happy sixth birthday, reecie!

Today is Reece’s sixth birthday!  One might think that this must be a sad day for us, but really I don’t feel that way about the day in general.  Certainly, we miss him (and have pangs of sadness) and it isn’t easy to not have him here.  It is strange to know that the weekend would have been entirely different had he been here.  But this is a great day in our lives!  I want us to think of it that way and I want our other children to remember it that way; it is Reece’s birthday and I want to look forward to the day versus dreading it.  There is no way to anticipate how one will feel on a day like today, but I can tell you that if nothing else, I feel blessed.  I’m blessed to know Reece, to be his mom, to continue to learn life lessons from his time here, to know in a deeply settled way that he is fully healed and more alive than ever, and to have the assurance that I will see him again.  Some March 24 in the future, I will celebrate with him again, in person.  Until then, we will do our best on this day to honor his life that he lived here and also to celebrate the life that he lives in Heaven. 

Here are some fun pics to celebrate Reece:

Speaking of honoring Reece, we have some clarity on how we feel we should do so.  I read two great articles this week.  I highly recommend you read them–if for nothing else than to understand the background to my post today.  One article was posted on the Children’s Cancer Research Fund page and can be found here.  Written by the mom of a childhood cancer survivor, the article briefly touches on the thought that while her child is disease-free right now, she will never consider him cured.   This is something that Terry and I have discussed at length since Reece passed away.  It took me a long time to understand and accept that Reece probably never would have been “cured” from his disease.  MDS is an insidious, pre-cancerous disease with a high relapse rate.  As time progressed during his transplant, we came to realize that the doctors had a heightened concern for relapse due to his MDS diagnosis, thus begging the need for the study Reece participated in that looks at the relapse rate of high-risk pediatric cancer between one-cord and two-cord stem cell transplants.  We both discovered after Reece passed away that neither of us truly believed he would live a long life, well into adulthood.  After all, one is considered a “long-term survivor” after five years post-transplant.  That puts Reece just shy of 10 years old–10 still seems like a shortened life to me.  I remember the first meeting we had at Children’s Hospital when the hematologist first told us he suspected MDS was his diagnosis.  My immediate responses were something like, “Can we treat it?” and “Can he go on to live a full and healthy life?”  The answers were, “Only with BMT can it be treated,” and a very hesitant “yes” to living a long life.  I now understand the hesitancy.  I was so naive to what we were about to walk into–the doctor’s approach to our questions was appropriate.  He was hesitant because of the risks associated with transplant, including the many possible complications, he was hesitant because of the long-term effects to the quality of the life he may end up leading, and he was hesitant because transplants don’t always work–the disease can come back or the new blood may not function at all.  It is no easy task to switch your blood with some else’s.  Aside from the transplant, consider that all of these routine things that we fight every day–colds, influenza, chicken pox, etc–never really leave your system.  These invaders don’t go away, rather our bodies learn how to deal with them and keep them at bay.  I’m convinced it is the same with cancers.  After all, we all have defective cells in our body–regular cells that go awry.  It is a matter of them getting out of control when they become a problem and are considered cancer.  Reece’s bone marrow was, at one point, totally normal.  But eventually, the cells with monosomy 7 took over–thus the MDS diagnosis.  My point is, we all face life-threatening diseases every day.  We don’t think of them that way, because of our handy-dandy immune systems (that are actually pretty badass when you consider what they do).  But–at some point–we will physically be overpowered by something.  In reading this article, it was refreshing to hear another parent–a parent whose child is disease-free for now–discuss this openly.  She also discusses the complications that have come along with survivorship and references a second article that is longer and more robust in details.  To read the second article, click here.

This second article really hit home on many topics for me.  It summarized a lot of the concerns that we had to grapple with throughout our journey with Reece’s illness.  These concerns include childhood cancer survivors having a significant increase in likelihood for other cancers later in life, becoming your child’s advocate in such an intense and confusing subject matter, long-term side effects (like infertility and problems with cognitive functioning), and the reality that childhood cancers lack much research in many of these areas.  She also refreshingly discusses the obvious topic that no one wants to bring up–that even with cancers that have high rates of survival, there are still children who will not survive.  An 80% survival rate sounds encouraging (for lack of a better term) until you find yourself or your child in the other 20%.  And, when it is your own child, 20%–even 5%–sounds like a big number. 

