Friday, November 2, 2018

Alternative Treatments - Week 3 of Hospice

As week 2 ended and I realized KK was able to assist with her own care again, I spoke with PACT about bringing her home to die.  In order to do so, they would have to wean her off the morphine by switching to methadone.  They gave her one dose of methadone and she didn't seem to do well.  The timing of it made me think that it was some sort of reaction, but her team insisted it was just the disease's progression.  Either way, I decided against the methadone...which meant we weren't going home.

One of the side effects of morphine is constipation.  By week 3, KK's abdomen was greatly distended.  The nurses tried giving her enemas, but they didn't help very much.  I talked to the team about giving her a coffee colonic.  They said they couldn't administer it, but they were okay if I wanted to try.  So I texted our friend Roxana at Body Balancing Center where KK went for colonics.  She brought all the supplies to the hospital and helped me administer a coffee colonic right there in her room...which brought KK instant relief.

I knew of a natural protocol (MSM water and Colloidal Silver) that could help with pain management with fewer side effects than morphine and methadone, in addition to being a last ditch effort to battle the tumor.  I overnighted the ingredients and stealthily administered them to KK.  As we titrated up on the MSM and CS, we were able to taper down a bit on the morphine.

I also decided to begin ordering options as close to vegan as I could for KK.  She constantly amazed the staff with how happy she was to have a veggie burger, mashed potatoes, and carrots or beans.

KK kept asking to have a bath.  I knew what she wanted was what we called a detox bath with Epsom salts and essential oils.  Unfortunately, all she got was a sponge bath.

All the while, KK kept telling nurses about alternative treatments and high dose vitamin C.  She would explain, "You should look into it.  I surpassed the median survival range using it.  If you have any questions, you can ask my mom."

As I look back on our journey, I know that the alternative treatments did not extend her life (God knew the number of her days and cancer or the treatments I chose couldn't change that), but I believe they improved the quality of her life to the very end.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Treat - Week 2 of Hospice

I am still not sure what happened as our second week in hospice began except to say God graciously gave me a "treat" when KK woke up -- her voice strong and ready to eat and drink.

One of the (many) things that made me cry during the first week in hospice when KK wasn't eating was that she never got her burger.  KK had it all planned out -- since she was eating a vegan diet with no processed foods, she would eat a burger once the cancer was cured or when there was no more hope.  Her doctor even said he would buy her one when she was ready.

So, when KK woke up ready to eat and drink as week 2 began, I decided to order some of her favorite foods.  The first thing I ordered was pizza.  KK was so happy as she started eating it, then she turned to me and asked, "Is this gluten free?"  I said no.  She then asked, "Is this a treat?"  When I said no again, you could see her processing what that meant and she started to cry.  Since I had told her that I would always tell her the truth, I explained everything that was going on.  At the next meal, I ordered more of her favorites.  As she ate, she asked, "Is this a treat?"  At this point I realized that she didn't remember our previous conversation due to her short-term memory loss.  I couldn't bring myself to say no again.  Since I already told her the whole truth earlier, I said yes...which, if you think about it, wasn't a lie either.

Singing Jesus Loves Me 
to baby Naomi
At the end of the week, we had an extra special treat when my friend Terri flew in from Michigan with her new baby, Naomi.  Every time I tried to hold Naomi she would cry.  Not so with KK...KK and Naomi had an instant bond.  One time when Naomi was crying for me, I placed her in KK's arms, and, as per her usual, KK started sweetly singing Jesus Loves Me and Naomi instantly settled.  Another time when KK was holding Naomi, she asked me if I would like to hold her.  I told her that she would probably start crying, but KK insisted that she wouldn't.  Almost as soon as I picked her up, Naomi began to cry...it was almost comical.  I conceded defeat and allowed KK to enjoy all the baby snuggles.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Bedside Vigil - Week 1 of Hospice

In the wee hours of Monday, May 1, KK was transferred from the ER to a room on the ninth floor.  A room just a couple doors down from the one we stayed in 2 years earlier.  The charge nurse remembered us and did everything she could to make us feel as comfortable as possible.  At that point, I sent my parents home to get a couple hours of rest.

