October 25, 2010

A chapter in my life closes

Nineteen years ago next month, my life changed forever. Last Wednesday, October 20, a chapter in my life was permanently closed when as I held her hand, my first mother-in-law, Gwende Dean, died at age 75.

Drunk driving effects more than just those killed or injured in the crash. It effects everyone in the extended circle for years and years. Especially when the one killed was an only child.

My husband, Mike Dean, was that only child who was killed in a crash on November 21, 1991 at the young age of 32. Mike and his mom were close since she had raised him as a single mom. At the time of Mike's death, we had only been married two and a half years and our daughter was only 8 months old. Immediately following his death, I became her replacement child and I felt a great obligation to look after her. I have tried to do that for the last nineteen years.

When Gwende was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 and later with a small brain tumor, we knew the prognosis was fatal. She fought valiantly and never complained. Her goal was to see our daughter finish high school. She did live to see that, although she was too weak to attend the ceremony.

My family moved back to Texas earlier this year in some part to be closer to her as her life slipped away. Many trips were made to visit with her before she got to the point where she couldn't talk or use her motor skills any longer. Calls were made frequently to check with her caregiver to see how she was doing.

When I received the call on Oct. 17 that she had stopped taking food or water, I packed my car for the 4 hour drive north to her home. For over two days I sat beside her bed and read her the sports page because her team, the Texas Rangers, were finally in the ALCS playoffs. I had the TV on to the game last Monday evening in case she might hear any of it even though she was semi-comatose. I wanted her to know that her team was going to the World Series for the first time ever--so much so, that I told her they were in the Series even though they weren't at that point!

Gwende, or G.G. as we affectionately called her, breathed her last breath and stepped into eternity at 9:55 a.m. last Wednesday. She was finally reunited with her son--the one she loved and had missed so desperately for the last 19 years!

People who choose to drive drunk never consider how lives are impacted. They never stop to think that a Mom had to live with the grief of losing her only child. They never stop to think about a little girl who never had a chance to know her daddy Mike. They never stop to think that the ultimate stress that is put on a body through the grief process might--I believe DID--lead to cancer in a grieving mother.

Grief regurgitated...grief re-lived. A chapter in our lives has closed with the death of Gwende Dean. May she finally rest in peace.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Laura, Julie and I are lifting you up in prayer. We feel your sorrow because you are a dear friend. I personally can't say I know how you are feeling...but never the less, I know you...and that is enough. God bless you my friend. ((((Hugs)))) Bill Downs