It occurred to me that “thank yous” are in order. First and foremost, thank you for accompanying us on this Journey of Allison's Life.
Thank you for your love, support, and prayers in good times and not so good. We could not have done this well without you.
There are pieces of Allison's story that did not get told due to her rapidly declining health. To say that it was quick, is an understatement. Allison was tired and the left side weakness came on quickly – on Friday 1/24 and Saturday,1/25 she was still able to get around the house but using the wheelchair to conserve energy. The aggressiveness of the metastasis in Allison's brain took us by surprise.
I would love to share her last days with you.
The morning of Sunday, January 26, 2020 Allison texted us to make it known that she wanted to attend mass at St. Peter Church. Mark and I felt it was a bit of a daunting task with Allison's declining physical health and limited mobility on her left side. We discussed this idea with our Hospice Nurse Maria. She said our “window was closing” and that we should honor what Allison wanted. This was a very big deal in so many ways. Between Mark, Lauren and I we got our girl ready, loaded the wheelchair and made it to church. Allison's left side was dragging and it took everything to get her into church. Jodi O. and Fr. Daniele helped us. We parked Allison in the last row and just breathed a sign of relief. Allison's favorite kiddo, Andrew found her and sat on her lap the entire mass. A record for him! So beautiful to watch. She was just so happy. She insisted on being wheeled up to communion with Andrew on her lap. I don't know if anyone realized the amazing achievement this was. To fully participate and receive the Eucharist – which has kept her safe on this journey. It was so wonderful to have friends greet Allison and love her. One of the kiddos she took care of this summer was George. He had made a Valentine for Allison. He was so sweet and patient with Allison, opening the card for her, when her fingers didn't work correctly.
Allison was exhausted when we returned home from church. We got her into bed and she had some lunch. Her body was not cooperating and she was frustrated.
Later in the day, Allison's friend, Tiny, that she met at Children's Hospital came over. She has cancer also and they went to Montana together. Tiny brought faith filled friends from her church. They prayed over Allison in Spanish and it was beautiful. This is one of the rare moments that Allison broke down. She never wanted to show how badly this cancer was effecting her. With Tiny, she had a “kindred spirit” Someone who knew and understood how crappy this is and how unfair the cancer diagnosis was. Tiny also prayed over Allison and they just hugged each other and cried.
Rachael was over in the afternoon and helped change Allison's port dressing with the Nurse.
An exhausting day. My sister, Sue came over in the evening. The Olson's brought dinner for Allison. We had a picnic in my room and the kiddos snuggled in with Allison. She just “lit up” when she was around them. Such good medicine.
Ross and Jodi showed Lauren and I how to properly transfer Allison so as not to hurt Allison or ourselves. After they left, we moved Allison back into her room and got ready for bed.
At 10:00pm Lauren came and got me claiming Allison's breathing was very loud. I just tucked her in, what do you mean?! Allison assured us that she was not in pain. We called Home Health Care Nurse Maria and had her listen. She said it sounds more distressing than it is. Allison agreed. We adjusted Allison's pain medication. Said our “good night's and I love you's”. I got up at 2:30am to give Allison oral medication and help her with bathroom. I laid down with Allison in bed and asked if she wanted me to stay. She said, “it's ok Mom, I'm just so exhausted.” We exchanged “I love you's” again. This was the last time we spoke.
I was up early Monday morning as usual but it was too soon for Allison's medication, so I let her sleep. And she sounded fine. Lauren came downstairs at 7:07am and said something sounded wrong with Allison's breathing. We couldn't wake her. She was unresponsive. I called our nurse right away and let her listen. I don't even remember what she said. I just know the world tipped again. I called/texted Fr. Ettore while Lauren called Mark and Rachael. I had no idea how this day would present itself.
