Saturday, July 2, 2016

Blindsided - Struggling to Find Words


 
It’s 2 am and all I can do is lay in bed with my head next to Brynn’s.  The room is lit up only by the glow of an off brand Scentcy warmer in the corner.  The only noise is her soft inhale and exhale.  I’m paralyzed in thought.  A million questions racing through my mind.  Indeed, I have been blindsided by life. Not even a month after my step-dad passed away from Melanoma Cancer, we found out my dad has Stage 4 metastasized Adenocarcinoma lung cancer. After hoping and praying that we had caught it early, exploratory surgery unveiled that the fight is going to be a little harder than expected.  The cancer has moved from the lung to the chest cavity and to the fluid in Dad’s body. Surgery is not an option and Chemo is on deck….

My first thought….This Can’t be Life….How can this be happening again?

Tears streamed down my face when my brother called to tell me and then I just went completely numb. It was just too much to process.  It was possibly the longest drive to a hospital I’ve ever experienced.  Miles and miles of anxious thoughts. Fear of the unknown is what gets people most, but today I think I had more fear of the known. And now at 3 am, the anxiety of re-living the horror story that we have just barely finished the last chapter of is overwhelming. Dad has never smoked a cigarette a day in his life.  This is UNREAL.  

The Dr. gave us the life expectancy averages but I just can’t go there.  I’m not ready to digest or accept those parameters. No one can box you in and tell you when you will die.  They don’t know.  I keep telling myself that.  People outlive expectations all the time right???? I don’t know…I’m just a rambling basket case of thoughts and questions right now.   

My first thought was to call on God.  I went to him and I found myself in tears with no words coming out. I just sat with Him in silence. Resting in His embrace. I'm not one to be speechless but I'm finding it hard to talk. I try to organize a thought and I cant so I just sit in silence and internalize it all. Hoping that God can read my thoughts because I just can't form a sentence.....

We have witnessed the worst cancer can do. We’ve lived it and know it’s capabilities.  It’s hard not to let your fear take you to a dark place. It’s hard to stay positive when you JUST lived through the death of a loved one, but we are a faithful family. We are a family that pulls it all together for one another no matter what.  Dad has always been a faithful man.  He knows God.  I have hope in that.  He asked God for a chance to fight this. He wants to see his grandkids grow old. He wants to live.  He will live. Cancer sucks but it can be beaten.  People beat it everyday.
 
 
Tomorrow is a new day. I’ll pull myself together and rejoin life. I didn’t do very well at that today.  I totally checked out. I’m thankful Bryan was there to run our lives and pick up my slack as I was an unresponsive, jittery replica of a human.  

I don’t have any more words. No more thoughts. Just silence for right now. Pray for my family <3

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Life Unimagined: Saying Goodbye to Carl



  

On May 15, 2016 my step dad Carl Holmgren took his last breath. With my mother, Beth Holmgren by his side, his soul left his ailing body and it rejoined God in heaven.  He fought cancer with everything he had.  The procedures he endured were debilitating and the medications he took stripped his body to its core.  He was strong through his fight and never batted an eye when the doctor’s warned him that his side effects could be painful or uncomfortable.   For over a year he fought tirelessly and for over a year Mom fought by his side.  

No one fights cancer alone.  The amazing love, support and effort to help shown by so many in our family and community will forever leave us grateful.  There is no way Carl and my mother could have endured as long as they did without Mark and Karen Holmgren, Carl’s brother and sister-in-law.  They opened their home, their lives, they spent their time, money and energy to help Carl and Mom throughout the past year.  There will never be a way to repay someone for sacrificing so much of their own life for another.  On behalf of Mom and our family we’d also like to thank Dr. Joseph Drabick, Nurse Coordinator Carol Mallon and Nurse Practitioner Jaenell Ditsious along with his entire office staff and the many nurses at Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  The care and medical opinions they provided along with the patience and sincere concern they showed daily is greatly appreciated.  Additionally, Will Jaco and Scott Actkinson, Partners at Statesman Business Advisors where mom has worked for almost 30 years were tremendously supportive even offering to fund a chartered jet to get Carl back to Houston from Pennsylvania when he was too ill to move.  Dr. Stephen Wexler who I met in law school and quite frankly is probably the most brilliant person I know didn’t hesitate to provide us with his medical opinions when I phoned him out of nowhere and asked if he knew anything about Melanoma.  Also, I am so thankful to our family.  Everyone was there when the need arose and took care of Carl as a collective effort. I can only pray when the time comes to be so loved and have so many there for me.  Mom and Carl’s children and their spouses, Mom and Carl’s brothers and sisters and parents were all available and willing to do whatever was asked.

