say that. I looked into her eyes and smiled so big. It was at that moment that I knew she was safe. I knew she was in the arms of an angel, more important her Joseph had come to get her. We reassured her that she could stop fighting. She didn't want to give up, she fought until the end. I can't say I ever thought I would experience something quite like that but I wouldn't have changed it for the world. I know she wanted people by her side and I knew I was going to hold her hand until the end and even after. I had a hard time letting go. She taught me so much about faith, love and strength. She was the definition of amazing in my book and nothing can take her place. She will be with me every single day. I am glad she is free of pain and I am happy knowing she is with my dad and grandpa. I will miss her but I know her hand will guide me every step of the way. My life holds so much meaning because she was apart of it. So many good things were because of her, the big one being my father.

I have a sense of peace knowing that I have two incredible angels by my side. Nothing can ever take that away from me. I will continue to fight for both of them and never give up, just as they never gave up. I now understand what cancer can take from someone and I only hope that lives can be changed through GiveNGetFit. I will do my part to fight both heart disease and cancer with a goal of lengthening peoples lives. My Grandma and my dad, along with so many others, are the reason I am so passionate about finding cures and helping to fund research for both these diseases. Illness can rip someone of so much but there are a few things it can never take. My grandma had just as much strength and faith today as she did before diagnosed. Nothing can ever take that from her.

Grandma I love you with all my heart...you are my hero!


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