Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Arrangements

The wake for Dad Carlson will be held on Sunday from 2-8 at Kurtz Memorial in Frankfort (same place my dad was waked). The funeral will be Monday at 10:30 at the same location.

Thank you for all the prayers and condolences.

Peace in the Pain

2008 has been a difficult year. It's hard to believe that just three months ago we said goodbye to my dad as we have now had to say goodbye to Rod's dad. I never would have imagined that we would be in this stage of life at this moment. Still, if there's one thing we all know, it's that life never goes as we have planned.

The biggest gift we've been given recently has been the extra week we were given with Rod's dad. It was truly a miracle which allowed Rod to have specific conversations with his dad that he was longing for. It also allowed us to look back on the final days of his life with peace.

That's the greatest thing about both of these experiences with our dads. The final days of their lives were spent at home surrounded by their families. I couldn't think of a much better way to go when you have to go with such a terrible disease. There is great peace as we look back on both of these moments with our dads.

One thing we're attempting to do is to explain everything fully to the girls. We brought the girls back to the house later in the evening so they could see the body leave the house. My mom and Rod's mom both chose to keep the body at the house for a longer period of time than is common for most. There is actually a comfort to having their body in the house - even though we know they are no longer present with us. When the body is taken there is a finality that breaks the heart. Even so, we feel it important for our girls to see that moment to understand we are saying goodbye. I hope our choices during these times will make it a bit easier to cope with future experiences of facing death.

In times like these when pain continually stabs the heart, there is an overwhelming peace that comes with being able to say goodbye the way we did.

1 Thessalonians 4
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Goodbye, Dad Carlson

A little earlier today, we said goodbye to Rod's dad. It's the first time I was present when the life actually left someone's body. He smiled before he went - just about the finish of the National Anthem of the Cubs game. We'll miss him a lot but look forward to being united again one day.

Nikelle responded with all emotion flooding. I had to take her away from the house simply because she wasn't able to cope. I think the emotions she did not display when my dad died piled up top of the one's she's experiencing now.

Goodbye, Dad Carlson. You are loved much.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Seeking the Passion

I've been struggling with the word miracles and healing lately. The end result of cancer with my dad, I'm certain, is the main reason for my quandry. Even now, staring in the face of a miracle my heart is still lacking passion and excitement. The facts are all there in my head. I believe it all. My heart is lacking.

Yesterday the hospice nurses came to the house for Dad Carlson. They were among the rest of us in their amazement of his condition. He was on death's door on Friday. Honestly, we did not expect him to be alive today. Every day is a gift with him. There is no timeframe to give for the remainder of his life. It could be days. It could be much longer. He has a bacteria in his blood that is working to destroy his organs along with the cancer his body has fought against for so long. This is bonus time that has been given to us by God. Nothing short of a miracle.

Shouldn't this ignite my heart once again? Shouldn't I begin to feel the passion I once experienced in my life as God continues to show Himself even throughout these dark times?

My heart is still filled with so much confusion and I lack passion. I'm referring to the deep passion that ignites my heart and sets me on fire to give me purpose for this life we live.

So I continue on. As I continue to seek God, He reveals Himself to me. He promises to so I will continue to cling to what I've been taught; what I know; what is true.

Proverbs 8:17 - "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me."

Matthew 7:8 - "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dad Carlson Update 5-18-08

Once again today, Dad Carlson was alert and talkative. He was even asking for things to eat. Although he does not move from the hospital bed at all, it is nothing short of a miracle that he is still with us and responsive. We just take one day at a time and are anxious to hear what the hospice nurses say when they come tomorrow.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cherishing Today

I'm sitting by the computer at my in-laws house. Dad Carlson was awake this morning after about 16 hours of sleep yesterday and last night. He is alert and talking and completely aware of what is going on today. It was nice to have him greet the girls when we walked in this morning. Nike even accepted his hand when he opened it for her to hold.

There is no way to tell how much time he has left. Today he is doing well. He often asks for drinks, has read a bit of the paper, talks about some things that need to be taken care of and just finished shaving.

