Thursday, February 26, 2009

grace moments

Quick status report: Brian has been having his morning vomiting issues again since Tuesday. Then he eats a small lunch and microscopic dinner. He has lost 20 pounds since the 1st week of January. He is having continued weakness and some morning dizziness. Other than that, things are about the same as they were last time I wrote.

I thought I would take this time today to remember some grace moments that have occurred in the last couple weeks as Brian has continued to slowly decline.

A couple of weeks ago, our boys were off school for Lincoln's birthday. Not PRESIDENT'S DAY which would have allowed for a nice three-day weekend, but LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY which falls on February 12- a THURSDAY. At the time, I was a tad annoyed by this, but we do live in Illinois, so I understood the emphasis on Lincoln. ANYWHO!!! As a result of the Thursday holiday, Brian and I had a lazy morning with the kids watching cartoons and hanging out in our PJ's. We had pancakes for breakfast for which we usually do not have enough time. Then, we went out to lunch just the FOUR of us for the first time in well over a month. We attended a movie - Coraline which I would rename - AWFUL-INE unless you are tripping acid while you watch. But, the kids said they liked it, so I guess that it all that matters, assuming they were not tripping acid at the time, naturally. We shared our popcorn and our sodas and I even splurged on a box of overpriced movie theater candy which I NEVER do. We had a great day. Had the kids been off Monday instead for President's Day, based on what happened on Sunday, we would not have been able to have this family day. It may have been our last true family day where we were able to leave the house together and make a day of it. I cherish the day - Coraline and all.

Secondly, the Friday before Brian had his drastic change, we went to a local bar in town to hear a friend of ours play in her band. Their playlist was all the type of songs that Brian and I love. They dedicated every Grateful Dead tune to Brian. While at the club, we came across several friends from our neighborhood that were out that evening as well to hear Jane's Cellar. Brian and I had hoped to sit in a booth, but at the time, we were placed at a table and made due. The table situation worked perfectly because all of our friends were able to pull up chairs all around at surrounding tables and join us. It was a great night and one that I will forever cherish watching Brian rock out to some Doors, Dead, Beatles, Alanis Morissette and many in between considering the next night we had to leave our dinner early due to Brian's condition.

Also, the weekend that Brian had all his problems was a weekend originally planned for a visit from an aunt and uncle. They chose to come the weekend prior for no particular reason which allowed my sister and parents to be here instead. Thank God for my sister who was quick on her feet getting Brian out the door and into the van when I was a blubbering mess. She also had the insight to suggest calling hospice when Brian began to decline at home. Additionally, she was logical enough to have me reschedule the delivery of the hospital bed from 3 am to the next available time the next day when the house was awake. Duh!! Lastly, with little sleep under her belt, she still rallied all the boys and took them to church in the morning to get them out of the confusing house. AND, because my parents and sister were here in lieu of my aunts and uncles, my mom simply stayed with us the entire week to ensure things ran smoothly. She beautifully and gracefully filled every gap that existed last week. I was so unaware of that until her absence this week reminded me. Having my family here during that time was a blessing I didn't grasp until just these past few days.

When we went to Alexander's for dinner the night Brian "freaked out" on us, we had specifically requested a reservation on the main level. The main level of this very old downtown warehouse-ish steakhouse is actually UP one level from parking, but is accessible via a ramp. You have to go in and out here via the main entrance. The manager immediately pulled us aside and explained that they had us at a table on the lower level. This was really not a problem because Brian was able to make it into the building just fine, so he could descend the flight of stairs to the lower level tables. The manager also assured us that when we were ready to leave, he would temporarily shut down the emergency exit alarm on a door nearby that lead to the main parking lot if need be. This turned out to be the largest blessing of the night. Brian was unable to leave the restaurant walking. My Dad drove to Alexander's with the wheelchair (which I forgot to mention for him to bring, THANKS MOM) and we were able to get Brian out the side door without parading him back through the main entrance. It was a quick and easy escape.

