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Nine years an angel

I wrote this post nine years ago. I had to dig into my old blog to pull the words forward, from my old personal blog to this one. I bring these words forward here so that they're always close and so my kids can read it one day if they so choose. Nine years and some things are fuzzy, until I read the words I wrote and it all floods back as clear as the spring day it happened. From 2015...

I've been trying to make myself post for a week now.

I keep seeing things to post about but they seem trivial in a way.

Plus I feel like I need to address the obvious.

Sitting here I can only think of how I would give anything to go back to the way it was three weeks ago. Make that four.

Four weeks ago was great from what I recollect.

But somewhere between then and now has pushed us into a place I don't like,

not one tiny bit.


Last month started out "normal" what ever that is.

I knew the end of March would bring the anniversary of the death of a sweet friend of mine.

I think of her often but I thought about her all day that day.

I made sure we played "Fly Me to the Moon" and we danced and sang in her honor.


Then a blogger I follow, a young mom of four, passed away after a battle with cancer.

She shared back in December their decision to start hospice care.

It still took my breath away when I read the words of her passing.

My husband asked me why I gasped out loud.

I told him and he made a comment about how things like this come in threes.

I thought somehow that the week would get better.

It did not.


We got a text with news that I hoped would never come.

Someone dear to us started hospice at home.

Immediately we volunteered our guest apartment

to our friends for their family or guests to stay in.

It may not sound like much but for me it was all I could think to do.

I didn't know how to help our friends,

no covered dish or card was going to help ease their journey.

But I could open my home to let their family be close but still giving them privacy.

The guest room had been on my to do list forever.

Just never enough time or money to do it the way I wanted.

Suddenly it moved to the top of the list.

My sweet friend Laura went with me on a mission to update the room which we did in a whirlwind 24 hour turnaround, the likes of which I'd never done before.

She was a trooper I have to tell you.

I couldn't think at all.

I'd just look at her and she'd help me figure out things that normally

would just roll right out my mouth.

We did this on a Monday.

By Tuesday the room was ready.

I love you Laura.


I thought that would be the hardest thing I did all week.

Two days later our world changed.

It still doesn't seem real

but everything in us hurts

so I know its true.

One afternoon as I was walking to pick our boys up at school my phone started ringing.

I have a wildly loud obnoxious ring on my phone.

Piano riff.

I quickly saw it was one of my brothers in law.

I didn't answer it because at school pickup there are hundreds of people.

Its not really the time or place to talk on the phone.

I put it back in my pocket and told myself to remember to call him later.

I grabbed one kid and was walking to get the others.

The phone rang again.

This time a different in-law.

Strange I thought.

Maybe she's in town too.

I thought it was all about going to dinner together.

I rounded up all my boys and started walking to the car.

Then I heard the text ring a ding.

I looked at the words and only really saw one.


I called my husband.

I changed his life with my message.

His goddaughter, our niece, had been in a car accident.

"Call your brother" I said.

The next hour was a whirl wind of phone calls.

Snippets of news from various brothers.

My husband rushed home.

He had been given the number of the emergency room doctor and asked to call.

We sent our kids upstairs to watch tv as he dialed the number.

We both listened as the doctor listed her injuries.

I only understood broken hips, multiple facial fractures.

My husband is a doctor.

He knew too much.

He hung up the phone looking absolutely gutted.

I said its pretty bad, huh?

It shocked me when he said "it would be better if she died tonight."

I got so mad and told him he wasn't God, he didn't know.

He said "Nancy, I heard every word that doctor said.

You may not have understood it all but she is brain dead."

He knew there was no coming back.

She was already gone.

In an instant.

They were prepping her for life flight.

She was flown to a trauma hospital hours away.

I went outside not knowing what to do.

I called my friend Joyce.

I was crying so hard.

She kept telling me to stop, calm down, talk slow.

I was trying to ask her to help me send our friends an email.

I didn't know what we were going to do with our kids.

She said "I'll be there in ten minutes."

In less than that, she was there.

Her first words were "GO!"

We grabbed some stuff and left.

Right at rush hour.

It took us over two hours alone to get out of Houston.

The longest two hours I can ever remember.

We were each in our own little worlds in that car.

My husband angry at the traffic between us and her.

I was just silently wishing what he said wasn't true.

As the sun was setting I finally noticed the sky.

NLI Blog Post "Nine Years an Angel" by Nancy Lane Interiors.

There was a distinct line across the sky.

Like a clear division between heaven and earth.

A few minutes later I looked up again.

NLI Blog Post "Nine Years an Angel" by Nancy Lane Interiors.