I advocated for my girl every step of the way.
  • They offered to hook her up to monitors, but I declined as I didn't see a need for monitors since there were advanced directives in place.
  • KK was in a lot of pain the first couple of days.  KK never complained about being in pain, but I knew the pain had to be intense just by how grumpy and snappy she was.  Her team kept trying to get it under control with morphine, but it wasn't working.  I talked to PACT (Pediatric Advanced Care Team) about changing the steroids schedule from every 12 hours to every 8 hours in order to control the swelling in her brain.  As soon as they did, we didn't have to use as much morphine and KK wasn't as lethargic.  Though still weak, she was back to being her sweet and sassy self.
  • We had some amazing nurses...then again, we had a couple that I wanted to send packing.  I absolutely loved the night shift nurses that came and went throughout the night without waking KK or me.  Then there were the ones that insisted on turning KK  throughout the night (so she wouldn't get bedsores) or waking her up to ask her if she needed to be changed.  When her doctor made the rounds after experiencing the latter kind of nurse for the first time, I asked him, "Do the nurses have palliative care training?  Don't they realize that bedsores are the least of our concerns?"  He admitted that they all could use some training in end of life care.

The first week of hospice found us keeping vigil by KK's bedside.  I fully expected that any minute could be her last.  My parents as well as the staff at Chapel spent many hours with us, while a few friends took turns doing the night shift with me so my parents would feel comfortable enough to go home to get some rest. KK wasn't eating and only had sips of water here and there throughout the week.  There were multiple times when there would be a pause in KK's breathing when we thought "this is it".  We spent hours just singing to and with KK...of course, Jesus Loves Me was at the top of our setlist.  I will never forget the conversations that we had that week -- from the sweet, to the sassy, to the spiritual.

Here's a glimpse of the sweetness...
  • KK was sure to say, "Thank you for helping me" to every PCA, nurse, and doctor...even when she was grumpy and in pain.
  • She shared "special KK hugs" with the nurses so they could give them to other kids "even when they didn't deserve them".
  • She reminded me to tell her birth mom that she loved her and forgave her and that she would always have a special place in her heart.
  • My sweet girl said, "Thank you mommy for choosing me.  Thank you for sharing Jesus with me."

Oh, the sass...she had us all laughing at her one-liners.  Here are a couple of classics...
  • After her medicine pump was beeping for quite a while and a nurse finally came in to shut it off, KK quipped, "That beeping is frustrating.  Don't you know I'm trying to die here?"
  • When the staff were leaving one afternoon, Andy told KK to ask God if the Patriots were going to win any more Super Bowls.  Pastor Derek followed by asking her to find out if the Chiefs would ever win one.  As clear as day, KK said, "I never really thought of the Chiefs as real competitors."

As for the spiritual...
  • KK was adamant when she told the doctors, "When I die, don't bring me back. I'm going to be in a better place."
  • At one point, I told KK that she didn't have to fight anymore and that she could go to Jesus.  With a little frustration in her voice, she said, "God said 'No, ma'am. Not yet.'"  I laughed at the thought that God said "No, ma'am" as I had taught KK to respond with "No, ma'am/No, sir" and "Yes, ma'am/Yes, sir" when she first came to live with me.
  • KK kept asking about heaven.  I would describe heaven from what I knew from the Bible, but she kept asking, "What do you see?"  It finally dawned on me to ask her, "What do you see?"  She said, "Mom, I see your spirit and your spirit is strong."  Oh what a beautiful glimpse into eternity.  Since we think so finitely in these mortal bodies, we forget that time is different in heaven.  On this side of heaven, I wait to see my baby girl again.  To her, I am already there. 
And the conversation that I will remember the most...
  • I told KK, "I promise I will tell Mommy Paulette (her birth mom) that you love her and forgive her.  And I promise that I will adopt again."  As soon as I said that, KK reached for her necklace that says "Love like you've never been hurt".  To which I responded with tears streaming down my face, "And I will love like I've never been hurt."

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Day I Went Radio Silent

I just read the last posts I wrote before I went radio silent when KK was admitted to the hospital for the last time...

On April 27, 2017, I wrote:

...this week, I trust that God will continue to lead us no matter what the MRI reveals.
We didn't make it to the scheduled MRI on May 3.