Most importantly though, I know Carl is in heaven and he is thanking God for Mom.  Her soul has been battered, her will pushed, her breaking point teetered upon, but through it all she was there. She never left his side.  She made every decision even when she didn’t want to. When it would have been easier to defer to someone else, when she had no clue what the “right” answer was….she exemplified grace under fire. She persevered through some of the most difficult and ugliest times she will likely face throughout her whole life.  If you have ever watched someone suffer and die from cancer you know it changes the way you see the world. It alters everything. I know the struggle for mom is only partly over but she has a great support system and she will be ok.


There is a famous poem “Footprints in the Sand” that tells the story of a man walking on the beach with the Lord looking back over the footsteps of his life. During hard times he noticed there was only one set of footprints and during the greatest moments of his life he saw two.  Bewildered and angry he asks God why he would abandon him during his darkest days and God replies “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.” Though it does not seem like it now I think Mom will look back and see God has been carrying her and will continue to carry her through this.   


God sent Mark and Karen to help carry her. He placed Mom and Carl in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Hershey is a small town thousands of miles from Houston where Mark happened to live.  Mark just so happened to be retiring.   God cleared that path for them.  He gave Mark the free time Carl’s illness would require and he gave Carl time with his brother that he never would have had.  The drive to and from Hershey is 22 hours each way.  The quality time Mom and Carl spent together on those car rides is now invaluable. They had no one else in the world distracting them.  I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe God was giving Carl time with his family.  The average lifespan for someone diagnosed with Melanoma that metastasizes to the brain is 3 to 6 months.  Carl lived 14 months.  So though the outcome was not what we all prayed for, I cannot help but see God in this journey.  HE was there carrying everyone the whole way.  

          Something to note... Carl did not lose to cancer…he lived everyday.   This journey taught us all so much about family, about the disease, about how hard fighting cancer is and also about treating people with kindness.  You never know what someone has going on in their life.   

        Carl is survived by his wife Beth Holmgren, his son Shawn Holmgren, his step children Daniell Davis, Wes Nottebart and Sam Nottebart, four grandchildren, his parents Sam and Melba Holmgren, his brother Mark Holmgren, his sister Dee Holmgren and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. 

Details regarding a memorial service will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thankful in the Calm


I’m sitting in bed with a hot chocolate on this “cold” winter night in Houston and feeling thankful for the current calmness in my life.  I’ve been reflecting on the year and oh, what a hurricane of a year it has been. With so many ups, downs, tears, laughs, hugs and cries it has most definitely been a year of new normals in the Davis/Nottebart/Holmgren family and it feels as though we've been ravished by the strong side punch of a Cat 5 hurricane (you gotta live in the south to know what that means).  This week, however, it's as though we are sitting in the eye of that hurricane.  There's a stillness, a peace and a beauty in the disaster. 
In our first 9 months of marriage my husband and I have already experienced a lifetime.  We've buried one of his cousins,  buried another of his friends, my step father was diagnosed with cancer and his cousin and one of the groomsmen at our wedding was diagnosed with lymphoma and has been in a medically induced coma for weeks. All this while embarking on our own journey to bring a new life into this world.  Life has brought us so far in our first year that those "First year married couple" arguments about where to put the furniture are so miniscule that they never really had an effect on us.  We've had our moments of course as we are not perfect people but I will say that I have already learned in the first year of marriage how important conceding in an argument is, saying Im sorry is, saying I love you is, compromising is and above all just unconditionally loving someone is.  I have zero doubts that I married the right man.  He has been my everything this year.
 
