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Hold Hands and Jump

Some of you may already know this, but over the last few months I have had more than my fair share of tragedy. It has taken me a while to be ready to share this with you since I am still grieving and coming to terms with how these things change my life and where I go from here.

In June my mom of only 52 went to sleep and never woke up. She went into a coma and never came out of it. After days by her side it was apparent that she never would walk or talk again. While in the coma she had massive heart attacks and seizures that left her brain dead and with a non-functioning heart. Although she had lived with Lupus for years we never expected something like this at her young age. As a family we made the heart wrenching decision to end life support. My mom had always been my best friend and my biggest fan. Losing her was devastating and I miss her every day of my life.

The last time I talked to my mother was on Mother’s Day. I had told her how much she meant to me and thankfully I made a point to let her know that I knew she deserved all the credit in the world for any good qualities or successes I might have. She never felt like she could take credit for any of my triumphs. I sometimes didn’t want to give her credit for them either. But in that last phone call with her I had matured to a point where I knew it was her that made up the bulk of my good qualities. I will forever have peace that I made sure to tell her it.

After my mom passed, watching my step-dad (although I refer to him as dad) try and go through the daily motions was so difficult. He loved her more than I have ever seen a man love a woman. His eyes lit up when she entered a room and everyday he would say ‘Isn’t your mom the most beautiful woman in the world?’. They had been married 25 years and he told me all the time that his life stated when he became a part of our family. He was lost and lonely and never seemed like himself once she was gone. Soon we would find out that it was more than grief that made my dad seem so different.

About six weeks after my mom passed we learned that my dad who had been having some bad headaches had a mass behind his eye. Within a week we had found out the prognosis that I could not even believe. He had stage four brain cancer. Treatments were not going to extend his life much and they gave us a life expectancy of four months. As a family we again made a difficult decision. We decided to let him go home and live the rest of his time in as much comfort as we could provide.

It only took 35 days from the time he was diagnosed until he passed. In that time I went home and spent a week caring for him. I spent hours listening to The Beatles and holding his hand. Sometimes he knew it was me and sometimes he thought I was my mom. I could always tell the difference by how his eyes would light up when he thought I was my mom. It was beautiful and tragic all at once. As his illness advanced he would stay awake and fidget all night long. I never slept so little in a week before. One night that is forever in etched in my mind, he lay in the bed next to mine and every fifteen minutes he woke me up to say ‘Oh spider monkey, I love you so much. Do you know that?’ I would smile and say ‘I do. Thank you for loving me so much’. He would smile, squeeze my hand and tell me to go back to sleep. It would all start again in a few minutes.

The last night I was there I could not control my sadness. I was leaving the home they shared together and I knew that I would probably never seem him again. Knowing I was losing him brought all the feeling of losing my mom to the surface. I sat next to him and cried huge sobbing body shaking tears. He put his arm around me told me it was going to be okay and wiped my tears. Even while he was so close to death he was trying to comfort and take care of me.

Growing up my mom and dad would always joke that they never wanted to live without each other. They were just going to ‘hold hands and jump’. I would just roll my eyes and laugh at them. They passed three months and one day apart from each other. They came pretty close to getting their wish.

I know this is a tragic story, but as I wade through the sadness I am left with a bunch of happiness too. I am lucky enough to have four amazing parents that I love. All four have taught me amazing lessons and have been role models in my life. My two parents that I grew up living with are both gone, but I have the privilege of having parents amazing enough to miss for the rest of my life. They taught me something with every opportunity they had.

At my mom’s funeral I shared a thought that I think about all the time. I know my mom (and now I know this about my dad) loved me so much. I know this because I feel less loved and admired now that they are not here with me. This may sound depressing. I find it to be a beautiful expression of how much space and love they took up in my life. There will forever be a void. I will forever miss them. But I will keep moving, keep working and keep loving. This I owe to them.

I want to share a little more of what I learned from each of them and will a little later. For now, for my own healing purposes I share what has happened in my life over the last few months and where I go from here is all up to me. For you, I hope you go hug a loved one and can give them credit for what they have brought into your life. Believe me when I say that it can be the best thing you will ever do.



  1. Nikki,
    thank you so much for sharing this post! I am in the process of losing my father to cancer as well. We were told he had 3-6 mo 6 weeks ago but we can clearly see things are happening faster than expected. I cannot imagine losing both parents so closely and the void that must bring. I will cherish my mom even more! Your story and your words brought comfort to me and I am grateful. Thinking of you!
    Chris balzly (Chris Chatwin)

  2. Nikki, your post here has really moved me. I'm so very sorry for your deep loss. I am very fortunate in that both my parents are still alive and well. I love them both so much and cannot imagine how you must be feeling right now. Sending love and hugs through the internet ether. Em x

  3. Thank you, Nikki, for sharing. Feel the arms of your family holding you close. You might want to consider The Day of The Dead ceremonies and altars at Living Arts this year. Might help.


  4. Nikki, I am so sorry for your great loss. I lost my father to prostate cancer almost 5 years ago. I cannot imagine the pain of losing both parents at once. You are incredibly strong, and I wish you peace as you learn to navigate the world without them. I know they must have been very proud to call you their daughter.


  5. Chrissy, I am so sorry that you are going through this journey. Nothing anyone says makes it better. The only thing I can say is that it sucks. That is what I told all my friends.. I told them to just agree with me that it sucks. Cherish every moment with him. Do as much care taking as you can. Tell him a million times how much you love him and shower him with love. Then when he is gone.. live your life in a way that would make him proud. It seems to be the only thing that keeps me going. <3 Nikki

  6. Mimi and Tilly - Thanks so much for your kind words and comment. Love those folks all you can. I appreciate and welcome all hugs (virtual or live) and kind thoughts! Thank you so much! - Nikki

  7. Jan - it is on the schedule.. I was already thinking about what to write on my note to them! Maybe I will see you there!

    Brianna - love you too, my friend!

  8. Oh Dearie,
    I just discovered your "Gleeful Peacock" page on fb and followed it to here. I am so very sorry for your loss. My heart broke and the tears came as i took in your thoughts regarding the passing of your Mother and then your Dad. You WERE loved, and by such wonderful people! I lost my Dad(who was my biggest supporter and loved me more than anyone besides God)in 2004, and the hurt is still there. I am glad you were able to spend time with them both, before they left you. I will keep your grieving heart, in prayer. <3 Numbers 6:24-26 <3

  9. Jean - Thank you so much for you kind words and sweet message. I have realized that the pain does not really go away we just learn to get distracted more. I appreciate it so much when others share their stories with me. It makes it easier when we help each other through!

  10. We've chatted at craft shows, but I hadn't known this about you... my sister and I lost our mom to brain cancer in 2009, and we both think of her daily and cry about her (although I'm more likely to do it in public!) often. What a wonderful legacy you have to pass on to your own family - love and support and strong relationships!!