Kris, Adam, Brian, me and Mindi just before we left Alexander's Feb 14, 2009

I truly believe that finding grace moments in the midst of this horrific struggle is what allows me to remember that God is in control. He is working things according to His purpose even when it doesn't appear so.

I listened to a sermon once about Job. One of the things that stuck with me beyond anything else I have ever heard in my life was that even in the midst of a horrific struggle, there are spiritual developings happening parallel to us that we do not see and cannot possibly comprehend. I remind myself of that constantly. Remembering that God is God in the good and bad times is the truest test of faith. Satan wants nothing more than for me to think that God has abandoned me in the low times or that the I am responsible for my own high times because he knows that separate from God I am powerless. He will use whatever he can to get me to rely on myself. God knew what Job was going through and even allowed for it to happen to Job because He knew and wanted Satan to know that we as humans worship and trust in God because He is God - not because we have possessions or fame or success or health or prosperity.

I don't have God's perspective on what is going on in my life. I don't want it either as I am NOT capable of comprehending it. I can only honor Him by trusting Him despite my circumstances.


Monday, February 23, 2009

quick update about Brian

I know many of you are checking on a regular basis for Brian's status. Sorry for the lack of update. Not much has been new to report.

I don't have a lot of time to write a long note today. Our guests have all left and we are solo for the week. I am catching up on mail, filing, laundry, etc. today. It feels good to reconnect with my house and my domestic chores.

Brian is about the same as I last wrote. He remembers and forgets things on and off. One minute he asks if it is official that Obama took over and the next he is criticising the stimulus package. (a common theme in this house - I don't grasp stimulating the economy that has crumbled because of bad debts and irresponsible spending by increasing government debt. Those of us that are responsible consumers and borrowers are paying the price for those that aren't. I am tired of bailing out bad decisions while those that made good decisions rarely get rewarded.) He asked me again what happened to our cat that we got rid of 6 years ago.

He is having dizzy spells off and on. He is tired and weak. His speech is not great. He is just generally a bit confused and a little sicker than he was a couple weeks ago.

His appetite is hit or miss. Mostly miss, though. Food does not taste good to him. He eats very little, too. He feels a bit sick to his stomach most mornings. He has not vomited since two Sundays ago, though.

He is maneuvering through the house and into his own bed. He is not handling the remote controls very well. He gets confused and often needs help to change the input or to watch something on DVR.

Yesterday and today he has slept a bit more than usual and is EXTREMELY fatigued. He says it is like his body is just sore and never feels good.

Still, he visits with the stopper-bys. He plays cards well. He is in decent spirits.

I will not leave the house alone with Brian and I will not leave him here by himself. After seeing how drastic things can change and how he cannot recuperate easily if he falls, I feel this is for his safety and for my safety. It kind of stinks, but I am hoping to get out this weekend with some of his family for a dinner out or something.

We have no planned overnight guests this week or weekend. The kids have a 3 day weekend - off Monday for Casimir Pulaski day. Leave it one ethnic group in Chicago to create a holiday for the entire state of Illinois, not that I am complaining. I think the kids and I may get together with some friends and have some Pierogis - which I actually came to like in Canada. Only, I bet we end up having pizza instead - with a large gray mouse and video games.


Thursday, February 19, 2009


Brian has been doing extremely well lately. He definitely still has some memory issues, but they are getting much better. Now he can remember that he doesn't remember if that makes sense. He listens to me when I tell him why I am now in charge of his meds and why I don't like him walking up the stairs by himself and why he can't be alone in the house. As good as he feels and as much as he dislikes it all, he now understands how bad he was to warrant such "mean" inconveniences in his life.

The last few months to Brian are a bit sketchy in his memory. He can recall things if something or someone triggers his memory just the right way. So, when we are talking about something he doesn't remember, I will state facts about the event or surrounding circumstances to trigger his recollection. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

We have had to have the same "why am I not doing chemo anymore?" discussion...again. He looks around at all that is going on and all the visitors and hospital equipment and feels like we are giving up on him... again. I have assured him we are just being prepared for the very drastic changes that we have seen can happen.

