Monday, March 31, 2014

Ally's Wish

 Cancer is a lonely place to be.  Instead of planning out dinner menus and baseball schedules, I'm making end-of-life plans.  Instead of dreaming up the next family vacation, I'm fretting over life insurance policies and trust funds for the boys.

I have good people in my life.  Really.  I have GOOD people in my life.  A few weeks ago, I met a group of friends for dinner.  I had no idea why we were gathered, but I quickly found out that it wasn't just to talk about hedghogs, our kids, and shampoo.  No, they had something much bigger and more important.  Something that made me forget for a while that my life is not what I want it to be:

Ally's Wish is a new foundation put together by my amazing friends.  The purpose of Ally's Wish is to grant wishes for other mothers with terminal illness.  Spread joy.  Give hope!

I can not think of a more fantastic way for my legacy to live on.  It's not often that I am without words, but I was at the dinner table that night.  My friend Missy explained to me how she had been praying faithfully for me (which I knew she had been).  Like so many of us, she wanted to do something.  She wanted to put something behind her words.  But she didn't know what.  So...she kept praying.  And one morning, God gave it to her.  She immediately called the other friends, and Ally's Wish was born.  They had the whole thing put together and finished before they ever even presented it to me.  There was not a fear that I would say "no".  Because God was at work...there was something so much biger happening than what any of us could ever do on our own.

 At dinner that night, they asked me what my wish is.  They wanted mine to be the first one granted.  They said that I should dream big.  They said that I should think outside the box.  They said that I am loved, and that people want to help.  

So, I am thrilled to tell you that my wish is for this blog to be published.  I don't necessarily want it to be on a shelf in every Barnes & Noble across America, but I want it to be published at least so that each of my boys can have a copy of their own--a way for them to remember that their mom loved them with every inch of her heart.

Maybe you want to help.  Maybe God is leading you to bring hope to other sick mothers the way these friends of mine have brought hope to me.  Maybe you want to donate or volunteer.  Go to our website and look around.  I hope your heart is touched and you are moved to help.  On behalf of moms like me who love their kids and will have to leave them sooner than we want to...thank you.  Thank you for being an instrument in God's hands.  Thank you for reminding us that there are still good things to be had, joy to fill hearts like ours.  He is a good God.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Little Middle!

Dear Little Middle,

Happy 10th birthday to my little man!  And what a little man you are indeed!  You have grown and changed so much this makes my head spin to look back!  All the while, you give us great reason to look ahead.  Dad and I are SO unbelievably proud of you.

This year was finally the year that you started to outgrow your Lego mania.  For five+ years, I never thought you would want to do anything else as much as build Lego sets.  Those nasty little blocks have nearly taken my foot off more times than I can count during late-night bedtime checks!  And yet your love affair with Legos persisted.  It's what you asked for for birthdays and Christmases.  It's what you spent your saved-up dollars on at Target and how you spent long hours sitting in the game room.  Do I think you are completely over your Lego love?  No way.  But the good news is you've passed it on to your little brother...a legacy not lost.

This summer you experienced one of your first heartaches when your best friend moved away.  M had been your best buddy for two years.  You guys did everything together--games, swimming, running between each other's houses--and it broke your heart for him to leave.  To tell the truth, it broke mine, too.  You were a little lost this summer, but you have slowly found your way again.  There will never be another M, but you are learning to spend time with other friends and still have fun.  Did I tell you that I'm really proud of you? 

In the fall you started 4th grade.  4th grade?!?  How is that possible?!?  It took little work on my part to convince the powers that be at school that you deserved needed to be with the same amazing teacher that Goliath had.  And, boy, am I glad I did!!!  You, even more than your older brother, have shown me the crazy-good perks of having a teacher who is also your friend.  Just yesterday morning, you were freaking out a little bit about the did I?/did I not have math homework over the weekend? question.  I was able to text Mrs. C and ask her, thereby diverting a crisis.  It pays to be friends with your kid's teacher!

You do well in school, although you would obviously rather be spending your time doing something outside the classroom.  You consistently perform better in ELA/spelling/grammar than you do in math & science.  Your brain is wired like your mama's, and seemingly no amount of patient coaxing by Mrs. C is going to change that!  You like weird science experiments, though.  We could mix baking soda and vinegar together every day of the week and you would never tire of it.  The messier, the better!

