Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What you can do for us

I would like to start this post off by saying, WOW!!!


As you may or may not know, Brian and I come from large families. Between the two of us, we have over 50 first cousins. FIRST COUSINS. We have over 30 aunts and uncles. We have cousins with kids and kids of cousins with kids. We have friends from all over the country and beyond (eh?). We have a large church. We have groups within our church. We have amazing neighbors. We have co-workers. We are blessed with PEOPLE in our lives. Then there is this whole thing called the BLOGGING world. There are real people I have never met that read this blog and people that we have not seen in years that read this blog. I didn't know the extent of this until just this week. I mean, I knew, but I didn't KNOW, you know?


And everyone wants to know what, if anything, they can do for us. WOW!!!


I am getting bombarded with phone calls, emails, texts, facebook messages, comments, etc. asking what anyone can do.


I am coming to a place in my life that I realize people WANT to do. My mom has told me that if I do not let people DO for me, I rob them of the joy they receive from DOING. So, I am learning to accept help. I am learning that I can ease my burden when I allow others to enter my life and do something that makes them feel good.


In order to help with this difficult time, there are several avenues that anyone can take. Please, PLEASE do not take this as a solicitation for ANYTHING. This is actually very awkward and uncomfortable for me.


Practical:

Brian's first cousin Karye Setterlund has agreed to be a contact point for all things practical - meals, errands, groceries, insurance, cleaning, etc.

Here is her contact information if you are interested in helping in any of these areas:

Karye Setterlund


309-691-6930 (home)

309-922-9239 (cell)


I am keeping in close contact with her as needed each day as far as what meals we need (none right now) rides for the kids, groceries, errands, etc. This will ease my phone burden which is heavy some days.


A few tips, though:


  • If you bring a meal, disposable dishes are most appreciated. OR please be willing to come back and get your plate - forgiving me if it is not clean when you arrive.

  • I don't care about brands on anything unless I specify.

  • I do not use any particular brand of laundry detergent - whatever is on sale.

  • If we are not home at the time you came for whatever reason right now, it is cool enough to leave just about anything outside for a while. I check the front porch frequently as I find treasure there from little angels frequently.

  • Be patient with me and thank yous. I am historically bad at this and right now, I am scatter-brained. Please give your information to Karye so I can thank you properly, though,



Encouragement:

Please know that I am reading the comments. Every last one of them. Sometimes I have time to reply. Sometimes I do not. I am trying, but some days it is overwhelming. The emails coming in for me to relay to Brian - I have to admit - do not always get relayed. I get distracted. I read them, but then delete them to keep the inbox clean and forget the details. If anyone wants to send Brian a specific note, please feel free to email this account we have set up:



Brian's brother, Sean is going to monitor it regularly, print out any and all notes for Brian and bring them to us. A hard copy is still best for ensuring we read these wonderful words together. Or if you would rather send us an actual card or letter, please feel free. You can email the above address and Sean can get your our address or you can email me and I can do it if you don't have it. Every time we get a letter from someone that describes how Brian touched their lives, I see him shrug - like what did I do? I am just being me. I have told him the amount of people he has impacted has surprised even me who knows and understands how amazing he is.


You can continue to send me emails and comments for encouragement. I also facebook (Angie Baer O'Neill) if you are looking for me there. I read every single letter, etc. from everyone. I have to tell you I find great comfort in hearing from other widows. It is strange, but it lets me know that I can do it. That the boys and I will and can be okay. They are also incredibly honest. Something I strive to be. I don't want anything sugar coated.