This is the third time we experienced Brian's transformation from his chipper self to a shell of a person unable to walk, move, speak, or think rationally and back again. His parents and I can't risk being unprepared emotionally, medically, logistically, equipmentally (like that?), etc.

The good news is that Brian has been feeling great lately. His appetite is slowly increasing. He is mobile and aware. He is involved.

I told Brian the other day I believe one of the reasons for this third scare - the third time we thought we were losing Brian within a week or two only to get him back again - is that God is trying to tell us something. I think we have been given this precious gift of time again and again to remind us that when it is time for Brian to go, he is not mentally "with it" enough to have certain conversations with him. I told him I thought it was time for him to start having those difficult conversations with people, especially his boys. The conversations in which the people want to share with Brian how he has touched their lives and vice versa. I know it stinks. I know it feels like giving up, but in the end, shouldn't we all be having those conversations every day? Shouldn't we all be telling each other how much we mean to each other? If someone impacts our life in a concrete, measurable way, why wouldn't we take the time to let that someone know it?

In truth, we are all living to die. Shouldn't we live like it?


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

the ride continues

The last few days have been incredibly up and down. We have reached summit of the coaster hills and plummeted to the bottom, then back up again. I feel like right now we are at the boring part of the roller coaster where you think must either end shortly or you are soon to be surprised with a hidden leg of excitement - maybe a loop or hill or a plunge. Who knows?

Brian remembers NOTHING of what happened on Saturday night at Alexander's Steak House. He remembers nothing up to Monday morning and even that is sketchy. He is extremely frustrated with me and anyone else who thinks that he should take precautions or stay put. This is largely because at the most difficult moments of Brian's condition so far, he remembers NONE of them. He does not remember how bad he was in November just before he had surgery to install his shunt. He does not remember mid-January when he was unable to walk and forgetting everything before we discovered the tumor had progressed. And today, he does not remember what happened Saturday night and Sunday- how he was up all night and all the nonsense things he said like how he was going to request a change in management when I refused him a drink or how he was petting me on the head like a dog and he said at least he didn't call me a bitch when I asked if he was stroking my hair or petting me.

It is gone from his memory as are a lot of other short term things. He can't remember hour to hour if he took his medication. He can't remember moment to moment where I am heading or where the boys are if they aren't in the room. He looks for me all the time and constantly asks where I am. He didn't remember that Mom was here this morning when he woke. He doesn't remember whether or not he ate. And many other examples. He remembers long term things pretty well, though.

He is able to move and walk a bit better. He is conversational and involved. His vitals are good. We slept in our bed last night and the hospital bed remains empty except for the kids when they play in it. He showered on his own last night as I stood by and watched. He is ascending and descending the stairs. He does not use the wheelchair, either.

With his stability issues and the understanding that things can turn so quickly, I am insistent that he not walk around unless someone is close by him and that he not descend stairs unless a strong man is in front of him. He is not accepting this very well. He is not treating me very kindly saying some pretty harsh things, taking an incredibly sarcastic and defensive yet accusing tone. I know it is not the Brian I know speaking, but it is difficult nonetheless.

Brian is very aware of his need for his medication. This has been such a part of his regular routine for 12 years that he cannot think without being engrossed with taking his medication.

Brian does not remember if he took his meds. He thinks he took them, then he thinks he needs to take them - moment to moment. I hid all his bottles of medication and assured him I would be responsible for getting his right meds at the right time. He is not nice about it. I am developing some thick skin because I know this is what is safe for Brian.

The boys went to school yesterday to Daddy sleeping in a hospital bed in the living room. When they arrived home, he was able to walk and lounge in the La-z-boy watching TV.