It is hard to see from this picture but right above the road we're on, up in the sky there was one little cloud that was catching and reflecting the light of the sun.

The only cloud doing this in a cloud filled sky that evening.

Just one.

"I think she's gone" I whispered to my husband.

"I think so too" he said.

We finally got to her bedside in the ICU around ten that night.

I can still see her now.

Her petite little person, barely five feet tall.

Her wavy brown hair still with a braid off to her left side.

She was on a ventilator, machines beeping.

Briefly I was taken back to our boys' stay in the NICU.

Remembering the sounds of their time there.

This was no place I ever thought we'd be again.

Not with someone so young.

She was a beautiful being.

She wanted to be a nun.

Even right out of high school.

The convent she wanted to join urged her take some time, to experience "real" life first.

She worked summers at an ice cream shop,

graduated college in three years,

was deeply religious and faithful and true.

I became her aunt by marriage when she was barely ten.

She read from I Corinthians during our ceremony.

She was extraordinary.

She was petite.

She was a giant.

Over the next twelve hours the kind hospital workers

prepared my brother and sister in law for the worst

and graciously and lovingly

took care of their first baby girl.

Throughout the night family and friends arrived.

Both of my niece and her family.

There must have been at least thirty young college students

here in the packed waiting room.

Parents of her friends arrived too.

Throughout the night they ran tests to confirm that there was nothing that could be done.

No one slept but rather kept watch on the doors leading into the ICU.

Two would go in, two would come out, two new would go back.

It was like a dance of people who loved her.

Each going in so hopeful,

coming out in sorrow.

My sister-in-law was incredibly strong that night.

A mother warrior standing tall like an iron rod.

Only in the wee hours of the next morning,

when the medical team as a whole did morning rounds,

did she bend over at her middle,

hands on her knees,

tears in her throat,

to say that they had decided to turn off the machines.

She generously and graciously suggested that if anyone wanted

to go say goodbye they should do it now at that moment.

The whole waiting room of fifty plus people moved as one.

We all went through the doors we had stared at

and passed in and out of throughout the night to see her

and filed into her room that was as tiny as she was.

For the next hour we all stood at her bedside.

The only sounds in the room were the machines

and the occasional ruffle of tissues and sniffles.

A nurse came in to explain what would happen next

as the machines were turned off.

She went quickly after that.

No alarms sounded but a doctor and two witnesses

came in and made their pronouncements.

Her friends then all left so the family could have privacy.

followed by the parents of some of her friends.

Next her grandparents.

Then her uncles and aunts.

My husband didn't want to say good bye.

He didn't want it to be his turn.

I told him he'd regret it all the days of his life.

He was in a pained way I'd never seen before.

I had to physically push his body toward her bed

where he bent over and kissed her forehead.

I squeezed her hand and kissed her cheek as I whispered in her ear.

I asked her to be an angel to our boys.

I told her I knew she already was one.

We left her siblings and her parents alone with her.

For a while the crowd that had gathered by her bedside

now was outside her room,

none of us knowing where to go next.

Our only thoughts were to get home to our boys.

We wanted to tell them in person.

We made it in time to pick them up from school.

We waited until we got home even though

they kept repeating questions about how she was.

My mini-me knew.

He kept asking if she was ____ but he never said the word.

Finally we got home and sat them down.

We told them there was a car accident.

We didn't know the details then.

We told them we couldn't explain anything,

only that she was gone.

We all sat there and cried together.

A short time after, my sweet peep Joyce

called to say she had something for us.

We went outside to wait for her

where the sweet sunshine of spring

kissed our foreheads and somehow, at least for me,

made it seem like she was watching us from above.

Joyce pulled up and jumped out with a bag of five pints of ice cream.

"You didn't have enough while I was here last night.

You only had one little pint she joked.

Your kids need more dang it."

Aren't girlfriends the best?

Mine sure are.

They fed us every day and night for over a week.

My boys kept saying "Mom, you have the best FRIENDS ever!"

Boy don't I know it.

Joyce reminded us that it had been report card day

and she shared that what they do on report card days

is a reverse dinner...

or in other words dessert first

or in their case, sometimes dessert only :)

My husband and I just looked at each other.

Done we thought.

Going forward we're going to honor

the day of our niece's passing

with reverse dinner - ice cream for every body.

She would have loved that.

 and from 2017...

The next ten days.


I gotta get through the next ten days.

I'm already a mess.

I knew it was coming.

Our niece.

Her birthday.

Then ten days until the anniversary of her death.