THE KIDS:

I am trying to keep things as normal for the kids as possible right now. I do not want to shower them with gifts and sweets and other things to ease the pain as I do not want them learning to turn to such things for comfort. I want them to face their fears and grief, address them and work through them with me or whomever else can help them. This is NOT to say that an occasional pack of gum, action figure, video game, trip to the Spotted Cow or a movie isn't a nice gesture. I just don't want it to get overwhelming and I don't want to draw more attention to them than already is. Playdates are good. Letting kids come here on good days keeps things normal for them so they feel comfortable in their own house and letting them know our house is open to friends is important to me. Some days, though, they just need to get out - to get away from the visitors and the hub-bub. Grant is home every afternoon at 11:00, so I think I am going to try to set up once or twice a week playdates with friends and cousins (hello Brody) to give him something else to focus on.


Financial:

Please, PLEASE do not take this as a solicitation for ANYTHING. This is actually very awkward and uncomfortable for me, but many of you have asked.


I am in the process of establishing some sort of a fund/trust in Brian's name. I am meeting with a friend/advisor to assist with this on Friday. The fund would be used primarily to help with the children's education and well-being including medical and dental coverage, etc that we will lose in the event of Brian's death. For those of you who don't know, Brian was diagnosed with this disease only one month after we were married, so we have only the life insurance available through his work. Brian and I are very smart and frugal with our money. We live within our means and do not do anything extravagant. This fund would simply allow us to continue to do that for as long as necessary until I could find the right job or pursue the best avenue for employment that is best for the children and me in the event of Brian's death.


My main goal is to keep things stable and secure for the kids. I do not want to make any rash decisions about jobs and moving out of panic. The economy is not the best right now. I would never allow the children to lose this house and our livelihood. I would do whatever it took to maintain that. The generosity that many of you have already bestowed upon us is helping that to be a reality without drastic measure. Mind you, though, I would take drastic measures if need be. However, I know that for the next X number of months or years, my boys will need me. They will benefit from the security of my being the one to get them to school and get them home from school. They will be dealing with not having a daddy around to play sports with and to read to them and to watch them when they learn a new trick or score a goal or catch a fly ball. This breaks my heart and I know it will be painful to them as other dads are helping coach, practicing with their kids, assisting with homework, or simply cheering on the sideline. I want to fill as many gaps as I can, especially in the near term if possible.


I would also like to be able to do charitable things in Brian's name and memory if God allows. We have been blessed a couple times by such organizations and nothing would give Brian more pleasure than being able to bless someone else in our situation some day.


So once again, PLEASE DO NOT THINK I AM ASKING FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some have told me they have prayed specifically about this and as awkward as it is for both of us, who are we to deny God's nudging? I prayed for financial provision. I didn't pray for it to be anonymous. I should have been more specific. I think God is trying to teach me something about humbleness and gratitude.


I have to say it again - PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS AS A SOLICITATION FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. PLEASE! Economic times are rough. We are currently blessed. There are many blessing us each day as I write this now. There are many who do not have what we have now, and who will never have what we will continue to have even when Brian does pass. So, I can't shake the guilt of this regardless. Please know, though, that should you feel lead in this way, integrity is not something I would ever compromise in any aspect of my life - financial included. Does that make sense?


Karye is the contact for this as well.


Whew, I said it..... And I lived.... Okay....Breathe....


Visits/Phone calls:

There are so many that want to visit, see or talk to Brian. This is to be expected and we encourage it. You read above that we have large families, so crowds to us are nothing new. Due to this, though, we cannot guarantee that there may not be someone else here when any one person or group is visiting with Brian or me. I like people. I need people, family and friends surrounding me and supporting me. They distract me, make me laugh, comfort me when I cry and fill the gap when I can't make it across the gorge. Please know that if the visits are too much, I WILL SAY SO, so don't feel like you are over-imposing. I will be honest. I will do what is best for Brian, the kids and me. In saying that, though, we have a two story and a basement. If the best thing for Brian is quiet and solitude, but not for me, I can still have visitors retreat with me to the dungeon. I am learning that this process is not just about Brian. It is about all of us.


Okay, back to the point. I will still be the contact person for visits for Brian. Please don't feel like you are overwhelming me right now. Visits during the day are pretty good actually, as Gavin is at school and Brian is more alert. Monday and Tuesday evenings are not good as we have soccer. Any other evening is doable, but we will not overdo this because it also can cut into our family time that we are cherishing right now.