It is quite amazing the change from yesterday to today. We'll see what tomorrow holds all the while cherishing our time today.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saying Goodbye

We received a call eariler in the day today. The doctor recommended getting the family together. Rod's dad doesn't have much more time in this world.



Just returned from the hospital and an ambulence is now taking him home. This is where he's asked to be over and over again. Now I'm headed over there with the girls.



Once again, we have to say goodbye to someone we love. This life is hard and our hearts are breaking once again.

Current book read

I've decided to let potty training go to the wayside. She has not been cooperating. To be honest, I'm just not certain Jaycie gets it. I'm just going to wait until we have some consistent warm weather, no school schedule to maintain for Nikelle and then attempt once again. I still ask her to go but I'm no longer getting irritated because it's not a priority at the moment.

I'm also working on dealing with some of her little behavioral flaws. Throwing fits, for example. I picked a book off my shelf yesterday by Kevin Leman entitled Making children mind without losing yours. I believe my sister gave it to me as a gift a couple years ago. The author suggests placing the child alone in their room or walking away from them when they throw a fit. This way they learn there is no audience. I know this and thought I've even applied it. Yesterday and today have been much better days being certain of following this mindset. I just finished telling her what a good girl she's been this morning. I thanked her for being a "big" girl. Her response was to smile and laugh showing me she completely understands.

So many things to continue working on. Nike told Jay yesterday that she was going to "punch her in the face" after she crumpled one of her papers she colored. It's the influence of those friends on the outside that I have to explain I will take away if I hear that kind of threat again. Thinking back, I believe my immediate response was "I'll beat your butt if I hear you say that again." I don't think that my threat encourages her to discontinue hers. Especially considering the emptiness of it in that I've never spanked her. That's when I began to discuss her responsibility as the big sister and the influence of her friends.

I really like the title of this book. I often feel as though I'm losing my mind. If I can get them to obey and behave while keeping what little of my mind is left intact, we'll be doing well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cancer - all too familiar

Cancer. Lymphoma. Leukemia. Radiation. Chemotherapy. These are all words that have become all too familiar to our household.

Yesterday afternoon, a friend of mine called to inform me that her husband has been diagnosed with Hodgkins disease - lymphoma. It's not Non-Hodgkins like my dad had. That should make it more curable. Still, hearing the diagnosis of lymphoma, especially after watching my dad's last year of life is difficult. I cannot even fathom the emotions that our friends must be experiencing at this moment.

I cannot understand what they are going through. To have your husband diagnosed especially in the season where you have little kids at home is just downright lousy. Life has now been turned upside down for them. I have no advice. There's none to give. All I can do is be part of a support system they will so desperately need now.

It just seems like there is cancer everywhere I turn. Someone is fighting at a different level at a different stage of life everywhere I look. Honestly, I just don't understand anything anymore. I know God is God. I know He can still do miracles. I know He still loves us. Still, I'm fighting to understand how anything fits together anymore. That's what I told my friend. I know cancer was not God's plan. Cancer is part of the fall of man. It doesn't make it any easier to accept or understand why God doesn't stop it. Even so, we can only imagine that because it is not part of His plan, that it must break His heart when we experience this sort of pain.

I long more for heaven and the way God intended things to be more every day. This life here on earth is downright exhausting. For me, it's just a mound of confusion and pain. I'm really struggling to find the joy in all of this. Yet I will continue to seek God because I know He is holding us through it all and the worst thing for us would be to just turn our backs on Him.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dad Carlson Update 5-12-08

My father-in-law did not get to go home yesterday. Doctors want to perform more tests to see why his mind is not operating as it should. Today, things seem even worse. It's a hard reality to accept.

In the 2 1/2 months since my own dad left this world, Rod's dad has had a rough time. It's difficult to wait on reports from doctors. Frustrating because we don't know what is going on. At the same time, we realize that cancer is very unpredictible and the side effects that go along with it.

