I can’t believe that next week, it will be a year that we started a new chapter in our lives in Fargo. I really miss my Westfield and Linn-Mar friends, students and families but at the same time, I have been blessed with adding more wonderful friends and students to my life. I am so proud of the boys for staying so positive and being so enthusiastic for life no matter where they are. They have adjusted so well to their new life in Fargo.
This summer we look forward to baseball, sun, a trip to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore and more with some of my family, a trip back to IA for a dear friend’s wedding, and quality time with friends & family. The boys will also spend some time vacationing with Eric’s family in August. I am really looking forward to a more quiet summer and COULDN’T BE HAPPIER to NOT be moving!!!!
I know I’ve been a single parent for awhile now, but lately I’ve really been thinking about parenting and what I want to model for my kids and what I want to make sure I teach them about life. Being a parent is really hard, whether you are a two-parent family, single parent, only parent, foster parent, guardian, or grandparents raising their grandchildren. It is the ultimate responsibility you will ever take on in your life. I am the first to admit that I am NOT the perfect parent. I make mistakes in parenting every single day. When I am laying in bed thinking at night, I often re-examine my day and think about the “parenting moments” I can be proud as well as those “parenting moments” I’m NOT so proud of.
Life Lessons I want my boys to learn:
1. Be strong in your faith and know you are never alone. Trust in Him and LET Him guide you in your life. He has a plan for you. When things aren’t going the way you think they should go, remember His plan is ALWAYS better than yours. Keep Him close and always make your faith a priority.
2. Celebrate your mistakes and imperfection: You will make MANY mistakes in your life. You are not perfect and you never will be. Don’t beat yourself up over them, but instead learn from them and become a better person. Apologize, right your wrongs when you can and try not to make the same mistake twice.
3. People are good: Instead of putting all of your time and energy into people who hurt you, surround yourself with people who make your heart smile.
4. Never let pessimism win: It is easy to look at the bad things that happen each day but don’t let that consume you. So many more GOOD things are happening every day. You just have to open your eyes a little wider to see them sometimes.
5. When life knocks you down, get back up: Life isn’t fair sometimes and you WILL have really difficult times in your life. When those times come, know you are stronger than you ever imagined you were and know that eventually you will come out on the other side a stronger person.
6. Believe in yourself and who you want to be: ALWAYS be the person you want to be in spite of obstacles others may put in your way. Be true to yourself and trust your gut. It’s usually right. Do the right thing even when others aren’t. Do the right thing even if nobody is watching. It takes A LOT more courage to do that than to follow the crowd. Do what will make you happy, not just for the short-term, but long-term.
7. Handle difficult situations with grace and respect: Know others WILL wrong you and hurt you in your life. You will have the temptation to throw hurt back. Have the courage and humility to do the right thing and turn the other cheek. This is one of the hardest things to do in life, but you can feel proud of yourself that you held true to who you are and what you know is right.
8. Never lose your child-like spirit and zest for life: As people grow older, they tend to lose this. It is so unfortunate because life can be such a beautiful experience and each day brings new opportunity to enrich your life. I hope you never lose sight of this, as I have more often than I’d like to admit.
9. Always practice the “art of giving” and be humble: Make it a point to make “giving” a part of your everyday life and pay it forward. It feels good to know you made someone’s heart smile, even if they never know it was you. You CAN make the world a better place by spreading kindness and in doing so, encouraging others to do the same.
10. Family is FOREVER: Always know your family is here for you and loves you like nobody else will ever love you. You are brothers and that is a bond that you will never have with anyone else in this life. Stay close, forgive, be patient and love each other.
11. Everyone who touches your life is a part of you: As life changes, people will go out of your life and new people will come into your life. Some people will only be in your life for a short while, and others will remain in your life for a long time but maybe in a different way. Embrace these people and when things change, know that your heart has the capacity to keep every one of these people in it for as long as you live. They are a part of who you are and who you will become.
12. Know that I love you: Please understand that I have/will make many mistakes as a parent. I have made you angry, frustrated and sad but I am doing the best I can to carry out the task that God gave me as your mom. I hope you look back on your life and have many good childhood memories and will look at your mom as a person you can look up to and be proud of. As long as I live, and when I am an angel like your dad watching over you, know that I have loved you more than anything in this world since the day God put you in my belly. You are my most cherished gift and greatest accomplishment.