I know weekends are best for many due to work, travel, etc. So, PLEASE DO NOT FEEL LIKE YOU CAN'T COME OVER FOR A VISIT IF SOMEONE ELSE IS HERE. We do not know how much time Brian has remaining and weekends are the only option for many. That is just the way it is. If anyone is uncomfortable with that, just know it isn't coming from us.


AND I WILL SAY ENOUGH IF I FEEL IT IS ENOUGH. I am being honest. I told my girlfriend the other day that I needed her gone by 1:30 because hospice was coming for the first time. I hated saying goodbye to her, but I had to do it. I told some friends the other day that I needed them gone by 12:30. It was hard, but not as hard as the first time. I called a friend and cancelled a dinner plan tomorrow night because I have felt overwhelmed this week. It wasn't THAT BAD. I told my MIL I wanted her to come at 10:00 tomorrow so I could have the majority of the day to myself since Grant has a playdate. It felt good. So, really, I will say enough is enough. I am getting good at it.


Best hours for a visit:

10:00am to 3:00pm

not good: Monday and Tuesday evenings.

Other decent times:

weekends, evenings 4-7 W-F.


Best hours for phone calls:

10:00-4:00 Mon-Tues

10:00 - 7:00 Wed - Sunday


Brian is a man of few words right now. He is having some speech issues so I try to help out as much as possible, but most phone conversations are brief.


That about sums it up. I feel like a pushy, bossy, demanding little thing, but I think this is what people were looking for. If I offended anyone, I didn't mean to, but I can't apologize right now.


KEEP BELIEVING

49 comments:

  1. Angie, you came across just fine. THIS is actually a very brave post. Hugging you from far away.....

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  2. Great post...it's actually very nice to hear what you guys WANT!! I love this pic! I just showed it to my cousin tonight (as it is still on my computer) and said I am going to frame it for you! I love you guys! I will be in touch soon! ENJOY your time and your company!!!

    Shawn

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  3. What an amazing post. The Lord has put us all here... reading this blog. Apparently, your family was MEANT to be in all of our lives. "Love thy neighbor." And even though we are not within the same state, we are neighbors; blogging neighbors. I am praying. I pray there is something I can do to "help." Best wishes and big hugs.

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  4. You did fine. I love knowing what you guys need and Im sure your family/friends do as well. Thanks for the update.

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  5. Your clarity and courage are remarkable.

    I'm praying for you. Still praying. Always praying.

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  6. Continuing to pray for you and your family. ((HUGS))

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  7. Angie, you did an amazing job of making your needs known and accessible and I am glad that you have appointed contact people. You also did an amazing job of defining boundaries and you are NOT "pushy, bossy or demanding". I can't argue with the little though...just kidding!!!! This post will help many out there who desperately want to help you and your family - even those of us way up here in Canada. Our prayers are still with you and for you...always.

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  8. Perfect post. Another testament to your strength and courage.

    THANK YOU a million times for being so upfront and honest!

    Hugs, prayers and positive thoughts . . .

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  9. Your mother is very wise and absolutely right (as mothers usually are). I appreciate the contact information. As always, you are in my heart.

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  10. Even though you may not think so, that was a truly selfless post. Sorry I kept Brian up so late the other night, but it needed to be done.

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  11. Thank you for your honesty... I just found you blog and its truly inspiring

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  12. I love the picture! Many prayers continue for your family. If I lived closer, I would not hesitate in a heartbeat to follow through with one of your requests but since I am only a friend through the blog world...I can only send you a cyber hug and tell you to stay strong and know that many are praying for you!

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  13. I'm a first time visitor, but my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. You sounded great in this post. I love your honesty and heartfelt feelings.

    You have a beautiful family, full of smiles. I can feel the love in the pictures................:)

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  14. Angie,
    You are right about others who have lost their husbands. We band together to help each other.