One of the biggest takeaways that this article highlights is that childhood cancer is not the same as adult cancer, just occurring in younger people.  If you think about it, years of abuse to our bodies and years of abnormalities in bodies lend itself to higher rates of cancer in adults.  What about children–even babies in utero–who deal with this?  It’s not the same disease as when it is found in adults and often it behaves differently.  AND–it is a quality of life issue for a child; these types of treatments will greatly impact their entire lives.  It is an enormously heavy reality to think of when it is your own child and you are considering how to treat them and give them the best possible outcome for a healthy life.

Like most people, before we went through Reece’s ordeal, I assumed that there was a lot of research out there on childhood cancer.  The reality is, there is not as much as you’d think.  If you consider how rare childhood cancer is–some more than others–you realize that conducting studies is quite difficult from a funding perspective and from a participant pool perspective.  The study Reece was in was a five-year study and there was a very small pool of kids from across the nation participating.  Many of the decisions we made about Reece’s transplant were based on adult research, which isn’t necessarily the most accurate information when you consider the many differences between adults and children.  Reece had so many complications–things happened that likely could be prevented or greatly minimized with further research.  Finding ways to administer chemo/radiation differently, preventing GVHD, understanding what types of transplant work the best–these are just a few areas that would have helped Reece out tremendously–and that is only specific to him.  There are so many types of cancer that have such little research dedicated to them. 

I’ve struggled with knowing where we should direct our efforts in supporting research or finding something to do in Reece’s honor considering the complex nature of Reece’s situation.  Recently, however, Terry and I have discussed that it makes sense to do a monetary donation to some organization in Reece’s honor, every year on his birthday.  We still have his memorial money in a savings account and we would like to give it away every year on his birthday–in honor of him.  Perhaps we will even do fundraising to support our efforts in giving in future years.  But for now, we are going to use money that was donated in his memory.  This year, we feel it is appropriate to give to Children’s Cancer Research Fund.  Reece’s doctors work closely with this organization to help gain funding and support for further research.  We feel that this research will help future children who will be facing the same challenges that Reece faced.  We support an organization that strives to understand more about pediatric cancer, including pediatric MDS, to hopefully minimize the amount of issues that Reece faced throughout transplant, minimize the long-term complications of transplant survivors and cancer survivors, and strive to eliminate the need for children to go through the BMT process.  Giving to this organization, this year, seems like the right thing to do to honor Reece.

While I know he isn’t reading this blog, it feels entirely wrong to end this post without saying:

Happy 6th Birthday, Reecie!!!  I love you, I miss you, and I eagerly await celebrating with you again!

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

a time for everything

I was reading through the Like Olive Shoots posts awhile back.  I actually was looking at two posts…the post where we let everyone know that Reece passed away and the one preceding it.  There were about 36 hours between posts and a lot happened in those 36 hours.  And I recognized–not for the first time–but clearly recognized that there are many gaps between posts and lots of information left out in between.  So I thought about that for a while and considered that I have very little clue what it would be like as an outsider to our situation (I mean a person who was not in the daily details of our lives for the last year) to read and understand the full picture of both that blog and this one.  I also consider that it isn’t my job to post every detail.  I conclude that it would be quite difficult to know how to approach someone after you know only part of what they have been through.  And because I live in my head every day and know how we are doing on a moment to moment basis, I’m actually not sure what ends up getting highlighted when I post.  Certainly, I know what I write.  However, I have a context for it within the greater scheme of what is happening in our day-to-day lives.  The subject of a picture looks entirely different when the background is painted around it.  I’ve hesitated about posting what I am about to write about, because of this understanding.  Realistically, I keep thinking about writing about some of the happy things that have happened, perhaps what the girls are up to or some of our plans for the year, but I fear it would be disingenuous.  It’s almost like I want to will us into a different place in life, which is impossible.  This is what I have been grappling with, so this is my post.  Without the understanding of what the rest of our life looks like, it might be taken in the wrong way or emphasize something that I am not intending.  I urge you to read with an open mind that my reasoning behind this post is more to allow myself to process it and also to ease people in their understanding that someone who is in grief is struggling, but approachable.  I’m sure there are common themes with the loss of another family member or friend, but my context is Reece and I do think the loss of a child is a loss like no other.  It’s completely unnatural.  It’s the loss of someone whose make up is from your own, lived with you daily, depended on you daily–and it makes you realize how much you actually depended on them as well.  It’s the loss of what you always perceived as your future.