 Adjusting to pregnancy was another hurdle for me.  Seems like each new day has brought its own new hormones and each new week its own new ache or pain. I even broke down crying one night when my husband farted ya'll.   All out tears. Hahaha.  Needless to say, he didn’t see that coming. Let me tell you ladies, to anybody who might be wondering…..being pregnant at 22 is completely different than being pregnant at 33! I can attest to that for sure.  While I have gained about ½ the weight I did with my first pregnancy (31 with KJ and to date 14 with Brynn), I feel every bit of these 14 pounds in every inch of my body.  My back doesn’t work, my legs don’t work, my brain doesn’t work, my feet hurt and I can’t stay up passed 9.  It’s treacherous.
My step-father as you know has been battling Stage 4 Mestastic Melanoma and to say that diagnosis shook our family to the core would be an understatement.  Naturally, he began his journey at MD Anderson only to waste weeks feeling as though he was written off as a lost cause.  With over 40 small melanoma brain tumors, it seemed MD Anderson was uninterested in attempting any treatment options.  That led my mother and step father on a cross country journey, first, through a cancer treatment center in Oklahoma and then finally at a facility in Hershey, Pennsylvania that specialized in Melanoma treatment.  It was there they finally met a team of doctors that treated them like humans and not a diagnosis.  They decided this would be there new home base and over the next 6 months commuted between Houston and Pennsylvania countless times even renting an apartment for 6 weeks at one point in order to receive treatment options.  Though we are thankful for the physicians and the opportunity to be treated, the months have not been easy.  Currently there has been no change in his status.  The tumors are no worse than they were when they were discovered but they are also no better.  Given the dire outlook of 3-6 months to live that Google gives you when you look up metastic melanoma, we sit here at almost a year post diagnosis with thankful hearts knowing that it could always be worse. 
 
There have been some silver linings in this stormy season though.
 
My family welcomed in a new baby in November, my nephew Greyson, which has my brother adjusting to life a father and my sister in law still home on maternity leave left to figure the whole motherhood journey out.  Each week we all watch in awe at how baby G changes as if we’ve never seen a baby before.  Lol.  In our defense we’ve never seen THIS baby before. We cherish the infant times cause we know they are soon over. 
 
So here I sit, 9 days before we celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and all the crazy has subsided and there is a peace and a calm within my family.    There is for once nothing going on.  I relish in that tonight.  Sometimes we miss the mundane life. It’s nice to have it back even if it’s just temporary. My husband and I are happy going into this holiday season knowing that our son will be in town, our daughter will be home by our side and our baby will be happily growing getting ready to take this world by storm and for this moment in time…all will be right with the world. My mom and stepdad are home for the foreseeable future, we are no longer anxiously awaiting the arrival of Greyson at any  moment it’s a just a good week around these parts.
Though the eye of the hurricane is peaceful and calm, if you have lived through a hurricane you well know that the back side of the storm awaits.  I am not na├»ve enough to think our challenges are over.   My stepdad’s journey through cancer is ongoing and who knows what awaits us in the coming year. My brother is now faced with the stress of parenthood and realizing that he is totally, utterly and completely responsible for another human being. My sister in law will undoubtedly meet a new nemesis in the form of an emotion that all working moms meet sooner or later….Guilt.  It’s a beast isn’t it moms.  Before motherhood I never quite new the power of that emotion and what it could do to you. Pray for her to be at ease as she wraps up maternity leave and heads back to work this coming year.  It's a hard thing to do. 
My baby shower is around the corner which means my baby is as well.    The anxiety, restlessness and exhaustion will soon set in awaiting baby Brynn. Luckily this time around my schedule is so jam packed all the time the weeks are flying by.  That being said as the dates on the calendar flip by, I am reminded of the “baby blues” I went through after having Kaily 10 years ago. Did any of ya'll go through that? Like not post pardum.  It wasn't that serious, just a lot of crying as my hormones re-adjusted after giving birth. I remember it well and to think about going through it again makes me nervous. I suppose I am just over analyzing things the way we women do.  This time will be different. My husband will be in the mix during it all. Pray for him as I’m sure I’m not a cakewalk to deal with all the time (or any of the time).
The new year will bring new joy, new pain, new challenges and new memories, but for tonight and for the ensuing days ahead I just want to put it all out of my head and drink this now luke warm cup of cocoa. J
Yes tonight…..I am thankful for the calm…..and those are my inside thoughts.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pro-Choice v. Pro-Life: An Open Discussion On The Ever Prevalent Controversy


