Friday, June 24, 2005

Choices


As always, so much has happened since my last post that I am not quite sure where to begin. I hope you all have taken a look at this post and have taken the time to listen to the song mentioned. As someone told me a few nights ago . . . "I needed to know what it was like to be held." So do I, Rene’, so do I.

Since my entry one week ago, a lifetime of change has happened. My Aunt Sophie lost her Aunt suddenly and flew to Utah on Sunday with much prompting to be with her family for the funeral services. I know it was extremely hard for her to get on that flight, but I know it was something she needed to do for closure. A very close family friend, Bear, accompanied her on the flight and ended up returning with her on Tuesday and stayed throughout today. We are grateful for his willingness to come support us at this time. Thank you, Bear.

Kay ended up going back to the hospital on Tuesday and remained there until this afternoon. She initially went in to have fluid removed that was pooling near her heart and lungs. She is struggling with some news that was handed down after the procedure. She is also coming to terms on a decision that was made on Saturday.

This decision has rocked our family, broken our hearts, and brought us to our knees, but in our hearts, we know it is best. Kay is not responding as hoped to chemotherapy nor to radiation. Due to all of the complications in her treatment plan, there have been several delays in treatment. Her last set of scans revealed several areas of cancer that were not noted on the mid-treatment scans nor on the pre-treatment scans. As some of you may or may not know, Kay has a secondary cancer of undetermined origin. This cancer resides solely in her bone marrow. On Tuesday it was also discovered that the fluid in her chest cavity was not fluid, but a solid mass.

On Saturday morning, Kay signed herself into hospice care. It was not an easy choice for any of us, especially for my Aunt Kay or my Aunt Sophie. We fully support Kay’s choice and only want the next few weeks of her life to be as painless as possible. The past week has brought to surface many, many memories that I believed I had blocked well enough to never remember them again. We are all struggling with this, but our hearts know that this is best for Kay. We rejoice in the fact that there will be a day in the upcoming future that she will join my Mom and my Sister and many other beautiful Angels. We are saddened that we will need to release her in order to do that.

It has been a very difficult week. On Wednesday, I decided I needed to see both my husband and my child so I began a whirlwind trip to Ohio. I did get to see Emily for a few hours and Alex drove back with me late last night. We drove straight to the hospital to be with Kay this morning. He will be here for a few days and then Emily will arrive with her grandparents. Right now, I can’t place my focus on her, she needs to be with people who can. Her Nonny and Poppy have filled that role with amazing love. I know she is very well taken care of when she is with them, not to mention spoiled rotten. Someday, I pray she understands why Mommy missed so much of her life.

Kay is finally resting. Evenings and nightfall are very bad for her as she is experiencing drastic degrees of sundowning. It takes about six hours to get her to place of calmness in which she can sleep. We are trying some new medications and are praying to God that they work as she just needs to find a working combination or the next few weeks will be hell for her.

I wish this post had a more cheery tone, but truthfully, as I type this I am sitting here sobbing. I’m not sure I can pull off cheery.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Holding

I have much more to say than I can post right now. We have an appointment tomorrow today that will change the course of our lives. Please pray that we have the guidance to handle what all we will be given tomorrow now.

In the meantime, I would like to share a song with you that was played at Sara’s memorial service. The following is the introduction the song that is read by the artist before the start of the song.

Before you read this . . . Please click on the following link in order to hear the song! (Thank you SO much, Erica!). If when you click on it, it doesn’t take you to a direct download of the song, do not worry. Just copy and paste the link into your browser bar! Trust me when I say this song will be worth the time it takes to do so.