Over the course of the last seven months, I’ve come to understand that we struggle as a society to know how to approach people in a state of grief.  I can hardly remember what it was like for us before our situation with Reece unfolded, but I know it was hard to know what to say to someone in our situation.  Grief does not go away with time.  It is a haphazard, crazy, unpredictable, and exhausting emotion.  I read an article recently that stated most people, after about three months, no longer mention grief or the loss of a person.  Three months is the timeframe that most people gauge as an appropriate amount of time to “move on.”  Well, I can tell you that it isn’t accurate and the author of the article agreed with me.  I know and agree that people must move on with their own lives.  The grieving person knows that others have moved on in life.  In order to operate in society, the bereaved are forced to act normal when things are anything but normal.  Society expects brave faces and a report that all is well.  It is refreshing for the grieving person to have someone, on the flip side, acknowledge that life hasn’t just “moved on” for them.

Everyone is going through challenges in life and everyone has a different threshold for dealing with those challenges.  In the past, no matter what was going on, I was able to put any struggle I had on a shelf in order to operate through daily tasks and situations.  This is the first time in my life where it isn’t a matter of just bucking up and putting on a brave face.  Every day is a choice to come out of a mental bomb shelter and decide whether I can handle and recover from the unpredictable things coming my way or not.  I have to evaluate the risk of what I am going to be faced with and whether or not I am willing to deal with the repercussions or not.  Some days yes, some days no.  Case in point, I got my teeth cleaned this week.  If I could have skipped it, I would have, but in my mind, dental cleanings aren’t optional appointments.  My dentist knows that Reece passed away, but she was gone that day.  (By the way, we love our dental office, so this isn’t a reflection on them.)  The woman cleaning my teeth was new and asking me a few questions.  I managed to skirt the issue by answering generically about my kids.  (I recently decided that I would mention nothing about Reece’s passing to people I likely wouldn’t run into again–too much of a conversation derailer and frustration to mention it at all in that circumstance.)  Two thirds of the way through the cleaning she asked if my oldest was in 1st grade or Kindergarten.  So I just told her the situation.  We spent the rest of the time talking about her mother-in-law’s blood disorder.  After she finished cleaning my teeth, I heard her whispering and filling in the dentist (who is my husband’s dentist and knows me as well).  Nothing was mentioned to my face about Reece.  She came in with an awkward smile, but never mentioned it.   She didn’t have to–there is nothing that requires a dentist to ask about personal questions other than that is the way they normally operate with us so it was weird to not have her say anything.  It was obviously on her mind and clearly on mine.  And here I am posting about it; it’s an otherwise normal situation that ends up feeling all weird and funky due to the circumstance.  I have the rest of my life to adjust to this and I’m sure as time moves forward I’ll develop a way to deal with it that feels more manageable.  But perhaps you can understand why doing even routine things is not so easy right now.  Or at least things that require we talk to people.

