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...


ozjane said...

Thank you for sharing God's goodness and His planning in love for you. This may sound odd but I am so glad you shed tears. God rates our tears so highly His word says He keeps them in a bottle.
Grief never really is over. It is just another color in the quilt of your life. It may vary in amount and intensity but it will always be part of you. You will in time tell the story and feel a little less of the pain but do not ever let anyone tell you..'it is time to get over it' That is not God's word. Hugs in Him

Susan said...

To my dear precious Tonya,

When I read this awesome testimony the scripture that came to mind was;

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (PS 126:3)

Once again we all get to witness God's mighty hand working on your behalf.

As I read this my heart was filled with so much JOY.

Everything that surrounded your testimony with Brent, from day one till he won his battle has brought so much glory to God!

My life was so touched, so challenged and changed because of it.

I'm just so blessed to read how the Lord arranged things so divinely on this trip. What a perfect set-up for yet another VICTORY for you and for Link.

I'm just so proud of you Tonya. I only wish I could of been there with you. I know I was in spirit!!

I bet Mark and Mylissa was so blessed to have you guys there helping out. Tonya you gave in your need, this truly pleases God.

I rejoice with you, and I'm sending so much love your way. It's a long journey, but with Jesus right by your side, you'll make it, victoriously!


PS Thanks for sharingthis with us!

Pamela (MrsJoeB) said...

Tonya~I can only imagine your journey. As a nurse I have walked with so many through the valley of the shadow of death and there is such peace for us to know the suffering has beed turned to complete healing. There was a reason your son Brent was in your life for such a short time. God has a purpose and it is only in keeping focused on that we can carry on. My heart breaks for you and yet is envious at the same time. If I ever walk in your shoes, I hope to follow your steps of faith and love.
Blessings to you and your family during this time as you remember...

In His Graces~Pamela

Sheryl said...

That was beautiful! I've been wondering where you were. I can't imagine the emotions you all must have been feeling. How great God is to have it all arranged.

Your joy and testimony are such a legacy to Brent. His life obviously held such purpose. And you're right, how great of God to make a way for you all to be together again.

With Love

crispy said...

God is so good. I am glad to see that the trip for you was a good one. I am sure it is part of the healing process for you.

Praying for continued comfort.

love, Cris

Kelley said...

I feel blessed to have been able to read and share in this story today. It is a HUGE testimony to God's grace and provision. I am sure it was wonderful for the nurses to see you and I hope you get to go back soon and see the people you missed. God is the great Healer and while Brent is completely healed in heaven God is healing you more every day!!! I am praying for you and I am praising God for bringing us together as friends in blogland. YOU are a blessing!

Jenileigh said...

This is so touching. I am so glad that the Lord is healing, blessing and guiding you. You move me. You are an inspiration. I have no wise words I can only offer prayers and hugs!

Ang baylis said...

"our hearts were at peace as we were reminded that he's NOT trapped in a cancer-ridden body any longer." I am so appreciative for those words. After losing my father and sister to cancer I never heard it put that way! Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are so grateful when you could be feeling sorry for yourselves! You are such an inspiration to me tonight! You are amazing parent, I can see God's heart so clearly in yours!
In His Unfailing Love,
Angie xoxo

Amy Wyatt said...

I am in tears of joy and sadness for you after reading this post. I'm so glad your trip went so well. God always has a way of bringing us back to a place we never thought we wanted to be again to teach us something and to help us help others. So many will be blessed by you, your story and your work for other families who are enduring what you have already been through. Blessings to you.

Milk Mama said...

That was so sweet! God has been so good to you and your family! I hope you can see Mrs. Joann next visit. She sounds so wonderful! She just sounds like an Angel! Thank you for sharing about God's goodness! I love reading your blog. =)

Beth said...

I'm so glad you had a wonderful trip! I can only imagine the different things you and your family must have been feeling on the trip.

Melanie said...

OH, Tonya... what a wonderful blessing the Lord has given you in being by your side on this journey back to Memphis! While I have never experienced a loss such as you have with Brent, I do know there was no way this trip was easy. However, God was by your side and brought peace and comfort along with special visits with people very near and dear to your heart.

I know without a doubt that He planned this trip for the right time and the right place. I pray for His peace and comfort to continue to embrace you and that you are able to experience other milestones that lay ahead in the same manner in which you were able to experience this trip to St. Jude.

Blessing to you and all your family! Love you!

Zhohn said...

Oh what a wonderful post! Our God is good, all of the time. I'm very happy that you and Link were able to visit St. Jude and the Horrocks (they're wonderful or so I've read and heard!!!).

May you be blessed and comforted, today and always.

Susan said...

Hey My sweet Tonya!

What's up? Been thinking of you and missing you BIG TIME.

Hope your adjustment back home was "OK"?

You know me, I'm always thinking of you...

My prayer for you today:

According to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in you inner being.
--Ephesians 3:16

Faith said...

God is faithful and true.

Amy S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy S. said...

Hi There..

Was wondering about you. How are you? Are you ready for the summer?
I will check back for a visit tomorrow! Hope all is well.

Love and Hugs.........

A Stone Gatherer said...

Sounds like an awesome trip filled with wonderful healing! I can't even imagine how hard it must have been to let him go! God definately gives you what you need! Thanks for sharing your milestone!

Pamela (MrsJoeB) said...

Tonya-I hope all is well with you and your family. I was thinking about you today!!


In His Graces~Pamela

Dawn ~ ^i^Brandon^i^, Jordan, & Seth's Mom said...

Hi Friend!!!

Your post, encouraged and lifted me! I remember those milestones...oh how different they are from the ones that we record in our hearts as our prescious sweeties are growing & changing. But I bet these kind of milestones are "our" prescious sweetness to our mighty God! When we do the very thing that is so hard to imagine, and we can find our Joy and Strength in the one who made ETERNITY possible...I can imagine him saying "YAAAY, that's it"...just like we do and did for our babies. Oh I can't wait for that day when I get to hear Brandon say "I knew you could do it Mom!". It just makes my heart smile. And I know you await that day when you hear Brent say something like that or "Mom, you are just so strong!".

Sending BIG BIG hugs your way!

Faithful Froggers said...

Oh, Tonya, I can only imagine how hard that trip was. Going into the hospital where Jacob was treated is one of the hardest things for me to do - and I don't do it often!

What an amazing testimony of God's strength and goodness. I am so glad God held you tight during this trip! And how awesome to be able to help Habitat For Hope.

Still working on the box for Allie Grace! I am sorry I am so slow - but I am collecting quite a few things! :)

Have a great week!

Faith Hope Love Mama said...

Everything alright with you??
Haven't heard from you in a while. Just checking in.

Tracy said...

Haven't been by in awhile. So glad I stopped today and read this amazing testimony of God's grace! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. We continue to learn from your journey...