My beautiful mom, Beverly Ann Michaud, passed away on the morning of April 9, 2013 after a 14 year battle with cancer.
She was an amazing woman, a loving mother and wife of 56 years. She loved her family, home and friends with a fierceness. She had the most amazing sense of humor of anyone I’ve ever known, which she kept until the very end. She loved to joke, tease and laugh and was quick to flash her beautiful smile. She could be daunting and strict as a mom, but she kept my sister, Kathy, and I in check when we needed it. She set an incredible example of how to be a lady, but she knew how to let her hair down and have fun. She was game to try anything, once, maybe twice and if it was fun, repeatedly. She loved to dance, swim, ice skate, make puzzles, cheer for her Red Sox and Patriots and host monthly birthday parties for her masses of friends. Her and my dad built a beautiful home for sharing with their family and friends, complete with a wine cellar and bar/game room. As little girls, my sister and I loved to show off the wine cellar that stores my dad’s homemade wine…how many kids can say that!
My mom was also one of the bravest, strongest women I know. She battled two bouts of breast cancer that finally went to her bones. It was extremely painful, but she never complained. When we cried as she told us the horrendous tests they had to do to find out if the cancer had metastasized, she consoled us! She was absolutely amazing. Last fall she started chemo shots. In December we found out they were not working. In January, she started full blown chemo. She immediately had excruciating pain in her bones. She began losing weight and strength. Food tasted terrible to her so she lost her appetite. I saw her in February and was shocked at how frail my strong mother was. I got the call from my sister on Tuesday, April 2 that I had been dreading. “Sarah, it’s time for you to come home.” The doctor had given mom 1-2 weeks. I was not ready to loose my mom and I was terrified. I got to the hospital and my mom looked up at me with a huge smile. She was so extremely tiny in her big hospital bed sitting there looking adorable with a cute pink hat on, looking like a little elf. She held my hand and told me she was ready to ‘go home’. She was so peaceful and calm. We think she knew weeks before and was ready but afraid to tell us. She was a trooper, she kept us calm.
The night before she passed away, I decided to sit in the chair we had placed next to mom’s bed and hold her hand. I reminded her of our trips to the ocean when my sister and I were little girls. She would pack a HUGE cooler of sandwich fixings, several types of chips, fruit and always chocolate and cookies. It was a 2 hour drive to the ocean and it felt like days to us kids. We had a challenge to see who could smell the ocean first. Kathy and I would stick our heads out the window and smell the air until one of us yelled, “I CAN SMELL IT!” We would find a parking spot among the rocks in Rye, NH and mom would spread out a beautiful picnic. This sounds nice, but to Kathy and I it was torture as we just wanted to get in the water and didn’t want to wait until we had eaten. While mom set out the picnic, Kathy and I would busy ourselves by climbing on the rocks and finding sea creatures. I reminded mom that she let us put these dead creatures up in the back window of the car to dry. Can you imagine how that must have smelled? I don’t remember her ever complaining about it. Once we had picnicked, we would head to the beach where Kathy and I would, of course, run to the water, with my mom right behind us. She would hold our hands and say, “Here comes one! Here it comes! Get ready to jump! One, Two, Three…JUMP!!!” and we would all try to jump over the wave that would inevitably soak Kathy and I. We would giggle and scream and turn to wait for the next one. She was like a kid herself.
As I was talking to her, she squeezed my hand so I knew she was listening. I then told her how much I loved her and thanked her for a wonderful life and for teaching me everything I needed so could be who I am. I told her it was okay to go. I had her for 50 years, she only had her mom for 9 and it was time to go see her to tell her all about us and all the fun we had as a family and to thank her mom for giving her to us. She let me hold her hand for a little longer and then pulled away. I slid my hand under hers and she let me stay there for a few minutes and then pulled away again and brushed her fingers against mine as if to shoo them away. I heard her in my head say, “Sarah, you are so tired, just go to bed, I’ll be okay.” So I got up, gave her a kiss, made sure the covers where pulled up to her ears and went to bed and prayed to God that he would come and take her. She has fought so hard for over 4 years, endured all kinds of horrendous treatments and tests and we suspect was in much more pain than she ever let on. It was just time for her pain to be over.
After only four days of having the honor of caring for her as she slipped away, she died peacefully in her sleep with her hand under her chin on her pillow and the other tucked under her Teddy Bear, Dudley, who had been comforting her the last few months and especially this last week. She looked so peaceful and sweet. I am so thankful and blessed that I got to see her like that. My mom was one strong woman, with a strong personality and I know that if she wanted to die with all of us around her, it would have happened. She was in great spirits right up until the very end and so very thankful to us for caring for her so she could be home. During those few days of caring for her she had us laughing as much as we cried. She gave us the greatest gift of staying with us that last week and allowing us to care for her. If someone had told me that I would someday take care of my mom as she died, I would have told them they were crazy, I could never do it, but being here and doing this has been such a gift and blessing, as many of you said it would be. I am thankful I got to say I loved her with all my heart. I am thankful I got to care for her to show her how much I loved her. I’m so very thankful I had that week to forgive and forget many hurts. It is a week I will never forget. I am thankful my mom is now at peace with no pain. I would like to think she is resting, but knowing my mom, she is upstairs cleaning and straightening out heaven. I just know there are lots of angels who got a demotion when she arrived because she is definitely used to being top level management!!! I know my mom will always be with me. I can feel her with me as I type this. We had our moments when we clashed….lots! We are probably too similar or too different, but we sure didn’t have patience with each other. I will always regret that we didn’t have a different relationship, but we did the best we could and as much as we may have fought, we always made up, hugged, cried and promised to try harder. Then the next time, we did the same damned thing. LOL She was always there for me, just a phone call away, day or night. Every holiday a card would arrive with a little cash and a note. I will miss the notes and phone calls the most. Every so often a package would arrive with something I had mentioned I liked or wanted…like 8 boxes of Decaf Chiai tea that I had mentioned I liked and couldn’t find in San Diego. Whenever I was having a rough time with boys or my business, she was always there to offer advice and support and inevitably a check in the mail. For those of you who were lucky enough to have met her, you know she was a spitfire. She had an amazing memory and even right up until Sunday night was telling us where things were in the house when we couldn’t find something and asked her. My dad is going to have a whole lot of surprises as he tries to find things that she would be able to find in 2 seconds! She had the best sense of humor of anyone I know. She loved to tell a joke but always messed up and told the punch line at the wrong time. It got so we would all start laughing the minute she started to tell a joke, wondering when she would screw it up. Inevitably, she would! She loved to have fun! She was game to try anything. I will miss her laugh. I will miss her hugs. I will just miss her. Thank you all for being so much support to me and my family during this time. My sister and I would sit in the living room with mom and read the comments from my Facebook, her email and our texts and cry and laugh and reminisce. Your friendship and love is priceless to me and I love you all. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks as we lay my mom to rest and try to move on without her. As we all stood in the kitchen after she was taken away, looking at each other and asking what do we do now???…We realized we are now a tribe with no chief! We need all the prayers we can get. LOL
Rest in Peace my sweet, beautiful, funny Mom. I will always love you.