I opened Gavin's backpack to find a card for Daddy that he had made at school because he had wanted to come home and see his Dad afraid he may die while Gavin was at school. His wonderful teacher had encouraged him to express his feelings on a card and share them with Daddy when we got home. The card had Dad written on it no less than 15 times. It made me proud and broke my heart at the same time. I had a conversation with Gavin that if I thought Daddy was getting close to dying while Gavin was at school, I would come get him. I cannot even believe my 7 year old has such a heavy burden on himself as he is learning that "igh" makes a long "I" sound.

Yesterday, Grant had two great-aunts and his Memaw here to distract him and spoil him. He got some Spotted Cow Ice cream - one of our favorites and Taco Bell - his first time, but he loved it.

Yesterday, I felt like crap. I had nausea and ahem, other, issues that plagued me for about 24 hours.

I had plenty of relatives here to help yesterday.

Today, my mom (Memaw) feels like crap.

Today, I feel great.

If I think this is confusing for me, imagine how it is for the boys. Gavin came home to find Brian out of his hospital bed and walking around and asked me, "he is still going die, though, right?" Grant looked over at Brian watching TV and said, "it looks like Daddy is dead in that chair with his mouth open and not moving." These are some of the normal statements spoken in our house. It is like we all have to convince ourselves that this is real because we realize moment to moment things can change so drastically. We have to keep ourselves guarded and prepared. They are watching AirBud on the big screen as I write this. Moments ago, Grant was telling me to cry in his shirt. I explained I didn't need to cry right now. He said that I should cry because of Daddy. I explained that sometimes I feel like crying and sometimes I don't. He can cry to me and in my shirt any time he wants. Sometimes he will feel like crying. Sometimes he won't. I don't understand my own emotions and my own valleys and hilltops. To get them to understand is a whole other issue.

My boys are confused about sickness. They think sickness is the reason you give if you don't feel like doing something. If Daddy misses a game, it is because he is too sick to come. If Daddy doesn't eat, it is because he is sick. If Daddy sleeps late, it is because he is sick. And those things are true because Daddy doesn't want to sleep late or miss their games or be unable to stomach food. Daddy misses those things only if he is too sick to do them. They think they have to say they are sick if they don't feel like going to a game or if they don't want to eat. They are both constantly saying they are sick. I try to make sickness be something they DON'T want to be by saying things like, "that's too bad because if you were feeling good we could play this game instead of (whatever), but now that you are sick, you will need your rest instead." Things like that. Still, sickness is confusing in this house. As are lots of things.

Some days, as terrible as this may sound, it would just be easier if Brian consistently felt awful.

But that's not how I want him.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Roller Coaster

Today was a roller coaster. After I wrote about Brian this morning and his fitful night, he fell asleep around 8:30 this morning until around 11:00. Then, he woke for about an hour and fell FAST asleep again for several hours. He has been in the recliner in the family room this entire time. The hospital bed was delivered around 11:30 and ready to go around noon or so. I wanted to get him into the bed which has an air mattress pad to alleviate the pressure points caused by Brian's dead weight (aka his right side). I tried a few times to wake him around 1:30. He could not be stirred. I tried again and again he would not even budge. I know that one thing we can expect with this brain tumor is that Brian will sleep more and more until he slips into a coma and most likely passes in his sleep. I became worried that he may be unresponsive forever. I don't know what to expect.

I gathered the support of a couple neighbors assuming that we would have to literally carry Brian to the living room where we have set up the hospital bed. Around 4:00, I broke down with my head in Brian's lap and sobbed, broken and defeated. Within a couple minutes, he woke up. He was very alert and I explained what was going on again. He was very confused. I sought the neighbor's offer for help and they came to get Brian into the wheelchair and into his bed while he was alert enough. He actually took a couple baby steps and was much more stable and steady than just a few hours prior. The transfer from the chair to the bed was easy and uneventful, thankfully. I had learned with Brian throughout the years that tears don't usually help me get my way. Unexpectedly and thankfully, this was not the case today, although no malice was intended.

