Bobbi Jo

Oh, I don't even know how to start this blog. I thought of a million different entries over the weekend and I probably should have blogged then, but instead I waited until Monday morning.

I thought if I could just wait until Monday then I could write about them all in one giant blog and concentrate the rest of the weekend on my family.

But isn't it.... I don't even know what word to use here. I want to say "funny" because that's the habit I am in. Only what I want to talk about is anything but.

What I mean is that life can just change. In a second. It can just go from an exhausting, but happy day finished by an evening next to your loved one to great tragedy in just a second.

I mean, really just one second is all that it takes.

My last blog, I asked you to pray for my cousin Bobbi Jo. She was sick, and we were waiting to hear about her biopsy. Well, it was a terribly rough surgery for her and she was just having a hard time recovering because through all of this she couldn't breathe.

From that surgery they learned that she had Stage Four Breast Cancer. Which is heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. But they also learned that there was a sack of fluid around her heart. (I hope I'm getting all the details right. I had to have them explained to me several times. And honestly I really had a hard time taking them all in.)

The doctors wanted to do surgery to remove the fluid from her lungs, but the sack around her heart made the surgery very dangerous. Her doctor assured her family that her heart was strong enough and that she would make it through the surgery just fine.

Which she did.

But shortly after. At 4PM yesterday, my Cousin Bobbi Jo passed away.

I don't even know where to go from here, those were some of the hardest words I've had to type. It is truly devastating.

My mom just showed up at my house last night. Which is never a good sign. Well, ok, sometimes it is. But I opened the door with a smile on my face to greet her and....

I think I went into shock. I have never dealt with death the way I did last night. I couldn't even believe it. My mind physically refused to comprehend it. It just doesn't even seem possible. And if you knew her and the amazing mother she was and the beautiful person she was you would feel the same way.

She was this sweet woman that put everybody else before her. Her husband, her kids, her sisters, her parents. She just gave with everything she had to everyone else.

She was the pickiest eater. Which I loved. I am not. Obviously.... So I always appreciate people who don't like things. And she was that way. But even though she wouldn't eat certain foods, she always cooked for her family. Even if she had to make an entirely separate meal for herself. To me that is generous and self-sacrificial.

When she got married, I was in junior high and we drove from Omaha to California to attend her reception. She was stunning. Absolutely gorgeous. And I just remember wishing and praying that I would be that beautiful and carry that much grace on my wedding day. And then, growing up and watching her in marriage, how she treated her husband with the utmost respect and how her kids were put above everything, how she just wrapped her family in love was a testimony to me, inspiration to live my life like that.

She was the best mother. The best. Her two children are still young and I just grieve for them. Her oldest is only a freshman and her daughter is just in fourth grade. And I grieve for them because it's not fair that she is gone. It's not fair that a wife, and a mother, a sister and a daughter is gone.

That Bobbi Jo is gone.

Most death carries this truth. Our loved ones are always taken from us too soon. Death is never convenient. Never welcomed. And always painful.

But still, it's different when the one we love is older, or sick for a long time, or a parent, or uncle, or grandparent. Then we can find understanding, we can find explanation to their death.

When the sickness comes like a freight train and there is not time to prepare, when death has come before you have had the chance to begin emotionally preparing, when you leave behind little children, and a beloved husband, dear sisters and healthy parents that is truly the worst kind of unfairness.

But even saying this, I know my cousin would not agree. She was ready. Even if we weren't. And she believed in God's plan, His unfailing sovereignty. And not just for her life, but for the lives she would leave behind.

She was never scared through this. Painfully uncomfortable. But not scared. She knew God's hand was in every detail and now she is with Him.

Beyond this wretched world. Beyond her awful cancer. And with her loved ones. And there is hope in that. There is joy in that.

There is peace in the idea that she is reunited with her grandmothers, and her Uncle Ed, with her Aunt Mid and Uncle Dale and with other loved ones that waited for her.

And while we are left with the tragedy and loss of one truly amazing soul, she now waits for us.

So. If you think about us. Please pray.

Pray for her children. Losing my dad at 21 one was... still is hard. I can't imagine losing a mom at 10. I am just heartbroken for those children. And my prayer is that they are just wrapped in love. And that with every minute of the rest of their lives they remember how much she loved them.

Pray for her husband. I think any of us that are married with small children know that Alan is living through a nightmare. I would have no idea how to start putting those pieces back together. And my prayer is that he is just given clarity on how to act, what decisions need to be made now and which ones can wait and that he can just survive the heartache, make it through the devastation and remember how to breathe.

Pray for my Aunt Helen and Uncle Bob who have already seen so much death. Experienced too much loss. They should not have had to lose a child. Pray that they remember they are the reason she was such a beautiful person, that they remember they are the example she followed for a happy marriage, how to serve others and how to be a phenomenal mother.

And pray for her sisters. Her best friends. Who have lost their best friend. Their lives are halted by this tragedy but not for long. Soon they will have to merge back into the fast lane, long before they are ready with their own kids and their own lives and please pray that they will be able to stretch their necks long enough to find oxygen.

I need to write to them. I need to send them my love. I sat at the computer for an hour and a half last night and just stared. I have forgotten how to use words. And how to comfort. There is too much pain in this situation. And I am too far away to give them what they really need: A hug and lots and lots of silence.

And I'm afraid I will give them the advice that I got. The advice that immediately sits on my tongue as soon as I hear of tragedy.

When my dad died, when he actually died, we were all in the room and surrounded by people that loved us. And only minutes after they had taken him away a lady that I have so much respect for I have thought about writing a letter to her just thanking her for the influence she has had in my life, pulled me aside and said, "Rachel, this is hard, this is very hard, but it's going to be way worse in six months."

I had just lost my father. My most favorite person in the whole world. And I bravely smiled back and said thank you.

Do you know what I said on the inside? "Screw you."

And I never, ever say that. Especially to my elders....

Death comes with too much advice, too many words of encouragement and sympathy.

Whether well-meaning or not, said out of love or experience, in tears or in an embrace, it's hard to hear all of it. Silence is the best. Silence is the most comforting.

And remembering. The sweet memories from someone else that you don't have but can keep with you from then on or the ones you all shared together. Those are the words that heal. The words that comfort.

But still, because the advice that I got was so hard to hear, but so painfully true, I have to physically stop myself from giving it to everybody who has lost someone.

Anyway. I guess pray even fro me. That I will know how to act, how to offer comfort from so far away. And that my family will know that they are loved and through love be healed. That they will find a way to live and breathe through this.


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