Did you make it to heaven?

My cousin passed away this morning.

She had been battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for the past four years.

The news of her passing came in the form of a 3 am phone call.

The wailing coming from the bedroom alerted me to the fact that it was bad news.

In less than ten seconds, every member of the family had made their way to the small room.

My mother reacted by sobbing inconsolably for thirty minutes straight.

The Son attempted to comfort his grandmother, but only after retreating to his room to say a prayer.

My thirteen year old niece made herself useful by passing around Kleenex and pouring her mother a glass of water.

My sister, still on the phone with another cousin, repeated the words, “Oh no!” at least a dozen times.

I stood at the door, gazed up at the ceiling, and whispered, thank you.

As I slowly made my way back to the living room, my eyes opened and closed slowly.

Much like a “Viewfinder,” it was as if they were switching slides of earlier happy times with my cousin.

One blink allowed me to see her sewing her daughter’s wedding dress.

Another showed her at the beach with my sisters and I when we were young girls.

And another captured the time she learned of the birth of her first grandchild.

All the while, the chaos and weeping around me continued.

It wasn’t until I inhaled and forced my eyes to stay open, that I realized that in our own way, we were all grieving.

Some of us wept at the realization that we’d never physically see her again.

Others shook their heads in disbelief, while others prayed and thanked the good Lord for his mercy.

And I say mercy, because after her long battle with this debilitating and painful disease, God had finally taken her home.

Sadly, while her suffering had ceased, I realized her family’s had only begun.

How would her daughters cope without their mother?

How would her husband carry on without her company?

Who would remind her grandchildren to put on a sweater when it was cold?

I believe the loss of a loved one, while excruciatingly painful, serves to remind us of the fragility of life.

It also proves that even while we may grieve in different ways, the loss is the same; the realization that the person is physically gone is unavoidable.

For those of us who believe in the afterlife, there is also the awareness that someday we will see our loved ones again.

Death, while it may seem final, is only a pause, an interim, an intermission before the show goes on.

For those of us who believe in heaven, the passing of our loved ones only signifies that they have finally earned their wings.

In loving memory of Nicky.


75 thoughts on “Did you make it to heaven?

  1. “Death, while it may seem final, is only a pause, an interim, an intermission before the show goes on.” Beautifully stated, Bella. Your tribute was warm, reflective and a great tribute to your cousin. Prayers of comfort to you, family and those who will miss her.

  2. Bella, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I’m sure in the coming days and weeks that there will be many stories recounted and memories shared of the wonderful times with your cousin as you and your family celebrate her life. I hope those bring you comfort during this difficult time.

    1. Caryn, reading your words, I realize that it is indeed what we will do! I believe it’s what families do to honor their loved ones. Thank you for your support!

  3. I am sorry about Nicky. I see a womanly form in the cloud picture. I didn’t know if you did that on purpose? Death is a transformable time. For everyone. Peace to you and your family.

    1. Jodi, I see the form you are referring to! As a matter of fact, I took this photo three days ago and what caught my attention was that I saw the shape of a heart. If you tilt your head to the left, I’m certain you can see it to. Death is indeed a transformation, my friend. Those that move on, find eternal salvation, and those that remain, wait till it’s their time. Sigh.

  4. A most loving tribute. May you find strength in the company of your family to ‘grieve in different ways” as we do. “Death, while it may seem final, is only a pause … ” = great line.

  5. Ah, Bella, I’m sending you a cyber-hug — can you feel it?? My sympathy on the death of your cousin. Yes, I’m sure your family will miss her. Yes, everyone needs to grieve in his/her own way. Yes, your faith will sustain you during this difficult time, will comfort you with the promise of seeing her again. What a reunion that will be!! This is a beautiful tribute to Nicky, and I guess she’s smiling down from Heaven right now at all the loving words about her!

    1. Debbie, thank you, thank you for your uplifting words! I do feel your hug! I do! I do! Love flowing back to you, my friend!

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you and your family are able to provide comfort to one another. I’m sure that your beautiful words will help ease the sorrow.

    1. Shary, thank you for your sweet words. I hope you’re right and that speaking about all that has happened will help the family through the grieving process.

  7. My dear Bella, your words moved me so much. How lovingly you describe Nicky. May she rest in peace and may your family find strength in the love you have for each other. Sending warm hugs….

