Sunday, April 25, 2010


I'm sitting in my parents' dining room. The girls are down for the night, my dad's watching his program on PBS, and my mom is resting peacefully. Today has been a good day for her. By "good" i just mean that she has kept down the 6 bites of ice cream, 1 cup of soda, and 10 bites of flan that she's eaten. We've tried the "bland" diet and it didn't make a difference--so we shifted to the "comfort food" diet, and now at least she's eating things she likes. She's weaker and weaker every day. She's eating so little, and not keeping most of it down--the mysterious and intermittent nausea is, by far, the worst part of all of this. Her pain is minimal--thank heavens for modern medicine!! She is so strong. She keeps trying to make this as easy on us as possible. Being here with her feels more and more like a privilege every day. I love her so much.

Of all the three weeks in the year to be here, these three weeks have been the best. The weather is amazing, the neighborhood kids are all outdoors, and Provo is in full bloom. We're house-bound most of the day, so having the option of heading outside at all times has been crucial to my childrens' happiness. And mine. And having an abundance of blossoms and flowers to bring in to Grandma has just been icing on this beautiful Spring cake. My mom's tulip garden opens up a new color almost everyday. Since she can't get out to her garden, we bring her garden in to her. And it brightens her day. And ours.

I have so many things i need to write and share about this experience, about my mom, and about last weekend with all but one of us in town. And i will. But tonight is for a different post. So I'll just say THANK YOU to all who have emailed, commented, called, and extended service in SO MANY WAYS! I literally feel like i'm completely surrounded by people who love me and my mom and my family. It's amazing, it's overwhelming, and it's more comforting than you can imagine. Thank you. And sorry if I don't email back. I'm not really good at emailing back in the first place...and when the emails start out with "don't feel like you have to email me back" i've just been running with it :)

Tonight my little mind is full of memories of this very night, five years ago. I was about 5-6 hours into what would be a 26 hour labor with Grace. When we drove to the hospital all of Boston was still in it's winter sleep. The only sign of new life I could find was in my big ole' belly. And although she took her sweet time making her way out, when she finally came I felt like the entire world stopped for those few moments--those moments that are more tender and more real than anything I'd ever experienced. I was feeling a new kind of love. It was awesome.

I'm sure it was the epidural speaking, or the sleep deprivation (which can be seen in above photo) from the twenty non-epidural hours previous --but I remember looking at Reid and, unable to find any other way to express my happiness, saying, "I want to do this a million more times!" (And, if it weren't for the recovery, the pre-epidural labor, the pregnancy, the stretch marks, the weight gain or, oh yeah, the child-raising--I really just might!)

Three days later, when we left the hospital (keep in mind that one of those days was spent entirely in labor...and i'm still not sure why i wasn't sent back home...) the entire city of Boston was in full bloom. Spring had landed, the Charles River was lined with blossoming trees and full of sailboats in action. I remember looking at the sailors and wondering how in the world their life was just going on like normal when there, in the back seat of our little car, was God's greatest miracle--a new baby!! "Grace" seemed like the most fitting name for this gift from Above--that we surely didn't merit, but had still been given.

She was perfect. She was beautiful. She was ours. Everything about her made me love Reid that much more. And tomorrow, when she wakes up, she'll be five. FIVE!!!

To say "where did the time go?" not only seems cliche, but also a bit unfitting. I think that something like "there were soooo many days i never thought that this day would come" might be more appropriate. But which one do I want Grace to read twelve years down the road when I decide to tell her about the internet and computers and this blog? i suppose the truth, right?

Well, the truth is that these five years truly have been the most wonderful five years of my life. And much of this is due to my sweet Grace.

Grace is awesome. She is bright. She is caring. She is stubborn. She is pensive. She is creative. She is bossy. She is imaginative. She is argumentative. She is kind. She is competitive. She is a great big sister. She is so many wonderful and challenging things all wrapped up into the best five-year-old bundle in this whole wide world. And I love her about a billion times more today than I did five years ago.

I'd planned to be back in Denver by her b-day, but it didn't work out that way. So we'll be celebrating here. She hasn't even really complained about it, sweet girl. I made her a nightgown that she got to wear to bed tonight. She loves it--she's been in it since 5:00. We had angle food cake on Saturday with her cousins who were in town for the night, she'll get muffins for breakfast, cupcakes with her new friends here, and homemade mac 'n cheese for dinner. I picked up a few things for her at the thrift store--and even a couple gifts at Target (i know, i'm getting crazy!). Hopefully she'll have a good day. She had a big joint party a couple weeks ago that i might post about someday (or you could read about here) that was more than enough birthday-ing for one year. But I'm just feeling a little guilty about dragging her away from her preschool and friends back home for three straight weeks--so i'm probably going a little overboard... :)

Five years ago tonight, I called my mom to tell her that i was in labor. She was devastated that she wasn't able to be there for the birth of my first child. She was still recovering from chemo, and wasn't yet up for traveling. So she called me. Lots. And it was great. In those first days of being a mom, I felt a hugely increased amount of gratitude towards her as a mom, as my mom. I felt the need to tell her about 20 times a day how awesome I thought she was for doing this SEVEN times!! And I've spent the past five years continually telling her how much her sacrifices and service and love have meant to me.