For the next several hours, visits from Brian's family poured in as the word spread that Brian had taken a sudden turn for the worse. Brian was very alert and conversational. He made more sense than last night as he talked nonsense (albeit funny nonsense) with the shift changing to actual interest in events and people around him. When I sensed he was well cared for and surrounded by love and support and the boys were in the same situation, I went up to my bed and took a long nap.

When I woke, Brian was still alert and asking many questions. He not surprisingly doesn't remember the last 24 hours. He keeps asking where the bed came from and why he is in it. He is very confused as to the time of day and whether or not it is day or night. One minuted he proclaims how early it is and the next he proclaims how late it has become.

I have had to explain to him several times today that he is in the bed because he has been very sick the last day and can't really walk. That the cancer is affecting his balance and memory and hearing and thinking. He spent a small portion of the day angry. I think I won't explain that the cancer is causing this again. I think I will just explain that he has been having some problems and some balance issues. I don't know for sure. I will play that by ear. I don't want him angry. I want him peaceful. I think he is reliving the painful realization that there is nothing left to do and that he is dying over and over again. I think once is enough for that.

He fell asleep again around 10:00 pm. He has been sleeping for the last hour very peacefully. As soon as I finish writing this, I will sleep next to him on the trundle that we have placed in the living room. I want to ensure I get adequate rest.

I put the kids to bed tonight. I talked with them again about what is going on. Grant is more affected right now. He saw me crying earlier in the day and told me to stop crying. I told him I was just so very sad. He hugged me tightly and said, "Cry in my shoulder, Mommy" I sobbed in his shoulder for a while. He started to pull away and looked me straight in the eye saying, "If you need anything, just tell ME, and I will get it for you." I guess sometimes it is okay for the roles to reverse. He also said tonight when I put him to bed that he is sad and thinks it isn't fair for Jesus to take Daddy now. He wants Daddy to go when he is a Grandpa. I couldn't agree more.

My mom is staying with us until further notice. I have two aunts from St. Louis here tonight as well. We have offers pouring in from people as to what they can do. I will just remind everyone that they can send a personal note to Brian at this email address:
and they can contact Kayre (pronounced Carrie) to see what can be done:
309-691-6930 (home)
309-922-9239 (cell)

Brian requested some McDonald's for dinner. He didn't eat much at all. He said it tasted awful. While some may agree that McDonald's often tastes awful, this is an unusual statement for Brian. Still, he has been able to identify and satisfy the urges to urinate and drink today. He has not vomited since last night.

The boys spent some time snuggling in Daddy's bed this evening with him watching some TV. It was cute and they all looked great, don't you think?

I will write more when I get a chance. We do not have a laptop. The desktop is RIGHT next to Brian right now. It makes me happy to be able to hear and watch him in a peaceful slumber AND write this at the same time.


a turn for the worse...again

Saturday night, as Brian and I were out to eat with a large group of friends for Valentine's Day, he suddenly started hearing strange noises. He became confused as to where we were and how we had arrived, etc. I calmly had my sister who was with us call my Dad to come pick us up in the van and said good-bye to all our friends. Brian was unable to walk to the car, and thankfully my Dad had his wits about him to bring the wheelchair.

When we got home, he was able to walk into the house with assistance and he and my Dad watched some TV. He had the volume up extremely high because he was unable to hear much.

Brian's confusion continued. He was insistent on going pee, yet could not make it to the bathroom. We got the urinal, but he was unable to go - yet still insistent on the need to go. He was very difficult to discuss with logically due to his confusion. He was in no condition to go up the stairs due to falling, but was insistent and irritated that I wouldn't let him. I called hospice for reinforcement and the nurse came out to help convince Brian to stay put. She took his vitals and his blood pressure has dropped again while his pulse is over 100. This is "part of the process" - a term I am hearing more often.

After she left, we gave Brian a Lorazapen to help him rest as he was so fitful. It did no good and within an hour or so, he continued with his bathroom urges and talking incessantly - nonsense mostly. As he would begin to drift to sleep, his right leg would tremor and he would talk and mumble more. I was afraid that he would fall asleep and not wake, so I called Jan, Brian's mom. She was up with a stomach bug, but came over around 2 am.

