Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Season of NEW

{The Hank Man on Christmas Eve with my brother}

Christmas is past, so let the New Years posts commence.  Much like everyone's frantic New Year's Resolution flock to the gym, it is my duty as a blogger to write a New Years post, amiright?  I figured I needed to get this post done sooner rather than later, since one of my New Year's Resolutions will be to be more on top of things.

Done and done.

I not-so-secretly HATE New Year's Eve.  For some reason, I find it extremely depressing.  I don't know if it is because high school and college were filled with some pretty crappy New Year Eves.  Whatever the reason, I despise it.  Henry kind of gives me an excuse to maintain my low-key ways.  I am hoping we can get some take-out, rent a movie, and go to bed early and perhaps Henry will start the 2014 off by sleeping through the night.  A new mother's dream.  :)

It's also not a secret that the last couple of years have been nothing short of a challenge for Phil and I. 2011 was filled with trying to have a baby and then trying to find out if I had cancer.  2012 was the year I dealt with cancer.  2013 made me a mother and we lost Phil's dad.  I don't hate the last few years for being hard.  The challenges made me grow as a person and helped to build a strong foundation for Phil's and my marriage.

However, I'm hoping for a low-key year.

I'd like a year with few major life changes.  No health crises.  Perhaps a year of not meeting my insurance deductible.

I'd like a year that we aren't functioning in full stress crisis mode.  A year where we can sit and relax and enjoy this life we are building together.

I want to sit and play with Henry without feeling major life events looming over me.  I want to find the joy in taking care of my husband, son and puppies.

But I think what I am most excited about, is I want to discover what I'm about again.  I used to LOVE doing so many things.  Cancer and pregnancy helped rob me of my motivation to do the things I love.  Now I'm not even sure what those things are anymore.

Because I am not the same person anymore.  The last few years have REALLY changed me.  Part of it is that I am emotionally different now.  I deal with things a lot differently now.  But I am physically missing my thyroid.  I have heard horror stories from people post thyroidectomy that their energy levels never get back to what they once were.  I need to find my new normal.

For the first time in a few years, I am hopeful.  I have a sense of peace about this next year.

So Phil and I are preparing to say good-bye to 2013, and cheers to a happy, healthy 2014.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Grieving Christmas Gift

So I am pretty sure that recent events have earned me a little slack when it comes to a lack of blogging.  In addition to dealing with the loss of a loved one, Henry got an ear infection, Phil got a really bad cold, and I got even more exhausted after we returned from Virginia.  Throw in trying to catch up with work and prepare for Christmas and we are lucky that we have clean laundry.

It helps that Phil and I seem to have an unusually large amount of clothing.  And don't mind re-wearing jeans multiple times between washes.  But I digress...

In the midst of the Christmas cheer, this has been a time of great sadness.  I'm not even sure what the next few days will look like as our family prepares for not only Henry's 1st Christmas (YAY!!), but the first Christmas without Ed.  Bittersweet doesn't even come close to describing.

{Our Elf on the Shelf}

{Watching Christmas Lights while waiting in line for Santa}

It doesn't just seem to be our family that has suffered loss lately.  There seems to be sorrow and sadness in so many places.  Perhaps it is just in our little corner of the world, but we know several people who have either be diagnosed with cancer or lost their battles with cancer/illness in the last couple of months.   My good friend's sister was just diagnosed with breast cancer.  Our pastor's 3 year old granddaughter is fighting a reoccurance of brain cancer.  Just last night, one of our employee's father-in-law passed away.  A couple of weeks ago, another one of our employee's mother passed away.  One of the contractors we worked with passed away about a month and a half ago.

Then this morning my dad said, "I think God decides to bring some of His children home right before Christmas on purpose.  He has decided he would rather have them celebrating Christmas in Heaven with Him, than suffering on Earth."

I think he's right.

Everyone knows that life is a gift.  Each day and our health are not things we are guaranteed.  Most of us take our health and time with our loved ones for granted and it isn't until we lose someone close or have a health scare that we begin to really value those blessing we have brushed aside.  But there are no promises of tomorrow for anyone.

