Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012- Looking Forward

I am sitting in the hospital room with my dad this New Year’s Eve. He was admitted to the hospital on Thursday with several health issues.  He is diabetic, he has congestive heart failure, he has pneumonia……In short, his body is wearing out.  Sitting in the chair next to his bed, I listen to him breathe. My mind slips back to my childhood, and I see the man he once was. So strong, so capable. Rarely complaining, and tackling life head on.  

In my reflection, as I look back on 2011, and I am filled with wonder. Where did this past year go, and how do so many things happen in only one year? There have been a whirlwind of events, to say the least. My son, Joshua was married, and our family was blessed with a new daughter in law / sister in law. Our first grandchild was born, a beautiful baby girl. Jonathan moved out and has met a wonderful girl.  Jenni graduated from high- school. And through it all, through this life, Jillian has continued to battle melanoma with strength and courage. As I watch my dad, I know exactly where this strength comes from. Thank you dad, for giving us the gift of strength, perseverance, faith, courage, and LOVE.

The prime rib dinner we were planning to serve tonight with our dear friends has been postponed. There is no place I’d rather be.

Looking forward to all the wonderful, magical things waiting for us in 2012!

Much love~

Monday, December 19, 2011

Out of the Blue and into the Black

Christmas has always been a time of joy and celebration for me. Just like many young kids growing up , the anticipation and heart-beat skipping excitement was a part of my childhood innocence. I was totally absorbed in my own world, oblivious to any suffering outside of my protected bubble. Oh, I knew that people were less fortunate than I was. I learned at home, and in Sunday school about families that were struggling  during the holiday season, due to the loss of a job, an illness, or a dozen other reasons. But if any of those distasteful things entered into my young world for a brief second, I quickly dismissed them, because they didn’t relate to me.

As I began to have children of my own, I wanted to re-create that same sense of excitement, that same innocence. For the most part, I think I succeeded. I didn’t always have a lot of money to spend, but each child always had something to open under the tree on Christmas. We were surrounded by family, and surrounded by love. We were living under the Blue sky of innocence. Until last September when Jillian was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. Suddenly our world was turned upside down. Last Christmas we were forced out of the Blue, and into the Black. For me, I only went through the motions of Christmas. The innocence and joy were shattered. I tried to make it as normal as I could for my kids. But my heart was broken.

Looking back on last Christmas, and all the Christmas’s before melanoma,  I can see that I was already living in the Black. I took so many things for granted, and I’m ashamed that I was so short sighted in my thinking. This Christmas however, as I look back over the last year, I’m grateful that I’ve been given the gift of sight. I can see so many blessings, and I am thankful that I can recognize God’s hand all over this thing. I have been given the opportunity to share and to raise melanoma awareness.  I have been given the opportunity to share Jillian’s story. I’ve been touched by so many wonderful, beautiful people that have been effected by melanoma in one way or another. My heart is full with love and gratitude to those people who have reached out to me and my family in support and prayer.

This past summer new neighbors moved in next door. The couple has four kids. Three boys, and one girl. Little 4 year old Abby and I have bonded. She loves coming here to spend time and to just “hang out”. Last week she stopped over with an ornament she had made in Sunday school. I felt so humbled that she made it just for me. In return, I made a bracelet for her with her birthstones. Right before we left for Jillian’s appointment, and infusion, I  brought the bracelet to Abby’s house. I included in the package a brochure that describes Jillian’s battle with melanoma,  along  with a picture of Jillian and her dog. I knelt down on one knee and explained the meaning of the bracelet to her. “This is your birthstone, this is Jillian’s birthstone, and here is a little heart. When you touch this heart, remember how much Jesus loves Jillian, and how much He loves you”. This little girl is another blessing. She is learning at a very young age that melanoma has a face.
Out of the Black and into the Blue.

Love and blessings to you and yours,

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"My Ears Are Ringing"

As hard as I try, I cannot imagine what it would  be like to have cancer. Jillian has cancer, I don’t. My child has cancer.  My beautiful daughter has cancer.

When Jillian was first diagnosed, I knew she would fight with every ounce of her being, because she’s that person. I knew the physical battle would be fought valiantly . The difficult for part for me , was not knowing what was going on inside her head. Her deepest, darkest, thoughts. The fear, the anger, the angst. That’s what I wanted to know. Still do. Why did I want that so badly? Because in knowing, I would be better equipped to help Jillian. Truly, that was my prayer. “Please God, please, help me to be whatever it is that Jillian needs me to be”. I know that I’ll never really be privy to those private, inner thoughts. Anymore than any of us completely allow ourselves to be that vulnerable. Not really.

That was a year ago, and I do believe my prayers are being answered. Jillian lets me know what she needs. She especially lets me know what she doesn’t need. J  She doesn’t need a mother that hovers. Uh huh. Right. That’s easy. But I’m learning. I fail sometimes, but that’s okay, Jillian is patient with me. She’s teaching me that she needs her independence, that she doesn’t want to be defined as a person with cancer. And I respect that.

Our lives have taken a detour down the road called melanoma. I’m discovering the beauty of the dandelions along the path. They aren’t weeds, they are gifts, and there have been plenty.

Jillian gave me a dandelion last week with a random text. “You must be thinking about me because my ears are ringing”. What???? You’re ears are ringing?? Are you feeling ok?? Nope, instead I blew the dandelion back with my reply, “You must have a real problem then with your ears ringing all the time”.

That dandelion was wrapped with a big red bow, just in time for Christmas. J