  8. dear Bella, you’ve made me laugh sometimes, and always moved me, but today I feel I’m sharing your family sorrow, and this is so personal and touching, than I just can say I would like to hug you and make you feel better.
    Mis abrazos y condolencias

    1. Señora Allnut, mil gracias por sus palabras, sus abrazos y condolencias. No sabe cuanto se lo agradezco! Es un tiempo dificil pero tengo fe que con el tiempo, habremos superado esta gran perdida. Besos!

  9. What a beautiful way to put it. My first reaction when my son called to tell me my mom had died was the same, “Thank You, Lord.” I knew she was ready to go and was living a diminished life which would have gotten worse had she kept living. And yes, we will see them again. I am sorry for your earthly loss, but joy with you that she is in a better place!!

    1. Nan, the quality of Nicky’s life had diminished so much! She couldn’t walk, she had difficulty speaking, and she could no longer feed herself. We all knew it was a matter of time. Nevertheless, the news of a loved one’s death is always shocking. I am confident that she is indeed in a better place and that warms my heart, my friend.

  10. Oh I am so sorry for your loss, Bella. My deepest condolences. I am one who believes in the afterlife. It gave me comfort when my maternal grandmother died, one of the saddest days of my life, because I know it was only temporary. Someday we will see each other again.

    *hugs* to you and may God give you strength during the grieving process <3

    1. Irene, I love how you say, “Someday we will see each other again.” I believe this to be true, lady! Thank you for your support!

  11. My mom passed away from complications of Parkinsons 10 years ago. She had suffered so long. Her passing was a chance to rejoice. She was in a coma. The family was gathering. As usually happens when we get together, we started to visit and laugh. And that was when Mom chose to go. She knew we were all together and that we were laughing. Oh, there were tears. But there was plenty of laughter, too. We know we will see her again. She’s just gone to another place for a while. A short time.
    I’m so happy for your cousin. She’s done her work. Now she can rest. Thinking of you and your family.

    1. Diane, if ever there was a perfect way to say goodbye, the one you describe would fit the bill! I know it’s how I’d want to leave Earth! My sister and my mother, who both attended the burial, tell me there was a lot of storytelling after the fact. Family members gathered at my cousin’s home to remember her. I stayed home with my niece and our furry friends Olivia and Roxy but I’m convinced it was a fitting way to pay tribute to a great lady. Thank you so much for having us in your thoughts, friend.

  12. ~~~~~Bella,
    I am mourning with you, darling.
    I have a feeling that Kay & Nicky have met already…& this gives me comfort.
    YES. Yes. I do believe in GOD. if I did not, I would have died long ago. That’s for damn sure.

    Thinking of you, my dear….& sending prayers, hugs, and
    Love Love Love.

    1. Kim, I feel your support and strength across the miles! For sure these two lovely ladies have already sat down for a lovely chat and a delicious cup of coffee! I too feel the comfort of this lovely though, my friend. Thank you, thank you for your thoughts and prayers, lady! Love to you!

  13. Oh dear Bella, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. When one of my grandmothers died I was still at University and had just come back from visiting. It was very difficult and what helped me was to remember how she lived, a strong woman, the great times we shared and how giving she was. She was ready, and had said before that she lived a good and happy life. I was sad to see her leave, but knew that she was in greater hands above. Sending much love and peace to you dear.

    1. Lady, you are spot on regarding how helpful it is to remember a person’s virtues and the good times you shared! I think this is pivotal for the healing process. I am very grateful for your love and well wishes, sweet lady.

    1. Michael, I am well acquainted with the book A Course in Miracles but it’s been years since I read it. I think it might be a good idea to have another read and seek comfort in its words. Thank you very much for the suggestion!

    1. Adriene, times like these throw us for a loop but we learn or are forced to accept our circumstances. I’m certain that in due time, the world will have righted itself again. I thank you for your thoughts and prayers, my friend.

  14. I was with my father when he died. He was infantile at that point, after fifteen years of Alzheimer’s. That was ten years ago in June. The way my brain recorded it, it could have been ten minutes ago.

    Bella, I am so sorry. The personal ravages of a life lost leave us in a different place. But I know that your cousin is up there waiting for you, released now from that horrible disease, as my dad and mom are up there waiting for me.

    Hugs, Bella. And much love.

    1. Eloise, your beautiful words touch me. I agree with you wholeheartedly–our loved ones have been released and await us when the time comes. Hugs and much love to you, my friend.

