Finality (My Mother's Homegoing)

What a week...I am still having a hard time finding the words
or even communicating how I am feeling right now.
A week ago, I was weeping at my mom's bedside,
praying for the Lord to be merciful and take her home.
On August 7, 2011, He did just that.
I am filled with such a mix of emotions right now.
I was ready for her to be free from that state of life,
but now that it's happened, the finality of it all is hitting me.
I think it's because what I really wanted was for her
to not be sick anymore, but to still be with me,
Don't we all?
I don't know anyone that is great at goodbyes,
especially if it might be a long time before you get to see each other again.
I keep having to remind myself that this really happened,
and I am sure I'll have to keep doing that.
There are so many changes to get used to.
Little changes, like saying, "my dad's house"
Big changes like every tradition and special occasion forever being different.
As my dad said, the size of the hole that she left is a testament to her,
but I sit here feeling a little overwhelmed by that hole...
SO GRATEFUL to have such an amazing, loving, encouraging, servant-hearted, fun, Jesus-loving, memory-making mom, and
SO SAD to have to live this life without her in it anymore.
I am not even sure what that's going to look like
and I have had several people tell me not to
expect these feelings to go away anytime soon.
That it will just hit you all of a sudden even years after.
I can definitely see that.

Thank You Jesus, for giving me a mom that truly loved me, that delighted in me and made sure I knew it. Thank You that this is so hard, because it means we had it so good. Thank you for the hope I have in knowing that this isn't the end...that I haven't lost her because I know exactly where she is and will see her again. What a treasure we have in that hope. Thank You for reminding us that we will walk through trials, but You will not let us be overcome by them if we walk through them with You. You are sufficient. You will sustain us. You will even bring joy and new traditions...You make all things new. Thank you for being close to the broken-hearted and for understanding the pain of separation from someone you deeply love. How would I ever go through this life without You? I love you Lord and I ask that you would please fill in the gaping hole as only You can.

We had my mom's visitation on Tuesday and it was amazing.
People were lined up out of the doors for over 3 hours.
I felt so badly for the people waiting in the heat,
but it spoke volumes about what a special woman she was (is).
On Wednesday we had her service and it was beautiful.
I spent most of my time before the service getting the program together, making the video slide show, and writing my mom's obituary.
They were all hard things to do, emotionally,
but it was also good for me to be busy.
I also needed to get all of the worship section together.
My friend Chris helped me find a singer for Redeemer,
a song by, Nicole C. Mullen, one of my mom's favorites,
the worship leader at my parents church was handling the hymns,
and my uncle Brett was going to sing I will Rise, by Chris Tomlin.
All of the details were done,
but I was still a little nervous about everything going well.
I just wanted it to be perfect for her.
God was so good.
The singing...amazing,
the videos played with out a hitch,
and the message was so glorifying to the Lord.
The only thing that would have made it better, is her sitting with me.
It was a hard day, harder than I even expected.
Seeing my dad be so broken.
-My mom made him a little hankie in her final weeks that read,
"You made all my dreams come true"...
He gripped it through the service.
Also seeing my husband, who was very close with her, also broken.
These are men that rarely even get misty, so that was hard to see.
But amidst all of the events of the day
and the trying to keep it together,
we were so happy with how everything went
and were so blessed to see so many precious friends & family.
I can't tell you how amazing they have all been.
If you are one of them, thank you, thank you, thank you.
How can we ever repay these people
that have so selflessly poured into our lives!?

I'll leave you with two videos from the service:
The first one is of Kennedy singing This Little Light of Mine by Addison Road.
My mom tried to write her grandchildren letters about life, advice, etc... and said she just couldn't find the words. Then she came across this song and asked me to make CD's for all of the grand children. I played it a few times for Kennedy and she memorized just about every word. When my mom got to the point where she couldn't see Kennedy or Adelynn anymore, I made a video of Kennedy singing, so that she could watch it whenever she wanted. After she saw it, she asked me to please play it at the funeral. She wanted people to see "that powerful little light" and hear the words to the song.

This is the video tribute that I made for my mom's funeral:

And for my family that's out of town and didn't get to read it,
this is my mom's obituary:

Victoria Lee (Garton) Hillian

May 9, 1956 –August 7, 2011

55 years of Age

Rogers, Arkansas

Victoria, or “Vicky,” as most people knew her, was born in Pendleton, Oregon on May 9, 1956, to Kenneth and Diamond (Griggs) Garton. She was a joyful, loving, and imaginative child. She had two brothers, Gary Garton and Brett Garton, and a sister, Debby (Garton) Langston, all of whom she loved dearly. They later moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas where they stayed while she was growing up. After graduating, she moved to Little Rock, Arkansas and finished cosmetology school. In 1975, she married her sweetheart, Russell Hillian. They had a special love that few others know. Soon after, they began their family. They had two daughters, Vanessa (Hillian) Knight and Ashley (Hillian) Keylor. After getting back into church, the realized that even thought they had both grown up going to church, neither of them truly had a relationship with the Lord. The Lord changed their hearts and lives and they were never the same. Vicky was an amazing wife and mother, who knew how to make every moment special. In 1984, they moved to their farmhouse in Rogers, Arkansas. Vicky was constantly setting an example by the way she lived her life. She woke up every morning and spent time with the Lord. She was a servant to all and loved others so fully. She showed her love by her actions and kept Christ at the center of everything she did. Even in the end, she was constantly praising her Savior and talking about His goodness in her life. She was a wonderful grandmother. She would light up at the sight of her grandchildren’s faces and was always ready to play. Vicky was also a loving daughter, sister, and friend. She loved to spend her free time singing, working in the yard, water skiing, riding the motorcycle with Russ, snow skiing, and exercising, and working on one creative project after another. She was one of the hardest workers most people will ever know, and she loved every minute of it. Vicky had a heart of gold and was an absolute joy to be around. She was deeply loved and will be deeply missed by all of her family and friends.

She is survived by her husband, Russ Hillian, of Roger, Arkansas; Her daughters, Vanessa Knight of Pudong, China and Ashley Keylor of Springdale, Arkansas; Her grandchildren Caleb Knight, Luke Knight, Kennedy Keylor, and Adelynn Keylor; Her parents, Kenneth and Diamond Garton; Her siblings Gary Garton, Debby Langston, and Brett Garton. She also leaves behind her beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, and precious friends.

Visitation will be at Rollins Funeral Home located at 1401 Hudson Road Rogers, AR 72756, on Tuesday, August 9, 2011, from 5:00pm-7:00pm. Her service will be at First Baptist of Rogers, located at 3364 W Pleasant Grove Rd, Rogers, Arkansas, on Wednesday, August 10, 2011, at 2:00 pm. Rollins Funeral Home will be handling the funeral arrangements. For more information, you may call them at (479) 631-6617. You may also view pictures and information online at www.rollinsfuneral.com If you would like to honor Vicky’s life with a gift, you may send a donation in her honor to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, a place that has always been close to her heart (1 Children’s Way, Little Rock, Arkansas, 72202-3591).

The Hillian family would like to thank all of the amazing people in their lives for their prayers, support, service to the family, and for their encouragement along this difficult road. We are overwhelmed by your love and kindness. Thank you with all our hearts.


Thank you all so much for bearing with me as I have walked (and written) through this. I hope to have many joyful things to write about soon, but I appreciate you just being where I am at and having a heart for what we've been dealing with. Your encouragement and prayers for my family are so appreciated.


Lexi said...

Ashley, I don't think I have ever commented on here before but somehow stumbled upon your blog and have followed you along for quite a bit now. Your faith and Grace are truly inspiring. I have hesitantly been checking in for updates and praying for good news- of course being with the Lord is the greatest news, its just not what those of us still dwelling on earth want! Your video tribute was beautiful and cried through the whole thing. Really great music selection matched with photos that showed a beautiful life full of love. Please know I am praying for you and your family that you may find peace and calm over the next few weeks especially as you prepare for the school year!

Laurie Gibbs said...

The videos were beautiful! Thanks for blessing those of us that didn't know your Mom with wonderful words of testimony. May God put his hand on you as you are comforted by great memories of your precious Mom.

Jenny said...

The service really was the most beautiful I've ever been to. All of the music was wonderful, and I loved seeing all the photos and the video. When I got home, I told Braden about seeing Kennedy on the video, and he was sad that he didn't get to see it. I told him that maybe I could ask you to email it to me later, and he said, "Or she could just put it on her blog." :) Thanks for sharing your journey with us, and letting us get a little glimpse of what an amazing woman you mom is. As the pastor was describing her, I couldn't help but think that he could have easily been describing you. She left a great legacy in her girls! Love you, Ashley.

Alisha said...

I love you Ashley! I am so blessed and encouraged by the strength you have in Christ... I know it is only by His grace that you can praise Him in this most difficult time. Praying for you and your family.

mustard seed said...

such sweet, sweet videos. I just watched them and cried. I love how you wrote her news article and just know that it will bring others to Christ. much prayers!

Kimberly said...

Sweet Ashley... I am so sorry that you are walking this road at this point in your life. Please know that you are continually on my heart. There is a GriefShare session beginning Sept. 6 at Fellowship if that is something anyone in your family might be interested in attending- I highly recommend it. Love you.

Heidi said...

What a wonderful and touching tribute, Ashley.

You are a beauty inside and out - no doubt that came from your amazing and inspiring mama.

Love and miss you, sweet friend.


Carolynn said...