Brian was still not sleeping or resting, so we gave him a sleeping pill around 2:30. It did not work. Brian did not sleep at all. We turned on the TV to help him rest, but he just played with the remote. He talked to Jan if she would listen, me if I would listen and himself if no one would listen. He vomited everything he ate over the course of the night, too.

This morning, with the house stirring and everyone waking, he is still confused and talking nonsense. Examples: He thinks he has a cup of coffee when he doesn't. He wants to go outside or across the room and thinks we discussed that we were going to do this. I cut off his water telling him that he keeps vomiting, so he needs to slow down on the water drinking. He told me he was going to get new management.

I told the boys when they woke this morning that Daddy got much sicker last night and he is saying some funny things. Daddy can't walk right now and we have to have a hospital bed come to the house. Gavin explained that it should probably go in the Wii room. I was proud of him for thinking that through and offering up his video games. I told him we could very easily move the Wii to another room.

The strangest part of this whole transpiring of events is the suddenness of it all. Friday night, Brian and I went to a local bar to hear a good friend of mine's band play. We had a fabulous time. He was walking and talking and remembering and totally fine. All day Saturday was the same. He was in a great mood and laughing and being his same witty self. This all happened WHILE we were at Alexander's Steakhouse. I couldn't believe the sudden onset and rapid decline.

So, I pray that Brian can find some peace and that his body can rest. I pray that our time can be blessed. I pray that the children are not alarmed.

I will write more as time allows....


Thursday, February 12, 2009

looking a gift horse in the mouth

Lately, I feel like I have been looking a gift horse in the mouth.

I can't make sense of the origin of that phrase and I have no idea if I used it correctly or not. Brian loves to tease me regarding my incorrect use of my limited vocabulary or my mispronunciation of a word or my confusion of a commonly used cliche. So, if nothing else, it is good for a laugh.

Seriously, though, I feel as though lately, with as good as Brian is feeling (Does one feel good or does one feel well? For the purposes of this blog post, Brian is going to feel good, but if someone corrects me in the comments next time he may feel well.) we are not spending our time just enjoying it as we should be. You see, just three weeks ago, Brian was showing all the signs of someone succumbing to the progression of this disease - the memory issues, the balance, the speech, the vomiting - all are signs of the disease taking over the brain. Then, we quit chemo. A week later, Brian's memory was restored, his balance and speech improved and his vomiting subsided.

And for the last two and a half weeks, Brian has maintained a very promising quality of life. So much so, that it raises much question amongst myself and many others as to whether or not Brian could be showing signs of improvement in the areas of the tumor progression. Was it the chemo that helped that? Or was it getting off chemo that helped with his current condition? How could we tell for sure?

One way to tell would be to have another MRI performed. But then what? The doctors would never say that Brian is cancer free again. I know my God is capable of healing Brian, but my heart and my mind are colliding here. While Brian is showing signs of improvement in the memory and balance categories, in the last two weeks his right hand has lost a little more function and his speech is hit or miss. His speech is markedly worse than it was in October when we found out the cancer was growing again, but only marginally worse than it was in December. He has been having some issues with vomiting here and there. He vomits in the morning about two to four times a week. Also, his memory, while better than it was two weeks ago, is not up to the status it was a month ago.

So it continues to beg the question - if we did another test, THEN WHAT? Based on Brian's current condition, logic tells us that the tumor is still progressing some or he would have the function in his right hand and leg returned. He would be speaking clearly. He would have energy and endurance. He does not. So, if an MRI shows that the cancer did shrink some in the cerebellum and brain stem, etc causing some improvements in his memory as a result of the chemo, does it matter? Brian remembers almost NOTHING from the week and a half in early January when he started to take a sudden turn for the worse. He doesn't remember the good or bad moments - not the doctor's visit, not Spamalot, not the vomiting, not the falling, etc. If the chemo did shrink things, having Brian in the condition he was to get to the point where we are today is so not worth it. It was not quality time. I would even go so far as to call it terrible.