This fall we have reveled in the calm after the storm from a year that politically rocked our nation and divided this country to heights that have not been seen in decades.  Landmark supreme court decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing gay marriage coupled with a seemingly never-ending barrage of police and civilian brutality cases against young African American citizens shook the nation to its core and ripped scabs off wounds stemming from mistakes made at the inception of this countries formation.  

This week the lull in political and cultural action came to an end and we have been reminded of yet a third hot button topic that deeply divides the United States. Robert Dear decided to plot and carry out his own terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado in the name of Christianity and his Pro Life views killing three people and injuring 9.  (Any other time in our country when a person attacks and kills a number of people based on religious beliefs we deem them terrorists and so it only seems fitting that this human bare this label as well).  This tragic incident coupled with a new presidential election less than a year away has brought the Pro/Choice Pro/Life issue back to the forefront of our minds. 

Not to discredit everything I've said thus far but I am about to reference a tv show....I watch Scandal religiously (if you are not then you’re crazy J ) and just last week the episode featured one of its main characters depicting what I can only assume was a take on the 2013 eleven hour long Texas filibuster led by then Senator Wendy Davis blocking a senate bill that would have required more stringent abortion regulations for the state of Texas.  If an issue hits prime time TV then it's a part of not only the countries current political landscape but pop culture thus integrating your everyday American's life.

A little background:

In 1973 the US Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in the landmark decision of Roe v Wade.  It’s been 42 years and tensions on the topic have not settled.  The case also gave the states the right to regulate abortions within their own borders and many states consistently attempt to legislate/over legislate or regulate abortions to the point they are not able to be done. I live in Texas which is an extremely conservative state with southern Christian values and the state legislature has definitely attempted to defund and shut down agencies like Planned Parenthood numerous times.  

My own views on the topic have swayed over the years.  I’ve always deemed myself a moderate leaning liberal when it comes to politics.  As I age and mature in life and in my own Christianity I understand the Pro Life stance more and more, and personally believe in that (which I have not always); however, from a legalization standpoint I am steadfast in my belief of the separation of church and state.  That being said I think organizations like Planned Parenthood should be legal and that the nations Pro Choice stance handed down in Roe v. Wade is appropriate and a must.  It has to be.  My grandmother has told me stories of women bleeding out and dying attempting to give themselves at home abortions with coat hangers.  Abortions are like guns.  Banning and making them illegal will not mean they do not exist.  A woman’s right to choose is her right legally....which does not mean morally.  

I believe if prolife is what we believe in personally, then it is our job as individuals within our families and communities to educate and support women on the issue so that if put in the situation of facing an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy she is equipped with not only a spiritual faith that God is with her, but also a feeling of strength, confidence, support and community love which she needs to choose life. 

Within the circle of girlfriends, abortion is not a four letter word.  It is not uncommon to talk about and it is not uncommon to know someone that has done it.  It’s girl talk.  We are all around it and familiar with it.  Over the years I have heard many many discussions on the topic and reasons why someone has had one or reasons they did not and overwhelmingly I feel that many decisions to have abortions are made based on the expectations, feelings, sentiments and reactions of others.  The opinion of those around us like our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts and best friends all come into play when a woman decides if she should move forward with an unwanted pregnancy or terminate.  I think feelings of shame, embarrassment, disappointment and fear among other things all fuel a woman’s decision at a time when hormones and emotions are already at a high.  No one wants to disappoint the ones closest to us and the ones that have done the most for us. 

