• The Lucky One

    December 20, 2016
  • Wow! What a journey it has been. A long, 8 month journey… A journey of sadness and heartbreak, but one of strength and positivity too. I wrote the following on the plane when I flew home for what would end up being the last time while my mom was still alive. I got the call from my dad on a late Tuesday morning. I was at the airport within hours of that phone call. At the time, I didn’t know if I would make it home to see my mom one last time, but Ronda would end up having the last say on that though as she fought for almost 2 more weeks.

    Although vulnerable, I wanted to share with you my feelings on that day while on the plane.

    I am unsure how to describe the feelings that seem to be pouring out of me right now. Perhaps it’s fear, maybe regret, definitely sadness. You see, I feel as if I would have been more prepared for this day. After all, I did have 8 months to mentally prepare. I also had 8 months to “cross things off the list.” You know…the list. The funeral list…ensuring all of my mom’s wishes will happen. Just 8 short months after my Mom was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, she is ready to take her last breath. It was 8 months of shock, hopelessness, & lots of tears. But amidst all of that there was also hope, gratefulness, genuine talks, personal growth, deep thoughts, & bonding. 

    I think I was most surprised by how people rallied together, not only for Ronda, but for my dad, her sisters, my brother & me. We received over $7000 in Southwest gift cards from some very generous souls. This allowed myself & my brother to give my mom the most precious gift … our time together. We made several trips back and forth from Florida to Nebraska. I’m not sure words can describe how thankful we all are. Because you see, with every gift card we received, it wasn’t just some sort of “I am so sorry” donation, it was a gift of time, of memories. Those memories will never be replaced & there are so many people who had a part in making that happen. Thank you to everyone who sent a Southwest gift card.

    I also had the great pleasure of seeing the good in people, my friends. I guess you don’t really understand the power of friendship until you need it most. My friend Tammi Dormuth said it best, “Friendship is a convenience during good times, and a necessity during hard times.” I remember telling one of my best friends, Lukas Fenton, in the parking lot of Bryan West Hospital during my first visit home, “In the end, I may not remember everything on this whole journey we are about to embark, but I will always remember those who were there for me.” No doubt that Lukas has been my rock, along with Kevin McGovern, Abby Anderson, Jamie Skorupa, Jess Pepper, Jenne Brown, & Jamie Hoffman, and so many more! It’s so incredible to see everyone’s best qualities shine through in these rough times. There are so many others who have shown tremendous support as well. So, although maybe not mentioned here, if I saw you, talked to you, corresponded with you, texted with you, emailed with you, chatted on Facebook with you, or you just channeled your thoughts my way, I thank you from the bottom of my now broken heart. Know that YOU are a friend of mine for LIFE (whether you want to be or not…HA)

    Another truly amazing thing to watch unfold was the absolute insane amount of support that my mom received from her co-workers & that we all received from her entire company, EyeCare Specialities. I have been a manager most of my career life prior to starting my own company & I can’t say that I would have done what EyeCare Specialties has done since day 1. I also am not sure that everyone understands the impact that this company has had on my mom throughout the years. After all, she was on her third round of working with them. Every time she left, she came back and they welcomed her with open arms each time! I have watched my mom find her true self throughout her time there. It had such a positive impact on her & she truly felt like she was a part of a team & was doing something that she really enjoyed. Okay, maybe she just enjoyed the chit-chat among the ladies that she worked with, but regardless, she loved her job, the clients, and the entire ECS team! Something that most of us would love to be able to say, but we fall just short of “love” & settle for “like.” So, it was no surprise that ECS immediately banned together to support Ronda & our family. But what is truly amazing is that the support never stopped. It didn’t stop once we all knew she would never return to work. It didn’t stop throughout all of her transitions to various facilities. This says a lot about the company, the people, & the culture. I’m not sure that I could have said the same for me when I was a manager. Thank you Dr. Devine and EyeCare Specialties for setting such a great example of what a great company stands for!

    The #lipsticktherapy supporters, who I now call the #lipsticktherapy family, are incredible! I loved reading your emails back to me each time I sent out a new update. I am not sure that my mom ever fully grasped what the heck #lipsticktherapy was, but she thought it was cool that people kept talking about lipstick when they went to visit her. I will never forget that lipstick has “numbers”, that “560” was my mom’s favorite “color”, and the bright pink lipstick that started it all was really supposed to be “blended.” 🙂 Our #lipsticktherapy family is close to 250 people strong and spans 5 countries including, The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. There are people on that email list that have followed Ronda’s journey, yet have never even met Ronda. My hope is that this family continues to grow and stay connected.

    Can I also mention the silent victim in all of this? My dad, Larry (aka “Lar). What an incredible testament of love he showed throughout the journey. For 256 days, he cared for my mom, often times was by her side morning, afternoon, and night during the week and all day on the weekends. From the day my mom went into the Emergency Room, she never came home, while my dad had to come home every night to an empty house…at first, with hope that Ronda would get strong enough to come home, then with realism knowing that that day would never come. Lar was the BEST caregiver Ronda could ever want or ask for. That was truly incredible to watch.

    The list goes on and on. From regular visits from her sisters & family, to a constant flow of visitors from her High School classmates, one thing is for sure…Ronda didn’t lack friends. Although, if you were to ask Ronda growing up, she probably would have told you she didn’t have a lot of friends. How wrong she was! Because, when you live such a positive, fun-spirited life, you are a magnet for friends. For that, I know my mom was grateful and very lucky, but what I hope she realizes before leaving us is she is not the luckiest one of them all…we are…all of us who had the pleasure of being touched, even of just for a moment by her, are truly the lucky ones.