There is nothing you can say to make me more sad about Reece.  Bringing him up doesn’t somehow remind me that he is gone.  The only thing that makes me more sad is when people who know me or especially who knew him fail to mention him.  I know I’ve posted about this before.  But it amazes me how many people avoid us completely or at least avoid the topic.  I don’t need to constantly be discussing Reece, but it never comes up with many people and it becomes uncomfortable.  I don’t expect most people to really say anything, but with those that know us well, it is hard and hurtful when they don’t.  It is impossible to avoid the topic and have a meaningful friendship with me.  Reece is unavoidable.  Just because he isn’t physically here doesn’t mean he isn’t our child or we don’t think of him and talk about him.  In order to get to a point in friendship where it isn’t all about the situation of loss, there needs to be a period of time where it is.  There is no quick-fix for loss and for our society, that feels uncomfortable.  And yes, loss isn’t an easy topic to discuss, but Reece, as a person, is joyful to discuss.  If someone chooses to bring him up, it is my responsibility to extend grace in understanding the intentions and words of the person.  Even now with people I know who have lost a child, I struggle with what to say, because I don’t want to be offensive and I know I can’t fix it.  But not mentioning it with them is much more about my own insecurities versus protecting the family from more pain.  Healing has to happen internally and with time.  As with any type of wound, healing helps recover something, but never mends it back to its original state.  There is no way to know who I am without knowing this part of me.  Genuine friendship is not sustainable without walking though the joyful times and the sad times…and various other times as well.  So we have learned that we have to let go and allow nature to run its course on relationships with others.  We really don’t have the reserves to do much else.  We’ve found that the loss of Reece has also meant the loss of friendships.  Strangely, I’ve learned that it is ok.  But for those that do check in and understand that my slow e-mail responses or lack of calls isn’t personal, that when I don’t ask about all the activities they are doing with their kids it isn’t because I don’t care, and when I cancel plans at the last minute it isn’t because I don’t respect their time–I am forever indebted as a friend for the grace they are extending to me.  I have learned more about caring for others through this period than I ever thought I would.  I hope some day I am able to care for others in a similar way; when we are in a place where we feel we can support others, I aspire to be able to respond with such genuine concern and love.  I know in the past I have missed many opportunities to do so.  I know the day will come when I am presented with the challenge and I hope I reciprocate accordingly.

Lately, time in the Word has been sporadic.  But one passage that I have been continually turning to–not necessarily of my own choosing, but simply having been led to it–is Ecclesiastes 3, although you may know the passage better from The Byrds song, “Turn, Turn, Turn”.  It is the passage that discusses how God has purposed a time for everything.  What it has highlighted to me is that for as many positive things there are, so there are challenging and difficult things.  As much as we desire the dancing, reaping, embracing, laughing, loving, peaceful parts, so also come the weeping, mourning, tearing down, scattering, giving up parts.  Those parts are intentional, too, and require our time and energy.  We are programmed to fix things quickly and avoid these hard things and to not discuss them or admit them publicly.  Certainly, sitting in them, “allowing” them to happen and being okay with them happening (i.e. not fighting them) seems unnatural.  Like I mentioned, I keep happening upon these verses and it has affirmed to me that as uncomfortable as the tough times are, they must happen in life.  Even though they don’t feel good, the valleys have a purpose.

I firmly believe that part of going through challenges in life is the hope that one day, you’ll be able to support someone else going through a similar situation.  It comforts me to think of having a way to actually put our hurt to use and actually see part of the purpose with our own eyes.  As I try to make sense out of what happened with Reece and its purpose in our lives, I am convinced that one day we will be able to walk alongside others going through the loss of a child and be supportive.  In order to do that effectively, we have to spend time dealing with our own fresh grief.  We can’t effectively help others in a similar situation, if all we do is turn it into something about Reece.  When we are able to support other grieving parents, it will be at a time when it isn’t as intensely all about our grieving our own child.  We can’t get to that by skipping over the tough stuff.  This time in our life is all about Reece and that is okay.