Yesterday the tears started flowing like a river.

I made it though my morning run today without a tear.

Although I cried on the way to our meeting spot.

I made it home, then to the garden center,

and an hour into tidying up our front flower beds.

My husband came home from taking the kids somewhere

and I saw him and I lost it.

Right there in the front yard.

Doubled over at the waist so no one could see my face.

God love that man.

He just stood there patting my back.

When I could finally stand up

he asked if I wanted a tissue.


They'll come again.

Maybe they'll just look like sweat I joked.

The waves of sadness are incredible,

like swimming in an ocean,

barely able to catch your breath,

knowing another big wave is coming,

that going under is inevitable.

You go under and can barely breathe,

wondering and not knowing for sure

when the storm will stop.

But it will.

With time.

Until the next big reminder.

I know I'm not alone in the sea of grief.

My feelings are no bigger than others'

although others' may be bigger than mine.

I think of my sister-in-law and her husband...

I cannot even imagine the pain of losing a child.

To me there could be no greater pain than that.

I think you know

that I try to turn lemons into lemonade.

I made the decision after her death to be all in.

Her passing is a constant reminder to me.

A reminder to live life to the fullest.

To be thankful for every breath.

To live every day as if it were my last.

To dream big,

to work hard,

to never give up,

to show up,

to be seen,

to dare greatly.

To teach my kids to do the same.

To show my kids by example how to do it.

To do it in spite of sometimes not knowing how.

To run and jump and leap.

And yes some days I may look like a fool

trying to figure it all out

but at least I'm doing something,

not standing on the sidelines.

Of that I am proud and I will pat myself on the back 

every freaking step of the way.

Life is a journey,

not a destination.

I also made a vow to encourage others to try to do the same.

To quote a favorite song,

"when you get where you're going,

don't forget

turn back around

and help the next one in line,"

That's just how I want to roll in life.

How I am programmed to roll.

About six months after she died,

my husband said all he wanted for his birthday

was to go visit her grave.

His birthday is around Labor Day.

We had already made plans to take our kids

to Lego Fest (think Lego convention)

over Labor Day weekend that year.

Coincidentally (?) it was very close to where she is buried.

So we go to the Lego Fest

and as we're walking out

they were giving free little surprise packs

to Lego Club members.

My kids were like nah, we're good.


Now you know gift with purchase?

I was on it like white on rice.

I'll take three. One for each boy.


So we get to the car

and our youngest is opening the three surprise packs,

each of which was a little Lego minifigure.

He opened the last one and disappointedly announced


Wah wah wah.

As one of five girls I was like...

"Are you kidding me?

I'd love a girl lego.

Give me that thing.

That's so lucky.

Those are so rare.

I'm so glad you passed on it.

I'd be happy to have it."

I fawned all over that Lego

like it was the last treasure on earth.

I stuck it in my purse without looking at it

so that I didn't lose it in the car.

We visited her grave site that weekend.

She's buried in a beautiful place unlike any I've ever seen.

In ten days it will be two years since she left.

Another wave.

Hang on.

NLI Blog Post "Nine Years an Angel" by Nancy Lane Interiors.

It took a while for me to look at the little Lego girl

after we got home that weekend.

I ended up putting it on a little ledge above my kitchen sink.

I wanted my boys to see her every day,

to know that I had put her in a place of prominence.

Because I'd thought {wrongly} that they didn't want the girl toy.

Really I don't think it was meant for them.

It took me a few days before I really looked at her.

To notice the little Lego girl had wings.

Like that of an angel...

And it hit me.

She looked just like her.

Brown hair, pulled back, big brown eyes.

I can't remember how long it took me to tell my husband.

That to me, it was like a sign of some sort.

A little "hey, I'm still here."

He didn't say much when I told him.

He doesn't believe in some things like I do.

Like people still being "around" after they're gone.

He doesn't have to.

I think that enough for both of us.


I will tell you this though...

some time last year

I noticed that the little pink wand was missing.

It may sound goofy but I was upset about it.

I asked everyone if maybe she had fallen

and if they'd seen it anywhere.

Nobody knew where it went.

It may sound weird but it really upset me.

One day soon after

a package arrived in the mail.

I knew from the return address

that it was from the Lego store.

I admit I rolled my eyes.

I thought for sure my husband had ordered yet another Lego set.

I can't tell you how bad I felt

when I opened it up and out tumbled

a single little pink wand.

He's a keeper, my love of a lifetime.

I see her every day, the little Lego girl.

It makes me think of her...




Life life fully y'all.

Show up.

Be seen.

Dare greatly.


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