In those final days of summer, Ruthie’s feet hurt intensely. One early September afternoon, Mam sat with Ruthie on the couch at Ruthie’s place, massaging her daughter’s feet. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, they both burst into tears. Not a word passed between them. Several minutes later, mother and daughter gathered themselves, wiped their eyes, and resumed their conversation.
“Ruthie,” Mam said resolutely, “This does not mean your mama is giving up hope.”
“Me neither, Mama. We just needed to cry.”
That August, Hannah moved into the dorm at LSU to start her first year of college. Ruthie was thrilled that Hannah had settled on LSU, because it was so close to home. She wanted to be part of Hannah’s big moving day. “I hope Hannah’s not on the third floor,” Ruthie told Mam that morning, “But if she is, Mike says he’ll carry me up the stairs, and I’ll help her get the room set up.”
As it turned out, Hannah’s room was on the ground floor. But Ruthie was still so exhausted after walking from the parking lot that she could only sit quietly while Hannah and her father carried her things in.
By then, Ruthie could no longer hide how much she was hurting.
Hannah’s mother died two weeks into her first semester in college. Hannah stayed in school, but took on a job to help pay her way. For most of her college career, she has worked full time, and taken a full course load at LSU. She maintained her scholarship with a high GPA, and this morning, graduated one semester early.
She is going to spend the next six months at home helping her father and her sisters, and then leave the nest for good. We are very proud of her.
UPDATE: Hannah posted on her Facebook page this very short clip of Ruthie that I took at Hannah’s high school graduation in 2011. At this point, Ruthie had about 14 weeks left to live: