Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Family pictures

Back in the very beginning of  July we got all dolled up and had our pictures taken.
You might remember the last time we got pictures taken... I LOVE these because this was when Andy was still Andy... when he was walking and talking and throwing the boys around. These pictures hang in my bedroom and I see them everyday.
And these new pictures are no different... I am in love with these too... probably because this was one of the final times the Captain was really feeling ok... and because these are most likely our very last family pictures ever.
 Rachel Vanoven is the talent behind the lens. She was fantastic. I cannot say enough about these pictures, about how they capture the boys personalities... about how I am SO THANKFUL that I have ones of Andy with the boys, with me...
about how The Captain smiled and cried when he saw them.

She took  A TON... so I have lovingly narrowed it down to 16 for your viewing pleasure.


~swoon~ ... right?

Monday, August 18, 2014

The past couple weeks

The past couple weeks Have been a mix of ups and downs.
I am trying... some days struggling, to balance normal everyday things, like parenting and laundry and dishes and work, with not so everyday things, like cancer and grief and preparing little minds for all that awaits them shortly...
It is a up and down that I do daily.
We have regular moments like everyone else. Happy tickle fights, playing in the rain, dance parties in the kitchen... I'm trying to keep life looking as normal as possible for the boys. Which includes keeping up with Ryder and his abundance of energy.
 And some days there is whining, throwing of fits, disobeying and fighting... and that's just me... the boys have bad days too.   ;)
However, I have been blessed and encouraged by so many things... One of which is a HUGE outpouring of love and scripture. I get a handwritten verse in the mail every other day or so. It is so refreshing and comforting.
I also have a sweet friend who made me a quilt. Not only is it ADORABLE, but she used pictures of my little family. It has become one of my very favorite things.
Each day I struggle mentally with wanting to spend time with Rigg and Ryder and wanting to care more for Andy. It is very hard to do both... really impossible. I cannot spend as much time with Andy as I want... and give the boys the attention and care they need. This is one of the main reasons he moved to his parents home. It has been a wonderful blessing for all involved... but I still want to do it all... feel like I should be doing more...
I miss him being here.
However, life does not stop. School is starting soon and Rigg loved showing Ryder all around the school. Parenting is hard...but moments like this remind me it's all worth it.
The Captain is up and down too these days. He is sleeping more and more; 18-19 hours a day easy.  He has some alert and awake times, but they are few and far between. Usually only last for 20-30 minutes before he is nodding off again.
He is also battling more pain. Usually it is his head that hurts. But some of it has to do with the arm and hand he can no longer move. The muscle is not being worked and therefore atrophying and causing some pain. We are trying to keep ahead of it so he can rest more comfortably.
Andy still loves seeing the boys come by each day. They never fail to bring a smile to his face. A friend of ours came and built a ramp so we can wheel Andy out to watch them play outside. He has been wanting to watch Rigg ride his new bike; now he can. He usually falls asleep in his wheelchair before we can get him back inside... but he never complains.
The boys enjoy the ramp too!
Even if Andy is not up and awake when we are there they boys go in and love on him. They miss having their daddy at home too.

This past weekend we had a reunion picnic with our former Sunday School class. It was/is a LOT of young families with a TON of children. every time I mentioned it, Andy perked up and I could tell he really wanted to go. However, he is just not up for it. So after the picnic we traveled out to him. We prayed and sang a couple hymns. He nodded off through some of it... but it was a sweet time and I am always greatly encouraged and overwhelmed by how much love we are shown.
And the kids made quick work of covering my in-law's driveway with sidewalk chalk.

The past couple weeks have been hard. They have also been normal(ish)... and wonderful and heartbreaking and joyful. It is the tension we hold as believers in Christ. We have a big and mighty Hope in a big and Mighty God who is crazy faithful and amazingly loving... and He has shown himself to be big, mighty, faithful and loving the past couple of weeks... and I know He will continue to do so.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

hard things

Andy has been on hospice now for a month.
Because of this new transition and the foreshadowing of something heavy and hard that awaits us, we have had to deal with a couple of heavy and hard things already.

hard thing 1.

Because of his worsening condition he was moved to his parents house last week. This was a decision Andy and I made long before it came to pass... when he as still able to think through things and understand what was happening.

His mother can take better care of him there and the boys have a little distance, so their memories of him will not be tainted by aids helping him with everything, and watching him deteriorate. Also, they can still run and play and be loud little boys at home now... I did not want to be shushing them and shooing them away all the time so Andy could rest. 
We visit the Captain everyday... for long stretches of time.
And even though this was the plan he and I made together... and even though it was time, it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. To pack up all his things and move him out of our home, knowing he would never be back. It broke my heart. Every time I would go back into the house for one more thing he might need, I would break down all over again.
When the boys and I went to leave and go back home, after getting him all moved in and situated at his parents, Andy thought he was going too. His face fell when I had to explain to him all over again that he was staying... that he would not be back home.
The Captain came to the door to wave goodbye to us... it is a memory seared into my mind. I cried all the way home.
And now my house is full and loud and messy from little boys, but it is also empty and silent and clean from the absence of my husband.

hard thing 2.

It occurred to me that although my boys and I talk of Heaven and of death a lot... we had never discussed the actual, tangible, physical things that happen. Specifically that when you die, if you believe in the work Jesus did on the cross, you will go to heaven but your body stays here.
When I realized the details I had been leaving out... I quickly became concerned that the boys, Rigg especially, might become confused.
So I took them on a field trip.
We went to Caden's grave and discussed what happens to a person when they die.
I explained that your body stays here and just your spirit goes to Heaven. (try explaining a spirit to a 5 & 3 year old!)
I went on to tell them that the body gets put in a box, buried in the ground and we put a stone with your name on it above where it is buried.
I used Caden as an example.
I told them that when Caden died, we put her body in a box, buried it and put her name on a stone above it. I reiterated that her body was in the ground but her spirit was in Heaven.
Rigg had a million and one questions.
"who puts the body in the box?"
"is it heavy?"
"how long does it stay buried?"
"what color is your spirit?"
"Can Caden's spirit hear us?"

As far as Ryder goes... I spent more time telling/yelling at him to not climb on the headstones.
 Rigg asked why they couldn't climb... to which I replied that it was disrespectful... and he came back with "why? they are not here... just their bodies."
I was struck silent for a moment, and then is disrespectful to their families...
this seemed to suffice.
Rigg really amazes me sometimes.

hard thing 3.

I was hanging out with Andy one morning, just him and me.
We were watching a rerun of Fresh Prince, laughing at Will Smith in his neon nineties zoobaz pants when the Captain looked over at me and asked me a question.
Now, Andy doesn't speak so well, actually not really at all ever... so when he tries, you stop everything to listen and try to make out the words.
I turned off the TV and gave him my full attention.
He very slowly asked "what is wrong with me?"
Which he has asked before... but he has always meant something different than the actual question.
But this time I could see in his eyes that he was really asking.
I took his hand and asked him if he remembered that he had a brain tumor...
I saw the recognition wash over him and then his eyes welled with tears. I squeezed his hand and asked if he was sad... he nodded. I asked if he was scared... he nodded.
Then we just sat and cried together as the knowledge of what is really happening to us washed afresh over him.

He forgets things so easily now. This is not the first time I have had to deliver bad news to him... news he had heard before. It's like a really horrible practical joke; having to give the same bad news to the same person over and over.

It is hard to watch him weaken, to see him being slowly erased from the Andy I once knew. However, he holds on to his joy and delight in the small things. He never complains, gets angry or frustrated. He is accepting and peaceful. The Captain is still silently leading.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.