It is amazing to “know” people and then to actually hear their story as they peruse the chapters of their life. Roxanne is on the Collide team this year and brings such a joy and strength! She has lived through the turning pages of adventure, drama, mystery and suspense. Her book is still being written, but her chapters will invite you in. Enjoy- Willow
Its really hard to know where to start……there are many chapters in my life. Some are short, some are long and drawn out and some have an unknown ending with the caption “to be continued”.
Chapter One. Let me introduce myself to you. My name is Roxanne. I was born into a loving family who loves God and taught me to do the same but there were struggles of alcoholism and divorce. Growing up was not easy, being diagnosed at the age of 4 with epilepsy and my parents divorcing at the age of 5. In this beginning chapter of my life I learned to love people for who they are and that God had a calling on my life to serve others. Because of my seizures, I had frequent interactions with medical staff. I knew early on that I wanted to pursue nursing, so that I could someday care for others, as I had been cared for so deeply. This calling has never left the core of who I am.
Chapter seven. I was a freshman at a small, private Baptist college living the dream of pursuing my nursing career. I was walking from one class to the next and I decided to check my mail. I hoped for a possible care package or any mail from my family, but instead was horrified to find a note with large bold letters…”CALL YOUR MOM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!” This was the beginning of a heart wrenching 10 days that would change me forever.
My dad had a severe case of pneumonia and had gone unconscious while driving, had a cardiac arrest after arriving at the hospital and was being airlifted to the nearest trauma center. As much as I wanted to be a nurse, the smell of an ICU is something that becomes scarred into your brain when it’s your dad laying in the bed, relying on every possible life support machine, and with little to no hope of ever recovering. After multiple days of one step forward and three steps back my family and I made the heart wrenching decision to withdraw support. I sat next to him, looking at his face just desperately wishing he would open his eyes, even if just for a brief moment. I was holding his hand as they removed all that had been sustaining his life; snatched away from him as quickly as it had been given. Watching a life you love and cherish end before your eyes is like nothing I had ever experienced before or really knew how to understand. It’s a moment of pain, loss, questions and altogether overwhelming emotion.
Chapter 10. The year is 2008. Having been married for 11 years, we had experienced hills and valleys in our relationship. This was a year of trials and I often felt weak and alone. Through several situations we had experienced as a family, I felt a strong calling from God to relocate to Washington State. This decision to move did not come without multiple moments of doubt but I continued to turn to God in these moments, clinging to his strength. This would be 1800 miles away from everything we had ever known. The first year in Washington, we struggled in our marriage, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Just as we started to feel a small amount of comfort here in Washington, our world was rocked again….
Chapter 11. I struggled with being accepted as a child, and I clung to the relationship with my mom. She was not just my mom but also mentor, best friend and a person I strived to be just like. As an adult, I still called her almost every day, and continued to when she moved to Hawaii. Hawaii became her heaven here on earth. Little did either of us realize she would soon travel from her earthly heaven to join our Father God in the true Heaven. It was a typical day driving kids around when I got a call from my mom telling me that her doctor had ordered an MRI to rule out a possible stroke. Her voice was shaking as she tried to hide her panic and stay strong. She gave her best effort so that I would not sense her true feelings of worry, and she hung up to be evaluated in the emergency room. 6:30 pm and my phone rings with an unknown number…”Roxanne, this is Joanne. I’m with your mom. She has a brain tumor and you need to come right away.”
The next 12 hours were filled with fear, worry, and an overwhelming sense of an unknown outcome. I arrived the next evening at the airport scanning all the happy faces in the Honolulu airport. They all appeared full of joy and anticipation. My eyes suddenly spotted my mom across the wide open room but I was viewing a woman who did not reflect MY mom. Her posture was far from her usual, bent over with struggle, her face filled with both despair and eagerness to find me. The moment stood completely still while my mind raced realizing this situation was bigger than me or anything I had ever encountered before. The next 18 hours were filled with moments of bonding through the pain of reality. I was giving her medicine for pain, serving her food, helping her shower and get dressed, and receiving very clear instructions on how she wanted her makeup to be done. The time was 11am and we were on our way to her neurologist appointment when everything changed. I was driving in very congested, lunch hour Honolulu traffic when my mom suddenly lost consciousness in the passenger seat next to me. She was breathing but not well.
It’s moments like this that change you forever. I am a nurse by profession but a nurse is the last thing I wanted to be in this moment, with my mom sitting next to me becoming lifeless before my eyes. This is not something you ever prepare for in nursing school. This was the last moment on this earth that I would ever be able to communicate with my mom. Her brain tumor had hemorrhaged and the life she knew would never be the same.
I stayed by her side for the next five days watching her struggle, holding her hand, praying with her, combing her hair, and even painting her toes, but she lay there lifeless. Realizing that God’s plan was not what I had in mind was painful, to say the least, and the remembrance of this pain still causes a sudden flow of tears as I sit here and write this story today. I knew the moment was here again, the moment we would remove the life support from my mom. I was familiar with this moment. The room is dim; the medical staff begins to slowly remove tubes and machines out of the room in the quietest manner you can imagine. It’s so surreal knowing you are sitting next to a person as they pass from this earth to meet our Heavenly Father. Everything in the room seemed to be put on permanent pause as I held her hand while she was taking her last breath, having her last heart beat, and no longer living this side of Heaven.
Chapter 15. I am a wife of 17 years, mother of four beautiful children (16, 14, 10, 9), a nurse working full time in the neonatal intensive care unit and a woman trying to follow God’s plan for my life. These previous chapters in my life have made lasting impressions. They have caused me to ask questions to God such as “Why does a person need to lose both parents by the age of 34?” “Why would you take my mother from me, my best friend, when she was such a light in this dark world?” I don’t have the answers to these questions but what I can answer is that through these moments of extreme trial I still know and believe that God loves me. He cares about every tear that I have shed enduring the pain of loss and struggle. He can give me strength even when I feel I have none to offer. Looking back on my previous chapters I can see how God’s timing is ideal. It is perfect and flawless. In those moments of frustration and trying to understand why God would be saying “No” or “Wait”, I can now understand how I wasn’t ready. God is the life support that is never taken, removed or snatched away from us. He breathes life into us every moment and loves us through all of our ugliness. Sometimes we rely heavily on every amount of life support he can provide and other times we are able to fly with pure ease and freedom.