December 18, 2016

Surrounded by People I Love

When tickets to The Forgotten Carol's went on sale Tim said he would get them for the kids and I (He was scheduled to work out of town.) I really didn't think much more about it. I was so excited to go with all of the big kids and Hazel was happy to spend the evening with her favorite babysitter, Megan. Before he went out of town Thursday, Tim said he got tickets for my nieces and Haidyn was going to come too. Everyone was meeting at our house and we would drive up together.  Morgan said  she was going to follow us up with Sadie (Tim had grabbed her a ticket too.) 

At this point I am still not thinking anything weird is going on. 

Our first stop was In N Out. Joy and Bill were there!!!! Joy said Tim wanted she and Bill to come to surprise me. He wanted it to be a special night with people I love. I was so happy. We ate and headed to the show. It just kept getting better and better.

Jaxson and Jaclyn were running a little late so they were going to meet us at the show. As we were watching for them, my cousin and her husband walked in. I thought it was so fun to run into them and stood there talking for quite a few minutes. 

I still had no idea...... 

Then my other cousin came in the door. With her husband and a couple of their kids. I looked at Joy and my kids. All smiles. I started saying, "Is this part of THIS?" I couldn't believe it and was so excited at the same time. More cousins and friends....

More people kept coming. Friends and neighbors and family. Tim had bought tickets for everyone and he couldn't even be there. I sat and watched The Forgotten Carols surrounded by people I love so much. At intermission more people were there. It was the best day ever. Tim delivered tickets and made plans with all of these people. It was the best gift I could have been given. 

I love the show. But this was the best one yet!!! Thank you to a fabulous husband who wanted me to have a special night. Thank you to friends and family who came and spent the evening with me. Thank you to my kids and their friends who love me and support me. Thank you to the friends and family who happened to be there  and came and said hello. I am overwhelmed by how lucky I am. It is good to love and be loved!
Life is good!

Merry Christmas

December 01, 2016

A Letter to Mother

Recently my cousin brought me this letter. I haven't stopped thinking about it. My grandmother, Elayne, wrote it to her mother. I can't begin to describe my feelings. Just seeing my grandma's handwriting had me excited and teary eyed at the same time. But, her words. My grandma had just returned home after traveling to Utah to bury her son. The pain of that event alone would have destroyed me. Her words describe an unconditional love and journey that to most would have been debilitating.  She writes, "....that brought me face to face with the reality of my personal loss and I had some time when I had to let it wash over me. I grieved. I went back to his potential. I lived the time when we couldn't understand what was happening to him. I went through the frustration, the worry, the anger, the anguish, the times when we tried all kinds of medical and Psychiatric procedures to no avail, the agony, the embarrassment we felt as we watched him be less and less each year, the agony of knowing that he knew he could not perform and could not understand why, the long questioning hours when we berated ourselves because we could not help him and cried at the inability." Her honesty. Her son had suffered an accident when he was young which had caused brain tumors that led to deficits in his abilities when he was older.  It was a long time before they understood why he was deteriorating mentally. I can't imagine watching a grown child go through that kind of pain.  I remember visiting him in the hospital when I was young. Now that I have children of my own, her words give me strength. She was strong. She found solace in writing her feelings and she loved her son. She talks about unconditional love and says, ' I am grateful that we had time to explore with him all of that kind of love, and to accept each other with all the "expectations" removed from our relationship."  I think of raising kids and how I always just thought Grandma knew what she was doing. As a child, it seemed like very little phased her.  I see now that she would be able to relate to my feelings not only as a mom, but as a person. She reminds me that grieving is okay. Natural even. No matter the loss. We would have been friends.

Grandma had the utmost love and respect for her Mother. She always called her "Mother." The friendship they shared..... A poem, at a time when I fear I would be angry and speechless, Grandma writes of a peace brought by family. I will never say I am grateful for cancer. But, it has changed so many things in my life. Some for better, others for worse. BUT,  it has opened family doors that I didn't even realize were shut. I would be lying if I said that didn't make me happy. I hope to be a better mother and her words inspire me. She says, "I may never grow up. I go on needing you to mother me in so many times and places, and in so many ways." The letter is closed with, "Dearest Mother- if you get the rewards you deserve you'll be the brightest angel in all the heavens. All our love, Elayne" This letter has made me rethink so many things in life. Goals......

I will treasure this letter for the rest of my days!

October 27, 2016

Vegas with Emmie for Macs.

Every Spring Emmie and I pack up with Joy and Haidyn and head to Vegas for a cheer comp. In light of recent health scares, I wasn't sure I could go. I had just had two surgeries and had a drain that wasn't ready to come out.  If I wanted to go, I would have to go with the drain. I asked the Dr if it was okay to go with it in, he said that if I felt comfortable it would be okay. From the look on his face, he thought I was crazy.  I decided to put my big girl panties on and go. I was nervous, but excited.

Emmie and I always ride with Joy and Haidyn. We were packed and ready to go. Joy was driving and she turned and looked at me and said, "I am not going to treat you like your sick." I was so happy.  Ten words that made my heart happy. The last 2 months had been all about what was wrong with me. I had missed out on quite a few things. I got to be a normal person for the weekend. Well, as "normal" as one can when medicated and wearing a blood bag pinned to the inside of your shirt.