On Sunday, April 30, KK and I went to church.  It was Chapel Family Sunday and I had to speak during both worship services.  KK did what she loved most during first service -- she loved on the babies in the nursery.  During second service, she sat with me in the sanctuary and laid her head on my shoulder, trying not to fall asleep.

It was a pretty low key afternoon as KK took a nap and enjoyed a long bath.  As I tucked her in bed around 7pm, I told her, "I'm going to come in and check on you in a little while because I'm worried about you."  When I went to check on her an hour later, she didn't budge.  I figured she was just in a deep sleep and would check on her in another hour or so.  At 9:30, I went in to check on her and get her up to go to the bathroom.  Again, she didn't respond to my voice or my nudging.  I turned on the light and she eventually opened her eyes.  However, she wasn't able to sit up.  I called Dana Farber.  While I waited for the doctor on call to return my call, I was able to get KK to sit up in bed.  The doctor said I needed to bring KK to Children's Hospital and that I could call for an ambulance to bring her there if need be.  I called my parents and told them I needed them to come immediately.  KK and I worked together to get her down the three stairs of her loft bed and to the living room where we were able to get her shoes and jacket on.  I put a few more things in our hospital bag then helped KK painstakingly down the stairs and to the car where we waited about 5 minutes before my parents arrived.  As we waited, I wrote:

We are heading to Children's for an emergency MRI. Prayers appreciated.
In the emergency room, KK needed to be changed and for the first time (at least while she was conscious) she was unable to assist in the process.  When KK was unable to "bridge", I realized that KK's final days would be spent in the hospital.  Previously, KK had stated that she wanted to die at home if at all possible, but she understood if it wasn't possible.  Unfortunately, I knew that I wouldn't be able to care for her by myself at home and hospice care only provided a nurse to assist in the morning and evening.  So once the MR vent check revealed what we already knew, I told the doctors that we would need to do hospice at the hospital.

3:38am Wake Up Call

Breakfast of Champions
Here's the reason I needed to get away to process and blog about KK's final weeks...

It is 5:24am and I am sitting here with my breakfast ready to write.

I know this is not an unreasonable time to get up for most, but it is crazy early for me (especially on vacation).  The kicker is that I have actually been up since 3:38am after going to bed well after midnight.  I laid in bed for almost an hour and a half unable to go back to sleep as I formed blogposts in my head while tears streamed onto my pillow before I finally decided it was time to get up and start writing.


Monday, October 29, 2018

A Daunting Task

I can hardly believe that it has been 10 months since I have posted anything here.  I have taken to Instagram here and there throughout the year, but I have not been able to muster up the energy to write the blog posts I "need" to write.  I know I need to process KK's final weeks in order to "keep moving forward".  I process best by writing, but the emotional wherewithal it would take to do so seemed too daunting. I have found simply writing a short caption under a photo on Instagram to be emotionally draining.

I have continued to go to counseling with Dr. Chuck, but our time together is mainly spent on how to deal with what is in front of me.  I shared with him that I needed to find time to blog when I didn't have to worry about having the energy for everything else in life.  He suggested that I check out a place called Forest Haven in New Hampshire.  Forest Haven is a small retreat for those in ministry to go to free of charge.  I contacted them to see if they had availability for the last week in October... and they did!  So I drove up to Bradford, NH this afternoon and am ready to face the daunting task before me.

Stay tuned...

Friday, December 29, 2017

Making It Through

It hasn't been pretty, but here I am on the other side of Christmas day. As mentioned here and here, I have been trying to prepare for the moments that I know are going to be hard so there are fewer events that blindside me.

Here are the moments for which I prepared surrounding my first Christmas without KK...