"Most of us have experienced the death of a loved one or we've watched somebody that we know and love experience the pain of losing someone that they love. Maybe this is even happening to one of you right now or to someone that you know in your circle of friends, your school, your work, your prayer group. My friend Christa Wells wrote this song after she had lost two people very dear to her in the span of 48 hours. I recorded this song in the prayer and hopes that it would bring comfort to a lot of people. The first time I heard it, honestly it just moved me to tears. Christa found a lot of comfort in the message. My prayer and hope is that you will, too." -Natalie Grant

The following is on her personal website to intro the song:

"Christa Wells, a part-time songwriter and stay-at-home mom of three in North Carolina wrote this song in response to two very difficult losses that happened within 48 hours. And for her, I think it must have been one of those total shake-your-fist-at-God moments where you cry, "Why God?" These are the things in life that we cannot understand or explain, and the lyrics reflect that honesty. God didn’t promise us we’d be okay or that life would be easy. My faith does not protect me from pain, but it provides me with peace. God only promises us that when we suffer, when we’re in pain, we’ll be held in His arms through every circumstance."

The words are as follows:

Two months is too little.
They let him go.
They had no sudden healing.
To think that providence would
Take a child from his mother while she prays
Is appalling.

Who told us we'd be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We're asking why this happens
To us who have died to live?
It's unfair.

Chorus:
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we'd be held.

This hand is bitterness.
We want to taste it, let the hatred know our sorrow.
The wise hands opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow.

(Chorus)
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we'd be held.

Bridge:
If hope is born of suffering.
If this is only the beginning.
Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior?

(Chorus)
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we'd be held.
-Held, Natalie Grant

Right now, we all need to know we are held. We all need to know that someone realizes life is too short and we feel like we are falling thru the cracks. The song spoke volumes to me, it reminded me that I am far from alone, that somehow the darkness will turn back to light, and that someday, somehow, I will feel held again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ladybug

So much has happened since my last post, I truly am confused as to where to start. Today marks two years since my sister Sara located her blue and yellow angel wings and took flight. I expected that this anniversary would consume my week, take over every rational thought, and break my heart. In all honesty, it hasn’t been the first thing on my mind or the biggest in my heart at the moment.

That isn’t to say that I am not crushed at the thought that it has been two years since I last saw her alive. That isn’t to say that during the Sigma memorial service tonight I won’t break down and curse God for ever taking her away. That isn’t to say that one moment goes by that I don’t miss my Ladybug. What it does say, however, is that I realize that I miss her just as much today as I did yesterday and as much as I will tomorrow. The events that are happening in our lives right now seem to have made Sara’s angel date a little easier to cope with.

Both Aunts are still home, for which we are all very glad. Sophie’s arm and such seem to be doing well. She doesn’t tell us when it is hurting, so it is a battle to get her to speak up. I think today she is having some pain from overdoing it yesterday. She will see the orthopedic surgeon again in one week to make sure the bones are calcifying correctly.

Kay, on the other hand, isn’t doing as well as we had hoped. She is tired (who wouldn’t be), hurting (I can certainly understand why), and is dealing with some very difficult choices right now. Late last night, a new bed was purchased for her. So far, it seems to be helping. We are keeping our fingers crossed as she wasn’t getting much rest in the old bed. She goes back to her oncologist on Friday, at which time I will be able to tell you more.

As for part one of the Auntie’s surprise . . . they were treated to a lovely (and very romantic) pre-sunrise breakfast and then taken up, up, and away in a corporate Altoid hot air balloon while they watched the sun rise. Once that part of the morning was over, they were driven back to where Dad and I were in a very special transportation method . . . a horse drawn carriage complete with a driver in tails! (Thanks Derek, we couldn’t have done it without you!) Since they were both clueless as to what was being planned, it did turn into a very nice surprise for both of them.

Part two is still coming and I can’t reveal anything other than this:

1) The Statue of Liberty . . . it’s gone!
2) Dickens didn't have a clue.
3) Moon River, old crooner!

More to come later. For now, I have to prepare for Sara’s angel service. Something tells me I’m going to need more tissues.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Relay

Tonight my post will be jumping from subject to subject as I have much to say! First, I would like to say that my heart feels great relief to have posted my previous entry. It needed to be said aloud, I think. Now that it has been, I feel we can all move on with our lives.

