Sunday, 26 May 2013

Kenny's First Haircut, and Dad's First Time With Scissors





Saturday, 25 May 2013

Update on Mary: PET Scan Results

The PET scan Mom had this week confirmed (as we knew) that her cancer has spread to her abdominal wall. It did not reveal any other spread, which was a huge relief. Also, it appears that her pancreatic tumor has decreased activity, which is good. She has to go in for another scan in three months, because the radiation should continue to work against her pancreatic tumor.
In the meantime, she was not able to do chemo this week because her white blood cell counts were too low. This was very discouraging, because she knows she needs to fight those little spreading tumors. She is hoping to be able to do chemo next week, so please pray for an increase in her white blood cells. Also, pray that the chemo would effectively contain and fight the new cancer growth.
Next week mom will meet with both of her oncologists to discuss her options for future chemotherapy. She will also see a nutritionist (who is also an MD) to find out if there is anything she can be doing to better support her immune system. Please pray for wisdom for all of her doctors and a good plan for her future.
If you read my last post you know it has been a rough week for our family due to the loss of my Dad's mother. We are all kind of in a fog, and very worn out emotionally. Thank you for continuing to lift Mom and our family up in prayer. We appreciate it so much!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Well Done

This morning my Grandma Cox died. Tommy, upon hearing the news, asked if she was already in heaven or if she was still "rising to heaven." It's interesting viewing this event through his eyes, because he is a little confused about our sadness. He keeps saying, "but the good news is, she's with Jesus, right?" And, if I'm being totally honest, he is also really hoping that she is hanging out with Jackie Robinson. A few weeks back when Grandma suffered the stroke that led to this, his response to learning that Great Gran was on hospice was as follows:

Tommy: If Great Gran dies she will go to be in heaven because she loves God and UCLA.

Me: Well, really it's just because she loves God, but the UCLA part is good too.

Tommy: Well, she will be happy to be in heaven because she can hang out with Jackie Robinson and he played for UCLA.

I know all the Trojans out there are shaking their heads at this slight theological misunderstanding, but Grandma Cox, a Bruin to her core, would have been proud at his conflation. She had a great sense of humor and that little anecdote would have made her smile.

Tommy is stuck on the tension between the sorrow of those who miss a loved one's presence and the knowledge that the person you love is with their creator and that they will spend eternity basking in His love and glory. He understands the second part, but he is having trouble comprehending what missing Great Gran will mean, because he hasn't experienced death personally yet. For those of us who have repeatedly experienced loss, we cry because we know about the void. We know about wanting to relate a story, or make a phone call, or give a hug to someone who is no longer there to receive it. Absence hurts.

However, if Tommy is going to get stuck on something, I want it to be the victory. While we will certainly be talking more about why sadness is appropriate when someone dies, I'm thankful that he can see the big picture; Grandma's death is our loss, but her gain. While I think it is easier to say these words about a woman who spent many years here on earth, who had lots of time to follow Christ and bear His fruit, and who experienced a physical and mental decline that made death a release, for anyone in Christ, no matter their age or health or how much they have accomplished, death is always a victory. As Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians, "...to live is Christ, and to die is gain." We were created to be with our Lord, and now Grandma Cox is with Him, worshiping Him, glorifying Him, she is without pain, without sorrow, and without tears. What a blessing. What a victory.

Grandma Cox leaves an impressive legacy. Four children, fifteen grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren (I'm counting the three on the way). Most importantly, her love for God has permeated the generations; she was a role model of faith, love, and wisdom. I will always remember her for her wit, her love of grammar (and pointing out grammatical errors), her quick mind, her generosity, her love and acceptance of all of her great grandchildren, and her compassion towards us when we were hurting. Grandma always had a bottle of chewable vitamin C in her cupboard, a full tank of Sparkletts, and a tin stuffed with Fig Newtons. She loved to travel, and I always admired her for taking off on her adventures, whether it was a trip to England or a jaunt up the coast with her dear friend Jaquie. For the last few years Grandma had not been able to get out much, but you could always count on her to greet you with a smile when you stopped by her home. For the past few years she has been lovingly cared for by two very dear women, Elizabeth and Jojo, and our family could not have asked for warmer or more compassionate women to assist her. Their care allowed Grandma to stay in her home until the end, which was her desire. Not everyone gets to die in their sleep, in their home, at an old age, at peace with their family and their maker. Grandma was blessed to do so, and we are blessed to be her descendants and to carry on her legacy. I am thankful that she chose to live a life worthy of emulation. As sad as it is for those of us who now live in her absence, I know that this morning she stood in His presence.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