Christmas Tree
When I first thought about getting a Christmas tree, I couldn't figure out if I wanted to get a real tree, get an artificial one, or no tree at all. I wasn't sure if I would have the energy to deal with the upkeep of a real tree and I didn't want to invest in an artificial tree even if I could find one that I liked (I can't stand the feel of the fake needles). After talking this through with Dr. Chuck, I decided to enlist my parents' help in getting a real tree. Growing up, there had to be snow on the ground (or rain in the air) in order to get our tree then we went to multiple lots looking for the perfect tree. As far as following traditions go, KK and I almost always ended up getting a tree on a snowy day in mid-December when school was cancelled...I refused to go to a thousand different places though. My mom kept asking when we were going to get the tree and I joked that there had to be snow on the ground. As soon as the Christmas musical was over (and there was snow on the ground), I knew it was time to face the hard...so I made plans with my parents to get the tree that Wednesday after work. I had a really bad day at work that morning and ended up leaving early. Since I was already having a bad day, I figured I might as well put myself out of my misery and called to see if my parents would mind getting the tree earlier. They came down right away and we got a nice tree just down the road. 

I knew that decorating the tree was going to be hard as well, so I asked a couple friends for their help before I even bought the tree. As the week that I got the Christmas tree continued to spiral downward, I decided that people didn't need to be subjected to the ugliness that was in my head and cancelled their help. I put the lights and garland on because I knew I needed a little light in the middle of this dark season. As I started to go through the bin of ornaments, I couldn't bring myself to put them on the tree.  


Christmas Presents 
I decided that I wasn't doing presents this year. It took me a while to communicate this to my parents. My poor mom called about a week before Christmas to find out what I wanted to have for Christmas dinner and what products I needed so she could fill my stocking. After we talked about food options, I blurted out that I didn't want to do any presents this year just before she was going to ask what I needed/wanted. She seemed a little confused as to what else we could do. I told her we could still eat and we could play games, but I would not be doing gifts.

The idea of buying gifts required too much energy. I have to admit that I have never enjoyed shopping...add in shopping amongst people preparing to celebrate Christmas with their families and I was ready to curl up in bed until December 26.

The idea of giving gifts required too much thought. Grief takes up way too much brain space (I've started another blog post about this that I have yet to finish) leaving nothing for me to figure out what someone else might want or need. 

The idea of receiving and opening gifts required too much happy pretense. To be honest, every gift I found on my "desk" at work had me in tears.

Christmas Day
When snow was in the forecast for Christmas morning, my mom asked if I wanted to go over their house after the Christmas Eve Candlelight Services and stay overnight. I said no. I guess I didn't articulate very clearly that I didn't want to "celebrate" Christmas and December 25 needed to be just another day.

Once the snow stopped and the streets were clear, I drove to their house. We had delicious (because mom cooked, not me!) food and played two full rounds of Mexican Train (mom won the first, I won the second...thanks, Dad, for the games!).

Games are serious business around here!
After the games were over, my dad started to set up the tripod and camera in front of their Christmas tree. I simply stated, "No pictures." I didn't want to celebrate the day, let alone memorialize it with a photo.

If you were among the people that texted me on December 25, thank you for your kind wishes and your prayers. I chose not to respond to those texts because I was not celebrating a merry Christmas and not because I didn't appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Between Christmas and New Year's Day
The plan (or, rather, the prescription from my psychologist 😉) for the rest of this week has been to rest. I have taken this plan very seriously -- sleeping 10 hours per night in addition to a few good naps.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Pushing Through

On the first Sunday evening in December, Chapel has its annual Soup and Bread Potluck and Carol Sing. I went into church that day and shared that I was feeling conflicted about pushing through this event. My heart was saying, "This is going to be too much."; my head and my work ethic said, "This is your job. Suck it up and push through." I knew that there were going to be many events during December that I would have to push through and didn't necessarily feel this was one of them.

I was not pressured either way and decided I wasn't going to go. However, we had not talked about or planned for the kids' area that we tried last year and I started getting texts about what needed to be done. I realized it would be easier for me to go and do it myself than to try to think through each detail and explain it to someone else.

I did okay until the song "White Christmas" was chosen and the memories overwhelmed me. Memories of a 7-year old KK surprising a waitress at Bertucci's as she sang every word of the song "Sisters" as it played. Memories of us Christmas caroling where an elderly gentleman asked for the song "White Christmas" (which was not on our song sheets) and KK confidently began singing. As the memories came, so did the tears. I could no longer do my job so I told someone on my way out that the kids needed someone to look after them and I left.

I adamantly told the staff that I knew I shouldn't have gone when we debriefed about the event on Tuesday. When I recounted the events of the day to Dr. Chuck on Thursday, he stopped me and told me that he was proud of me for going. I was caught off guard since I thought for sure that he would agree that this was one event that I didn't need to push through. He said that if I had not gone at all then it would be that much harder to go next year.

Touché, Dr. Chuck. Touché.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Amazed

After waiting to see how the cliffhanger I mentioned in the last post would end, I meant to post this back in October, but I have been a little busy...


Not having the mortgage commitment letter by the date listed in the purchase and sales agreement created a few problems...

As mentioned previously, I wouldn't have a door to go through in 2 weeks since I had given my landlords notice that I would be moving out on October 15. They had already shown the apartment and had new tenants lined up to move in once I moved out. I asked if there was any chance I could stay one more week.  Thankfully, they graciously said yes.

I also had to ask the seller for an extension. After talking with the new lender, he thought we could have the mortgage commitment letter by October 17 and close by October 27 (a very quick turnaround). I wasn't sure if the seller would approve an extension or not. He had every right to refuse the extension and keep my deposit. We explained that I was working with a new lender and would be putting down an additional 5%. Thankfully, he saw that as a sign of good faith and agreed to the extension.

If you've done the math as I did, you know that this left me with 5 days when I would literally be homeless. I asked some people to pray and a few of them kindly offered me a room to stay in if I needed it.

I talked through possibilities with my wonderful realtor and we came up with 2 scenarios to present to the seller:

  1. allow me to move in on October 22 and I would pay the HOA fees for October 
  2. allow me to move my stuff in on October 22 and I would pay the cost of storing my things for a week

Before she could present these scenarios to the seller's representative, they called her and offered to let me move in on October 15 for less than the cost of the HOA fees. Since I was a little gun-shy after the issues with getting a mortgage commitment letter the first time, I didn't feel right about moving in before having the letter in hand. We agreed to a move in date of October 21 with a caveat that I would be out of the condo on October 31 if things did not work out.

Unfortunately, there was a delay in getting the mortgage commitment letter by October 17 and we had to ask the seller for another extension. From my understanding, the seller's lawyer advised him not to agree to another extension. He did not sign a formal extension and didn't give us a verbal answer either way, so we continued to work with the lender to get the mortgage commitment letter as soon as possible. We finally got the "clear to close" on Friday, October 20 just in time to move in the next day.

A great group of people from Chapel met me at the condo Friday night to clean the walls, floors, and kitchen. On Saturday, more amazing friends from Chapel and one of KK's friends from HCA and her mom helped me move my hoard in record time. With the looming move out date of October 31 if things didn't work out, I had them stack most of the boxes downstairs in the "in-law suite" and planned to live out of boxes until the closing.

Finally, on Friday, October 27, I became the proud owner of a 30-year mortgage and began the process of cleaning, painting and unpacking. Here are a few pics some of you may recognize from Instagram...

Degrading cat toys and other reminders that a cat lived here previously.

So thankful to be able to sleep in my own bed on the first night...
and beyond grateful to sleep soundly all through the night!

My parents came just about every day after the closing to help me clean and paint.
Dad would do the edging while I was at work; I would come home each night and roll.

Before I could hang clothes in my closet, I had to hang some cake pans.

Leaning art. Remembering my girl.

I hope the next Legro kid likes books!

This view!

And this!

I am amazed! Thank you, Lord!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Prepare to be Amazed

I meant to post this back in September, but I wasn't sure how this chapter of my story was going to end so I waited...


The day before my bank was supposed to issue the mortgage commitment letter, I received an email stating that it wasn't looking good for my mortgage to be approved. There was a problem on the part of the condo association and the amount of money in reserves that they had. By the time I read the email it was past closing time and I was unable to contact the bank. My wonderful realtor and I prayed and chatted about next steps.

The bank called me before 9 a.m. on Friday morning and told me that the mortgage was denied. After I got off the phone with the bank, I stopped by Drew Mortgage down the street from my apartment to see if they might be able to help. I was not given much hope. I cried as I headed to work.

I asked a few people to pray about the situation. A couple of them responded by saying something to the effect of "when God closes a door" and all I could think was "In 15 days I won't have any door to go through". I believe that it is true that sometimes God does close a door, but I also believe that sometimes Satan tries to get in the way of God's blessings.

When I got to Chapel, my wonderful realtor (have I mentioned how wonderful my realtor is?!?!) was finishing up the women's book study she facilitates. We spent some time trying to figure out what to do next. She said that five other units in this condo association have been sold in the last six months. We reasoned that it has to be possible to get some sort of mortgage since they probably all didn't pay cash. She called a mortgage lender that she knew and we talked to him about what was going on. He explained that if I put 10% down, rather than just 5%, that the mortgage company would not have to do a thorough review of the condo association's finances. We then started the process of applying for a mortgage through this lender.

Once we got everything rolling, the lender said to her a simple phrase that really stood out to me: "Prepare to be amazed!" I'm sure this phrase has been used in a lot of movies or TV shows, but I recognize it as a quote from the movie Meet the Robinsons. If you've been following this blog since KK passed, you know that one of the phrases that has been part of my vocabulary has been "Keep moving forward." It is not only a direct quote from Walt Disney, but it is the theme of this movie. I just felt like God was saying, "I've got this. Prepare to me amazed!"

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Loaded Questions...They Just Keep Coming

I have learned how to answer some of the loaded questions I mentioned in this blogpost. If you have asked me how I am lately, you may have heard me answer "Moving forward." I may not always be doing well or even okay, but I am doing the work to keep moving forward...be it ever so slowly.

In addition to learning how to answer some of those loaded questions, Dr. Chuck has helped me prepare for times that we know are going to be hard. For example, holidays are expected to be hard so I have had to prepare a Plan A as well as a Plan B for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have also realized that buying a Christmas tree and doing taxes are going to be hard, so I have made plans for both of those as well.

I have to prepare for these times that I know are going to be hard, because I know there are going to be other hard times that hit me out of the blue. For Thanksgiving, those "hits" came from more loaded questions. Well-meaning people or people that don't know my story have asked innocent-enough questions. Questions like "Do you have anything fun planned for Thanksgiving?" and "How was your Thanksgiving?" have absolutely wrecked me over the last week.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Redefining Emotions

This week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how grief has affected my emotions. It seems like my emotions have been redefined by grief. It hasn't surprised me that feelings like sadness have been intensified. What has surprised me is how grief has tempered feelings of excitement and joy.

For example, I mentioned in my last post that I wasn't excited during a time when I expected to be -- and others expected me to be -- elated.

I remember similar feelings when I attended the Beth Moore conference in August. One of the things that I found interesting was how I could sing about the goodness of God with tears streaming down my face, but I could not "Celebrate Good Times" during the "Dance Party" before the third session and had to walk out with tears streaming down my face.

This week, I experienced another example of this. During the ice-breaker at LifeGroup, we were asked to name something we love, something we hate, and something that always makes us laugh.  Everyone's answers were lighthearted and not serious at all (people were naming things like ice cream and coconut, not their spouses or children). I couldn't think of anything lighthearted at all...all I could think of was that I love my girl, I hate cancer, and nothing makes me laugh right now. I took a pass when my turn came around. The first two answers, though true, were way too difficult to verbalize. As for the latter, I honestly could not think of anything that has made me laugh recently. I know I have laughed in the last four months, but I could not pinpoint anything in particular...it would be safe to assume that it probably had something to do with a baby or child, but my head didn't even go there.

The final catalyst for this blog post has been the constant question, "Are you excited about your move?" as the closing date on my new condo quickly approaches. To be perfectly honest, I can't say that I am excited...what I can say is that I'm looking forward to it.

As I continue to do the grief work and keep moving forward, I know that one day my emotions will once again be redefined.

"Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."
~ Psalm 30:5 ~

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Looking Ahead

One of the things I had to do for "homework" for counseling over the last two weeks was to look at a calendar and try to figure out what dates might be hard over the course of the next year. The idea being that there will be dates I know are going to be hard and there will be other dates that will take me by surprise, so let's prepare for the ones I know about it.

Two important dates, KK's birthday and our "gotcha day", have already passed. Though I feel like I honored her well on those days, I just plowed through and felt completely exhausted and emotionally drained afterwards. Prior to this homework assignment, there were a couple "take me by surprise" moments like the one month anniversary of KK's death. A text from a friend on that day (as well as on the second month anniversary) saying she remembered and she was praying meant the world to me. It helped to know that I was not the only one remembering my girl.

