All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!


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It Gets Easier

I’m not going to lie, the last few days have been hard.  For as grateful as I am that Jenny is no longer suffering, I still can’t get over the shock of it – the shock of knowing that she doesn’t physically exist anymore.  I remember thinking this when my cat, Lily, died a year and a half ago, but it’s so very different when it’s a person, a friend, your age (or in my case, almost 5 years younger than me) dies.

I woke up in Kansas City in the dark hotel room and thought, “where am I?”  I then remembered, “oh yeah, Jenny died.”  I’ve had the same confusion every morning, but it’s lessened each morning and is becoming something that just is in my life.  It’s weird.

The first night home, I dreamt of Jenny all night.  I woke up to use the bathroom and went right back into a dream about her.  I got up with Bryson at 5:10 the next morning and rocked him in his room, falling asleep in the chair, and I dreamt about her immediately.  They weren’t good dreams.  I was glad to finally be up on Monday morning.

People have been posting photos of Jenny on her Facebook page, reminiscing and sharing good memories.  I’ve found peace in those posts and have, for two nights, gotten totally sucked in reading them.  It’s felt like if I was reading about her, that she was still here.  The photos have been so fun to see, but they aren’t my memories of her, which has been causing me a serious problem.

When I close my eyes at night, I think of her dead in that hospice bed.  I can’t see her as she was all those years that we spent, literally, every weekend together.  All I can see is her colorless face, closed eyes, dry teeth, and still chest.  If I’m not working out or doing something very involved with the boys, I am thinking of her… in that bed.  I’ve mentioned that I’ve never seen someone so soon after dying, before being made up by the funeral home.  I don’t know why I expected her to have more color and life in her when we walked in, but I did.  I know how this works, I’ve read, “The Embalming of Mr. Jones” (required reading in my high school death and dying class – it still haunts me) – I know that the body turns cold and blue and pale very quickly, but I just didn’t think it would happen to her.

Sort of like I didn’t think the cancer would kill her.

Imagine, every moment that your mind can wander off task, thinking of your dead friend lying in a hospice bed.  It has been exhausting, and upsetting.  Hottie and I talked last night about it and it’s not just me having this problem – he’s having the same challenge.  We have years and countless memories of the “funnest” times of our lives with Jenny and her husband, but we can’t shake that image of her in that damn hospice bed.

I’ve read that when you grieve, you tend to remember the person as you last saw them – usually sick and dying or dead in a casket – for quite a while before that image starts to fade.  I have wondered so many times over the last three days when that image will fade.  When will I remember her as she was when she was alive and full of life?

After looking at everyone else’s photos of Jenny of FB, I decided today to find ours.  We back up our photos to a server and also online, so finding pictures is not easy – we don’t do a good job of organizing them.  I was looking for some in particular and never did find them, but I found a folder that brought me some hope.  I’d planned a pretty special 30th birthday party for Hottie back in 2009, which was when we started our friendship with Jenny and her husband.  I remembered that we’d invited them, despite just having met them (we knew they were special and that we’d be lifelong friends if the opportunity allowed), and I furiously scoured the photos for a picture I knew we had of her.

I found it.  And I found another one too.

In the photos, she is wearing the coat she was wearing when we met her.  In the photos, she is the Jenny we met and fell in love with almost instantly.  In the photos, she is alive.

My memory of her in that hospice bed is fading.  I replaced my lock screen photo with one of the four of us, and that’s helping me a great deal.  When I think of her, I am seeing her bright eyes and shiny blonde hair.  I’m no longer grasping onto others’ memories, hoping they’ll help me cope.  I have my own memories for that… and now I have a picture.

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I Don’t Get It

I guess my dad and I are in one of those silent wars that he and my mom wage against you, without telling you.

What kind of a father doesn’t respond to his daughter’s email, and later text, about her friend dying? It’s been almost 36 hours since I sent my dad a text…. A man who sleeps with his phone… A man who expects a return text to everything he sends (including pictures of his cat)… A man who sends texts in the middle of the night to his kids….

I just don’t get it… and I hardly even care.


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There is Comfort in Her Peace

Bryson woke up at 5:05 and I’d volunteered the night before to get up with him. I sprinted down the hallway and told him, as I held him to my chest, that it was too early to be up and that I needed him to snuggle with me in the chair. I say that most mornings and he usually mocks me, but this morning, he snuggled in for almost an hour.