Right now, his dad is consuming our minds in a very familiar way. We are realistic and yet hopeful as we face the future.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

This year, my Mother's Day started around 11:30 p.m. the night before. My two-and-a-half-year-old woke up crying. This has been a continual habit that I can no longer tolerate. I am desperate for some nights of uninterrupted sleep. Especially because I know that hope will be gone in just a few short months when my third child is due. After already attending to her a few times previously, the sound of crying "Mommy!" just sent me over the edge. I took her out of her bed and placed her in bed with my husband. I exlaimed (as any tired pregnant control-freak mother would; I'll leave the details to your imagination) that I was going to sleep with my oldest daughter and leaving the youngest there for him to attend to. I heard her wake up numerous more times throughout the night. Thankfully, my husband attended to her and I was able to sleep fairly soundly in the other room.

The alarm was set for 6:00 a.m. to get out the door in time to pick up my mom for breakfast and a day at the zoo. As I heard the wind and rain pounding outside, I knew immediately that the predicted weather reports were right for once and we were going nowhere. Oh, well. With a busy day previously, I was actually quite fine with just starting the morning slowly at home. I continued to sleep in until almost 8:00 a.m. with my oldest daughter (a gift in and of itself as she is normally an early riser).

We came downstairs where I expected my husband to be with the youngest but realized she was still sleeping soundly (another gift). So far, Mother's Day wasn't off to a terrible start.

My husband gave me a movie I will enjoy relaxing too. My kindergartener brought in the "surprise" she had made for me at school. I opened my "Wow. Mom." card which stated "Happy Mather's Day. To Tristi. From Nikelle." in her phonetic spelling. There is something sweet about receiving one of the first gifts to come from her heart. Then I opened the gift she was so excited to give. It was a pillow that she stuffed with the words "World's Greatest Mom" on both sides. I truthfully told her that it was the best gift I ever received. Considering my love for sleep, a movie and a pillow were wonderful gifts.

I called my mom to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. We talked for quite a while and I informed her that we'd likely head over to her place later in the day. Once I hung up with her, my husband heard our youngest awaken and went to get her. Awaiting their return from upstairs, I thought "this has been a good start to this Mother's Day despite our change of plans." When he brought our youngest down, her face was covered with snot. Her eyes were watery and she looked like she may have a fever. Great. A sick child on Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day to me!

My husband called his mom to give her Mother's Day wishes and advise her of our change of plans. After an extended stay in the hospital due to a blood infection on top of the leukemia he is fighting, his dad was informed yesterday that he should be able to go home today. So the rain assisted in making my husband available to help in any way needed with transporting his dad home. After speaking to his mother, there was concern about the hospital staff wanting to move his father to the dimensia ward. The pain medication his dad was given after having the old port removed (where the infection likely originated) and the new one inserted has effected his mind. This was not a surprise by any means. The pain medication has created this problem in the past and yesterday, his dad was well aware that he was not thinking right. I encouraged my husband to take a shower and get over to the hospital to be with his dad. Coming to the realization that this day was not going to be anything like I had hoped, I watched my husband walk out the door to be with his dad.

My sick little girl no longer needed to be held as the medicine finally kicked in. So, I decided to get breakfast ready. Heading to the bathroom first, I noticed that my oldest forgot to flush the toilet. Or so I thought. When I flushed the handle, I quickly realized that my day would now have plunging the toilet added to the list. Lovely.

Mother's Day is supposed to be a day to celebrate mom. A day for her to relax and be catered to. Or so that's what we hear from Hallmark. I suppose this Mother's Day I am doing exactly what I am supposed to. Taking care of my girls and supporting my husband in this rough reality of life we are facing.

Our lives seem to revolve around our kids and cancer patients right now. "Take time for yourself." "Take time to invest in your marriage." These are all great words of advice. Ones I would strongly agree with. Still, good words of advice are not always easy to apply. This season of our lives just doesn't seem to cooperate so well with our desires. Which makes me think. What will life be like once this third child enters the world? Especially when our lives are already faced with so many demands?

To all you moms out there whose day didn't go exactly as planned, you're not alone. What better way to acknowledge Mother's Day then to thrive in motherhood itself! And let's not forget, "this too shall pass"!

Friday, May 9, 2008

"I WILL!"


