An Angel On Earth

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 My how a year can change things.

Not like we were the perfect couple by any regard but I sure as hell was going to give it my best shot. 100%. If I can do one thing well, that is to love someone fiercely.

You see, him and I had been friends for a while. So, I knew of this Saintly woman they called Maureen, but I had yet to meet any of his family. It hadn't been the right time. He wasn't ready. Maybe I wasn't either, but I sure wanted to be.

So for Easter, we had made plans to go to their family cabin nestled deep in the country in Northwest AR. Newly renovated, she was so proud of that project. A retreat for her and her soulmate to spend time together with their grandchildren. And moments like that day, where the whole family came together to enjoy each other.

Unfortunately, it almost didn’t happen. I failed him more than once during our time together because of letting my insecurities get the best of me.

The first time was the night before Easter. When I woke up Sunday morning, I didn’t even know if he would still be at my house. He was hurt, I had broken his trust. I was angry and upset by some truths that finally came out. It was a sleepless night.

I heard him talking on the phone as I was trying to find him and he waved for me to come over. He said, “here, do you want to talk to my mom?” So, one year ago, I heard the sweetest voice on the other end of the phone who genuinely knew I cared for her son and that he cared for me.

She was not upset at me. In fact, I think she actually understood my crazy thought process of why I did what I did. It didn’t excuse it but giving her some of my background story helped her see me and know me better. She also let me know how much her son cared for me and whatever we needed to do to get through this and to still make it down to Easter dinner then it better happen. Then she prayed for me. I immediately felt like I had a connection with this woman.

I also appreciated the fact that he wanted me to talk to her. They were best friends. So, for him to allow me into their conversation made me feel like I actually meant something and was being respected, not kept out of the loop.

We talked through it. It wasn’t a fun conversation by any means. Sometimes in life we have those, and they still need to happen. We decided we would go and enjoy our day. And we were glad we did. It was a beautiful day for an Easter dinner in a newly renovated cabin in the woods.

Immediately, his family came to greet us. I brought flowers and wine as a gift. She squeezed me and I squeezed her right back. I got the official tour of the place. We had an amazing lunch and the kids got to find eggs. I got to visit with his family and tell them some of my story and it truly was a wonderful day.

I texted her later and told her thank you for the hospitality and how much I enjoyed meeting everyone. I also told her that I had no idea where things would go with her son and I but that if things went well that I would love for her to be my spiritual mother. I explained to her that I hadn’t grown up in church and so I never really had that. She said she would be honored and felt the immediate connection as well.

That day started a relationship between two women who have been through some similar stories, who love both their families with all their might. Authenticity and love of the Lord, we also shared.

She would pray for me. We would text each other and she would encourage me, give me insight that no one else could. She was a true treasure.

My girls and I got to spend Mother’s Day with their family. I was treated with flowers and gifts and cards. I couldn’t tell you the last time someone went out of their way to make me feel that special on Mother’s Day. I will never forget it.

By the end of the month though, the relationship between her son and I would end. It was hard. It was painful. I felt like I was losing part of my family. She knew the struggles I was facing. Again, she prayed for me.

It took some time but him and I did want to try to be friends after ending things. But there were a lot of hurts on both sides. Healing needed to happen.

He told me one day his mom hadn’t been herself. Had hurt her back somehow and just wasn’t bouncing back. Anyone that knew this lady knew she would run circles around ya, even the grandkids. After 6 weeks of being in back pain, in July, she decided to go to the doctor and check it out. We were all thinking it was probably a pinched nerve or a slipped disc.

Once the test results were back, it was concluded that she actually had cancer. Stage IV. There was a spot on her lung and also spinal cancer. This is where her pain had been coming from. The cancer had actually eaten away some of the bone and had broken one of her vertebrae.

I had several text conversations with her while she was going through this initial stage of probably shock and disbelief of what was happening. Her faith never wavered one bit. She even told me that we were going to have one big shindig when all this was over to celebrate! She loved entertaining friends and family, and she knew I did too. I agreed and we each said we loved one another.

Radiation started immediately, but after several weeks she was transferred to another hospital for more intense care in late Aug. They performed surgery on her back on Sept 6th to help heal her spine.

A week later, she was strong enough to start the chemo. Everything had started taking a toll on her body. She was of course losing weight, and she was already a petite frame to begin with.

They said she was the perfect patient. Always smiling. Never complaining. I told you, she was a Saint.

The next round of Chemo they did had to be a smaller dose, they didn’t think her body could handle a full dose. Many trials and bumps in the next days. They started radiation at the new hospital and things were even looking up and plans of releasing her to a rehab place then home were talked about.

We have a local hospital that has a store inside of it that sells merchandise for cancer patients. One day, I decided to stop in and I was going to send sweet Maureen a care package. She was losing most of her hair so I decided to get her a cool head wrap. Now this woman, isn’t like any other granny. She had style and I was not going to disappoint her in her head wrap either! I also found an inspirational scripture piece that I thought would be perfect for her to keep next to her bedside.

One of the ladies that works in the store came up and asked me if I needed any help. I just burst into tears. I didn’t want to be buying cancer accessories! I didn’t want to be here at all. But this wasn’t about me. I just wanted to make her smile, even for a brief moment, for her to know that I thought of her daily and prayed for her fervently. My initial plan was to make a trip to go see her during the day sometime and surprise her. But that didn’t happen so I ended up putting the items together in a box and was just going to mail it to the hospital.

The next update wasn’t as good as the last few we had received. The last PET scan showed more spots, her body was weakening and her pain was increasing. They decided they were going to bring her home.

They released her from the hospital on Oct 16th and she got back to Northwest AR that evening. They brought her to a hospice center, all her local family was able to see her that night. I hope she truly knew how much she meant to every single one of them.

The next morning, I got the phone call. Maureen had passed. This Angel on Earth was now with the Angels in Heaven. I got home from an appointment I had and there it was, sitting on the table, ready to be mailed. Her care box. I dropped to my knees sobbing. I was angry with myself that I had not taken it to the post office earlier.

There were days I was so angry and thought how could you go into a doctor apt for a hurt back and come out with a stage IV diagnosis? She was so healthy and exercised, active and happy.

Throughout this process, him and I had not spoken much. I had kept up on updates through the website they set up for friends and family. It was closer to the end that we started talking a little more.

I knew no matter what I wanted to be there at the service. She meant the world to me and he knew that. And, to be honest, I wanted to be there for him too. He just lost his best friend, the person who was always there for him. Every time he would speak of her, you knew how much he loved her and would do anything in the world for her. He was crushed.

It was such a beautiful tribute to the woman she was. Some of her grandchildren had written stories of their favorite times with her and the Pastor shared them. After the service, we toasted Coke’s with limes (her favorite drink) and got to visit with all the people that came to give their condolences.

For me, I was there for more selfish reasons. I wanted to feel close to her one last time. I wasn’t part of their family anymore and I needed this closure in a couple different ways. I hugged everyone when it was all over and said my goodbyes, to make the couple hours drive back home.

So for whatever the reason this man was put in my life, and for whatever reason it didn’t work out for us, I know in my heart of hearts that I met an Angel on Earth for a reason. Even if it was for a short time. I can only imagine how she influenced the people she knew for years or her whole life.

Maureen, until I see you again on another Easter, keep welcoming people into heaven with that million dollar smile of yours.

 An Angel on Earth to being just a True Angel.

-JLR