Allison aspirated and between Mark, Lauren and I we got her upright so she wouldn't choke. It was terrifying. Overwhelming. Lauren and I got Allison cleaned up and I insisted that she had to be wearing pink. We cut her shirt off and found a pink shirt with zippers that we were able to put on her. This just seemed important. Allison's breathing was very loud and shocking.
There was such a profound relief when Fr. Ettore arrived and prayed over Allison, absolving her of her sins and blessing her.
Family started arriving shortly after. I know it was a shock to see Allison that Monday. Especially for those who had seen her the day before in church, smiling and laughing and loving her kiddos.
I really have no concept of time during Monday. A wise girl, Lauren, told me once if people want to see Allison we need to let them. And so we opened our home to all the people who love/loved Allison. And it was beautiful to see and feel the outpouring of love and prayers for our beautiful girl who touched so many people.
We kept vigil all day. Our priests, Fr. Ettore, Fr. Pietro, Fr. Daniele, Deacon Bob, and Deacon Eric were present. Friends, family and faithful people lifting up prayers. A beautiful testament to our girl.
It was heart breaking for me/us to watch the kiddos say goodbye to Allison. Ava gave Allison her special rosary. I said it would give Allison comfort to hold it. She said she thought of Allison as her “older sister”. Andrew jumped on the bed to loudly say goodbye to Allison. The kiddos wrote “I love you” and signed Allison's door.
I was so filled with awe and gratitude in the friends that stopped by to see Allison, to pray for her. Many prayer warriors were not seen and yet were here at our home, praying over us. Bringing us a sense of calm that can only be the Holy Spirit at work. Because I really don't know how we did it.
All day we spent telling Allison how much we loved her, as did everyone.
The rosary in the Fearless photo is from Lauren given on the occasion of Allison's Confirmation. Lauren purchased it in Lourdes, France and it was blessed by Pope Francis.
In the evening our youth leader, Andy came over to pray and play guitar and sing praise and worship music. Deacon Eric also played and sang. It was awesome. Now, THIS is what Allison would have loved. Singing our hearts out to the Lord.
Late Monday night. Exhausted. I told Sue, that I thought Allison was waiting until everyone had left. The five of us laid in Allison's bed and talked, cried, prayed. We rotated from floor to bed, and to our beds. Tuesday morning. A little after 5 am I must have sensed a change in Allison's breathing. I went in her room and woke Mark who was sleeping with her. Allison's breaths were getting further apart. He told me to get the girls. One last breath and we were all together holding each other. 5:08am. We accompanied Allison to the end of her life here. We told her again how valiantly she lived her life, how proud we were of her, how blessed we were to be with her. I sang “Well Done” to my beautiful girl. We cried.
Rachael, Lauren and I cared for Allison and bathed her in blessed holy water that we got in Lourdes, France this past summer. The place where heaven met earth.
We called Hospice Nurse to take care of our girl legally and Fr. Ettore to care for her soul.
Mark told me that the funeral home had arrived to take Allison and that we should leave her room. I said, my job as her Mom is to accompany her as far as I can, and so I will stay with her. The men were very respectful and gently wrapped our girl. They asked Mark if he would like to carry Allison. Yes.
I carried her into this world and Mark carried her out. I walked behind and sang my heart to my beautiful girl. I stood on our front steps embraced by Rachael and Sue singing, crying and saying goodbye. Mark's sister Lynn walked with him as they loaded Allison to leave.
I know family showed up at our home, I just wasn't aware.
So, somehow we planned a funeral and did all the tasks necessary to honor our girl as best we could. Especially wearing pink!
The outpouring of love for our girl was amazing - in our home, during the visitation, the funeral, at the cemetery, during the luncheon, and beyond. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Allison's Auntie Lynn and fantastic friends made the beautiful “sun, moon, stars” remembrance luminaries. So blessed.
Tell us something good about our beautiful daughter Allison. It's ok to talk about her. I think about Allison all the time.
Thank you for your love, support and prayers,
Karen & Mark and Rachael, Lauren, Allison
Still a Party of 5