I was listening to Christian talk radio about a year ago.  I can’t even remember the name of the woman speaking but the words she spoke where not what I expected to hear on that station.  She did not condemn anyone.  She was not judgy and in fact her message was to society and not to an individual who may be facing this touch situation.  She said there are times in life when we may stray from God’s will.  There are times we may be very distant from him and from where he wants us to be and when that happens God will try to reign a person back in and sometimes he does this in the form of a baby. 

I began crying when I heard those words.  I feel like that is exactly what happened to me when I was 22 years old.  I was in college and a bit of a party girl, but nothing too major.  I have always been a believer but my day to day life actions were consistent with those of a modern day college student.  I was not directly living out the life God wanted for me. I had an unplanned/unexpected/unmarried pregnancy which in hindsight SAVED ME.  But for that unplanned pregnancy and my sweet Kaily J that stemmed from it, I would not be where I am.  I would not have gone to law school, I would not have gotten my act together when I did and I certainly would not be in the place spiritually that I am in today.  God sent her to reign me back in. In the moment that was not clear though.  Fear was all I felt.

The woman on talk radio went on to say something I hope I am strong enough to always remember and replicate. She said  that the response to anyone telling you they are pregnant should be congratulations.
One simple word. 
 As a thirty something year old 8 month pregnant woman I KNOW what a blessing a baby is.  The 22 year old 3 month pregnant girl that I was…did not.  I couldn't breath. I couldn't stop crying. I was terrified to tell my family I was pregnant.  I completely understand why women choose abortion.  Pregnancy, especially unplanned, unwanted and unmarried pregnancy can be scary and the reaction from others can be futile in your decision.  I just wonder how many women would choose life, if they felt like the judgment was not there and that the life was a celebration.  Looking back, I would not change a thing.  Having my daughter under the circumstances that I did allowed me to be a better me.  I pray should my daughters, nieces (if I ever have any), grandkids or any other girl/woman close to me tells me they are pregnant, that I keep calm….even if the circumstances are not perfect…and that I can remember that oh so important word… Congratulations. 
Having children especially alone is not easy.  It's not ideal and it's human nature to react negatively when someone is young, unmarried, irresponsible or not deemed "ready" by societies standard to be a mother.  I'm sure hearing this news from your daughter is devastating to a mother/grandmother.  I pray I never deal with this in my own life but I am aware that abstinence is not a reality.  I realize that people are statistically marrying later in life and I realize that single parent household's are on the rise.  This could very well be a reality to a girl close to me in my lifetime.  I must remember God has a purpose with each child he sends to the world just as he did with my daughter.

 Shaming someone, disapproving of their actions and judging will only lead to decisions like abortion. If you are Pro-Life these are things to keep in mind.  Babies are not the end of the world.  In fact, they are the beginning of a new world. Life continues and sometimes it's exactly what God intended you to go through to get you back to him.

This blog kind of went off on a tangent but sitting in my rocker looking at my big old pregnant belly makes me smile and with Planned Parenthood all over the news this week it’s just kind of been on my mind.  Perhaps someone will read this and feel at ease….

And those are my inside thoughts……
Here are a few links for anyone looking for Christian based help if dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.

 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Just Keep Swimming....


 
Patience…..

A virtue I was unfortunately not blessed with an abundance of.  Two weeks of consistent bad news has me on edge and my anxiety levels elevated.  My physical and mental exhaustion is at a high. I’m 2 days shy of my 3rd trimester as well which means sleep is pretty much nonexistent.   The result is constant small mistakes/mis-steps throughout the day that 100% Daniell would not make…. But I’m tired…I’m pregnant…I’m not feeling like me….it may be all the pregnant girl hormones…I don’t know….but the added stress only complicates it all. In turn my patience is being tested.  Little things that happen during the day that I would normally barely notice overwhelm me. Even writing this blog is frustrating me. It’s not my best work….the words are not flowing. It’s choppy and less than eloquent. UGH. I’m trying my best not to be short with those around me who happen to be the ones I love most. I think I’m doing better than normal with that but probably still not good depending on who you ask (KJ or B lol).

