the woman who gave me life

IMG_2119

Sometimes you just don’t know where to start with words, so I’m just going to start and I may not stop for a while.

My mother, Karen Akin, passed away on December 1 at 10:10 p.m with my dad and me at her side holding her hand and praying with her.

In early June, after spending many weeks in our home off and on after James Walker’s birth and many weeks of beautiful, sweet memories, my mom had a scan and found out that the melanoma tumors had spread to the left frontal lobe of her brain. She had been diagnosed with melanoma in 2010. It was in the lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis. It metastasized in 2013 and continued to spread for the past two years.

When we found out about the tumors in the brain and in her bones, she decided that she would remain upbeat and she really didn’t want to tell anyone about it except for a few friends and family members. My mom didn’t want to talk about cancer all the time. She didn’t want everyone constantly asking her how she was feeling. She wanted to go on about life as usual- living and loving life without people feeling sorry for her. So we didn’t really share her news either until my dad posted about it on Facebook in October.

She and my dad spent an incredible ten days in a villa in Tuscany with dear friends in June. In July, we all went to Colorado to visit my brother, Walker and his girlfriend. When we were in Colorado, it was the very first time that we’d ever seen my mom show any signs or symptoms of cancer in nearly 6 years. She was nauseated, tired, and often frustrated and overwhelmed. We went to visit my cousin’s family in Alabama in August and noticed more symptoms of the brain tumors. But we had two wonderful vacations. So many incredible memories! Playing with the boys. Talking about what heaven will be like. Singing and laughing and remembering things from childhood.

In September, Todd and I went to Indiana for the Influence Conference and my mom and dad came to visit for a few days. More brain tumor symptoms- trouble forming thoughts, difficulty multi-tasking, difficulty getting around and she was generally just not herself. In October, Todd and I took all the boys to my parents’ house for a long weekend and it was more of the same- just worse.

Since June, her health was rapidly declining. But the loss of her personality and the woman that I know was the most heartbreaking part.

My mom is such a part of me. I’m used to calling multiple times a day just to tell a funny story. I’m used to making plans for our next visit. I’m used to calling on Friday mornings to discuss what happened on Scandal the night before. And she couldn’t talk on the phone or text anymore. And, gosh, I have been missing her for months. I feel lost without my best friend.

We began to specifically pray that she wouldn’t feel anxious and she wouldn’t feel pain. That a peace that passes all understanding would overwhelm her. We prayed that she would know just how loved she is.

We know that God’s ways are higher than our ways and that He has perfectly written His story and it included a plan for a beautiful life for my sweet mom. And for all of our lives.

Watching my dad so lovingly care for my mom is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s real love in its most raw form. Having the incredible opportunity to hold my mom’s face in my hands and to tell her every reason I love her is a gift I didn’t take lightly, and my dad was able to do that every day for months. He held her, he cared for her, he prayed with her, and cherished her.

We’re experiencing every emotion possible. I can’t speak for my dad and my brother, but I’m heartbroken. I’m mad. I’m grateful. I’m hopeful. I’m in shock. I’m relieved that her pain is over. But I know I can speak for my whole family when I say that we’re so thankful. We trust the Lord and we know that He is good. He is merciful. He has provided us with so many gifts and we’ve seen so many blessings. We were given more than five precious years with her before we ever experienced any setbacks from cancer.

All of my babies got to be held and rocked and sung to by the most loving woman in the world. They know a KK that would do anything in the world to be with them.

I’ve learned from a woman who trusts God. A woman who has given all of herself to others. A woman dedicated to helping those that can’t help themselves.

A woman who saw a problem and fixed it. She would stop at nothing to fix a problem for someone or to provide an opportunity for someone. She loved people and wanted to help make things better for them.

She loved movies and committed to see every Oscar-nominated movie before the awards show every year. She loved music and would bust out in song- hymns, classic rock, show tunes, Lady Gaga and Adele. She loved it all. She loved to dance and would jump to her feet any time she heard “rock me mama like a wagon wheel.” She wanted Elton John to sing “Honky Cat” at her funeral. For two decades she maintained this wish. And we honored it on Monday at her service with a recording of “Honky Cat.”