    You will continue to have my prayers and support through the internet since we live so far apart, but you can count me in when you need me!

    Your outline of how we can support you now and in the future is a perfect combination of love and how to learn to accept from others. It is harder to receive than to give. Giving feels good and by receiving gracefully you will feel good too.

    Hugs, prayers and a peace that passes all understanding, Karen

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  15. Angie,
    Thanks for your honesty...that is exactly what everyone needed to hear. Everyone does want to help...but I can't imagine how overwhelming that must be for all of you.

    That is one of my favorite pics of the two of you!!! I'm praying for your time together to be magical!!!

    Love,
    Kris

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  16. You are amazing! My heart is with you. I spent many years caring for my father and mother in law. Who lived with us during the first 13-15 years of our going on 19 year marriage. I felt it an honor to care for my father in law when his cancer made it so he could not care for him self any longer. It is amazing how the Lord sends us special people to help us through each challenge we are going through. This post shows me that you are allowing people to be of service to you. Which is a blessing not only for you, but all those who want to serve you. I am so proud of you for allowing those who want to serve. Even when at times it may feel a little comfortable. My mother always said told me during those years of being a caregiver that there really where only two types of people in this world. Those who served and those who made it possible to serve. You are making it possible. You are love!

    Take care,
    Jenny

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  17. Perfectly said. Love you guys...

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  18. I think you said everything perfectly and that is what people were wanting.

    Please please know you are in my heart and prayers each and every day. My heart goes out to all of you in this difficult time.

    Much love...

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  19. Great post -- don't dare apologize.

    Praying!
    Beth

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  20. Praying for you and your family.

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  21. Thank you for the picture it is beautiful:) My prayers and thoughts are with your family at this time, you have touched so many hearts. You both look so good it is hard to believe you are going thru so much. You can tell God has you wrapped in his loving arms. Sending love and prayers from Michigan!

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  22. Thanks for the update. I think this is exactly the post many were looking for.

    As always, I am praying for you and your family. May God continue to hold you in the palm of his hand during this most difficult time.

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  23. Look at how beautiful the two of you are together...We love you and are sending all of our strength and prayers your way!!!

    Andrea and Brian

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  24. Angie, You are so beautiful!
    Kara

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  25. Your post was perfect. Thank you for letting us help!

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  26. You are amazing...and if anyone felt like you were "asking" for anything in this entry, they have issues. Lighten up on yourself in this respect...your mom is right. Many of us have come to love your family and the grace and faith you remind us to keep in our own lives. We WANT to help because you have helped us(me). At this point in my life (and considering I live across the country form you :) ) all I can give is prayers, and I give those daily for you and yours. May God continue to embrace your family and may his Holy Spirit bless you with the ability to receive without guilt.

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  27. Angie, Brian and boys..your Edmonton Cat Family is sending hugs and prays your way. Tell Brian that BB King still rocks!
    Hugs...Char

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  28. you're right, people do want to help, and sometimes, helping financially for the long-term stability of your family is the way people feel best, so let it be. they know you are not begging or even asking, but making it possible. and right now, you get a by, you don;t have to apologize for anything.
    thinking of you

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  29. You have an amazing spirit which is filled with light. I will be sending prayers to your family.

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  30. Angie,
    I am so proud of you for laying it all out and for accepting help. I finally came to that point and understood that people really want to and learned to accept it and was so very thankful. I am thrilled that you all are starting a trust fund in Brian's name. Some friends of ours started one for me in memory for Jeff and had it listed in the obituary. The bank gave me the names of who made deposits and it was such an outpouring of love for me and the kids and such an honor for Jeff, his life and those he touched. We too were so frugal and the money was only spent on the kids and their needs and helped me not have to go to work too quickly when I felt I needed to be with them and keep life as normal as possible. You are doing an amazing job of keeping it together for Brian and the boys. Take care of yourself if you can and know I am praying for you all!
    Paige

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  31. I ache not being able to be there to do something. I make a killer breakfast casserole. But I also pray.
    Angie, nobody is offended. You are drawing loving boundaries and saying what you and Brian need. Nothing could be healthier.
    It's very loving.
    Everyone loves you both.