Does this make sense?

And why do I write this? Why am I unloading all of this and writing out these thoughts and the conversations Brian and I have had over and over the last three weeks?

A few weeks ago Brian was so bad that the doctors and I thought Brian had, at best, a few weeks remaining. We made a decision to get under hospice care and move forward from there. Our assumption was that Brian would continue to decline. That has not been the case, so it makes the decision to go under hospice care and cease treatments confusing for many. Many people assume hospice means that the very end is imminent. I am getting many questions from friends and family as to why we aren't considering more. It makes it very difficult to accept our decision and carry on right now. Brian and I have talked the issue into the ground. We have thought it through and prayed about it. What we are experiencing with Brian right now with respect to how good he feels, is a gift. It is a gift of time and life we didn't think we would have. Why is it that is not enough?

I spoke with the hospice nurse yesterday regarding Brian's condition and progress. I explained that it is confusing how he has improved so much. It is difficult to accept the decision and live out our days right now. She explained that Brian is young. He has this shunt which is probably helping. There is no formula for what to expect from here. But, Brian does show slight signs of worsening - the vomiting, the weakening of the hand, etc. They are slight and slow and that is good. Hospice has a sometime unfair black cloud that follows its name. We wouldn't be under hospice care if this was not what was best for Brian and our family.

Brian's doctor knew the last chemotherapy would probably not do much for Brian based on how his last two scans had looked. Yet, he took a risk and gave us hope for one more shot. It was not overly surprising to him that Brian's disease progressed anyway. It was devastating to him. He cried with me in his office as he wrote the order for hospice. He did not want Brian to be in this situation any more than we did. We have done all there is to do. He was there with us every step of the way - believing, hoping, laughing and crying.

So, being under hospice care doesn't mean we have all given up. It simply means we have moved on.

And I want to enjoy this time. I feel like I am not enjoying this time because of the pressure coming from myself, friends and family to consider Brian's condition and what to do from here. I feel like we haven't come to peace with our decision and I want to come to peace with the decision. I want to live what time we have remaining in peace. I CRAVE and BEG for PEACE!

Please pray for peace in this decision and this time. The boys included. It is confusing to be told Daddy is dying and to spend our time with him and then to see him improve. It is encouraging to see him at one of their soccer games, then it is scary to see him unexpectedly vomit in the morning. Gavin thinks he should go to the children's hospital where he went because they are good at making people better. He has told me there are other doctors that can still help. Why won't we try them? Why won't God heal Daddy? Doesn't He love us enough?

He does love us enough. He has given us this amazing quality of life and some time to enjoy it. Please pray we maximize it.


Monday, February 9, 2009

What about you?

What have we been up to the last week?

Visiting with friends and family:


Watching others play:

Celebrating birth:

Celebrating anniversaries of birth:

What have you been up to?


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

things that make me smile

Lately, there is so much joy around us. The overall mood in our house could be so solemn and somber, but it is not. It is one of joy and celebration. So many things make us smile...

Gavin scored two goals yesterday in his soccer game. Who is this child? Where did he come from???

My Dad proved that at 62, he has the best headstand of all of us in the family from ages 4 to 62- his being the steadiest and strongest. It makes us smile.

Brian feels so stinking good. SO GOOD, lately. He is still feeling like he would rather do chemo right now since he feels so good. I explained to him again last night that the week and a half after chemo last time was hell - he was miserable, weak, tired, confused, unsteady, falling, nauseous, and sleepy. He didn't remember our trip to the doctor again and what the doctor had told us to understand why chemo isn't a good option anymore. I told him that for the first time, after seeing him the way he is right now, I would rather have weeks of this than months of him the way he was when he was doing chemo. The way he is right now makes me smile.

Brian loves me. He loves being in the room with me. My mom told me when I am gone he misses me and every time he hears the door open he looks around for me. That makes me smile.