Grace's birth gave me an awareness of and appreciation for my mom that I had not come to on my own. Given my selfish tendencies, I might never have gotten there. So, of all the things that Grace has taught me and given me over the past five years-- tonight, that's the one i'm most thankful for.

Happy 5th Birthday, Grace!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


My heart is breaking. I haven't wanted to blog about this because it's easier not too. And i have no intentions of writing every thought, feeling, and experience that has occurred in the past several weeks. My heart and hands don't have the energy.

My mom's cancer has returned, in all it's terrible glory, and she is dying. I spent 10 days with her, caring for her, loving her, serving her, sewing by her side, playing piano pieces she taught me, reading her poems, going through photos of her and planning all the things that no one ever wants to plan. And then I came back here, for a week-long reunion with Reid's family. They left yesterday, and for the first time i really had a day to soak in this reality. and i spent the whole day fighting or surrendering to the tears that have been welling up inside of me. In this moment the tears are winning.

My wonderful, amazing, beautiful, brilliant, creative, genuine, loving and talented mom has lost her cancer battle. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 7 years ago, and fought it and won. These years have been God's greatest gift to me. I've gotten to know my mom better in the past 7 years than I had in the 24 years previous. And i've come to fully appreciate all that she is--as a mother, wife, woman and person.

And I will forever be grateful that she beat cancer the first time around. But now it is beating her, quite literally. In the moments that my mom is comfortable, i find myself having a harder time accepting that I will no longer be able to call her when I'm trying to conquer her peanut brittle recipe, that she will not be here for any more Christmases, and that my sweet girls will have little to no memory of their grandma. But in the moments that she is in pain, which are increasing daily, I feel more ready to let her go. And although the tears streaming down my face right now represent the huge part of me that wants to have my mom around for another twenty years, it's no longer what i want for her. I don't want her to suffer another minute. None of us do. She's so strong. She tries to hide her misery, especially from her kids. She did this when I was there a week ago, and she's doing it now for my sisters, too. But we know she's in pain. My sister walked in on her crying--too dehydrated to actually make tears. But as soon as my mom saw her she put on her strong face. She doesn't want this to be any harder on us than it has to be. That's how she lived her life--doing everything she could to make our lives better.

My sweet dad loves my mom more than any man has ever loved a woman. I truly believe that. He respects, adores and admires everything about her, and in every way. They have had a wonderful relationship, raised a wonderful family, and lived a full life together. He is heart-broken. But he is so strong, too. I love my parents for the relationship they had, and what it's shown me about marriage and love, service, compromise, patience and friendship.

All but one of my siblings have had a chance to get to UT and see my mom. My Indiana-bound sister with MS has been able to Skype. There is so much good happening around us, so much that IS falling into place, that it's impossible to ignore God's hand in our lives, His grace and His love.

Every prayer that has been said on our behalf has been felt. I really do know and feel that people are praying for my family. When I'm not sobbing, i feel so much peace. and sometimes even when I am sobbing i feel peace. And that truly is a blessing. The tears are a natural part of this--a part that would happen no matter what. But the peace we feel is a gift. I'm grateful for that gift right now. I'm grateful for my faith--my belief that better things await my mom. I'm grateful for my siblings and all the care that they've provided for my mom. And most of all, i'm grateful for my mom. I will miss her more than I'm prepared to accept. But i'm so glad I have 6 siblings going through this with me, and a wonderful dad who comforts me when I should be the one comforting him.

The next few days and weeks will be hard, and sad--full of tears and sorrow and peace. I don't imagine i'll be blogging any time soon about the upcoming birthday party of my soon-to-be 5 year old, the wonderful 7-day reunion that we just hosted here--with ALL of Reid's siblings and parents, the raised-bed garden that my father-in-law just built me(!!), the painting and crafting and sewing and Easter-ing, shower-throwing, or how wonderful my girls were for 10 whole days in UT. This month has been full of so many wonderful moments that all deserve to be written down, in full detail...and maybe someday they will be. But not today.