When Bryson finally announced, at 5:55, that he was “all done I want to go downstairs,” I was satisfied. We headed downstairs and I got dressed to run on the treadmill while Bryson watched Blaze. It was a nice, easy run with few interruptions. At one point, though, my heart paused and my head said, “today is the day. If she isn’t gone already, she will be soon.”

I knew we wouldn’t make it in time.

I’d sent Jenny’s husband and dad a text about bringing lunch for everyone, and it took too long to hear back. I finally got a text that she’d passed about a half hour earlier. 10:33. I’ll never forget it.

Jenny’s husband then called and said that they would love lunch since no one had eaten, so we got that setup as we rolled into town. He then texted saying he had gone home, but to take the food to the family and then to come hang out with him. I was glad he wanted company.

I wasn’t sure how it was all going to go, but I was pretty nervous walking into hospice. We saw Jenny’s parents first and spent some time with them. They sent us to Jenny’s waiting area where the rest of the family was. Her sister was dressing her in something that she would have liked, not a hospital gown. What a great sister.

Jenny’s aunt asked if we wanted to see her. I really, really did want to see her. I was surprised by that reaction, but I almost couldn’t get up fast enough to go and sit with her. Hottie came with me and we sat with her for a bit. Death and dead bodies don’t really bother me – it’s the final phase of life that happens to us all. I was, though, a little afraid to see my dead friend.

My dead friend.

She looked wonderful. She looked peaceful. I immediately pulled up a chair, grabbed ahold of her hands, and started to talk to her. I talked for a long time, so long that Hottie left the room. No one else was waiting to see her just then, so I stayed with her, and I talked to her. Good god, I did a lot of talking. Every word out of my mouth felt more and more natural, and I felt more and more at peace.

I know Jenny’s dad came in to check on us, and he and I talked. We both talked to her. I think her mom came in, I’m not sure. I swear she did. A nurse came in and I learned first hand how hospice nurses know just what to say at just the right moment. I was terrified to leave her alone in that room, so I just stayed.

Eventually, I got up to see if I was keeping anyone from her. Hottie wanted to get to Ben, so we decided it was time to leave. We heard that she was being cremated tonight, so we took one final look at her, blew her a kiss, and left.

It felt wonderful to see Ben. He needed an open, honest, light conversation, and that’s what the three of us had. It was nice. He told us all about her final week and I am so glad I didn’t see Jenny like that. The last time we spoke, she was rather well and smiling. I’m glad that’s my last memory of her.

Their son woke up and they needed to get back to hospice to see Jenny one last time. Ben wanted to change clothes so we got E ready to go. Hugging him was like hugging his mom. It was hard to let go. As we all walked down the stairs together, Ben said, “let’s go see Mommy.”

My heart broke.

We lost a dear friend today. But our dear friend lost his wife. And a sweet 2 year old lost his mom. And a kind couple lost their first-born. And two younger sisters lost their oldest sister. Everybody lost someone very special today. Only Jenny gained. Jenny is at peace now, and as hard as it is for everyone left behind, there is comfort in her peace.

Fly free, Jenny! I love you.


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We Will Be There

I’ve kept something very close to the vest the last several months, because a good friend reads my blog. My good friend with 5 types of cancer. Our good friend who has fought, and fought, and fought for her life for 4 years.

Four years.

She and her husband moved away just before she was first diagnosed, so we’ve had to be supportive from afar. We get down to see them quite a bit, but not enough. It’s never enough.

She went into remission after year 1 and was told she could get pregnant. She did, right away, and at 4 months pregnant, her one cancer had turned into three. She had to get chemo while pregnant or she would have died. She pushed the cancer back, delivered her son, and moved on.

Then, she got a fourth cancer, the kind you may or may not survive. She kept fighting, getting into various trials that gave her more time. Then, she got a fifth cancer.

We’ve known since the second round of cancers that her chances were slim, but we kept our hopes up because she always seemed to get better. We knew she wouldn’t beat it 100%, but it seemed under control.

It’s no longer under control. Her husband called me a week ago to tell me that they’d stopped all treatments. We were brave, scheduled a visit for this weekend, and committed to me caring for her for two days next week. We held our breaths, hoping she’d make it past our visits.

Her dad called me tonight during dinner. She’s dying. There is no way around it, and to hear a father say, about his daughter who just turned 35 years old last week, “she may die tonight, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day. It’s over.” Well… What do you even say? I stayed brave, offered our love and help, and told him we’d see him this weekend. Then, I hung up the phone and cried.