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  32. Huge hugs to you Angie.
    you came across beautifully and amazingly.
    Blessings and Love

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  33. Angie, I really don't have words but wanted to say something. My husband has had cancer twice and he is only 42. The first bout was with my 2 boys were 5 & 3 and then about 8 & 6 the second time. They are now 8 & 10. Your words really hit close to home and touched my heart because I laid awake many nights fearing being in the position you are in right now. I know you will make it through but it must be so hard right now. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. love and blessings to all of you.

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  34. Blessing others by letting them help you is all about getting over yourself.

    Good woman! Keep it up.

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  35. I hope that if I ever am faced with a situation like yours, I act with grace, strength and honesty just as you have. You and your family are an inspiration.

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  36. YEAH! Thanks for not robbing us...

    You would want to help too if you were in our place.

    *hugs* I loved the picture.

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  37. Angie - I have been following you for a few months via OHMommy though this is my first comment.

    You have a beautiful family, and your strength absolutely amazes me. I wish you nothing but good thoughts during this emotional time.

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  38. May God continue to give you the strength and love that comes across in your blog. I will be praying for you all.

    hugs
    jo

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  39. Remember this.
    Grief is the price we pay for true love.

    This whole thing sucks and you should allow yourself to feel that way. Hang in there kiddo- God is totally with you....

    thinking of you.

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  40. Angie,
    I don't know you and actually stumbled upon your blog a week or so ago but I wanted to let you know my heart aches for you. My prayers have been for you and your family everyday and will continue. Your strength is amazing and it sounds like your family is amazing as well. My thoughts are with you, your husband and boys during this very difficult time.
    I don't know if you have AOL but yesterday on the home page was a man who lost his wife a day after she gave birth to their daughter in March of 08 and he has a website(blog) he loves to reach out to those who are widowed or are dealing with hardships. Pretty amazing guy. his website is
    www.mattlogelin.com
    If you are interested.:)
    Lots of prayers for you
    Heather W.

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  41. Thank you so much for letting us out there help. Because truly reading and commenting does not feel like enough.

    Thinking and praying for you and your family still......

    And love that picture of you and Brian. What a cherished moment that must have been.

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  42. Just want you to know that you have more prayers coming your way. And this post -- the truth in clear and courageous words. Well done.

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  43. prayers from kentucky are headed your way... i am so sorry for your loss.
    love,
    dani

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  44. You inspire me.
    Thank you for your Grace and Honesty.

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  45. I hope you know we're all praying for you guys.

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  46. Oh Angie this breaks my heart. I don't know you but was directed here by another blogger. I know first hand just exactly what you are dealing with and what you will be dealing with in the future. My oldest daughter passed away in 2006 from a glioblastoma multiforme (brain cancer) at 28. She was married with two little girls (the oldest 6 and the youngest 1). I took care of her in my home because that is where she wanted to be when she passed away. Her husband had left her a few months before (long and painful story). Please feel free to contact me at any time (vevans@uoregon.edu). I am glad to help answer any questions I can whether it is about her symptoms, drugs, hospice, end of life care and such. I know it is scary but please know that my heart is along with you both for this ride. I am so so sorry. Prayers.

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  47. Angie you are so incredibly brave. I'm only sorry I haven't visited your blog sooner. Know that you are all in my prayers and I'm sending love your way.

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  48. Well, your mom is right - you have to allow people to do for you. And you'll find that once you get used to it, you actually feel closer to those people. You feel safe being vulnerable around them. And there is no doubt you'll have chances to pay it forward in the future!

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  49. Keeping you in my prayers always. Thank you again for blessing us with the sharing of your family's struggle and courage. xoxoxo

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