Monday, June 30, 2008

Better late than never? O=-)

Hello, Friends...

It's been another long stretch since I've updated, so I thought I'd check in quickly just to say that we're "okay." This summer has been a busy one - and that's always a good thing. (As always, we're MISSING Brent like crazy)

Link's been busy at work, the boys have been lots of help around the house, and I'm staying busy doing that wife/mom/help-meet thing. =-) Oh, and our garden is GREAT! The boys want to go out "first thing" each morning to see how the veggies are growing. (It's CRAZY how fast the cucumbers grow!!) Funny, they're so into watching the stuff - they'd run screaming like girls if you tried to get them to eat any of it. HA!!!!!!!!!

Oh, before I go... I hope to get TONS of pictures on the 4th and will be sharing those as quickly as I can get them loaded. It's been a long time since I've made pictures of the boys and girls together. We actually don't have any of them (Addison, Lora Beth, Zach and Gabe) with Allie Grace. We're hoping to get some really great family pictures! Again, I'll share them ASAP!

I hope all is well with each of you, and want to say THANKS for stopping by! I PROMISE to do a better update soon. (We always appreciate your prayers too) ;-)

See ya after the 4th? (If not before)


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Friday, June 20, 2008

Favorite Foto Friday - Daddy & Me

Yesterday was the first time I've posted in almost two weeks. In the post (just below) I used several "Daddy & Me" type pictures. If you'd like to see those too, just skip past all of the "Blah, blah, BLAH!" and check them out. Hehehehe!

Happy "FFF!" For more posts on this "FFF" visit Sarah at Kiss the Frog 4 Me.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Get comfie, this is a LONG one! Hehe

Hello, my sweet friends...

WOW, I can hardly believe it's been almost two weeks since my last post. I'm struggling to try to remember where all this time has gone. Perhaps I can just start as far back as I can remember and hit the highlights? O:-)

Okay, first - if there are any men readers here that happen to be someone's daddy, then I'd like to wish you a belated, VERY HAPPY Father's Day! My apologies for not getting my "well wishes" out BEFORE your big day. Fatherhood is a truly amazing gift that GOD has given the men in our lives. Being a parent is such a blessing and I do hope that it's never taken for granted. (I say this because I've done just that with the gift of being a mom to our little ones) I ashamedly tell you that I've missed so many moments that I'll never get back doing things that could've waited. All of that said to say that I hope and pray that we realize the role we play in our children's lives and that we'll cherish every moment.

Link is an AMAZING daddy and it's always pure JOY to watch him play with our boys! Here are a few pics of him with our little men...

This one almost brings tears to my eyes... You can see Link's love for Brent as he gently caresses his head.. at the same time you can almost see his heart breaking

Okay.. I'm going to move on with our rewind.... or I'll end up "a mess" and this will be another post that will end up abandoned before I ever get started.

We were blessed to be able to keep my sister's children last week while she and her husband celebrated their anniversary. (15 years, I think?) Yes, having 2 extra kiddos around was a lot of fun! ESPECIALLY when it's those two! Ashley has become one of my very best friends (she's almost 14!).

Clay was Brent's best bud and is now filling the role of a much missed older brother. He and the boys get out and ride through the pasture (they're happiest when it's nice and muddy)! They like to build things together, play games, and do lots of other wild and crazy boy things. (Most I'm sure they hope we won't learn about... hehe)

Ashley took good care of me while she was here. She helped keep the housework done and was great mental support as I conquered some work in Brent's room. I'm in one of those places that I wanted to do SOMETHING, but I didn't really want to change what was his. SOOO... I bought some new bedding - a comforter that I KNOW he'd have LOVED and I started hanging some of his things.

We were given a nice tapestry by Link's family when we lost Brent. It's got three beautiful bucks on it. Two over to one side, and one on the other. They said it was "our three bucks." Well, since Brent LOVED to hunt I thought it was only fitting to hang it above his bed. There's also a photo of Zach & Gabe that I had blown up - it's on canvas... it's now hanging on the wall in Brent's room. I KNOW that Brent would LOVE the new look of his room and I think that kept me from feeling guilty about changing a few things.