 

Deep breaths. 

A reminder that God’s got me.  A reminder that I am strong.  A reminder that trials pass.  A reminder that at this very moment my stepdad is still fighting melanoma and I am not.  A reminder that my mom is on the emotional rollercoaster of caring for a cancer patient and I am not.  A reminder that I have an amazing husband, a wonderful son, a beautiful daughter and another on the way.  A reminder that I have the most amazing job in the world and many would trade places with me in a second. Yet still the anxiety. 

Deep breaths.

Anxiety is something I have struggled with for a long time. I can remember being as young as a fourth grader struggling with the stress of everyday life. Back then I didn’t know what it was called and I doubt it was even being diagnosed as a “thing” but I assure you….it’s a thing. It’s real.  I tried different medications twice in my life for a span of 3 months each to help deal with it and while medication definitely mutes the negative feelings and emotions associated with anxiety is also mutes the happy feelings as well.  I opted to try to control it in other ways.  Exercise is a big deal for me and helps me a lot.  The bible helps as well.

I fall back on my favorite bible verse.  One I encourage anyone else who struggles with anxiety to read.

Matthew 6: 25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In my heart I know this to be true.  I wish I could just get my body to follow suit and calm down.  God always provides for me and I need to remember that.  This week at bible study we read Mark chapter 8.  In this chapter Jesus feeds 4,000 people with 7 loafs of bread.  Immediately after he and the disciples get into a boat and the disciples begin to worry because they only saved 1 loaf of bread for the 13 of them.  Jesus…in disbelief asks them if they still don’t get it.  I feel that way this week.  After all Jesus has done for me, I still stress over an abundance of small inconveniences as if they are just too much for me or Him to handle. They are not.  The bible tells me they are not.  I have faith in that and it allows me to pull my Superwoman shirt back out of the closet, pair it with some heels, lipstick and lashes and just keep swimming. 

It’s ok for a superwoman to have a bad week… and those are my scrambled inside thoughts.
P.S.  I miss wine..........

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fight of A Lifetime - My Stepdad's Battle With Melanoma


 
It’s been said that without tests in life you can’t appreciate the blessings.  Without dark days you don’t realize how beautiful the bright ones are.  Without trials and tribulations you never know how sweet victories taste.  Life………………. Moves……………….. Fast. It’s easy to take days for granted.  Effortless to get caught up in the swiftness of each passing hour and forget to slow down and appreciate the small things.  The sun on your face, the wind through your hair, the hug from a child, dinner with your loved ones….. 

If you keep up with my blog, if we’re Facebook friends or if you follow me on Instagram you will see a lot of happy.  Lots of joy and great things.  It’s what we share right.  We tend to showcase our very greatest moments to the world and kinda leave out the tough stuff.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for my happy things because there are so many of them.  I’m thankful and I know I’m lucky.

However, every family goes through things, and currently my family is getting a lesson in life.  The value of life that is.  These moments we have so carelessly taken for granted are on the forefront of our minds as now the future of some of these moments are threatened.  In January of 2015 my step dad had a skin spot located on his side looked at by a dermatologist and he was subsequently diagnosed with a type of cancer called melanoma.  In June we discovered that despite removal of the tumor from his side, along with removal of his lymph nodes and radiation the melanoma had spread to his brain and produced in the words of the doctor “too many tumors to count”. 

Paralyzing. 

Really the only word that can describe the moment.  In one literal second all those carefree and fast moving moments in life we rush through suddenly became so precious. The last 60 days have been a rollercoaster of bi-polar emotions.  I talk to my mom a lot and though this is more her and my stepdad’s fight than mine I feel changed. I feel different. Things that once seemed so clear are less clear.   I can see that there are days my mom and stepdad simply try to block it out and forget its all happening and enjoy themselves and then days where they are handed more bad news and the reality of the situation again settles into their minds and we are all aware.  These are really low days.  Some of the lowest in life. There’s really not much in between the two scenarios…it’s a rollercoaster ride with an unknown ending.