  15. I am very sorry to read this, Bella, but like you, relieved that Nicky’s suffering is over. Rev. 21:3, 4 is my favorite scripture regarding the resurrection. I hope it helps, darlin.

  16. Dear Bella,

    What a touching, poignant post. Thank you for reminding us of the holiness and fragility of life by sharing your experience. I feel re-charged to fully celebrate life today in the wake of reading about your loss. Holding your family in my heart. XOXOX

    1. Linda, your comment and that of my other wonderful and lovely readers have been so helpful during this time. Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked the post. When I wrote it, I hoped that it would remind others of the importance of celebrating life. I’m ever grateful for your kindness.

  17. Bella, my sweet friend. I am so sorry for you and all your family. You’ve written such a beautiful testament to your cousin, to her life and it’s impact on those around her. I can tell how much you cherished her. But most of all I love your reminder about the tenuousness of life. I so want to believe in the afterlife. I hope it is true, for I’d love to see my mother again. To hold her hand and talk to her one more time. I’m so sorry of your loss, but I thank you for the courage and strength it took to write your feelings down. You’ve captured it well, how we all deal with grief in our own way. Abrazos y much cariño! It’s good to be home in the blogosphere with you, amiga.

    1. Monica, my good friend, your words warm my heart. Thank you! After writing this post, I realized that what they say about writing as an aid to process emotions and feelings is true. I found it so helpful to put in words all the thoughts that came into my mind upon receiving the sad news. Something tells me that when the time comes, you will once again be able to hold your dear mama’s hand and talk to your heart’s content. I want and need to believe that some day we will see our loved ones again. We have much to catch up on, amiga. I shall write soon! Hugs!

  18. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. ALS is such a cruel disease. I’m sure she was a very brave woman. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  19. So sorry to hear about your cousin Bella, indeed she is in a better place now. I trust you and your family will grow closer together as you mourn the loss of your loved one. Hugs.

    1. Elizabeth, as always you are such a sage. I love that about you! Indeed it’s not only the good times that bring families together, but also the bad ones. We have been able to mourn the loss of Nicky and are now more at peace with her parting. One of her daughter’s visited us today and we spent a good two hours reminiscing over the many good times we had shared in the past. It felt good to remember her this way.

  20. I am so sorry to hear of your cousin’s death. ALS is such a cruel killer, and it’s hard to watch a loved one suffer in that way.

    You are so right about how everyone grieves in their own way. It’s wonderful when a family can accept the many and varied approaches and come together, taking turns as comforter and comforted.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Much love.

  21. I never knew what would be the right words one can say to console those who’ve lost a loved one…My prayers will be with you and your loved ones tonight and I hope your faith and strength helps you through this difficult time.

    1. Eve, I agree–it’s difficult to find the right words in times like these. And yet your kind words have served to uplift me tonight. Thank you for this, amiga!

    2. Glad to have helped a little….you always inspire and encourage me with your wonderful writing and I know you will be ok since knowing your cousin is no longer in pain will help in dealing with your loss…Alway remember, we may not be here in body but will always be in our loved ones heart.

  22. Just randomly stumbled across your blog today and I’m glad I did. Last night I received a similar phone call to the one you are describing. Thank you for your inspiring words, I feel like I was meant to read this particular post of yours : ) Your words matter, don’t forget.


    1. Nico, hello and welcome! I’m so glad this post served it purpose in more than one way and that it inspired you. I’m sorry you too were on the receiving end of bad news. May you also find acceptance and the strength to carry on. Hope you’ll drop in again soon!

  23. I’m so sorry for the loss of your cousin. It is good that she has been released from her pain, and yet I know those left behind have pain of their own now to contend with. Losing loved ones is the hardest thing in life to deal with it. May your love and support for each other carry you through these difficult times.

    1. Michael Ann, thank you for your support. Of course you are right–those left behind do have to transition into life without her. I thank you with all my heart for your kind words.

  24. Dear Bella,

    I have been pretty absent from the blogosphere lately, so I missed this posting. I just wanted to send my love and prayers to you and your family. Losing a loved one is so heart-wretching and the healing process is long, but you have a huge support network of people who care about you. Safe travels back from Spain.

    1. Lisa, dear friend, thank you, thank you for your words. They bring me peace. They do! They do! I’ve made it safely home and will soon drop by your blog!

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