I struggle at times with how to deal with things like that... I want to respect his memory, and yet there are things that I know he'd want to see changed. It's crazy... just more mental struggle that I suppose I'll have to work through.

My friend Kim asked about seeing the tapestry.. so I thought I'd go ahead and share some pictures of Brent's room. Now, let me add a disclaimer... I do NOT claim to be an interior decorator! Much of what you'll see are things that were there while Brent was still here. His door is EXACTLY as it was.. the things hanging on and around his windows are the same. Most of what I did was add new bedding and hang the tapestry (and some photos). I also put out more pics of Brent and the boys. One other thing.. the REALLY LOUD paint is from when we first built the house. It was "cute" with their stuff when they were 7, 5, and 2, maybe not so much now. However this is another of those "things" that I'm just not ready to change.

Well, that cleaning frenzy sparked another...
I cleaned out my closet and in doing so I found a box of baby things that I'd saved. Inside of Brent's baby book was the first store bought pregnancy test, the little band that was on his wrist (or was it his ankle?) while in the hospital, along with some other items. I started to flip through the pages of that baby book and began to read about the things he did at one month.. then two. I read (and remembered) how he used to like to twist my hair and sometimes suck on it to fall asleep. I attempted to tell Link of my find, but all I could get out was that I found the first copy of Brent's little foot... then I began to sob. He held me and reminded me that I'd have him back one day.. we just have to be patient.

So those are a few of the things that we've experienced lately.....

Now, to try to steer us back to happier thoughts... I've also kept Allie Grace a few times in recent days. You know I can't resist taking pictures! These are a few of my favorites of her....

Okay, I PROMISE that I'll try not to be gone so long the next time. I can't say how much I've missed all of you and how BLESSED I am to know that you're still checking in. Oh, I've also enjoyed reading all the sweet comments you've left. I hope to start making my way around to your blogs soon to start catching up. THANKS AGAIN for your support!

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Another milestone behind us...


Wow... have I got some BIG news to share with you. No, we're not "expecting" or anything like that.... it's more of a "milestone" type thing. Okay... so here goes.....

As you probably all already know, we lost Brent in Memphis. Let me back up a bit and fill you in...

He was treated at St. Jude and when we were told there was nothing more to do we flew off to Vermont in a last attempt to save his life. When things became evident that all we were doing was prolonging his misery we knew we had to make some decisions. (He could no longer eat, sit up, feel his legs, and was in TREMENDOUS pain almost ALL the time) Link & I knew in our hearts that it was time to stop fighting GOD and allow HIM to take Brent HOME.

The decision was made to stop treatment. The next question - where did we want to be? We knew that Brent was MOST happy at St. Jude. It was his FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH to go. (I know that may sound crazy.. but that's the kind of place St. Jude is)

We talked with our Nurse from there, who talked to the doctors and they graciously allowed us to bring Brent back. He spent his last days on earth, surrounded by family and friends, and all of his FAVORITE nurses at St. Jude. Now, I don't have to tell you how INCREDIBLY hard it was to walk out of that hospital the day he left us without him. I think Link & I both took on the attitude that it didn't matter to us if we NEVER saw that place again. Now, I say that, because of our GREAT LOVE for his doctor and nurses and our LONGING to see them again, I think we both knew we'd eventually go back.

So, this is our "big news." We left with some of our church group and headed to Memphis for a little mission project. You've probably all heard us talk about Habitat for Hope? They are the non-profit that walked "hand-in-hand" with us after Brent relapsed. It's headed up my Mark & Mylissa Horrocks. They themselves were with us down to the minute we walked out of the hospital for the last time. (They spent the morning with us the day that Brent went HOME to be with JESUS) They even walked us all the way to our truck when we left. I can't tell you how many times and ways they were there for us. I CAN tell you that they provided housing that allowed us to keep our family together the last year of Brent's life on earth. (See, St. Jude housing only allows 4 to their housing - there was 5 of us. I'm not "bashing" St. Jude.. YES, they absolutely have to have rules) It meant the world to use to have ALL of our boys together through this.

