It's with a heavy heart that I write this to honor Judy Van Evera, beloved mother, grandmother, friend, and teacher, as she begins her journey away from her beautiful life on this earth. On July 20th (her birthday), just one month into retirement after decades of lovingly teaching elementary students from all over the world, Judy suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and underwent emergency brain surgery. When she awoke from a coma a week later, she could no longer move the left side of her body.
For weeks, she slowly recovered her ability to speak and even maintained a sense of humor, cracking jokes and making puns in a true Judy fashion. Even though she could not swallow and still remains on a feeding tube, we thought for sure she was on the road to recovery. They transferred her to a skilled nursing facility, hoping she would eventually undergo more intense rehabilitation, but she took a turn quickly. Within 24 hours, Judy suffered another stroke, became septic, and was rushed again to the hospital.
Unfortunately, that was all that her brain and body could take. She is no longer speaking and scarcely moves. Her medical team and loved ones agree that it is time to stop treatment and let her body do what it naturally needs to do to let go. We know it’s what she would choose.
We are seeking to have Judy’s last days here be days in which she is surrounded by the love and care of her beloved family in her home in San Anselmo, rather than in a hospital, or, God forbid, a nursing facility, and we are asking for your help.
She needs to hear the birds and crickets out her window and catch glimpses of the colors of the flowers in her garden when her eyes are open. We want to give her everything she has ever loved - to be surrounded by nature and friends and family in her home of 35 years.
Hospice will provide the equipment, medicine, and nurses who come daily, but it does not pay for the 24-hour care she needs during this transition. I (her daughter, Larkin) have stopped working to be here with her while my husband and Judy’s grandsons have been at our home in New Mexico, and we continue to travel back and forth between states. Hospice caregivers in Marin cost between $30-70/hour, and I need all the caregiving assistance I can get, being her only child who lives three states away.
For all the love she genuinely and generously has given to the world, for every seen and unseen act of kindness and grace she gave her friends, her family, and the children of countless others, the hope is that this love will radiate back to her, as she ends her physical time with us.
The exorbitant medical bills, travel, and eventually the cost of a memorial are just some of the looming challenges that we face as we prepare to lose her. Having round-the-clock care can cost over $1000 a day.
As my chaplain friend says - we are in sacred time. No one can control how long this experience of dying will last. It could be days, weeks, months. It is up to Judy’s process, and we want to create the best environment and care for her during this time.
Any amount you can spare to help is a tribute to Judy’s life, and we know she feels the love coming her way, even if she can no longer move or speak to express it. Our deepest desire is to ease her passage with the most comfort and beauty as humans can offer each other.
Regardless of your ability to contribute financially, Please consider offering her some words on her CaringBridge site. I read them all to her, and I see her expression, if ever so subtle, change when I do.
I leave you with Judy’s own words that I found while going through her files. I came across a letter of intent for her teaching program at Dominican University many, many years ago.
She wrote, “It’s funny, but since I was a child blowing out candles on my birthday cake, I never wished for a new bike or a doll, but rather I wanted the people of the world to get to know and understand each other. Maybe through teaching, I can help that wish come true.”
Anyone who has been touched by Judy knows, without a doubt, that her wish indeed came true.
With deep gratitude,
Larkin and Family