Stories: Who We Have Lost

Momma held me till the end

Story aboutMarlyn Snyder

The day Momma died, Nuithia had stepped outside with Ben for just a moment. Probably a minute in total. Momma, even on a ventilator was surprisingly responsive and interactive. As I sat there and looked at her, she patted her stomach. I laid my head on it, and she rubbed my head.

Momma held me, even as she lay on her deathbed.

I don’t know if she did that for me or for her. But that moment was exactly what I needed before I had to say goodbye.

That wasn’t really surprising though, because Momma made her life about giving me exactly what I needed.

Momma worked so hard our whole lives. She was superwoman, because she did the job of mom and dad without ever complaining. She never even wanted a break from us.

When we were young, we had a deal. Each summer, Nuithia would babysit me. And, if when she came home, we’d done all of our chores, we’d lather ourselves in sunscreen and go spend the rest of the evening at the public pool. It wasn’t till recently that I realized the sacrifice even that must have been. She would work all day as a custodian, coming home smelling of sweat and bleach, then muster the energy to take two crazy girls and play at the pool all evening. I’m going to be real honest. I don’t even have kids, but there are many days I come home, look at my energetic chihuahua, and just declare that there is no way I’m taking her for a walk. I’m simply too tired. I don’t know where Momma got the energy to do all that.

During the school year, she’d come home exhausted, but she’d cook. She’d listen to my stories. And then after dinner, she’d study with me. Momma spent hours reviewing spelling lists or history notes with me, making sure I had them all committed to heart.

Momma made sure we knew about Jesus and really knew Jesus. Each night, we’d do our routine of saying I love you back and forth a million times. Then, at the end, she’d stop and say, “I love you, Jesus. I love you, God. I love you, Holy Spirit.” From the youngest age, Momma taught me big truths like that of the Trinity, but also that He was near, listening to the goodnight I love yous of a little kid.

Momma was my rock. I’ve always been full of emotions, but with each meltdown I’ve had since I can remember, she was there, assuring me that things were going to be okay and trying her best to convince me that I was amazing.

Momma taught me the value of hard work. I’d watch her faithfully do her job each day, and then pour her heart into us at night. I learned how to be a daughter by watching Momma love my Grandma. It seemed almost every day we were at Grandma’s house when I was young. And even when I was a little older and logistics were more complicated, we were there each Saturday, taking Grandma grocery shopping, cleaning her house, and just sitting with her, letting her be part of our lives.

Momma taught me that people mattered. If someone needed help, and she was able to give it, Momma was right there, pouring herself out for people. She’d take in stray cousins, offer people rides, or listen to a stranger’s story.

Momma taught me that sharing your faith mattered. She told everyone about Jesus – literally everyone she met. Momma dedicated her Saturdays for as long as she was able to going out and inviting people to church and kids to ride the church bus. She knew she would have been lost were it not for God’s grace, and she wanted EVERYONE to experience that same grace that defined her life.

Momma modeled selflessness – to a degree that I’ll never attain. She never had anything nice, ever. Yet, she always made sure that we had cute clothes, I had the fancy pens I declared I needed to succeed in grade school, and that I had whatever doll my little girl heart desired. We never had much, but we wouldn’t have known.

My Online Beading Friend

Story aboutAngielina Grass

Angielina and I never met in person. She lived in Vinita, OK, and I live in White Plains, NY. We met online on a beadwork forum nearly 20 years ago, and bonded over our love of beads and beading. She was Native American (part Choctaw, part Cherokee) and made the most gorgeous, traditional beadwork with a modern twist.

Later in our lives, when Facebook became a thing, we of course became friends on there as well. I really started to get to know more about her – her culture, her kindheartedness, her beautiful drawings, her love of her family, the love (bordering on obsession) of coffee we both shared. She had some health issues, diabetes being one of them. She had lost a lot of weight, though, and many of us were cheering her on. She’d been through a lot with her health. Toward the beginning of the pandemic, she had to have heart surgery (which, thankfully, went fine).

A bit later on during the pandemic, she got her “dream job” (as she called it) working at a local clinic. I was so happy for her. She’d gone to art school, but had wound up working at jobs that just didn’t suit her. She had a big heart and wanted to be helping others.

At some point, in January of 2021, she made her final Facebook post. It said something like, “I got the COVID. Pray for me.”

She passed away a few days later.

I did not find out what had happened for a few months – I knew that I had not been seeing her posts, but I wasn’t on Facebook much due to personal issues. I thought she’d probably been posting and I was just not seeing her posts. I finally realized that it had been quite a while, and I missed seeing her posts, so I went to her personal Facebook page…where I found out the horrible news.

Although she and I never met in person, I feel the loss as keenly as though we had. She was my beading friend, my fellow coffee enthusiast, always full of kind words and moral support and generosity. She had a beautiful soul and the world lost her too soon. I miss my friend terribly.