She was a staunch Republican, incredibly conservative, but also full of compassion. She adopted a homeless couple. She ministered to lost women and was committed to rescuing women from sex trafficking. She was generous to a fault and would give someone anything they needed and would drop everything to serve you if she could. Even if she wasn’t feeling well that day.

Over the past month, my mom, dad, brother and I have read letters from countless friends who have been impacted by my mom’s presence in their lives. We’ve cried and laughed and we’ve been so thankful for these incredible people who want her to know how much she is loved. And when I think about what she’s done in my life…. I just don’t know where to start.

My mom. My best friend. She was my biggest fan and the woman who pushed me. Her influence in my life has shown me what complete trust in the Lord looks like. What bravery looks like. How to mother. How to love. What it looks like to be a good friend. She is the fabric of my life. She is all over everything I see and every breath I take. My mentor. My cheerleader. My coach. My dear dear mother. The orchestrater of all the fun. The creator of all the beautiful things in every room. She had the magic touch.

She had impeccable style and so much class, but also so much sass and the ability to sit and relate to anyone without offering any nonsense. Just grace and truth and so much love for everyone she loved.

We’ve joked that she’d be saying to us, “Oh, just get over it already!” She would. She was a dust yourself off and get on with it kind of woman. But the loss we’re experiencing is immeasurable. She lit up a room. She held everyone’s attention without asking for it.

Sometimes just hearing her voice on the phone on a bad day just turned me into a puddle of tears. The comfort she provided just by knowing she loved me was all the comfort I needed. We’d schedule visits with each other before another was over. Many days now I can’t catch my breath as I imagine this life without her.

My brother, Walker, loved her dearly and she would have done anything for him. And my dad. Oh my dad. She was his best friend and he was hers. He cherished her right up until her very last breath. The example of marriage that they have set for me is amazing.

She adored Todd, and was always saying how lucky we all are to have him in our family. (I often joked that she grew to love Todd more than she loved me!) We know she’s with us. In our actions, in our words, in the songs we sing. Gosh, she’s even there when I look in the mirror now and see so much of her in me.

When I think about what she would want you to know and what she’d want me to share, it’s this. My mama was not perfect. She was precious and she changed lives, but she wasn’t perfect. She is not the hero of this story. She was a woman who was saved by grace through faith in Jesus. She loved her heavenly Father. She wanted a deeper relationship with Him. She wanted to show the love of Christ to those in her life. Jesus in her is the hero of this story. She would want you to know that and she’d want you to draw nearer to Him. To trust Him and let Him take the reigns.

And that’s what we’re doing. We’re leaning into our Savior, letting Him carry us, and not wasting a single minute that we have to tell anyone about the Good News in our lives. We’re experiencing incredible sorrow and unspeakable joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength. He is good!

James Walker is 2 months old

2 months old

Dear James Walker,

You are two months old! Fastest two months of my life.

This month was a little more challenging in terms of getting you figured out. You’re a lot more alert and want to be sitting up and looking around as much as possible, which means someone needs to be holding you. But we’re breaking that habit and getting you a little more content with being awake in your bouncy seat or Mamaroo. And we still allow ourselves some sweet cuddles and holding you for naps. It’s a hard balance because I want to snuggle you as much as possible, but need you to be okay with being put down so that we can get things done around the house.

IMG_0813

You love looking around and taking everything in, though. When Hudson walks up to you, your little face lights up. You smile and coo at him and I just know that the two of you will be great buddies with him looking after you. Your smile is just so infectious.

Last night, we were all eating supper and you were in your bouncy seat. I heard you cooing and talking to us and you so badly wanted our attention. It was the cutest thing and you did immediately get all of our attention.

You had a great two month well visit and took your shots like a champ. I managed not to cry and you only cried for a little bit. But you charmed the nurses!