Well done.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Update on Mary: PET Scan

This is going to be a quick one because today has been a rough one:
Mom's PET scan tomorrow was pushed back to the early afternoon, which means she has to fast for most of the day. When she cannot eat she generally experiences more pain, so please pray that she would not be in pain tomorrow, that the scan would go smoothly, and that she and my dad and our whole family will have peace as we await the results. We will not know anything until Friday. It's going to be a very long week.
Thank you all for your continued prayers...they sustain us.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Breaking and Mending


Tomorrow we begin our five year milestones. Tomorrow is five years from the day we sat in the ultrasound room, shocked and confused, while the doctor patiently and carefully explained that our daughter would not live past birth. Five years from having to make phone calls and tell family and friends that the happy event we had all been anticipating would be bitter and difficult, and yet still precious. Five years from planning a funeral instead of attending a baby shower. Five years since having all of our expectations of what life and family would look like shattered.

When you are losing and grieving life stops. It's paralyzing, and you have to step back and insulate yourself while you process and mourn and work through what normal looks like in light of your new situation. It's hard work. It's exhausting, and at times defeating, but eventually you come back to a new equilibrium and then you can begin to progress again with making decisions and making plans and, well, living. Then you hit an anniversary or an event that takes you back to that raw place. It isn't for as long, but it reminds you how deep the pain of loss runs. It never goes away.

In the last five years our life has changed in ways we could never imagine. We have come so far, and yet the sorrow still feels so near sometimes. I am so thankful for the three beautiful boys God has added to our family, and very aware that I wouldn't have them now if I still had Leah. But I want them all. Always, I want them all.

Yet I am so glad, that if I had to experience this suffering and this despair and this brokenness that I also have been able to testify to healing, and redemption, and transformation. God has done a great deal with us in these last five years. He has been patching us up and mending us day by day and week by week and year by year.

As I continue in the cycle of breaking and mending through death and sickle cell disease and cancer and all the weight of the hard things that will come, I am continuously mindful that God has provided so graciously for us, that He has cared so deeply about binding my breaks and plastering over my wounds, and that He has placed so many of you in our lives to do the heavy lifting of bearing our burdens, of carrying us when we falter, and of encouraging us on. To our families, our dear friends, the people of St. Andrews, First Pres, and First B, and all of you who have followed along via the blog and lifted us up in prayer, thank you for your contribution to our healing and growth these last five years. God has used you powerfully in our lives. You testify to us of His grace and mercy through your care.

Friday, 17 May 2013

New Pictures of the Boys!!!

I know I have been terrible about posting pics of the boys lately. My computer is just about half functional, and I can barely use it when it is fully functional (I grew up Mac, but Jeff is PC all the way), but there are some amazing pics of the boys here.

Seriously, if you want your family to look beautiful you should have Julie Chen photograph them. She gets the best smiles out of my kids. Nic currently hates cameras (the constant refrain when I get mine out is "no like it camera") and she even got a big "cheese" out of him!

In other news, we are packing and should be moving to our NEW HOUSE in 2 1/2 weeks!!!!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Update on Mary: Hawaiian Style


Mom and Dad took a much deserved trip to Hawaii to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary (which isn't until June 10, but this was when the timing worked out). Here are the two love birds in paradise:



Mom returns to the chemo grind this week, so please pray that her body would continue to tolerate the drugs. The transition back to chemo has been tolerable.

Next Tuesday Mom goes in for a PET scan. She is not looking forward to it because it will be tracking the spread of her cancer in greater detail than the last CT did, which means it will potentially uncover more. Please pray that it doesn't, and that Mom would have peace as she waits for this test and for the results. Please pray for the rest of us as well, but especially my Dad.

Thank you all for your continued prayers! We appreciate you sticking with us (especially since I have been so sporadic with my posting lately). We are so grateful to have you walk alongside us.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Birthday Boy

One year old already...seven days ago.


Blackberries!


It's my birthday?


Don't I get a cake?


I can have cake tonight?


But I have blackberries now.