I began looking at the calendar with obvious dates in mind: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, diagnosis, adoption day, Mother's Day, my birthday, and the day KK died. However, I couldn't think of anything besides the obvious.

Then last week happened.

Earlier in the summer, I bought tickets to a Patriots game for all the staff. At the time, I was so excited on so many levels: the tickets were for the kickoff of a new football season, it was going to be (Super Bowl) banner drop night, and the Patriots would be playing Pastor Derek's team, the Kansas City Chiefs (whom KK said she never considered to be real competitors). The week of the game, everyone kept asking me if I was excited. I was surprisingly not excited and I couldn't figure out why...until I was at the game. It was then that I realized the last game I was at was with KK on banner drop night. As "Crazy Train" began playing and the Patriots ran onto the field, I teared up as I remembered KK's Celebration of Life. A friend who was watching the game at home texted me saying she teared up as she heard "Crazy Train". Again, it meant the world to me to know that I was not the only one remembering my girl.


Despite the sadness & the fact that the Pats forgot to play for a full 4 quarters, we had a lot of fun.

This got me thinking of other dates, or rather events, that are going to be hard. Super Bowl Sunday, the next Star Wars movie, vacation, and speaking at chapel at HCA are just a few of the ones I know are going to be hard.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Fitting Tribute

9 years ago today, my baby girl left her last foster home.
Tonight, I had the opportunity to help kids in foster care
by packing over 100 backpacks with my church family.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Keep Moving Forward

"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. 
We keep moving forward..." 
~ Walter Elias Disney 

When I sent my rent check in July, I wrote a letter asking my landlord to address a few things that have been ongoing since I moved in 4 years ago (including the cat urine smell that intensifies in the humidity). When I didn't hear anything right away (actually, I didn't hear anything until August 3 right before they went on vacation), I began looking at my finances and decided that it might be time to buy my own place.

I started looking for homes with an in-law apartment and found a cute little place in Shrewsbury. I went to the open house with Bethany one Sunday after church and loved the "tiny house" feel of the main floor. Though the seller considered it to be in "move in" condition, a walk-through with a contractor friend from church proved otherwise. Unfortunately, the seller was unwilling to negotiate on the price so I knew it wasn't for me.

As I continued browsing homes online, I found a nice little condo with an in-law suite last Thursday. A realtor friend from church arranged for us to see the property on Friday. After a little negotiating, I put down a deposit on Monday and had the home inspection yesterday. If all goes well, I will have the deed on October 10.

When I told Dr. Chuck my plans on Thursday and the reasoning behind the "in-law suite", he told me I am weird. I always knew I was weird, now it's official (though I'm pretty sure that "weird" is not a clinical diagnosis). He said that he usually counsels people not to make major life decisions in the first year of grief. In my case, he doesn't see any reason to offer that advice since I have thoroughly thought about and prayed this through. He did give me two homework assignments this week (that's what I get for "celebrating" last week when he didn't give me any homework). The homework: start packing and ask for help.

As for the first...I have less than 2 months to pack. I wonder how many boxes I will need to pack each day between now and the closing date.

And for the second assignment...I'm putting it out there: I need help. Granted, most of the help isn't needed until October, but I am putting the "to do" list (including things noted during the home inspection) together now...
  • The seller has a cat and I had trouble breathing by the time I left both times. Once I can get into the condo, the walls will need to be steamed and cleaned (dander is a sticky substance that sticks to every surface).
  • HVAC cleaning (see reasoning above).
  • Walls and ceilings will most likely need to be painted. 
  • There are a couple small areas where grout needs to be fixed.
  • Recaulking is needed in a few areas.
  • I will need a plumber and electrician to install a washer and dryer in the utility room in the in-law suite.
  • Though this is not a priority and may need to wait for a while (especially since it could be costly), I will need an electrician/HVAC to separate the heat/AC system into two units.
  • I will need lots of help moving. I have a lot of stuff. I am going to work on purging between now and then, but the hoarder in me is already throwing a tantrum.