Ashley--I don't think I have commented before but I have followed your blog for awhile--I can't remember how I found it, but I was in the Fine Arts Team through the BSU with Dasun. I always enjoy reading your posts but have truly been blessed by what you have posted the past few months. I cannot imagine what you are feeling but you and your family are in my prayers. Your video tribute to your mom was wonderful--I loved how in almost every picture with you you both were touching each other. Thank you for sharing your heart on this blog. You are such an example of letting Christ shine through you even in the hard times.

Joycee said...

Such a wonderful tribute to your Mom, the service was special in so many ways. You and Vanessa did so much to make her last months happy and made memories for her grandchildren. Praying for your family, for strength and healing.

sara @ it's good to be queen said...

oh my sweet ashley, i think about you and pray for you constantly. even in your hardest pain, you are so glorifying to the Lord. You are such a testimony to God's goodness and faithfulness. you words are so touching.
i love you friend,

Marlene said...

Thank you so much for your words in the blog. I am very happy that I got to see the video and read your obituary. Your mom was special; you know as does everyone she had contact with. I have so many fond memories of things that she, Debbie and I did together when I would come to Arkansas. Thank God we will see her again someday.

Ruth said...

Even though I didn't know your mom personally, knowing her sweet daughter it's easy to believe that she is a wonderful disciple of Jesus Christ.

Just two days after she went home, my family also said good-bye to a family member, my uncle. Your words reach out to me because of the similarity. We too were praying that he be released from his pain (also caused by cancer), and yet we dreaded it all the same. We too hurt in the loss of losing someone who was truly one of the most loving, Christlike people I have ever known. And yet, there is so much to rejoice about in a life like that. Because of him, I know my Savior better. And I'm sure you say the same about your mom.
Because of the timing of the back-to-back passings I paused a moment last week and wondered how many others lost loved ones to cancer in those two days. As I thought about that, I was filled with gratitude that we have the knowledge of Christ's resurrection. Of the many who lost loved ones in those days, we are so blessed. We know they will live again.
Also, through Christ we can be comforted in our grief. For you especially, I pray for that. For you, for Dason, for your dad, for the girls, for all affected. I pray that you will feel Christ's understanding, comfort and sustaining power as you go through mourning that is a necessary part of life.
I truly love you, Ashely. It's been several years since Harps, but you were a shining light in my life then and that light has continued to influence me through the years. Know that your influence stretches far beyond what you can imagine--and because of that, so does your mom's.
With love and prayers,

p.s. One of these days, when you're in need of a little pick me up, link onto this talk. It's a beautiful, beautiful reminder that because of Christ, one day "Sunday will come." It's brought me so much comfort (through the years) and I hope it will you too.

the boyd girls.... said...

Praying for you and your sweet family. I am so sorry for you loss.

LoriB said...

So, this afternoon, I cried and cried while watching the video. Even though I only met your mom once, she inspires me to be a better mother...a better follower of Jesus. Thank you for sharing. I can only pray that God will fill to overflowing every hole that is empty from her homegoing. What a precious family. Lean on those everlasting arms. Love.

Bonnie said...

Ashley, just a precious post about an amazing momma. I am praying for you and I take such comfort knowing your faith and testimony will touch so many others. I love you and will continue praying God's peace for you and your family. Love you!

JoAnna said...

Sweet Ashley.

I love you SO MUCH. We love you.. and your family. We have prayed much and continue to. :)

Watching Kennedy sing (just now), her voice attracted Lincoln, Keylor & E (our 8 yr old foster son) who watched it with me.... LOVING every second of it!!

Then, watching the tribute, Keylor had lots of questions. She was so precious, asking how old Miss Vicki was when she went to see Jesus & if she will have birthdays in heaven... then questions about your precious Dad. With each answer, she grew more compassionate and concerned until at the end she was crying with her smiles.

She (and the boys) want Kennedy to bring her parents and little sister to come stay with us & play... asap! (And I didn't even say anything) :)

We love you!!!
I love you, my dear friend.

Betsy said...

I just cry as a read through everyone's comments. Everything they say I "ditto". It is so hard to express to you how I actually feel about it all. Your Mom truly inspired me to live a life to leave a legacy of Christ's love. I told Ryan it was the best, most honoring funeral I have ever been too and I want to be remembered like that and that's how I would want my funeral to be. So I am going to strive to be like your Momma! I love you so much and thank you so much for being such a blessing to me and everyone around you. I am honored and humbled to be your friend! Love you!

Theisen Trio said...

Dear Ashley,
May you find hope and peace in the wonderful memories you all had with your Mother. Through the pictures and your words she looks like a JOY to be around and the angels in heaven will be lucky to have her. What I have learned from losing my Father in law after a long battle post stroke
1. Surrender your grief to God.
2. Give yourself permission to smile and be happy.
3. Give yourself permission to grieve and cry.
4. Ask for help even when you don't want to for the littlest of things.
5. Talk about your Mother and all the memories you have with her because one day the intense pain associated with her passing will finally numb just enough to let you laugh at those shared moments of happiness.

So sorry for your loss!