26 August, 2014

"Do not fear, for I am with you."

{{This entry on Grandma Nellie is written by my mom, Lisa Herrington.}} 

First the two verses that have helped sustain me and remind me that God is here in this with me.

Roman 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

This is the actual verse but I sang the chorus all year.  Although my pain has been incredibly deep and difficult, I have lifted my arms and praised God believing with all my heart He makes ALL things work together for my good.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear; for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I sent this verse to mom the night before she started her first round of chemo.  We found it after she died in her cell phone, saved and locked so it couldn’t be erased.
Last year right about 8 am I arrived at my sister’s having been prompted by God to leave work immediately. I knew before I arrived the time was here.  I knew before I saw her that she was dying. I wasn’t ready. How do you really prepare for someone dying?  I had no idea the huge void that would exist for me, for us, until mom wasn’t there.  It is felt every time we get together as a family.

My relationship with mom was complex. I won’t pretend or imply it was like a "Leave it to Beaver" experience.  But the love I have for my mother is deep.  The respect I have for her is huge. My mother was a living example to me of what it means to persevere in the face of adversity.

I struggled with addiction for 29 years and every single relationship I had was affected significantly.  I have been overcome with thankfulness to the Lord for helping me find my out in time.  In early recovery it’s almost impossible to be available for anyone else.  It took all my effort and strength just to not get high. Add to that my family had lived those 29 years and understandably it took time for them to believe the change was real.  Hope had been shattered many times over the years when I would try to stop but just could never manage to stay sober for long.
I was 4 years clean when mom was diagnosed.  I am in tears writing this because I am so thankful.  I was never dependable or could be counted on for anything including telling the truth. I was a hopeless mess. But I had the privilege of coming alongside my mom and my sister as we walked this path together.  I was given the opportunity to care for and love my mother in a way I had not done the majority of my adult life.  I was able to share fully in this experience and be supportive to mom and Laur.  Words do not adequately express how much that meant to me and how incredibly thankful I am.

It would be so easy not to celebrate this but instead be consumed by guilt over all I have not done for many years. There’s a lot of guilt and regret that piled up from those 29 years of hell. But focus on that kept me stuck. The only chance I had at becoming the daughter, sister, mother, wife, or friend that I desired to be was to forget what was behind and strained to press forward, no matter what. And the undeserved gift that resulted; I was able to be there for my family fully throughout this whole experience.

God allowed me to participate in caring for the woman who had fought so hard to raise me and my sister as a single parent. My mom was the hardest working person I have ever known.  My mother was incredibly proud of my sister and me.  She was even more proud of our girls.

Back to this day last year.  Mom was conscious and struggling until about 12:30 and then medication and sleep eased her discomfort until she passed at around 7:30 I think.  Mom was not afraid of dying but she did not want to die alone. 

God gave my mom and us a wonderful gift in those final hours.  She was surrounded by 11 family members who loved her and stayed with her all day.  I pulled out my guitar and we sang, we told stories, we laughed, we cried, and we told her constantly we were there with her, and that we loved her so much.

You know instinctively as someone is drawing their final breaths.  We all stood up and surrounded her, placed our hands on her and watched as she took her final breath.
And I believe as my mom’s spirit was departing that she saw all of us laying on her and crying.  And I believe in that moment my mom saw a room full of deep love for her.  And I will forever be grateful for the privilege of participating in the most painful and holy moment I have ever known.

Mom, I think about you every single day.  I miss you more now than I did 6 months ago. Things will never be the same, different, but not ever the same without you.  Discovering all of these pictures of dad and seeing for the first time relationship existed between us even though I don’t remember anything has me grieving over him as well.  You both looked so happy together in many of the pictures, and who knew how cool and hip you guys were!

Mom I consider it a privilege to be your daughter.  I am so proud to call you my mom.  I love you with all my heart. I miss you every day.  I hope to honor you in the way I live my life.  I am incredibly thankful for the gift of family and memories.  Thank for leaving us with so many to cherish.  I miss you so much mom.


  1. Beautifully written with wonderful heartfelt words... by the time I finished reading your blog I travelled along the path you chose and understood why and the impacts but just like your Mom and family and friends I saw the beautiful, kind, loving, supportive person you are now and the past is painful but forgiven. You have made one of the most difficult decisons to be clean and sober and to live life to honor your mom and that is the most amazing gift you could haven given your mom and yourself and family.

  2. Your words truly touched my heart! You're amazing Lisa! I love you with all my heart and soul! Your mom will forever be in my heart. I miss her so much! I love her so much, too!

  3. Thank you for sharing this Rachel. She was so loved and will always be remembered, and she will always be a part of us. I would love to have a book of stories all about her!

  4. Thanks Michelle! Mom loved you very much too