So.. fast forward a year, 5 months, and ONE day.

Mark had called my brother-in-law a few days earlier and asked if we could come up and help them on some projects they had going. (They've moved their own family to Memphis to assist families like ours. THEN they've opened their OWN home for families to stay in and visit while in treatment or in other children's hospitals) Of course our group was THRILLED to be able to go up and help out. We left on June 2. Yes, that's one year, 5 months and ONE day since we lost Brent. It was a VERY EMOTIONAL trip, but we both KNEW it was something we wanted to do.

God sent us GREAT comfort during this trip. Yes, that's one of the many jobs of the Holy Spirit - HE's our COMFORTER as well as so many other things. I won't lie.. there were MANY tears shed as we traveled the same path we'd taken Brent so many times for treatment and checkups. Yet, our hearts were at peace as we were reminded that he's NOT trapped in a cancer-ridden body any longer. He's NOT crippled, or sad, or lonely... he's with his JESUS! Can you IMAGINE the JOY that his beautiful little heart is experiencing right now??? OH, we're SO THANKFUL that GOD provided a Way for us to be TOGETHER again!

Guess what else??? We not only went to the "Hope House," we also went TO St. Jude. Link & I BOTH wanted to see our nurses so BADLY! Again, it was hard - but it was another HUGE milestone that we've gotten behind us. The bad thing??? We only got to see just a few of them. (Joni, Nekeyah (sp?), Yen, and Morgan)

There were at least three others that we DESPERATELY wanted to see and MISSED them all. Mrs. Joann was one of them. She was Brent's "D Clinic" nurse, but she was SO MUCH MORE to him! He LOVED to pick on her and play pranks on her (along with some of his other nurses). He told me just days before he left us that he "REALLY LOVED Mrs. Joann!" I said, "Sweetie, you should tell her." He quickly asked that we go and bring her back into the room... of course he expressed his LOVE and was SO HAPPY that he did. (She was more like a second mom to him... I CANNOT tell you how crazy he was over her!) With all of that said... we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANTED to see her.. but we didn't! We'd just missed her by about an hour. UGH!!!!!!!!! Oh well, it's more incentive to go and visit again - and hopefully SOON! There are so many more sweet ladies that took such wonderful care of Brent and we'd LOVE to see (and HUG) them all!

Now, to quickly sum up the trip....
It was EMOTIONAL.. bittersweet.. but OH SO WONDERFUL! We're VERY THANKFUL to have made this journey back to Memphis with our family/friends. (My sister and her family went as well as David & Joye Patterson and their son Drew... and Brent's bud, "Mr. Brad") It was SO NEAT how GOD worked our first trip back out.. because EVERYONE that went (except for the Pattersons) were the EXACT same people that were there with us the day Brent left.. and they all made that long drive home with us that terrible day.

YES, GOD ALWAYS goes before us... HE prepares our hearts for what's to come and WALKS BESIDE us through the fire when that's the way we have to go. We serve a MIGHTY and LOVING GOD indeed!

Oh, I've talked all about this trip and mentioned our Memphis doctors and nurses... I don't want to sign off without saying "hello" to our care team from Vermont. We MISS all of you (both Memphis & Vermont) TERRIBLY! You all became such a TREMENDOUS part of our lives and we're FOREVER GRATEFUL for the love and care you showed Brent and our family. Hang in there... you're allowing your loving ways to be a MIGHTY TESTIMONY to GOD'S LOVE! WE LOVE YOU ALL!

Of course I can't sign off without thanking the rest of you for walking this journey with us as well. Your prayers and encouragement have meant the world to us. We LOVE YOU!

By and through HIS strength...