Moms and Angels

Four years ago, my mom became an angel.


In 2007, I was living the dream in San Diego. I was enjoying the single life, had a great apartment, lived 10 minutes from the beach and 20 minutes from the mountains. I had a great job, great friends.

And it was always sunny.

Three days before my brother’s wedding, while I was home to celebrate, mom told us “My body is filled with cancer.” It was in her eyes, bones, liver, lungs…it was stage IV breast cancer that had metastaticzed. It was never in her breasts; a mammogram one month prior did not detect any abnormalities. I bawled my eyes out.

My mom taught me about patience (I am still working on this!). She never raised her voice. For real. She had a calm and peaceful presence to her – she could get a room full of kids to stop jumping off the walls simply by asking them nicely. But she also told it like it was – she never hesitated to let you know what she thought. She never judged. She always let us make our own choices (read: mistakes). And we trusted that she would be there if we didn’t make the right choice. We learned ethics, values, and frugalness. To this day, I wash my plastic baggies and tinfoil and reuse them – mom was “green” before it was cool. The first time she came to visit me in San Diego, we went out to see a reggae band at a local bar. She got hit on more than once. She looked at me with a sparkle in her eyes and said “Now I know why you like it here! There are so many cute boys here!”

I decided before I left to go back to California that I was moving home to be with my mom. Within two weeks, I was back in my good ol’ hometown.

It was not always sunny in Minnesota.

I refused to believe. This was something that happened to other people! I drank alot. I was angry. I was scared. I didn’t want to lose her.

Actually, everything does have a silver lining.

I had two and a half years to remind my mom how much I loved her. We went to Jamaica and shared cherry tomatoes out of the garden.

I bought my house. I met my husband.

Mom lived her bucket list: Spain, Jamaica (twice), Arizona, Canada and many other adventures. She chose hope. She was not afraid to die. She planned her funeral so we wouldn’t have to. The day she died, it rained. I mean, the skies opened up and it poured. Thunder and lightening reminded us how we felt inside.


We had Jax.

And when he was born, we were tested in a way that didn’t (and doesn’t) seem fair. We watched our little boy struggle to live. And in the darkest hour, I remembered the image my mom chose for her funeral program…

Heaven's Daycare
Heaven’s Daycare

She is Jax’s Guardian Angel. She was there when he was tired and alone. She wrapped wings of love around her first grandson and whispered “You can do it.” She helped save his life.

Fours years have passed since we said goodbye. Some days, it feels like just yesterday, other days it feels like forever. I find myself holding my breath…wondering…how will I be a mother, without my own? At that point, I notice more in my surroundings…the birds, the blooming flowers, the cool breeze – and I look at my son, who is healthy and happy and I put my face to the sun and feel the warmth of her love shining down from heaven…

and I know she never really left.

Guardian Angel, Grandma Gwenn
Guardian Angel, Grandma Gwenn

Author: Andrea M

Oh man, what an adventure! I went into labor unexpectedly when I was 23w3d pregnant. Jaxson was born weighing 1 lb 8 oz. A tiny little peanut, but boy was he feisty. He still is! We love it now, but we probably won't when he is a teenager. I write about our journey and all other things that come with it, including a brain tumor. We look forward to "meeting" you - come hang out with us...we're pretty cool.

23 thoughts on “Moms and Angels”

  1. Andrea, this is truly a beautiful tribute to your mom!! I loved learning a little more about her other than what I knew of her when she worked at Kids Co. She was a beautiful soul and radiant light and it truly lives on in your and Jax too!! She is so proud of you I am sure!!
    I am only four months into this journey of losing my mom. It is hard to envision four years without her. But she too is our angel and I feel her presence. Thanks for sharing your journey. !! xoxo


    1. Thanks, Janelle. It doesn’t really get any easier, but time definitely does dull the pain. It gets less “punch you in the gut” and more “oh – I miss that!” I’m thankful that I can remember all the good times we had and I know you do that with your mom. I love all the “flashback” pictures you post on FB!


  2. Awwww! I know how hard it is. My mom passed away the day after Jp came home from the NICU. Even with the joy and sense of relief I had when he came home…I struggled tremendously with losing her. It’s hard being a woman, much less a mother, without your mom by your side. Hugs!!!


    1. I’m sorry about your mom. Talk about an emotional roller coaster for you! Did she get to meet JP before she passed? I am thankful that I have a lot of “surrogate” moms to help me through. No one will ever be able to fill mom’s shoes completely, but at least I know I’m not alone.


      1. No, she lived in another state but she was able to see him in pictures and was on the phone with me until they wheeled me in for my c section!

        What’s crazy is I had this wacky home health aide (Moms that spend all day at the NICU all the way across town and don’t care of themselves get post op infections lol) that told me the day after she passed that that’s why Jp was so early. So she could see him before she passed! I am an only child so I have always held onto that. 🙂


      2. That’s awesome! I’ll bet your nurse was right – the universe has a crazy way of working things out. I’m glad she had the opportunity to see pictures of JP and to support you before his birth – what an awesome memory to have. Hugs!!!


  3. Great post! I haven’t seen your Mom in many years but that is how I remember her too 🙂 You are blessed to have had her in your life and sad that she passed so young.
    – Charolette


  4. I remember the day so well as I remember your beautiful Mom. Every word you used to describe her is absolutely right. Gwenn was a one of a kind and I don’t know a soul who didn’t love her. But God gave you Jax to teach you your Mom’s patience and to give her a baby to watch from her new “Angelship”. And we all knew how she loved kids. She is watching you from a spot where she can do more good. She is watching all of you and in my daily prayer for her, I know she is watching my snowmobilers too! She had that much room in her heart, So today is “God rest Gwenn” Day and she is in our hearts even more than any other day. All I know is that if she were still alive, Baby Jax would absolutely love him and he her. We miss you Gwenn Dolney!


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