I know that I’m a little biased but I know that the boys have already learned some of these lessons already. Some of them are easier to learn than others. I know they are destined to do great things, will make a positive mark on this world and will bless countless people on their path.
Well, things are starting to feel more real. We head out of IA on Thursday to start our new life in Fargo. I’ve had a hard time sleeping lately because as I pack up our things (I just unpacked all of these things less than 2 years ago!), a floodgate of emotions open up with good and bad memories of my life the last 10 years here in Iowa. We moved here 10 years ago in August right after we got married. Eric knew a few people but I knew nobody. I had both of my children here, worked in the same school with a tremendous group of individuals and families, became friends with neighbors and countless others, experienced the death of my children’s father, experienced some of the best and worst years of my life so far and have learned so much about myself, as well as the tremendous compassion and kindness of countless people from my past and my present. Overall, I have to say that it was a wonderful 10 years. Actually, looking back on the last 39 years (yes, I will be 40 in August), I feel so fortunate to have experienced great things and been blessed with so many beautiful people weaving in and out of my life.
I was talking to the boys the other day because the last couple of weeks have been very emotional for all 3 of us saying “till next time” (I don’t like good-byeJ) to our friends/co-workers/students/parents at school, daycare, friends in the neighborhood and other friends who have all touched our lives in such positive ways here. We were talking about how we are sad to leave these great people but can also feel excited to move to Fargo at the same time. It’s hard to understand such conflicting emotions. I told them that change is a part of life. We will still be friends with the people here and have them in our life but it will just look different than it does now. Change is hard because we are comfortable in the familiar and walking blindly into the unknown is scary, but if we aren’t open to change when opportunities present themselves, we could be missing out on adding much richness to our lives. Our hearts have capacity to hold every person who has touched our life and always has plenty of room to add new people that come into our life. The human heart can be one of the most beautiful things in the world if you allow yourself to keep it open, despite having it broken. I believe it is worth it.
I believe in my heart that this move is right for the boys and I. Do I have a guarantee? No, but nothing in life has a guarantee. You have to do what you believe is right and take a risk. I am very excited to start a new phase of our lives in Fargo with numerous family members, old friends as well as having the opportunity to fill our hearts with many new beautiful people.
I know my life isn’t “crap-free” and I also know that the crap will show it’s ugly face again, but I really hope that I’ll never be drowning in it ever again. If I am, I guess it better watch out because I’ve experienced it, overcome it and kicked the shit out of it before AND I will again! Here is to New Blesie Beginnings as well as opportunities for new beginnings to all of you!
Well I’ve trusted God’s plan for me this entire time and I’m listening. It has been a very emotional and eventful week. Today, it’s been 6 month since Eric passed away. It seems like forever ago yet also feels like it was yesterday at the same time. The other night (well one of the nights:) that it was raining, it was thundering LOUD and there was also a lot of lightning. The boys were trying to go to sleep and couldn’t. I told them it was their dad’s way of getting their attention. Later I hear them from their room saying, “We hear you dad……now you can STOP!” He didn’t stop:).
The other event that took place this past week was I made a life-changing decision. I got a very hard-to-refuse job offer to be an elementary counselor in the Fargo Public Schools. I have been telling myself this entire time that if God doesn’t put any opportunities in front of me, then that is Him telling me that we are supposed to stay put for at least another year. If he did put an opportunity in front of me, then He is telling me that it is time for the boys and I to move back closer to my family. SO, on Friday I accepted the offer. We will be moving this summer sometime to start a new chapter in our lives. It wasn’t an easy decision because we love it here, I love my job, the boys love their school/daycare and we love all of the wonderful people here, however; I need to listen to Him and the opportunity he has presented to me. I truly believe this is part of His plan for the boys and I. The boys are excited!
We are completely blessed beyond what I can express and I have never in my life, been surrounded with so many angels. All of you have touched our lives in one way or another and will continue to do so. We are so grateful for all of the support, love and generosity we have been given. That will never be forgotten.
Lesson #9: Angels surround you your entire life, in the wonderful people who come in and out of your life.
Another song I love is Angels Among Us by Alabama. From the time I can remember until now, I have been blessed with countless people in my life who have supported me, encouraged me, made me laugh, made me smile, comforted me when I was sad, and inspired me. Some of those people continue to be in my life, some are in and out of my life, and others are yet to be in my life. Regardless, all of these people are Angels that God has purposely put in my life for one reason or another and each of these people have made a difference in my life and helped me on my path to where I am today and to where I am going tomorrow. There is no “good-by”, even the ones who God has taken to heaven to live with Him, because these people not only remain in my heart but they are a piece of my heart and a part of who I am and who I will be tomorrow. YOU are one of my Angels and I hope you know how much light shines on you and how much I appreciate you in my life.