By far the most exciting news I have tonight is that BOTH AUNTS ARE HOME ONCE AGAIN! Sophie was released about two hours ago, but Kay came home this morning. These two with their tagteam hospitalizations! I have warned them both that this needs to stop!

Sophie’s collarbone is broken, not just fractured, so she is moving very slowly. Kay is moving almost at the same speed. However slowly, my Dad and I are just glad to have them back under the same roof (and preferably not the hospital roof!). At the moment, I think they are both fast asleep as it has been a long day for everyone.

They have both asked to watch the Relay video in the morning which brings me to my recap of Relay for Life. All totals are not in yet, but as of this very moment, "The Lively Pink Ladybug" team has raised a total of (drumroll, please) . . . $7,458.92. We are in both shock and amazement at their efforts to raise money for a cause so close to our hearts.

My Dad and I went down early on Friday to visit with the Sigma sisters and take part in their final fund-raising events. As we sat at their campsite, my heart was filled with joy while I watched the Sigma sisters share their story with anyone who stopped at the tent. Their love for Sara remains as strong today as it was when she was alive. To any Sigma sisters who are reading this, I cannot express to you how impressed we are with each of you. Your commitment to Sara’s memory as well as to my Mom’s . . . is something to be praised for.

My Dad and I were to give the survivor’s speech at Relay this year. I think we both knew that it was going to be an impossible speech to complete without many tears. What I don’t think we were prepared for was the gamut of emotions we had even before beginning our speech. As we walked down the path to the podium before the opening ceremony, my Dad suddenly stopped and just pointed across the track. I glanced to where he was looking and saw nothing but a row of luminaries lit for both Mom and for Sara. The Sigma sisters had decorated a number of them in daisies for Sara. Immediately the tears began to fall and I didn’t even try to stop them.

We took our places on the stage and soon it was our turn to speak. At some point, I will be posting the contents of our speech. For now, I will just comment on one small part. Halfway through our eight minute speeches, my Dad broke his even tone with a sudden sob. As I looked up into the stands as he took a moment to gather himself, I saw a row of people in purple shirts with gold lettering. As I tried to read the shirts, I began to lose my breath and the tears began to flow once again. So . . . to the group of ladies who proclaim themselves "LADYBUG LOVERS," I give my gratitude. You haven’t forgotten, thank God, you haven’t forgotten our Ladybug or the one who gave her wings.

Once our speech was complete, we took our places at the start of the survivor line in order to walk for Kay. It was the most emotional walk of my life as I turned to see nothing but a sea of purple following us. Purple signifies survivor and how my heart jumped at the thought that these brave people had made it. It was bittersweet to realize that there should have been two more survivors out there that couldn’t be. Once we made the complete walk of the track, we participated in the release of balloons. As I let go of the string, I made my silent wish for Mom and Sara to grab onto the love that I sent with it.

Once the sun began to set, my Dad and I made our way back down to the track from the Lively Pink Ladybug tent. This year, we had the honor of carrying the luminary torch as the luminary names were being read. I had reached a point that I thought I was all cried out. I was wrong. As my Dad, Andy, Barb, Caroline, and myself walked the track, I caught myself glancing back to notice that luminaries all over the stadium were being lit. In the stand, the word HOPE was burning brightly and I realized right then something about my Mom.

The one word that anyone whoever met her would use to describe her would be that she was full of Hope. She was filled with hope that she was marrying her soulmate, my Dad. She had hope that she was raising all of her girls in a manner that would honor the Lord. She had hope that one day she would be a Grandmother. She had hope for the past, present, and the future. Finally, when her illness became clear that it would one day take her life, she had hope for peace. She had hope for a cure and hopes for a saving grace. When that didn’t come, she found hope for peace, which she did attain.

