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...
Saturday, June 7, 2008