I don’t think I’ll see my friend alive again. I want her family – her sisters, parents, husband and son – to have privacy and every moment with her that they can. We are going to be the runners, the ones to keep everyone fed and caffeinated during this ordeal. We may play babysitters for their young son, or we may not. And we may not do anything because they may not want anything.

But we will be there.


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Advent Ornament Project – December 10

It’s been a rough few days over here, (which I’ll save for a separate post after this one), and I really needed some fun today. This project, believe it or not, brought me a lot of fun!

The boys and I came home after an exhausting lunch together and got to work on a project I found today at Michaels. They cost $1.00 each, so I was super excited about them! Well… They were total failures. They look nothing like the picture and I should know by now that if it says, “glue needed” on the box, to PUT THEM BACK. The cheap materials used in these kits don’t adhere well to my favorite glue. I know this.

Take a look!

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Ha ha ha! The bear ended up looking like a llama because there is NO way to glue a relatively heavy ball on the side of another ball. It doesn’t work. So… Llama. I just had to laugh at this colossal failure!

After nap/quiet time, I invited the boys to do another project and Bryson said, “no thanks, Mom. I’ll watch Justin Time.” Ok, buddy. 😁 Matthew was super excited when I showed him our do-over project – painting wooden ornaments! He was even more excited when he saw, “all of those paint brushes!”. He started with the round sponge wand and put a different colored paint circle all around the top ornament. Then, he got started on his tree. I was painting my own tree and we both just painted beside each other, I helped when he asked. He kept looking over to check out what I was doing but did his own design. It was so fun! When we got done, Matthew said, “I had fun painting with you, Mom. Thank you!”

So worth it!


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Advent Ornament Project – December 9

It was time… time to do the dreaded gingerbread house/train.  Bryson’s been dragging the box out of the pantry for over a week now, begging to, “please make the train, please!”  I’d been thinking about it since Sunday and decided to finally bite the bullet today.  I’d taken out frozen homemade soup from the freezer and knew it was going to be an easy kitchen night ahead of me – so why the heck not?

The joint project on December 3 made me realize that teamwork is not the best idea for these two boys when it comes to crafty projects – they each want to do EVERYTHING “by my-seffffff.”  Once Bryson was up from his nap, Matthew and I turned on his new favorite show for him (“Justin Time” – OMG it is so cute and we’re so happy to have it back in our daily line-up!) and quietly ran out to the kitchen.  He and I had fun constructing the train before calling Bryson in to help us decorate it.  Bryson just wanted to eat every piece of candy in front of him, and Matthew wanted to do more than I would let him.  I was in a rush because the train was not stable and it was not going to hold for long!  What that meant was, “just help me with the icing and I’ll do the rest quickly.  You can hand me the candy pieces.”  Matthew came and went but Bryson stayed the duration and was super excited to stick on the Wilton sugar figurines I’d picked up at Target for this project.  Honestly, that little Santa, snowman, penguin, elf, and reindeer took this train from being cute to being adorable!

I took a few photos (which is always when I lose my cool because they cannot seem to cooperate during photo-taking these days) and Bryson asked if he could start eating it.  DIG IN!  Within a minute, the train was down (and I caught it on video!) and Matthew came out to help eat it up  🙂

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Advent Ornament Project – December 8

My goodness, it was another day in the kitchen for me.  I’ve been thinking about certain aspects of the Christmas Eve cake and decided to bite the bullet and do some more decorations for it and figure out the part that has been giving me trouble – the cabin windows.

I started with the fondant snowflakes and after cutting and embellishing all of them, realized I’d done them in the wrong color.  I was a bit frustrated, but I knew Matthew would like helping me with them so I held off on doing them in the right color until he was home.  He had a GREAT time putting the silver sugar beads in the middle of each one!

I then moved onto the cabin glass.  I was thinking I’d buy rice paper for the windows but that didn’t sound fun at all – I really want the entire cake to be edible and hand-made (aside from the twiggy tree because, just.. no!), so I searched videos on making edible glass.  I found one!  I employed the boys’ help and they helped me from start to finish.  Bryson helped stir the liquid sugar, they both watched me spread it out, and Matthew got to break it up with a knife once it was hardened.  They had a great time and I was happy to have my biggest cake problem solved.

We had so much fun with this Advent decoration that we quickly moved onto making homemade dark brown sugar cookies.  It didn’t go as well as making the cabin glass, but the cookies taste great!

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