As the wording was changed from HOPE to CURE, I realized just how important this Relay was. We are a very realistic family. We know that cancer will one day take another member of our family. However, we will never lose sight of the hope for a cure so that one day, we will not have to hear those words again . . . "He/She has cancer."

This has turned into a much longer post than I anticipated! The funny part is, I have so much more to say, I could keep typing for hours. We have some downtime this week from the medical world, at least three days and we have a giant surprise planned for BOTH Aunts. I can’t say anything just in case my Aunt Sophie decides to read this, but I can say this:

1) Up, UP, and Away.
2) Altoid, anyone?
3) Giddy-up.

If she can decipher the surprise based on that, more power to her! (I love you, Aunt Sophie!) After the last few days, they both deserve every surprise we can give them. My Aunt Sophie is having to come to terms with a number of things, Kay’s medical condition being the largest, of course. The second is that we are all realizing that you can love someone deeply and still be crushed beyond words when they make choices that change the course of your life. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but one we are all learning together. Now that she is dealing with the broken collarbone issue, it adds just one more problem to the mix.

It’s storming fiercely here, so I better get this posted before the electricity goes out once again. Another post is coming tomorrow filled with even more of the past few days!

Release

Often in life, the time comes for true expression of feelings. This is one of those times. Today, my family and I were forced to sit down and make some choices, hard choices. Although Kay’s health is the most pressing situation in our lives right now, this time of choice making had nothing to do with her or the medical options being offered at this time. Instead, it was about love and letting go.

The time has come for our family to let go of someone we love. They aren’t in ill health, aren’t going away, nor do they realize it is time to let go. However, it has come to our attention that our love for this person is unhealthy, both for ourselves as well as for her. We have come to depend on her far more than we should and each time we count on her, we realize that she needs to be helping herself, not us. In our hearts we have started to have let go, confident that this is best for everyone.

The love that we have for her will never fade. She has been a part of our lives for a very long time and has been instrumental in keeping us together the past few years. We love her and that will never change. Although several thousand miles separate us from being with each other, we have constantly kept her in our thoughts. That won’t change as we let her go. I don’t believe that any of us will be able to keep her from our minds in the upcoming years. We have shared too much, know too much, and love too much not to think of her often.

We wish her the very best in everything she attempts. I know that I speak for our entire family when I state that we believe she will go very far in her life and her career. Each of us comes to a point where we have to carry ourselves and now, the time has come for her as well. We all know she is capable of doing this, and she just needs to spread her wings and fly. Our family surrounds her with love as she learns to do this. Soar with the eagles, my friend.

I needed to get this out of my head, needed it to be heard, and needed to know it was over. I have much more to say and no emotional strength left to say it with. Tomorrow a new post will be coming with Relay updates, Kay updates, and some very exciting news for all of us.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ongoing

Things are hectic here. Kay is back in the hospital for chemotherapy. So far, she has handled it well. Each day is a struggle, but she is doing it. We are proud of her. In the coming days, I will be writing more of what we are facing. For now, please just pray for Kay, for Sophie, for our sanity.

Father’s Day is quickly approaching as is Sara’s Angel Anniversary. Life is continually clouded over with sadness. Facing the current situation only adds to our grief, intensifies it, and makes it very hard to find good in each day.

We, as a family, have been invited to speak at the area’s Relay for Life. Last year, a group of Sara’s Sigma Sisters formed the "Lively Ladybug" team in her honor. This year, they have added onto their team. This year, they are raising money for the team named "The Lively Pink Ladybug." It is a tribute to both Sara as well as to my Mom. As we prepare our speeches for Relay, we are remembering just what this event means, especially to our family. We remember your dedication to our Ladybug and to the center of our family, my Mom. Girls, we love you and commend you upon your fund-raising efforts. We will see you there.

For now, I need to get back to Kay’s side. The days are long, and the nights are longer. Please pray.