Lesson #10: Life is a story and a gift.
We all have a story. Parts of our story are told, some parts remain private. Each of our stories have only been partially written. We have no control over parts of our story but we do have control over other parts. The parts we have control over is a gift. You decide where your story takes you. It is also a gift that the rest of our story remains unwritten because if you are not fond of some chapters in your life, there are always opportunities to write new ones. I like some chapters in my life and despise others, but ALL of the chapters, good and bad, go together to complete an amazing story in the end. Sometimes, we can’t see how it all fits together until the last chapter. We just have to keep plugging away through the undesirable chapters to get to the good ones. I don’t know how my story is going to end but I think this next chapter will hold some wonderful material and I think it will be my best chapter yet! I’ll be sure to let you know how it unfolds:)!
Well it’s been awhile so I thought I would check in and let everyone know what we’ve been up to. Don’t get too excited, it’s nothing too crazy:)
The boys and I went to California to see my family (minus Rod, Joalyn and the girls) to celebrate Christmas. It was a great trip and the boys were very good travelers. We really needed to get away this Christmas for a distraction from reality. It was so nice to be around family. We visited, played and enjoyed the holidays. We all went to an awesome aquarium in Long Beach. The penguins were a favoriteJ. The only other excitement was Carson getting bitten by a dog on Christmas Eve and spending some time in the emergency room. Carson just loves dogs and was talking to the dog too close to it’s face. Those things happen. I’m just glad all ended well and Carson and the dog renewed their relationship right awayJ! In the emergency room, it was hard for me because I was getting ready to call Eric to let him know what happened and I realized I couldn’t. I know Eric is gone and I know I’m the only parent left to care for the boys but at that moment, I FELT it. I don’t know how to explain the feeling but it is much different knowing something and feeling it. At the moment I felt it, tears came streaming down my face. It isn’t a good feeling.
The boys are doing pretty well. We talk about Eric all of the time. Carson even says he is sitting next to him sometimes and I do believe that he is. Ethan has had some hard days but is doing pretty well. They both talk about wanting to see Eric. I think enough time has passed that they haven’t seen him and it’s harder in that respect. Most days they are just their normal happy, enthusiastic and loving selves. I am so proud of them and I know they will be okay. I just wish they didn’t have to go through live without their dad here on earth with them. I just keep reminding them that he is with them all of the time in their hearts watching over them, guiding them and keeping them safe.
It’s been a rough fall with the loss of numerous friends and loved ones, many whom have fallen to cancer after a courageous battle. This fall, I have attended m visitations and sent out/received more sympathy cards than I care to count. Sometimes life seems so unfair to so many.
Lesson number 8: Be prepared for anything!
Life is full of surprises and is always so unpredictable. We go through life watching movies where bad things happen to good people, read those kinds of stories in the newspaper and watch bad things become reality for other people in the news. All the while, we think to ourselves, “I’m glad that’s not me”, “I’m glad those kinds of things only happen in the movies” or “that would never happen to me”. Guess what….it can happen to you. Anything can happen at any given point in time to any one of us, both good things and bad. This was a hard concept for me to grasp because I am a Type A personalityJ. I like things to be organized and predictable. Reality hit me like a freight train hard and fast but I have learned some important things from that experience to make my life much more rich and enjoyable:
1. Appreciate the wonderful people in your life and tell them you appreciate them often.
2. Live every day like it is your last because you never know what life will throw your way tomorrow.
3. Let go of the little things and focus on what matters.
Instead of getting stressed about the unpredictability of life, I’m trying to embrace it. There is much beauty in the unpredictable. Unpredictability can bring bad things but they can also bring happiness we’ve never known.
Lesson Number 9: Trust God’s Plan for Us
It is very difficult to trust when you are swimming in crap doing everything you can to stay afloat. The “Why” question is the word that forces itself into your thoughts and is very persistent. I have found this questioning to be very unproductive. I have come to the realization that it is not my job to understand “why”, I may never understand. My job is to trust in His plan for the boys and I. I need to understand that my perspective is very narrow but He can see the entire picture. His plan is ALWAYS better than mine because of this. I don’t think God gives people cancer or makes other horrible things happen in people’s lives. I think that there is an ultimate plan for each of us but the choices that each of us makes determines the path that we take to get there. We all take the more challenging path at times, but I believe He is right along side of us the entire way and he provides us with opportunities to find our way to the better path if we so choose to take those opportunities. Thinking this way and believing in His plan for me is much of the reason I am still standing. There are still days that are very difficult for me and I step away from trusting in His plan for me, but the majority of the time I feel much more peace because I am trusting in His plan. I have found that it is a much more enjoyable way to live each day.