 We’ve all known someone that has been effected by some form of cancer just like the way you are now reading of my family’s story.  We attempt to imagine how we’d feel if their situation was happening to us and we empathize with what they are going through. It wasn’t until that phone call from my mom on that June day that I realized until it’s your family……you don’t know how it feels.  I certainly didn’t.

What I’ve learned is that this specific type of cancer is relentless and unforgiving. There is no good news…ever.  It doesn’t react to treatment so there is really nothing even MD Anderson can or will do.  The fact of the matter is that there is no cure. No one has survived it.  No one beats it.  There is little to no chance of prolonging life.  There are no options.  No clinical trials.  No nothing.   

To live that is unlike anything you can put words to.  My best attempts at describing the day to day life of dealing with a family member going through this starts with extreme sadness and carries into fear.  Anxiety is prevalent every time you sit to think about what is going on which leads to, hopelessness, helplessness and then back to sadness.  And like I said…this isn’t even happening directly to me so I cannot imagine how anyone lives with this.

In the big scheme of the world the logical me knows that lives are lost every day and new lives begin every day.  The world doesn’t value life as much as we wish it did. Life and death go hand in hand and our lifespans are not awarded evenly or fairly.  The length of your life seems to be completely arbitrary.

Nothing I’ve gone through in life and nothing my family is going through on this cancer journey is unique to us.  It’s happened to others.  Logical me gets it.  Yet within the realm of MY world the loss of life of one our family members seems so devastating and detrimental to our family it’s almost unbearable.  My stepdad wouldn’t hurt a fly, he’s law abiding, he’s genuine, he would do anything for anyone and this just isn’t fair.  It’s not fair.  Sentiments I am sure families dealing with deadly diseases worldwide share.  Life and death isn’t fair and we are getting a good hard dose of that reality.

I fall back on Jesus.  I pray. A lot.  I realize that even Christians die from cancer.  I realize that even Christians have tragic endings but just knowing that through Jesus this all could go away helps me to sleep.  I realize that the most likely outcome is that we will soon be living a new normal but I also believe in miracles.  And if ever it was time for one…..  Lord Jesus, if ever there was time for one.

I worry for my mom, but I know no matter what she is going to be okay.  I know that this year we are going to have a lot happen. While we band together as a family and continue to fight to save my stepdads life, we will soon have two new ones join us.  It’s the way the world works I suppose. Life continues on.  Greyson Nottebart will be born in November and my sweet Baby Girl Davis will arrive in February.  Though admittedly with everything going on it seems like a lifetime away.  It’s hard to be excited right now.   I know the excitement and happiness will come.  I am not taking anything for granted.  I’m grateful for my daughter.  It’s just hard.  I’m not sure anyone can understand the emotion of being happy but sad until you live it.

While we continue to stay prayerful I ask that everyone join my family in prayer not just for my stepdad but for all the families of cancer patients.  Pray for cures, pray for miracles, pray for strength, and perseverance.  Our days right now are overcast and threaten darkness but we know that this won’t last forever.  There are sparks of sunshine on our dark days with the upcoming births and there are cancer breakthroughs every single day.  We know if we can endure for the night that joy will come in the morning.  I’m hopeful for that and I’m praising Jesus while I wait.

I’m sharing this because I like to be transparent.  My blog is my outlet.  I share many joyful things on here and I feel to be authentic the unhappy moments should be shared as well.  I also hope that someone going through something similar may read this and know they are not alone and lastly I hope that the prayers of friends, family and strangers can cause God’s hand to touch us with a miracle. 

And for the time being…those are my inside thoughts.