Speaking of school, you got a great gift this year!  Our school district is on the technology bandwagon, and is investing in iPads for every student.  4th grade was on the first deployment list this year.  For WEEKS, all I heard was, "When I get my iPad, I will __________" and " I will download ____________ app when I get my iPad."  And then....the day was HERE!  I had to go to school and stand in a crazy line--not at all too much to ask of a mom with the happiest son on the planet!  You love that thing!  You have become very proficient at using it, and it's been more than one occasion that I've needed to ask you an Apple question.  We laid down rules early on, and you are near-perfect at obeying them.  Thank you for not being a technological nightmare kid.

The Year You Were Nine has been a year with joys of its own, but also plenty of sadness.  Just recently we had the very worst family meeting that you could ever imagine:  the one where we shared the news that I am not going to get better from The Cancer.  That news was met by a staggering silence on your part.  No crying, no yelling, no nothing...just an awful, dreadful silence.  I don't blame you one little bit. Since that day you have actually been a little more hands-on.  You have hugs a'plenty when I need one.  You are almost always happy to come down and sit for a spell to catch a show on Disney Channel or to do math (ugh) homework in my company.  I don't really care what it is, as long as I get to be with you.  

Little Middle, you have always been my happy-go-lucky, laid-back son.  You easily have a smile on your face and you laugh fast and loud.  I think you are one of the best ideas that God ever had!  I wish so much that I had been able to give you different news on that night, or at least tell you that we are in the middle of a bad dream from which we will surely wake up very soon.  Neither one of those is true, though.  It seems that our family's bad dream can't be stopped.  I want it to be different for you.  It appears, though, that God has a plan for you that is opposite of the one I would have written.  I don't understand it, but I choose to trust Him, and I pray every day that you will, too.  Remember, sweet love:  We serve a big God who loves us and is always in control.  One of the ways I know that is because that same God gave you to me!  I didn't deserve the happy, calm baby that I met at the hospital on that beautiful spring afternoon.  All I knew was that God had chosen us to be together.  And I'm so glad that He did!  I have loved every single day I've gotten to spend with you.  No matter how many days we have left to be together, I will make the most out of them.  You are precious to me, little man.  Never, ever wonder if your mom loves you...because she does.

With my whole heart,


Friday, March 14, 2014

Bellies, Beds, and Body Bags

I have a Monster growing inside of me.  There is no denying his existence, nor his growth.  Yesterday, I looked like myself.  A little rough, yes, because I was in dire need of a good hair-washing and some fresh pajamas.  But other than that, I looked like me.  This morning I got up and I look like me .... at 5-months pregnant!  Seriously.  I called Nurse in a bit of a frenzied panic.  How could this happen just...overnight?!?  She calmly told me a story about abdominal disease and fluid build-up.  I not-so-calmly asked her what we could do about it.  Her answer?  Nothing.  That's what.  We do NOTHING about so much accumulation of fluid that I look like my former pregnant self.  Wha..........????  This just keeps getting better.

Then, I went on a little field trip with Hubby and Daddy.  We went to a funeral home.  I'd been there before, when my friend lost her own daddy in a sad and sudden way.  I had no real emotion going in.  Actually, I felt a little detached.  Maybe that's why I was so surprised to see a dead person first thing upon entry.  She was just laying there in a room off to the side, surrounded by floral sprays, waiting for her friends and family to come pay their respects.  I actually whispered out loud, "There's a dead person over there."  Stating the obvious didn't help, but it broke the ice when the funeral director came out at that exact moment.

He seated us in a conference room that was not spectacular by any means.  I could have been at any company in Anytown, USA.  This room was only set apart by the collection of urns in a glass case in the corner.  The Director took a seat at the head of the table and started his spiel.  He did a good job.  We were well-armed with a list of questions and ideas, and Mr. Director provided all the answers that we needed.  He also gave us some good information about cemeteries in the area.  Since I am lacking in this area of expertise, I felt grateful.  Did you know that not all cemeteries have perpetual care?  If you are a local, this might explain a lot to you like it did for me.

I never realized how many decisions there are to make for a funeral.  I have been working on a few things on my own at home, but WOW!  Who knew?  One of the most important decisions to make is the choosing of the casket.  We were quickly educated about the differences in steel grades, wood types, and then we were allowed to enter The Casket Room.  It wasn't like the casket rooms that you see on TV and such.  There were only 8 full-size caskets in the room.  The rest of the displays were just cut pieces of the casket with a pull-out display from the wall.  Weird, but efficient.

