Mother sings to daughter in hospital

How many times have we heard it said that a mother should never have to bury their child, and likewise how often do we look the other way around, at children supporting parents through the hardest times of their lives? Yet, it is often the heartbreaking struggle of a parent loving a child that brings about the most beautiful moments. Case in point:

Eighteen year old Lindsey Lourenco has been battling cancer for years with her loving and supportive family by her side through it all. Even though she is in a coma, Lindsay’s dad says, “I truly believe that she can hear her mother singing and feel the love all around her. I can’t help but think that even in the most difficult and painful time of our lives, there are moments of beauty and powerful, unconditional love.”

See this touching video of love and devotion as her mother sings to Lindsey in the hospital.

Re-post from http://faithhub.net/mother-sings-sweet-sad-song/?utm_source=FACE&utm_medium=JLY&utm_term=video05092015&utm_campaign=mother-sings-sweet-sad-song

Mom gives her daughter one last, beautiful gift

Re-posted from http://www.today.com/parents/dying-cancer-mom-celebrates-daughters-birthday-grand-tea-party-t21921

Athena Krueger knew she was losing her battle with breast cancer, so the 33-year-old mom turned her focus to celebrating daughter Amari’s first birthday with the greatest tea party of all time.

“We knew things weren’t real great, and her point was, ‘If this is the only one of her birthdays I’m going to see, I want it to be grand,'” says Athena’s husband Ben Krueger, of Oak Grove, Minnesota.

Mom diagnosed with pregnancy-associated cancer dies day after daughter's first birthday
Courtesy of Stephanie Windfeldt

Athena Krueger of Oak Grove, Minn. died from cancer a day after her daughter’s first birthday. Krueger created an elaborate tea party for her daughter Amari.

Ben says his wife discovered a lump in her breast and learned of her pregnancy simultaneously, and after beginning chemotherapy at 15-weeks pregnant, delivered baby Amari via cesarean at 32 weeks.

“We always figure she’s got to be a special girl for everything Athena had to go through. She’s destined for something amazing—we just don’t know what it is yet. Someday she’s going to do it and it’s going to click,” Ben said of his daughter, who was named Amari because of its meaning: a precious miracle from God.

Mom diagnosed with pregnancy-associated cancer dies day after daughter's first birthday
Courtesy of Stephanie Windfeldt

The sign welcoming 300 guests to Amari’s Alice In Wonderland-themed birthday tea party.

After Amari’s birth, Athena underwent further chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries to fight the cancer. However, Ben says the disease spread to his wife’s lung, lymph nodes and brain, leaving her hospitalized and fighting for her life just weeks before their daughter turned one.

With the help of their family and friends, the Kruegers began planning an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party for Amari, to be held the weekend before Amari’s birthday at their home, where Athena could be comfortable.

Mom diagnosed with pregnancy-associated cancer dies day after daughter's first birthday
Courtesy of Stephanie Windfeldt

A fancy dress up area entertained kids at the tea party.

Ben says his wife’s doctors advised against her returning home to have the party, suggesting they hold the event in a multi-purpose room within the hospital.

“We said, ‘Absolutely not. This is a big deal and we’re going to be home,'” said Ben. “They strongly disagreed, but I told them this was the way it was going to be — that they could either help me, or I would sign the forms to take Athena home without their help.”

Mom diagnosed with pregnancy-associated cancer dies day after daughter's first birthdayCourtesy of Stephanie Windfeldt

Athena Krueger of Oak Grove, Minnesota, holds daughter Amari on her lap. Amari’s name means “a precious miracle from God.”

The doctors did help, sending Athena home with hospice care and a pain pump to manage her final days comfortably.

The Kruegers held Amari’s birthday on May 2. With 300 of their family members, co-workers and friends present, the elaborate party was held under tents complete with a fancy dress-up area and elaborate place settings. Ben even dressed as the Mad Hatter — something that started as a joke.

Mom diagnosed with pregnancy-associated cancer dies day after daughter's first birthdayCourtesy of Stephanie Windfeldt

Athena and Ben Krueger watch daughter Amari taste her first birthday cake.

“That was a smart-aleck comment that backfired. I said, ‘I thought about renting a Mad Hatter costume,’ and the next thing I know, they were saying it would be delivered by the end of the week,” said Ben.

Ben says he and Athena loved the party, adding that the outpouring of support for their family touched them both.

Mom diagnosed with pregnancy-associated cancer dies day after daughter's first birthdayCourtesy of Stephanie Windfeldt

The Kruegers pose for a family portrait, with Ben Kreuger dressed as the Mad Hatter.

