Everly Jean Estes Broadway
October 3, 1958-July 18, 2013
On July 10, I turned 24 years old. That same day, our family had to make the decision to put my incredible mother into hospice care.
Not exactly how I imagined my birthday. In fact, we had planned a family dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and my boyfriend was going to meet my parents finally. Instead, we all sat in Mama's hospital room and cried a lot. The boyfriend came to see me and I cried in his arms for half an hour in the hospital cafeteria that I have spent too much time in for the last fifteen months.
Mama was able to spend six days at home in hospice care. We took shifts being present with her. My shifts for those six days were mostly spent singing for hours at a time--I went through the whole hymn book singing every song I knew--and folding paper cranes. It was all I could do. And every time she'd stir a little, I'd say "I love you, Mama." She couldn't respond. But I wanted her to hear those words intimately as long as she lived. Day 2 of hospice she asked me how long it was going to take for her to die. I told her it wasn't up to us, it was up to God.
When Mama was first diagnosed in April 2012, when I would talk to people about how scared and sad I was, I would also be sure to tell them I was hopeful. And that I had no doubt that she'd be dancing at my wedding.
I didn't know she'd only live 15 more months after I said those words. If I had known, maybe I'd have gotten a move on the whole marriage thing. Not really. I would've gotten a lot of long speeches about not rushing things. Which I actually got anyway, even though I was definitely not actually trying to get married so soon, despite the fact that it was breaking my heart to realize how unlikely it would be for her to be there.
My best friend is getting married next summer. She and her mom came to visit me a few days after Mama died and we talked about wedding planning and went bridesmaid dress shopping. And though we enjoyed ourselves, and I am so enjoying wedding planning with my beautiful best friend, the thought came to me that I would never do this with my mom, and I just had to walk out of the shop and cry outside in the 95 degree heat.
There will be many future days like that one. I hear a song that reminds me of her and smile or burst into tears. I don't have her to talk to about the boy problems or the work problems anymore. Mama was a giver of good advice and insight, or even just a listening ear if that's all I needed. One day, I may get married, and my mom won't be there. She won't be there to meet her future grandchildren. She won't be there for the future graduations, birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters...
And yet, she will be. She permeates my entire being, and she has given so much to so many. She lived such a full life, despite how short it was and I will strive to live in her example. Through genetics and the fact she raised me, I am very much like my mother and I embrace that fact. I am independent, stubborn, perseverant, organized, determined and strong. And fiesty.
A Maya Angelou poem read at Mama's funeral and her memorial service ends this way:
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
I am who I am and will continue to become who I become, because she existed. I am better, and we are all better, for having had her in our lives.
Love you, Mama.