Yesterday, shortly after 2:00 pm, my mother-in-law left this world surrounded by family and friends.
Just about 10 weeks ago, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She battled with everything she had, but sometimes having the will just isn't enough.
She was one week away from the ultrasound which would tell us the sex of her first grandbaby.
She leaves behind a husband and son, who loved her more that words can express, and devoted family and friends who can't imagine life without her.
Upon first meeting Pat, many people were initially intimidated. She had strong opinions, and wasn't afraid to share them. She had struggled through much in her life - more than most people would even have to dream about - and didn't have time for dancing around the truth. You always knew exactly where you stood with her, even if that knowledge wasn't always pleasant.
She had the wisdom and strength of a life lived fully and without reservation, and the people she loved were some of the luckiest in the world.
She always made me feel like there was no other woman anywhere she would have rather chosen for her son. Not many women are given that gift, and I will always be grateful. I hope I can raise my child as well as she raised her son.
My mom sent me these last night, and I can't think of a better tribute:
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.
Henry Van Dyke
Pat, we rejoice with you as you reunite with those other voices, who you have been longing to see for all these years. We promise to keep your love and spirit alive in our hearts until it is our turn to be greeted by you. Thanks for everything you've taught us, and the love you gave us so freely.
I can never lose the one whom I have loved unto the end. My beloved, the one to whom my soul cleaves so firmly that it can never be separated, does not go away but only goes before. Be mindful of me when you get to heaven, my friend, for I shall soon follow you. ~ Saint Bernard of Clairvaux