“It’s amazing what people do when there’s hard times — the benefit this was for Athena is huge. It sets you back and you’re so humbled by it. I can’t say thank you enough,” said Ben.

Ben told TODAY that Amari’s birthday fell on the following Tuesday. And, he believes Athena held out until she saw her daughter turn one; she died at home in his arms the following day.

Mom diagnosed with pregnancy-associated cancer dies day after daughter's first birthday
Courtesy of Stephanie Windfeldt

Amari’s lavish birthday cake and party treats.

“I’m hoping that between the pictures of this party and everything, they’ll help me teach Amari all about her mom as she grows up,” Ben said. “I don’t want her to ever forget who she is or where she came from — it’s pretty amazing.”

Life After Mom

Re-Posted from http://headspace-perspective.com/2015/05/05/life-after-learning-to-be-a-mother-without-my-mum/

November 2014 marked the two year anniversary of the day I lost my brave, wonderful mum to cancer. A day you never really think will happen. But it did. And she was gone. It was a very strange kind of anniversary, if you can call it that – I wasn’t sure whether to do something to acknowledge it, or to shut myself away and wallow in my own grief…instead I chose to just go to work and get on with the day, because I really didn’t know what else to do.

Back in October 2012, when we found out that mum’s cancer had returned and this time it was terminal, the overriding question I had was ‘how long?’.  Of course, no one can ever tell you exactly long but that’s the one thing that was burning in my brain. How long have you got left? How long before you leave me? They said she had an aggressive tumour in the psoas muscle (bottom of the back/hip), which in turn had blocked the function of the kidneys. She had an operation to have stents inserted to support the her kidneys, and they thought they had caught them in time, but just six short weeks later, she was gone.

Suzanne, aged about 7 or 8, with her Mum.

I think I started grieving for mum weeks before she passed – I don’t know why, perhaps it was my way of preparing to lose her. We never really spoke about what was coming in detail; she always told us that she had to deal with it in her own way and she was so strong and brave during those last weeks. What she did tell me was that although she didn’t like what was happening, she had made her peace with it and she wasn’t scared. But then that was mum all over; strong, practical and a fighter – when life dealt her a bad hand (and she’d had her fair share of struggles in the past), she dug deep, picked herself up and carried on. I guess in her eyes this was no different.

The weeks after she died were very strange – it was like living a semi-dream state, where your heart feels the awful reality of what’s just happened, but your head carries you on. I had an 18-month-old to think of, I had work to go back to and in a very surreal way, life just goes on. Christmas came and went, and we all went through the motions as a family, not really sure what else to do.

Just eight weeks after she passed, I found out I was pregnant with my youngest son. I have no doubt in my mind that he was a gift from her, the circle of life, one-in-one-out. So the first year of life without her went by in a haze of pregnancy and I gave birth to my beautiful angel baby just 11 months after losing my mum. It was such a bittersweet day and I wish with all my heart that she could have been there.

I thought I’d be a bit of a mess in the weeks after giving birth, hormones flying all over the place and grief rearing its ugly head with a vengeance, but to my surprise, I just got through it. I think I just battened down the hatches and got on with it (sound familiar?), because, quite frankly, what else can you do? Falling apart wasn’t an option.

So here I am, two-and-a-half years later and I think the magnitude of losing mum, having a baby and all of the milestones in-between are starting to sink in. My sense of loss and missing is more acute now than it was in those early days. My heart aches when I think of how much I want to tell her, to share with her and how desperately I wish she could meet her new grandson. I hate the fact that I can’t just pick up the phone and talk to her and ask for advice. I hate the fact that my sons won’t know how wonderful their nana was. And I hate the fact that I can never fully enjoy my own Mother’s Day with the boys, because it’s always tinged with sadness.

Suzanne and her Mum, approx. 2008

Of course there are so many thing that I’m grateful for too; that I got to have her as my mother for 32 years, that she taught me to be the person I am today, that she loved me unconditionally and I grew up knowing I was truly cherished and that I belonged. Something that I will make sure my sons know as they grow up too.

I don’t know if these things get easier, all I do know is that you have to slowly come to terms with living a new kind of normal. Things will never be the same without her in my life, but I have to believe she’s still here, watching over me and making sure everything will be alright. Grief is a strange beast, and often it will creep up and overwhelm you in the blink of an eye. Allowing yourself time to feel the pain and process your loss is important – and I’m only fully realising the extent of this two-and-a-half years on.

I wasn’t even sure whether or not to write this post initially, but I’m glad I did. I guess the point of it is to mark the fact that she lived and died – to talk about her out loud and remember that I still have a mother, she’s just not here right now.