We did great. I was anxious in large groups. People would bump my back or pat my arm (both of which had stitches). Joy, Emmie and Haidyn would walk in a barrier around me. We figured it out and I was able to do everything. Emmie's little cheer team was awesome.  Watching Emmie tumble makes me so happy. She is amazing! I watched her encourage others, work hard and make sure that I was okay all weekend.

I learned so much watching Emmie this weekend. She has a tender heart. She was continually making sure that I was okay.  We had a couple minor issues with my drain and I could always tell how worried Emmie got when Joy and I talked or tried to fix it.We had a great weekend. In all aspects. I am so grateful that Joy talked me into going.

Emmie cheered like a champ. The girls won first place and they were so excited! We walked around Vegas, the girls swam, we ate and played. We got to have dinner with the Kelleher family which is always a favorite. Terrible picture, good times!
Emmie's Cheer Team

Em and her awesome coach, Dayna


My tribe

Em, Charlotte and Haidyn

Charlotte, Emmie, Haidyn and Emily

Ready to compete

Cutest girls


Dinner at Claim Jumper with our favorites

I loved getting away and spending time with Emmie. It was harder than I thought and better than I thought all at the same time!! Way to go Outlaws!! Great competition! My drain came out the day after we got home! Yay!!!

September 07, 2016

This Might Have Been the Dumbest Thing I Have EVER Done!

Last year I ran the AF Cancer Run with my friend Sue. My first half marathon and I was so proud of myself. Sue and I signed up to do it again this year.  Not long after I registered, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma.  My whole world changed. Sue said she was going to run it for me. I was so touched and gave up any thought of running.   
But then.......
I was feeling pretty good and wanted to run for two of my family members that were fighting cancer with me. My thought was, "What if I can't do it again?" I didn't really train.  I had two surgeries and started my immunotherapy treatment.  One day I decided to try. I brought it up to my husband. I know he thought I was crazy but he never said so. He told me I could walk if I was tired and the race goes right by my house. I could stop if I needed too. 

It was a very emotional day. I was so nervous. "What if my body couldn't do it?" I DID IT!! A cancer diagnosis, two surgeries, and hardly any training.  I was only 4 minutes slower than last year. My daughter, Morgan, met me at mile nine and finished the race with me, my sister and her family were mid race cheering me on, and Ryanne was waiting at the finish line.  I get teary eyed just writing it down. I had a strength that I didn't know I had. I felt love and support from so many. I couldn't walk for the next 3 days but I did it!!

Sue and I at the start. I wouldn't see her again until the finish.

A few miles in 

The Finish


This sign was out during the race. I couldn't agree more. Cancer sucks and is so scary. I HATE IT!!!

 My sign honoring my fellow cancer family members. Sadly, "Stewart" passed away not too long after the race. He was a great guy. I felt him with me every step of this race.  Terry and I continue our race together. I know "Stewart" is still fighting with me.

So happy to see Sue at the finish line. 

I was totally unprepared physically and I literally could not walk for days after the race. However, this day I said "screw you" to cancer and my body did what everyone including me thought it couldn't.  


July 31, 2016

Brian "Stewart"

When I found out I had Stage 3 Melanoma, I was a little devasted. My Uncle Brian "Stewart" had found out that he had Stage 4 Lung Cancer not long before I got my diagnosis.  I talked to one of my aunts that lives close to Stewart. She told me that "Stewart" had said that we would fight together. Maybe I didn't realize the significance that statement would have. I felt a bond to him. He had to know how I was feeling. He had been there. When I did the Cancer Half I carried his name with me. I guess it isn't surprising to anyone that when I found out he had passed away, I was so sad. He was truly one of the kindest men I had ever met. Sometimes I feel like there aren't many good men like "Stewart" around anymore. I loved him and his passing was hard for me to swallow. 

Aside from knowing that cancer literally eats your body, knowing that his family was feeling so similar to how I felt when my mom passed was too much.  It is so awesome to be able to spend your last minutes together, but it is hard. Watching someone you love be unable to get comfortable, or knowing they are in pain because their face is scrunched up and you can tell they are hurting. My heart ached for the whole family as they cared for their father and husband.

I decided I wanted to go and Kate was feeling the same so we decided to deliver flowers to my aunt CoraLu in person. It was so nice to visit and be able to love them and let them know we were there for whatever they needed. I hope that they felt our love.

Here are some of the cute pictures from the Celebration of Brian Stewarts life. 

When Kate and I got to Aunt Cora's house, she sat down and said, "I have bad news. Your father might be coming."  Kate and I in unison said, " We're fine. We can be adults." I believed my statement to be true. However, I worried all night that he would make a scene and ruin the funeral for my aunt and cousins. I got up the next day prepared to push my worry aside and celebrate "Stewart." 

It turned out that my father didn't come. I did hear that he drove by but he didn't do any of the things that I had envisioned in my head.  I was so grateful for that. Brian Stewart was  so loved by neighbors, friends, family etc. I watched that room get so crowded and hold a steady flow of people that Stewart had touched at some point in his life. 

Stewart was a great man. I didn't see him often but when I did he was fatherly and loved me. I am a  better person because I knew Stewart. And I am grateful everyday for his cute family. I have loved getting to know all the crazy kids.

Until we meet again...