You'll never regret being there.
Those little phrases have played over and over in my mind all weekend.
My friend, Sloane Heffernan, who has dealt with her own recent loss, and my boss, Bonnie, gave me that advice after I'd gotten a late night call from my dad telling me my stepmother had suffered a major stroke. BJ had been out in California when it happened, so my dad immediately grabbed the first flight out there.
I was at home, not sure what to do when Sloane called and told me what she'd do. Since she'd recently been through something similar, I listened. Sloane knew I was worried about work, about making sure Will got to the places he needed to be, etc. Bonnie and Sloane both assured me all of that could wait ... and reminded me that family is what matters most. They were right.
My sister and I flew out to California late Friday. Less than 24 hours later, BJ passed away.
During the last couple of hours of her life, we played music for her. I pulled up some classical music on my cell phone and put it on her pillow. My sister played songs from "Jersey Boys." My dad had pictures of her that we passed around as our own memories quietly clicked through our minds. And of course, I got to tell BJ how much she meant to me and Mike and Will.
For those last couple of hours, we held our breath as she struggled for hers.
When she finally took her last breath, we were there with my dad. That's when I knew Sloane and Bonnie were right. It's something I will tell Will one day: No regrets. Just be there. No regrets.
Julia is a reporter for WRAL-TV and the mother of a grade schooler. She writes monthly for Go Ask Mom.