My Dad, My Best Friend (1 of 2)

Story aboutLarry Wallen

I’m not sure where to begin. My dad was my best friend. We had an amazing father daughter relationship since I was born. He was always proud of me regardless of what I got myself into and I looked up to him. He always had an answer and knew how to do literally everything. One thing he never did was judge other people, no matter their circumstances. He always told me and his brothers “you never know what someone is going through.” I still try to live my life by that. My dad was very generous and was willing to help anyone in anyway that he could.

We spent Christmas 2020 together and sadly that was the last holiday we spent together.
January 2021 my dad and mom both tested positive for Covid. My mom had it first because she was considered an essential worker. Then a week later my dad started having symptoms. The day he called and told me my mom tested positive I told him to get a hotel room close to home so he wouldn’t get it but he refused to leave my mom- showing how much love he had for his family. My mom started getting better but my dad kept getting worse.

I remember calling him one evening before bed (I literally called this man 12 times a day lol) and he sounded different, I asked what was wrong and he said he was trying to find the bathroom and that alone shocked me. His fevers were so high he was getting disoriented in his own home. January 24th he was admitted to the hospital and his oxygen was at 73. From this day forward he was fighting for his life. He hoped so badly he was going to be there two weeks and then go home. He ended up in ICU because he started having heart trouble and that was the floor he had to be on in order to have the medicine administered. He spent his birthday in the hospital (February 5th) and I’m so thankful I was able to see him while he was there especially on his birthday. I brought him a photo of me and his Boston Terrier, Dewie. He said Dewie was a cute dog and I was a pretty girl. I remember asking him if he thought he was going to die and he said “I sure hope not”. Fast forward to February 7th. I called him like I did every morning and asked how he was doing, he said “Lisa I just can’t breath”… my heart sank into my stomach. I said well I’ll be there in an hour- so we said our I love you’s and hung up. I was in the shower for 10 minutes and my phone started ringing. By the time I got out I missed the FaceTime. I missed the last FaceTime I would ever get from him. I missed the last time I could have heard my dad say I love you. It haunts me everyday. They put him on a ventilator that day. I got there as soon as I could.

Things would start to improve and then take twenty steps back. He did eventually get a tracheotomy but that caused him to lose a lot of blood which lead to decreased blood thinner and then he had a stroke that made him fall into a coma. While this was all going on his kidneys were failing and I made sure he was put on dialysis. I made sure everything was done to give him a chance. At one point, before the stroke, he was very responsive and even woke up while on the ventilator. I remember the sadness in his eyes.

March 11th my mom & I had a meeting with his doctors because at this point, after the stroke, he was no longer making any progress. His kidney function stopped improving, his heart was in constant afib, and he showed zero signs of brain activity unlike before. He was on all machines and medicine for every function his body needed to do. The neurologist said since there was no brain activity his body was shutting down. I asked if he could wake up and she said yes but he wouldn’t have a quality life. I stood beside his bed and screamed, begging him not to leave me even though he already had. Apart of me wanted to be selfish and keep him here but he always made it clear that if he didn’t have his mind he didn’t want to be alive any longer. So March 12, 2021 I lost my dad, my best friend & my mom lost her husband of 47 years.

My Dad, My Best Friend (2 of 2)

Story aboutLarry Wallen

My dad loved his family, really enjoyed camping, he loved his dogs (especially Dewie the Boston Terrier), old cars, fried chicken, & was a huge fan of chicken and dumplings from Cracker Barrel. It’s been 5 months and it still doesn’t seem real. I remember asking my dad (before Covid times) what was I supposed to do if something ever happened to him. He told me to keep on living my life, it would be hard but I had to do it. I have so much life ahead of me. We always talked about how he would live until he was 90 so he would be here for all of my big life moments. But because of Covid, he was only here for 68 years. He had so much life left to live and a will to live it. The day we let him go he went quickly and peacefully. The doctors and nurses reminded me that I did everything I possibly could for him.

I’m sure there’s a big reunion on the other side with family that had already passed away… oh and all of the dogs he outlived. I know he’s so happy to see all of them. My mom and I take it one day at a time. It’s an adjustment for both of us, she tells me I remind her of him on how I act, talk, and my facial expressions. It makes me happy because I hope I turn out to be half the person he was. I can honestly say I don’t have many regrets because we had such a great relationship and for that I will be forever thankful for and all of the memories we made together and as a family.

“I love and miss you so much daddy”

My Father’s Journey

Story aboutManuel Juarez

My father, Manuel Juarez, arrived to the US from El Salvador in the 1970’s. He worked minimum wage jobs to help support our family. He needed his eldest and youngest daughter to translate for him. But that never stopped him from reaching his goals. He bought his first home in 2009. He became a naturalized citizen in 2019. He built a garden and loved to show off his fruits and vegetables.

His journey was not easy. His journey ended when he COVID took him away from his family on April 29, 2021. He is my father. He is a grandfather. He is a husband. He will always be in our hearts.

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