One thing that has been a struggle for me, really for most of my life, is prayer.  Prayer is simply talking to God.  I have always struggled to make it a priority.  When this last year hit, while prayer was becoming a more regular thing in my life, it became a necessity.  When Reece was in the hospital, I posted many, many prayer requests.  There were so many needs, that I only posted what made sense for the general public to read.  There were numerous times when I felt like I was scrambling to post all my requests–to cover all my bases with Reece–for prayer.  There were many times I considered the phrase, “praying with great faith”.  Was I doing this?  Were my prayers faith-filled enough?  Then things really began going awry and by the time Reece was admitted to Amplatz for his final stay, I gave up on writing our prayer requests.  I realized that really no one had a clue other than God himself as to what was needed.  Trying to ask God for specifics in regard to Reece seemed almost silly.  And knowing that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and prays for us when we don’t know what we need or what to pray for, I decided to rest on that and not try to add anything further.  There were so many people praying–faithfully praying–how could God not be hearing us?  I concluded that God was indeed hearing us and accepted that he was, in fact, saying “no” to many things.  Eventually, I accepted that his plan was certainly to heal Reece, but not here on Earth.

A couple of months after Reece passed away, I attended a Christian women’s conference with a couple of friends.  While I took many positive things away from attending, I witnessed a big emphasis on how when you pray with great faith and put your specific requests before God, he will heal.  In light of what had just happened with Reece, the whole topic felt crummy.  Many people were clapping and excited about healing stories that people shared and all I could do was sit in my chair and feel numb and hardened.  How many stories have I read about this happening to other people?  How many people highlighted their own stories at this conference?  What about the people who get a “no” despite their great faith in God?  Where are those stories?  Does my “no” answer in regard to Reece mean I didn’t have enough faith in God or that I didn’t actually believe in my heart that he could do what I was asking?   I know that isn’t the case; I believed that God could have turned the whole thing around in a heartbeat.  But hearing countless stories about other people–their miracles and happy-endings–was like pouring salt in my wound.  Certainly, I don’t wish harm for other people; I’m glad they got the answer they were looking for.  But how do I make sense of our situation in light of our own faith-filled praying?  If I really sit in this place for a long time, it’s easy to feel ripped-off, cheated, and wronged.  And over the last several months, when I’ve found myself in these mental places, I’ve been gently reminded that the victim mentality only minimizes Reece’s life’s purpose and further destroys the joy in knowing him and the work God is doing through his life.  While I feel God nudged my thinking in this way, it still has left me in a confusing place in regard to my prayers.  Why bother lifting up my specific requests to God, if he has a plan and he knows what is going to happen?  Why does it matter?  And, for that matter, I am tired of hearing “no”.  My question is not can he do it, but will he do it?  I have greatly shied away from praying many specifics because of this and it has become its own wound, independent of other hurts in life.

We’ve been in the book of Genesis this year in Bible study and, more specifically, we have been studying the life of Abraham.  This week, we read about God and his discussion with Abraham about Sodom and how he planned on destroying the city.  Abraham had a relative (Lot) in the city and he was concerned about his well-being (in addition to other people in the city).  Abraham humbly discusses with God his desire to have God spare the city if there is a small number of faith-filled people.  Although Abraham never mentions Lot by name, God eventually promises to spare the city if there are 10 people of faith.  You can read the full text from Genesis 18 here.  What eventually ends up happening is that God destroys Sodom, but spares the life of Lot, his wife, and his two daughters.  Even though Abraham did not specifically ask about saving Lot (at least as it is recorded in the Bible), God did honor Abraham’s concern for Lot, despite his destruction of Sodom.

As I was answering the questions from our study, two things about this conversation stood out to me in regard to Abraham and his relationship with God.  First, God knew what his plan was and also what was on Abraham’s heart.  God answered Abraham by sparing Lot in the midst of Sodom’s destruction.  This is not what God and Abraham had discussed; 10 faith-filled people were not found in Sodom.  Sodom was destroyed, yet Lot and some of his family were still saved.  Second, what I took from this passage more than anything was the tolerance of his conversation with Abraham–how he knew Abraham’s request and how he knew the end result.  He allowed Abraham to give several requests in a row and relayed information that gave Abraham an understanding about the situation and about God himself.  What stands out to me, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, is God’s parental nature.  He desired to have the conversation with Abraham for Abraham’s understanding.  He spoke with him and discussed the desires of Abraham’s heart and also revealed part of his nature to Abraham.  He showed concern, compassion, and approachability.  And Abraham approached him with humility and respect.  There is a lot packed into a couple of paragraphs of scripture!