I thank each of you for reading my LONG update but I haven’t made a blog entry for some time so I had A LOT to sayJ! The boys and I appreciate the continued prayers and kindness more than we can express. Until next time….Live for the day!
This morning Eric had an MRI of his head. It showed a 4mm spot on his cerebellum. They aren't doing anything about it for now. He talked with Dr. Ghosh, the oncologist, not long ago and this is the plan:
He will be discharged on Tuesday with IV treatments at home via CarePro. He will visit with Dr. Middleberg on Tuesday to review the stent/draining of the kidney. They are holding off on draining the kidney for now and see how the antibiotics help clear the infection. Chemo is on hold until the infection clears up. Overall, it sounds like pretty good news. Thanks again for your continued prayers for all of us.
It's Sunday and he is still in the hospital not knowing when he will get out. Tomorrow he is scheduled for an MRI or CAT scan of his brain/head. He has been seeing spots, etc. The boys and I went to the hospital today to see him. He was sitting up and seemed to feel a little better than a couple of days ago when we were there. He is still having some mild pain in his side and back from what I could gather. Hopefully the scan will come out looking good. We can all keep praying. I hope I'm giving you all accurate information. I'm doing the best I can.
Well, I don't have a lot of new information today. He saw Dr. Ghosh today and it sounds like his infection is a staff infection of some kind. I believe they are running some additional tests. I'm also not sure how long he will be in the hospital. I did take the boys to the hospital to see him today. He was sitting up and was feeling a little better from what I could tell. At least they got to see him for a little while and when he was feeling slightly better. Thanks for your continued prayers and support. You don't know how much it means to the boys and I.
Last night, Eric went to the hospital due to pain in his back/side and a fever. From what I know, his fever hit around 105 last night. I believe they are doing a CAT scan. I'm guessing it has something to do with the blockage compressing on his kidney. That is all I know. If I hear anything new, I'll do another post. Please send positive thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. Much appreciated.
A little more: I guess putting a stent in the kidney (which he had done a week or so ago) only works around 50% of the time and his doesn't appear to be working efficiently enough so his kidney is swollen and very infected. He is on antibiotics for the infection, which hopefully will help. His mom said he was feeling a little better this morning but isn't feeling well now and his temperature is going up again. They talked about a procedure where they would insert a tube(s) in his back and he would have a bag. This would be replaced every 3 months. Not sure if he is going to opt to do that now or wait to see if things get better. I'll let you know more when I hear anything from him or his family.
Lots of people ask me for updates on Eric's health so I thought that this is the most efficient way to go about updating so many people. Eric has told me that it's fine if I update all of you so here I go with the information I have:
Eric has had a few scans (CAT scan of the esophageal area) since he started chemo back in October. Luckily, the scans have all showed some shrinkage of tumors and/or remaining stable, which is good. About 8 weeks ago the doctor decided to give him a break from all chemo treatment (IV chemo and pills) because he was having tingling in his fingertips and a tingling down his leg to his feet. This is a sign that he needs a break from chemo. About a week ago, he had another scan and appointment with the doctor. The scan showed things remaining stable (which is great for having no chemo for 6 weeks) but it also showed a blockage by his kidney. He met with a Urologist and got a stent put in his kidney. He also had a scope which seemed to indicate that the blockage is outside the kidney compressing on his kidney. Biopsy results of the blockage showed it wasn't cancerous, which is good news, but they are still stumped about what the blockage is. He goes back to the Urologist at the end of August to see where to go next with the blockage issue. Eric started back on some IV chemo last week, but is continuing to take a break from the IV chemo that is making him tingly. He will get this every 4 weeks. He also started back on chemo pills taking 8 chemo pills a day starting today (when he started on them in September he started with 5 and went down to 3/day because he was getting sick so not sure 8/day is going to make him feel very well). He does this for a week, then takes a week off. For the most part, it seems like he is feeling okay. I'm sure he would appreciate your continued prayers. The boys and I would as well.