IMG_0823

You are on a 7:00-7:00 schedule now. I feed you at 7:00 p.m. after your bath, put you down for the night swaddled in your crib, and then go back in to feed you when you wake up. We’ve had a couple nights where you’ve woken up at 5:00 a.m. (hallelujah!), a few nights of 3:00 a.m., and it seems you’re regressing and now waking up at 1:00 a.m. We’re aiming to get back to that 5:00 a.m. and just staying the course. But you eat quickly in the middle of the night and go right back down to sleep. I’m super tired these days, but also so happy to see you in the middle of the night. You love talking to me in the middle of the night!

We love you, sweet boy, and we’re excited to see what the next month brings!

Love,

Mommy

IMG_0837

Weight: 14 lbs (85%)

Height: 24.5 inches (97%)

Diaper Size: 2

Clothing Size: 3-6 month

Likes: Baby Einstein Take a Long Tunes, Snugabunny Bouncy Seat, sitting up and looking around, Hudson, your crib mobile, hymns as lullabies, bright colors, sitting up

Hayes is 4 years old!

IMG_0627my favorite picture of our Hayes from the past year

Dear Hayes,

How is it possible that you are four? Up until two months ago, you were still our little baby. I still saw my tiny little toddler every time I watched you sleep and you would still let me cuddle with you. You have grown up a lot lately.

You’re becoming such a sweet big brother. You know that James Walker is so tiny and you’re so careful with him. But there are also times that you’re a little over-eager and not super careful, so we have to remind you to calm down a little and remember that James Walker is so tiny.

You love life and you are just wide open! You play with full force. You run and jump and laugh and whatever you do, you are all in. I love that about you! We all joke that when you’re grown and on your own and come home for holidays, we’ll all be arguing over who gets to sit next to you at the dinner table. You are so much fun!

You and Hudson started sharing a room around Christmas and it has gone so well. You’ve learned that bed time is bed time and you have to be quiet when the lights go out because you don’t want to keep Hudson awake. Hudson is a lot more of a rule follower than you are, so it’s been a little bit of an adjustment for you, but you’ve done so well. The lights go out and you settle down immediately and drift off to sleep.

With the change of sharing a room, though, you dropped your nap. You were not thrilled about being in your room to take a nap knowing that Hudson was not in there napping, too. You’d just get in there and cry or play or jump on the bed. So we gave up the battle and gave up the nap. But there are a couple days a week where you just drop right where you are and crash. It takes you getting very very still, but you just crash. We have a lot of funny pictures of the places where you’ve napped.

Your vocabulary is huge and your speech has come such a long way! It’s hard to even remember the day when we struggled to understand your speech. You’re so smart, too, Hayes! You don’t sit down and focus on educational things often, but you shock us all the time with what you know. You recognize words and all your letters and numbers. And it’s just something that you seem to have snuck in while you’ve been running and playing so hard.

Our sweet little Hayesie. We’ve actually had to be a lot more mindful of how often and where we call you Hayesie because your classmates were starting to call you that. And while it’s a cute nickname for now, we didn’t want it to be something that you were stuck with your whole life!

You love pancakes and waffles and French fries. But you aren’t the best eater. We know you’ll come around someday. You love ninja turtles, make believe, playing outside, baseball, riding your bike. And you can entertain yourself so well. I’ll hear you having little conversations between your toys and it’s just so cute how much you love to play.

We are so thankful for your sweet little tender heart and your loving spirit. You’re definitely the most fun person in our family and that is a trait that I know you’ll have forever!

I’m so excited to see what God does in your little life over the next year. He has big plans for you, Hayes, and we’re just so thankful for the time that we get to spend with you and watch how He guides your path.

I love you, sweet boy!

Love,

Mommy

 

Seven

1930722_630649715877_4320761_n

1930722_630665923397_4904384_n

156619_925077669897_6129308_n

405790_10100587325102707_1419110339_n

603770_10103101050901057_5844061986553595229_n

Seven years. Three homes. Three sons. Two dogs. Changing jobs. Sickness. Vacations. Countless memories and hundreds of moments of grace and love. It’s passion and love and family and community. It’s a covenant. It’s a commitment.

Happy anniversary to my best friend and partner in life and parenting. I love you, Todd!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...