After pondering this for while, it is the first time in a very long time that I feel like I’ve had some sort of healing around this issue or at least some direction on how to proceed in prayer.  I have been able to separate the faith piece from the answer–at least in regard to a heart that genuinely is seeking Him.  After all there is no algebraic equation for getting prayers answered the way in which we desire.  If that was the case, I’d be a math wizard by now.  I think that there are times when that is nearly implied–the more faith you have, the more God will answer your prayers with the answer you want.  I know this is not the case and I don’t think I have been misguided on this in the past.  What gives me great comfort and where I think some of my own healing lies is in the demonstration from this story that even though God knows the desires of our hearts, he still wants to discuss them with us.  He still wants that relational piece.  The discussion isn’t just about the request and the answer, but also about the teaching that lies within the process of asking.  I think I’ve somewhat closed myself off to the details with God so I can lick my wounds and not give him an opportunity to say no to me.  It feels like a door has been opened to begin those types of discussions with him again, which is a definite answer to prayer.  Somewhere deep inside something feels slightly soldered back together and while it feels foreign, it’s probably the best place to start.

finishing well

I will never forget the sermon given on the Sunday that Britta was dedicated at our church.  Our pastor was wrapping up a sermon series entitled, “Thirty Days to Live” and it was about how we would choose to live our days if we knew our time on Earth was coming to a close.  On this particular Sunday, his final sermon of the series was about finishing well.  He used the analogy of pitching in baseball.  Roy Halladay had just pitched a no-hitter a few days prior and the pastor used the story to describe how hard it is to pitch a no-hitter, as often times relief pitchers come into a ball game.  By definition, to “pitch a no-hitter” requires the pitcher to throw a full nine innings of a game.  It doesn’t happen very often.  Pitching a full game, I have to believe (although I’m certainly no expert), must be taxing on the body.  Additionally, there is this thing called “winning” that teams strive to do, so bringing in a fresh pitcher often times helps in that department.  Our pastor went on to discuss that the reality is, in life, we don’t have people to come in to relieve us when we are tired and worn-out; we have to persevere until the very end.  So, how do we do that well?

I’ve thought a lot about Reece in this context–how he finished his life here.  Realistically, no one went into transplant thinking that these were his last days; no one talked about it that way and no one treated him that way until the very last day of his life.  Certainly, Terry and I had considered this many times over the course of his transplant and as he continued to decline in our home and at the hospital, we were very concerned about losing him.  But he abruptly coded in the hospital–no one ever said, “We are concerned that something may happen, here.”  He wasn’t in the PICU before he coded; he was in a regular BMT room and had just completed occupational therapy.  I’m sure the doctors were always aware that it could happen, but my point is that unlike many people with terminal illnesses, Reece was never treated that way.  His transplant was always considered “successful” in that he was 100% donor.  The focus was on his recovery, on making it all turn out swell.  We didn’t have the opportunity to say our good-byes and acknowledge the end was near until after he was on life support.  I am convinced, however, that he had some sort of inclination that he may not have much time here; there were signs of that.  It wasn’t, however, because we observed him giving up.  It seems really obvious if you look through the pictures of him from January to June that his body was slowly giving way.  But we didn’t know all that at the time or view it as such and his attitude never demonstrated that he was giving up.

I really don’t like the phrase, “Live each day as if it is your last.”  What does that mean?  Travel today; spend the day in an airplane or a car?  Do something reckless?  Sob unceasingly and call everyone you know?  Yes, those all sound like wonderful options…if you actually know it is your last day, the likelihood that you are able to do anything other than rest is probably unlikely.  But in a not-so-different way, “finishing well” is probably quite similar to fully living life.  I’m convinced that finishing well and fully living have more to do with shedding fear and meeting the day head-on, regardless of circumstances.  I believe it means to honor God in fulfilling the days he has marked out for us and to trust that God will meet us in our need and provide relief and rest.  After all, no person can step in and live our lives for us.

