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Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Countdown to Relay: Mama G


A year ago today, Mama G passed away.

It's still hard to believe -- after her decade long struggle with multiple myeloma, and subsequent battle with her aggressive small cell carcinoma of the parotid gland which ultimately took her life. A year has passed.

Today was the Memorial Mass, held on the anniversary of her death at St. Vincent de Paul. Just like it was yesterday, it seemed like we were walking through the doors of the church for her Rosary and funeral Mass.

It was truly a beautiful Mass - one of the most poignant moments was following the Eucharist, when Fort played the clarinet to the instrumental version of "To Where You Are" by Josh Groban. They gave us the lyrics...and there wasn't a dry eye in the sanctuary when he was finished.

Who can say for certain
Maybe you're still here
I feel you all around me
Your memory's so clear

Deep in the stillness
I can hear you speak
You're still an inspiration - can it be
That you are mine, Forever love
And you are watching over me from up above

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile, if only for awhile to know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are

Are you gently sleeping
Here inside my dream
And isn't faith believing
All power can't be seen
As my heart holds you

Just one beat away
I cherish all you gave me everyday
Cause you are my Forever love
Watching me from up above
And I believe that angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star I wish upon tonight
To see you smile, if only for awhile to know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are

I know you're there
A breath away's not far to where you are


The night Jonathan proposed (June 1, 2007), my blackberry buzzed. In it was a photo of her smiling in Arizona, holding a "Congratulations Jonathan and Shelley" sign. With as sick as she was, she was still connected to the grapevine, and heard he proposed a few hours earlier. And she sent her love.

During the toasts at our wedding, Michael G gave us one of her knit hats that she wore as her hair fell out from treatments. In a small physical way, she was there...but through the communion of saints, she was especially present at the Wedding Mass. It was an immeasurable gift to us.

I had saved a voice mail of hers from my birthday in 2006 - when she and Fort sang to me and invited themselves over for cake. :) She always made me laugh - even and especially through tears.

Jonathan and I learned so much from her family - about sacrifice, love through service, trusting in God even though sometimes it doesn't make sense, and offering up your pain through the struggles of life.

I hope you'll take a few moments to read through these past posts (both mine and Michael's) - if someone you love has had cancer, or you have parents or children that you love. These are among my favorites:

Looking back over time...here are a few of my favorite images...

From Mama G's last Relay...the honor of helping her with her survivor medal
Relay For Life of Tacoma, June 2006

Part of the Gatbunton Family at Relay


The extended G family...
Mama G's birthday celebration, September 2006


Mama G's luminaria from my team, 2007


At her birthday celebration...as Fort was preparing to sing "Lady in Red"

This is one of my most favorite photos of her...ever. ♥

I miss you.

3 comments:

Tanya Jose said...

oh shelley this is beautiful! i believe that her luminaria was near ours at this years relay & i just went thru my photos to see if i had snapped a photo of it, but i couldn't find it. i had the pleasure of meeting Michael at the most recent wedding expo & he was a pleasure & so genuinely nice. i've been coming to your blog to hopefully get a link to his blog, but kili mentioned that she didn't think he had one. anyhoo, this is a beautiful story & tribute! :)

Travis said...

The top photo is gorgeous!! Your smiles and the colors, all very great! Red also compliments her very well! Frick'n Gorgeous!!

Nancy E said...

You can feel the energy and the love of that woman through your photos of her and her family. Thank you for sharing this story - - it is people like Mama G that fill our lives with love and we just need to keep on fighting for a cure. Great tribute my friend.

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