I found one I liked.  I mean, I guess I like it.  Again, weird.  Mr. Director regaled us with a tale of a husband and wife who visited The Casket Room and asked him to take their pictures inside their caskets of choice.  Why?  What in the world is wrong with people?!?  I guess that's one way you can really be sure you're getting what you like.

While I held up pretty well through the funeral home experience, I must confess that I am a little freaked out by the thought of bugs and creepy-crawlies and, um, elements getting through.  Hence the need for an outer burial container, but still....ew.  That's the only thing that really bothered me.  I was pretty calm as Mr. Director went down the list of  his a la carte menu.  We selected some things we really wanted, and drew question marks beside others that require decisions.  Then we thanked him for his time and went on our way.

For as much as I had been dreading this visit, I suppose it went relatively well.  I did it, and I'm proud of myself for that.  I feel like taking care of these things is a way that I can take care of my family.  They don't need to see to all these little details and worries if I can do it for them while I'm still here.

Right now I am waiting for Nurse to come.  This will be the third appearance she has made at my house this week.  Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking a 3/5 ratio of nurse needs isn't that great.  She's coming to access my port (which I haven't used since last spring--almost one year).  They are going to "feed" me some of my medications through my port so I have fewer pills to take.  It's a lovely thought, because I have got some pills!  Mom bought me one of those old-people pill organizers.  It's the supreme version:

Nifty, huh?  Every one of those little spaces is filled up with pills for me to take.  Every. Single. Day.  It's a lot.

Update:  Nurse has come and gone.  She totally threw me under the bus to Hubby and Daddy about not wanting to use the wheelchair.  Which I don't.  I was thinking maybe we could take it when we go to look at cemeteries.  Seems appropriate.  She managed to access the port with minimal discomfort to me.  I am most thankful.  The port has always been a difficult thing to deal with.  Maybe now I know that the medical staff just weren't doing it right!

I now am receiving methadone through the mediport.  I am hooked up to it, which means I must carry it with me all the time, everywhere I go.  Ugh...I hate that.  Just looking at the unattractive bag which houses it, I am already freaking out, wondering how I will carry it around and what I can possibly wear that will hide the tube sticking out of my chest (and disguise my giant belly).  Again:  ugh.  These are problems I didn't sign up for when Monster came nosing around.

Also, this afternoon we are expecting delivery of a hospital bed.  Nurse asked me how I had been sleeping, and the answer is, "Not well."  I even take Ambien, the magic med, every night, and I am still waking up several times each night because I am crazy-uncomfortable.  It's like she can read my mind.  Nurse said that is due to the swelling in my abdomen, and that laying flat will become increasingly difficult.  Then she gently reminded me that I could have a hospital bed that can elevate my head and/or feet, and it would probably be a great time for it.  I agreed, even though it's about the last thing in the world I want to have in my possession (except a wheelchair).  So there is one coming.  I think that the only twin sheets we have left are Goliath's old ones with the camo pattern.  Mom suggested that I send Daddy to Target to buy pretty new ones for my "new" bed.  Or maybe I'll just sleep on the camo sheets for a few days.

P.S.  Just in case you ever need to know, "disaster pouch" is a nice way of saying "body bag."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Come One, Come All!

We are so incredibly blessed to live in a community where we are surrounded by people who care about us and look for ways to show it.  One of those ways is coming up this Tuesday, March 4:

A few things:

*You DO NOT have to have a paper flyer to show when you come in.  You can show the flyer on your phone, or just mention to your server that you are there to support the "3 little cowboys" family.
*The event is open all day, not just at dinner time.  You are welcome to go to Chili's for lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, or dinner--or all of the above!
*For every friend that eats at Chili's and mentions our name, our family will earn 15% of the amount of that check.
*The event is open at the Chili's restaurants in Flower Mound (3040), Justin Road, Lewisville, Hickory Creek, and Denton.

You, our friends, our community, sustains us.  You have shown us unwavering support and unending love.  This event at Chili's is one of the things we have pointed out to our little cowboys as a way that God cares for us because people care for us.  We thank you in advance for your help with this special event, and mostly, we thank you for just being YOU!!!  Each of you is a huge blessing to our family!