 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to School: Trying to Think Happy Thoughts


It’s back to school!  So much going on this week in the Davis/Johnson/Mullins household (we’re such a modern family huh).  My daughter is good to go. Supplies and uniforms purchased, new backpack and lunchbox in hand, school lunch account refilled and she’s got a fresh haircut.  My step-son is in full football mode and ready to get the season started, all football apparel has been purchased and he’s ready to get back in the swing of things in high school.  Meet the teachers is this week and the anticipation is killing us! Hubs only notices this is all going on by the number of debits coming out of the bank account and the number of shopping bags left lying around the house and well, I’m left staring at the dog like….it’s about to be back to you and me! Soon the hustle and bustle of summer and the countless friends coming through the revolving door that is our home will dwindle.    

With the fall semester prep going on and the first day of school looming, I have barely had time to sit and reflect on it all.  My son is about to turn 16…..OMG 16. That’s like…driving and girls and high school dances and parties and college apps and all that real world stuff…..This little one came into my life when he was 12 and I just can’t believe how time has flown by.  Every time I see him he is more and more like a little man. He’s tall, he’s muscley (made that up) and he is worried about how his hair looks.  My sweet girl is entering the 5th grade.  In the blink of an eye she’ll be driving and doing all the college stuff her older brother is doing, and then one day she’ll leave me L.  It makes me cry just thinking about it. 

With the fall semester also comes the challenges of day to day life in school….well in life really.  Each morning as my little pudding pop hops out of the car and through those big double doors at the front of her school, I sit for a sec just watching as my heart aches.  I never want her to go (okay I sometimes can't wait for her to go. lol. But I always worry).  It’s a whole day away from me. I just send her off into a world full of the caddy girls, bullying and the striving to fit in.  Things that make moms want to push a mean kid down on the playground and scoop your babies up and hug them tight and never let go… Sending your kids out into a world comprised of so much MEAN is so difficult sometimes but in my heart I know it is so necessary.

I often talk to God about the growth of my kids.  I remember high school and college well.  So much personal growth happened in those years yet so much hurt did also.   I think the best thing my parents ever did was not to hover, not to coddle and to kind of just let me go. Let me fall and learn how to get back up.  That is one of the single hardest things in the world for me as a mother.

 I read an article once about how Americans tend to over praise and overprotect their kids which in actuality can cause them to be susceptible to so much more hurt and damage as a young adult and as they enter the real world. You know the fact of that matter is that once they leave our little protected cocoon, not everyone gets a trophy in life.  To give our children a false sense of what they are good at and to make them feel like everything is just above and beyond fantastic is really in a way hindering their growth.  After all growth and strength stem from failure and defeat.  How can one get better if they are never allowed to fail?  How do they progress if in their mind they never lose…they are never second, they are never wrong.  It’s the reason we don’t push the mean kids down on the playground for our child .  You have to let your kids learn how to deal with conflict, how to stand up for themselves, how to be strong, how to walk away and how to cope. 

I think about this often.  Everyone knows I am a momma bear.  There isn’t anything I won’t do for my kids. The scariest thing is the world is a mother on a mission for her child. However, I think sometimes doing NOTHING is exactly what I AM DOING FOR them if that makes sense.  Sometimes you just don’t step in when you easily could. I try to let them fail in a controlled environment while they are young so that when they leave me…and sadly I know they will leave me…they are equipped for the world. 

It hard but to equip them with the capability of responding to failure is invaluable.  I have let them fail, have heartache and deal with meanies while I am able to oversee the situation so when they deal with these things in college, or wherever they may go, they can fall down…and get back up… and keep it moving. I need them to know that even though momma bear isn’t overseeing their lives anymore, it’s ok.  Cause they got this… Love them enough to let them fail and learn. 

You know I always knew it’d be hard for me to send them off to kindergarten, but I never anticipated the growing apprehension and sadness that I would feel with the start of each new school year as they near the end of childhood.  The older they get the harder the social aspect of school gets.  That’s what I’m preparing for this week.  I’m staying prayerful for strength, for knowledge and for courage to be Mom.  Cause we all know that job ain’t always easy. 

And those are my inside thoughts.