I informed Grant that when he smiles instead of frowns it makes me smile. Smiles are contagious. So now he randomly walks up to me throughout the day and shows me a forced cheesy missing tooth smile. It is contagious, I tell ya.

A humongous roll of paper from a friend that can keep 4, 5 and 7 year old boys busy so we can watch the Superbowl - all smiles.

This weekend, we get to meet our newest niece - McKenna. That makes me smile.

We got some great notes from some family and friends that Sean, Brian's brother, is gathering on his behalf. If you have something you would like to share with Brian or a funny story or something that reminds you of him or something inspirational or just anything you want to say to Brian, please send an email to :
Sean is bringing them by once a week and they make us smile.

A full rack of wood for fires the remainder of the winter makes us smile:

Who doesn't smile when they see a baby covered in baby food opening like a baby bird every time the spoon comes near??

A fart that makes everyone in the room do this - well it doesn't really make me smile, it actually is kind of gross, but it made my brother, who dealt it, giggle uncontrollably.

Catching up, visiting, and talking to friends and family as if no time has passed since the last time we saw each other - THAT makes us smile.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

The tiny every day miracles

Life has been happening all around us. It is strange, yet comforting to go about every day business as if nothing is happening.

Brian is doing remarkably well. He is maneuvering the stairs and house. He is quiet, but conversational if he feels he can or wants to contribute. He is involved. He is attending the boys soccer games. He is playing cards. He is in good spirits. He feels relatively well. He has vomited a couple of times in the last week, but nothing terrible, and no all-day episodes like in the past.

Hospice will be calling on us once per week for now for Brian's care. I have a lot of resources for the kids and understanding this process. However, though, the overall mood of the house right now is uplifting and joyful. The visitors that Brian has had are not here saying goodbye, but rather living life adjacent to Brian for a little while longer. Saying goodbye can be awkward. It is difficult to say how long Brian will continue to do this well, so we don't guess. I didn't expect him to be doing as well as he is right now. He is doing better than he was even 3 weeks ago. That in and of itself is a small miracle.

This past weekend our visitors included my family - my sister and brother and their families and my parents. It was very fun and Brian did great. The layout of the house worked well to accommodate all 15 of us. We missed my nephew, Andrew, who is in college, though. My brother and Heather were supposed to come without the kids since the kids have so many sports obligations, but all of them ended up coming on Thursday. You see, they live in Paducah, KY which has hard hit by the latest ice storm. The kids' school and all events were cancelled since they are STILL without power. Our house was like an oasis for them with phone service, Internet access, TV, a warm fire and power. As terrible as the ice storm is for their area, I feel blessed that God granted us all time together without the nagging of other missed events. Small miracles.

Brian's little brother, Michael and Jen had their first baby - McKenna Riley on Wednesday, January 28. McKenna Riley is the newest cousin to 5 male grandsons and the newest niece to 2 uncles. In case you didn't read into that, she is the first female born into Jan and Ed's (Brian's parents) lineage. I am so happy to have the celebration of McKenna's birth to commemorate this time rather than Brian's failing health. Twelve years ago, my brother, Kevin and Lisa had their baby girl, Lexie. They were induced just a day after Brian was diagnosed with his brain tumor. They made Brian and me the godparents in order to help us remember a joyful occasion during that time of May instead of the anniversary of Brian's diagnosis. That was very special to us and I always think of how life happens and joy is all around us even in the midst of our struggles. McKenna is another reminder of small everyday miracles.

Speaking of miracles, Brian made it out to the boy's soccer games last week. He attended both Grant and Gavin's games due to the kindness of a few that helped Brian get into the building and others that cleared the walk for him to get in the building without slipping. Grant played a great game as he usually does - hustling and trying his hardest. He was awarded the Gatorade for best defensive player by his coach that day. Daddy was there to see it. The next night, Gavin scored a goal. Any of you who have ever seen Gavin play in the last year know this is TRULY MIRACULOUS! And Daddy was there to see it. Small everyday miracles.