Yes, whether or not we know our last days are imminent, we will all be at a place in life where death is staring us in face.  We either have no clue we are in our last days, so the opportunity is now, or we will know it is coming and the challenge will be to release the grip of fear and meet our final days the best we can.  Reece truly modeled this for us.  He wasn’t in a place of defeat in his last days.  He certainly didn’t feel well and was very limited based on his health.  In fact, he somewhat became a prisoner to his body, but only physically.  Regardless of the physical challenges, he lived the days set before him with an attitude of perseverance, until his final breath.  As was the case with Reece, finishing well–phenomenally well–may simply be letting the body rest.  What a beautiful way to honor our life– to respect what God has given us by fully living within the circumstances that present themselves.  For my own day today–what a challenge it is to move through the day without Reece.  Yet I know there is a bigger plan than sadness and pain–how do I finish well, despite this challenge and other issues that present themselves?  I hope and believe that it can be done.

I think the tendency is to avoid the topic of death until we are absolutely facing it head on.  But what if today is one of my last days and I am facing it.  Maybe where I’ve been wrong about the statement, “Live each day as if it is your last” is in my interpretation of it.  I think it’s more accurate to say, “Live each day in confidence that you will finish it well.”  I do not claim to know what it feels like to be staring at death–I haven’t been there yet.  Truthfully, this whole entry came to be after I stumbled across a video posted about a young man who battled cancer for several years.  I know these stories can be hard to watch, but I am incredibly encouraged by what he has to say.  You can learn a lot about living from a person who is dying.  Knowing his cancer was terminal, he did not allow it to take over what remained of his time here.  This man was not covered in fear, but in life.  He finished well on Nov 7, 2012.

a new year

I’m glad to be blogging on a new site.  This new site is still a work-in-progress in regard to its configuration, but I wanted to get it up and running, as to not lose my motivation.  Truthfully, Like Olive Shoots has become, to me, similar to all of Reece’s things…sacred and somewhat untouchable.  I want it preserved the way that it looked last year.  I don’t want to add anything further to it or change things around.  I’ve realized over the last month that I needed a different site if I wanted to keep writing.  Tonight’s post will be a short one, to get the ball rolling.

We made it through Christmas and Terry and I looked at each other and said, “We have to do this again?”  The whole season felt overwhelming and took quite a bit of energy to wade through without Reece.  We actually had a nice, quiet holiday season (by design), but the holidays are exhausting even without the grief aspect and avoiding much of the season, as it turns out, takes a great deal of energy as well. The celebration piece of Christmas was low-key–we avoided malls, parties, baking, and most social situations.  It is a season of perpetual merry-making and conversing.  Small talk either requires we lie to people or bring them into the heaviness of the year…neither is enjoyable.  We decided to not put ourselves or others in those types of conversations, at least for this year.  While there is no way to know how I will feel years down the road, I get this feeling that right now–when the kids’ ages are still in the appropriate “order”, when Reece hasn’t been gone for very long–it will be easier than another 5, 10, 20 years down the road.

A year ago we were thinking that we would be vacationing someplace warm this January to celebrate a year of new blood for Reece.  We were marching forward with little option of turning around or changing our minds on anything.  We were beginning the process of grieving Reece; he was so different during his transplant.  And while I’m sure this isn’t exactly the way that people want to start their year, as we approach anniversaries and the triggers of the time of year–the cold, the date, the approaching birthdays–it makes me want to crawl in a hole.  I don’t think it would be wrong to do so.  And I definitely don’t think there is a right or wrong way to feel in regard to grief over a child (or any loved one, for that matter).  Anyway, I’m going to try my best to re-program my brain to avoid constantly comparing this year to last year.  I’m not big on “anniversaries” and I could spend six months in perpetual anniversary-mode.  We are charging forward into 2013.  My Facebook status last January read, “2012, I’m not sure how I feel about you.”  I guess my status for this year could be something like, “2013, at least you aren’t 2012.”