That idea kind of freaks me out.  I want so badly to have decades left on this earth with the people I love.  And hopefully I will get that.  But in the meantime, I will hug my baby a little more, a little tighter.  And kiss my husband one more time.  And invite myself to dinner with my parents more often.

In this Christmas season, I am so grateful for a healthy family.  It wasn't that long ago I faced my own health scare.  Just 2 years ago, I prepared for my first thyroid cancer surgery, not knowing if it had spread or what the future would hold.  I am so grateful that my ultrasound and bloodwork are still coming back negative for cancer.  I'm so grateful that my baby is healthy and happy (even if he won't sleep through the night).  I'm thankful for a husband who, even though he is in grief, is still kind, loving and a good father.  And I'm so thankful for a Savior who promises eternal life free from pain and suffering in Heaven where we will be reunited with those who have gone before us.  That's the best Christmas gift ever.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Livers are Important: A Final Update

On Monday, November 18, Phil's dad passed away.  I hate to say he lost his battle with non-alcoholic Liver Cancer, because that sounds strange to me.  When the doctors only gave him 6, maybe 12 months to live, he lived over 3 years.  He definitely gave Liver Cancer a run for its money.

Ed's diagnosis came 2 months after Phil and I were married.  I barely knew my in-laws at all.  And here I sit, 3 years later.  I know them a lot better.  But I never really got a chance to know Ed outside of his cancer.  I realized when we were with family in Virginia that Ed was so much more than his cancer.  So many stories from his sister about when they were little.  Or stories from Phil about when he was younger.  In fact, most people who came to the viewing and funeral mentioned they didn't realize he was so sick.  Because he didn't mention it to them.  So much more than cancer.

The last couple of months have been especially hard.  When he got sepsis in July, we flew back to Virginia in a hurry.  We honestly didn't think Ed would be coming home from the hospital.  We debated packing funeral clothes, just in case.  But he had to defy the odds again.  And he survived 2 more bouts with sepsis.  But I have thought several times over the last couple of months how hard the whole process must have been for him.

He didn't talk a whole lot.  One of the few ways I was able to have a conversation with him was to talk about Virginia Tech football (which I started keeping track of for that very reason).  But he was a very proud, stoic man.  And I can only imagine that knowing he would be leaving his wife and son behind must have been really hard for him because you could tell he liked taking care of his family.  And he did.  He did so much to take care of Faith, even after he was gone.  You could tell from the way he tried to get things organized, so it would be as easy as possible for her.  Still taking care of her, even after he is gone.

To Ed, that's just what you did.  You took care of people.  It was just the right thing to do.  And that was evident at his funeral.  One man came to his viewing that hadn't seen Ed since high school.  He came up to Phil and told him about how he was picked on in school and Ed was the only person that was nice to him.  And I'm sure Ed didn't think twice about it.  But for that man to show up at his funeral after 40 years... that says something to me.

While I am glad his suffering is over, I am also really sad.  My heart hurts.  I'm still struggling with the fairness of this whole situation.  None of it seems fair for this family.  Faith and Phil already lost Phil's brother, Nick, in a car accident.  And now they have to lose Ed as well.  It is just so unfair for them.  My heart hurts for Faith.  Even the idea of losing a son and then husband so early makes me want to run into the corner and cry.  I'm sad for Phil, that he doesn't get more time with his dad.  I'm extremely sad for Henry and any future siblings he may have because they won't get to know their Papa Ed.  We will have plenty of stories and I have a few pictures of Ed holding Henry from our visit in July, but it won't be the same.  And I honestly am sad for myself.  I'll never get to foster a relationship with my father-in-law.  And I'm mourning that loss.

Thank you to everyone who prayed and supported us during this process.  We honestly think all the prayers helped give Ed more time.  And we all needed that time.  How do you possibly prepare to lose someone from your life?  I still don't know the answer.  I don't think that there is one.

Now we will all try to navigate through the grief.  I just hope I can continue to handle this grieving process and be there for Phil.  Because that's what you do... take care of your family.

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