Because I took my eyes off my two-year-old for a few moments the other day, this is what I found. After taking her picture, I took her down off the table and told her she needed to clean up the crayons. "I WILL!" was her response. It had the snyde teenage tone to it. Again, I repeated that she needed to clean up the crayons. "I WILL!" was the same response with the same defiant tone. After I encouraged her to say, "Yes, Mommy," politely and obediently as she should, she obeyed. I even helped her clean them up.

What will I have to deal with when she is a teenager?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Purchasing a Swingset

We've tossed around the idea of getting a swingset for quite some time now. On Saturday, we headed to the store to purchase one of the cheaper nonwooden sets that were on sale. We took the ticket to the cashier, paid for the item and pulled the van up to pick up our new purchase.



The girls were getty with glee. Jaycie kept asking, "Where swing?"; "Where slide?" Nikelle in all of her excitement stated "I really am a princess!" "Why do you say that?" I inquired. "Because my dreams really do come true!" she exclaimed.



Sadly, this store that we don't visit very often did not have their inventory up to date and informed Rod later that they were out of this item. As the girls and I waited in the van, the girls continued talking about the fun they would have in the yard. Rod came out quite some time later after quite a fiasco with receiving a refund. We then attempted to explain to our confused children as to why Daddy did not have the swingset with him.



Thankfully, the store did give us a raincheck. Still, their was a disappointment in all that could have been prevented.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Season in Your Path

by Wayne Watson


Heard that friends are friends forever
But we don't talk much anymore
I guess that I’ve gone my way
And I guess that you've gone yours

Was kindness too neglected
On my list of deep regret?
In spite of distance unexpected
Can we forgive but not forget?

Sometimes I think about you
Some old memories make me cry
Remembering the good times makes me laugh
But all in all I'm richer
For the happy and the sad
And I’m thankful for a season in your path

I guess God alone deciphers
When people need each other most
Who will be the blessed receiver
And who will be the gracious host
And all a servant here can do
Is unto the Lord avail
Content at times to be the wind
And at times to be the sail

If another winter settles
On your shoulder down the road
Without a thought of what’s behind us
Let me help you pull your load

Sometimes I think about you
Some old memories make me cry
Remembering the good times makes me laugh
But all in all I’m richer
For the happy and the sad
And I'm thankful for a season in your path

Update on Dad Carlson 5-5-08

Burn out -- I think that's what I experienced yesterday. I was out of sorts all day. Not feeling well. Tired. Crabby. Unable to think. After the busy week, it takes an entire day of doing nothing in order to recoup.

Rod's dad went back in the hospital this past week. He's been to the emergency room twice and that's where he was the last that I heard. During dialysis twice this week, his heart rate shot up. I believe it was somewhere around 170. It seemed as though dialysis was somehow connected but doctors told him that he needs the dialysis in order to continue on. They currently have things under control. Frustrated does not even begin to explain the emotion written on his face. Doctors seem to have now determined that he has a blood infection which causes his heart to be aggravated during dialysis. We think this is positive news because it sounds like something that can be treated and overcome. They're putting him on medication and we'll see how he responds to the dialysis tomorrow once again. I know he is anxious to get home. His visits to the hospital are getting old... fast. No one wants the hospital to be their home away from home.

Needless to say, it's been an exhausting week. The days continue to blur together. It's difficult to live with purpose and passion when all you want to do is get through the day.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Eisenhower Academy

Nikelle has her testing at Eisenhower Academy today. I'm anxious to know where she'll be attending 1st grade in the fall. I want to have as many ducks in a row as I can early. The start of the school year will also be bringing the baby so there will be a lot of adjusting to be made. I'm hoping I'll know something by the beginning of June. I realize, however, that beggars can't be choosers so I'll just have to wait patiently.

Her kindergarten teacher wished her luck yesterday on her test and informed me that she has recommended her to the school. She doesn't see Nikelle having any problems with the testing. Still, there are other factors involved and only about 60 spots available. It'll be fine either way. I'm just ready to know something about the future. At least this part will be over soon.