Thursday, December 15, 2016

It's time...

Since I can feel my fingers again. I decided it was time.
Time to post again.
Time to hopefully find the right words to post how I'm feeling.

I saw Dr. Shami yesterday. You know, the man who saved my life. It was an incredible visit. Though the wait is sometimes a couple of hours. He is so worth it. 

I talked to them (Shami's team) a little about how I am feeling lately and I received so much insight. Things started to make sense as to why I'm feeling the way I'm feeling lately. 

Rewinding to a week or so ago...
The enormity of what I went through hit me. Like a Mack Truck.
As we were driving down Main Street. My oldest excitedly exclaimed after seeing the decorative Christmas characters on the light posts, "Mom! It's Santa!" I quickly glanced in my rearview mirror in time to see the excitement of Christmas all over his sweet face and it hit me. 
I could have missed this.
I could have missed this sweet moment.
I could have missed all of this.
I could have died this year, but I didn't. 
I'm alive. I am still alive. 
I'm alive to experience the magic of Christmas with my babies. 

I'm alive to enjoy our family traditions with them instead of watching from above like John is. I know he is with us, but we can't see him or talk to him so it is so very different.

With that enormity settling in, it has me reflecting on my own mortality. 
And feeling like I am falling so very short. But it also has me trying harder to be the best Mom I can be for my babies. Sometimes I totally miss the mark, but sometimes I nail it. And I know that it's completely normal to have those good and bad days. In the end, my little ones know I love them with my whole heart. And I'm so grateful for their love for me. 

Reflecting on my own mortality has also had me reflecting on John and how much I miss him. I feel like I'm grieving like he passed away yesterday. 

Fast forward to my Dr's visit. As I was talking to Dr. Shami he and I talked a little bit about that grief. When I was diagnosed with Leukemia 3 weeks to the day after John passed away. The three weeks leading up to that diagnosis were a blessing because even though I was growing increasingly ill, I was kept busy with my babies and it helped distract me from the hurt. 

Then, on May 27th the brick wall hit and brought my world to a halt (again) and my mind and body went into survival mode. And I took that grief and put it in a pretty little compartmentalized box at the side of my mind and left it while I fought for my life. 

And I am in remission. Now I have survived. And now my mind has decided to open up that box to help me work through this enormous loss I feel. And now it really hurts. 

I miss the special bond I had with my brother. Though I didn't see him every day, I always knew everything was even steven. I always knew how much he loved me. 

And it hurts that he isn't here. And even when you'd tell him you loved him, later in life it became a ditto or a grunt, you still knew he loved you back. I miss hearing his voice. His laugh. Even his sneeze and his yawns.

But in the midst of this heartache I have the unshakeable knowledge that though I can no longer see my big brother. He still lives. Though I can't hear him, I know he still laughs. And thanks to the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, I will see him again. Sunday will come. 

I am so grateful for the gift of that innocent babe who slept in a manger. That babe who would grow to be the Savior of the world. That babe who made it possible for me to be with John and other loved ones who have passed away. I am so grateful for Him and that this time of year we are able to celebrate His birth.

If you find yourself in the same position I'm in. May you feel His everlasting love testifying to you that He lives. May you feel your loved ones embraces through the veil that separates us. May you find peace in knowing that they live on and you will see them again. That promise is real and is made to all. Believers or not. And God keeps His promises. I know it. I'm alive because of it. 


Thursday, July 7, 2016

I Am...

I am brave.
I am brave.
I am brave.

A common phrase I repeat to myself over and over lately. 

But also...
I am sad. 
I am grieving.
I am tired.
I am lonely. 
I am scared. 
And I am mad, really, really mad. 

I know how important it is to stay positive, otherwise things tend to spiral. But I was so grateful in the hospital to receive "permission" (I know it's not the right word because I don't need permission to feel how I feel but it fits best here) to be mad, to get angry. Cancer is a messed up thing. 

My amazing friend Lindsay brought me an awesome printable/quote that I'd post a picture of but I don't want anyone to steal her design, so I'll just share the quote. 

"When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade! 
Make life take the lemons back. 
Get mad! 
I don't want your damn lemons
What am I supposed to do with these?
Demand to see life's manager. 
Make life rue the day it thought it could give Jessica lemons! 
Do you know who I am?
I am the woman who is going to burn your house down, 
with Lemons!"

I was set on being an example and inspiration to others who may go through this hell called Cancer by being positive. But that isn't real, and I am. Some parts of this aren't positive. Some parts really, really stink. But I am learning a lot about myself. 

I am learning that if I repeat my phrase of "I am brave". I become it.
If I tell myself how much it's going to hurt. It really does. 
I've always known that I am stubborn so that is nothing new. 
And I really, really, don't like being woken up every night around 4 a.m. for vitals and blood labs. 

But onto the positives because there are still many.

I am also learning that I have one heck of a support system. From friends and family visiting me in the hospital. To my amazing neighbor and friend who coordinated meals and many other things for me not to worry about anything at home. To those who have brought the meals, helped clean in preparation for me to come home, or simply sent words of comfort and support. I was so grateful to receive cards in the hospital. I wish I would have taken a picture of my set up the last day I was there. My Mom decorated with family pictures and artificial flowers since real ones weren't allowed. Then I hung or placed every card received on my shelves where I could see them. 

This was towards the beginning of my stay.
I had amazing friends from work bring me flowers that the students and my colleagues had colored as well as a huge poster of positive messages from them. 

My parents are the biggest support system of all. I can't get over their strength. That on the heels of their sons death they are able to turn around and deal with another child being diagnosed with cancer. One thing we all know is that I am gonna survive this. I am gonna kick cancer's butt. I will rise strong and get through this. 

I am also grateful to be back with my sweet family. I missed my kiddos dearly after being away from them for almost 40 days. In the hospital at night I would dream about them. I could hear their laughter and at times I could feel their hugs. I am also thankful for my sweet hubby for doing his best and taking care of my babies. 

I had another friend send me a card that she felt she should buy but wasn't sure who it was for. This was before I was even diagnosed. The card she sent was meant for me. It was a reminder to come unto my Savior. I know that without Him I wouldn't be able to get through this. I'm a firm believer that God does give us trails that we can't handle...alone. But if we turn to Him we will get through it. With God anything is possible. 

So that's where I'm at right now. 
I know I was working on the events leading up to my diagnosis and will continue that in my next post. I just needed to get how I'm feeling out there. I'm not sure why, maybe just to vent. Maybe just to be upfront. To express gratitude. I don't know. 

Thank you all for your support as I go through this. It means more than you know. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

May 07, 2016-The Day After...

Since these posts have been so heavy, I decided to share a picture of my two oldest babies. Aren't they cute?! 

The morning of the reception I got up early to do some last minute surging and touches. I was ready to head to the church to help decorate when I got sent on a drink run. Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper is good for the soul I tell you. So I get to McDonald's and put in my order. Pay for my drinks. Pull forward to get them and guess what?! They were out of Diet Dr. Pepper. WHO RUNS OUT OF DIET DR. PEPPER AT 8:30am in the morning?! And then they asked me if I want my money back? Of course I want my money back! Sheeesh that totally frosted my cookies! So I'm teetering on tears and so frustrated. I get to the church where the reception is held and I am definitely in the anger stage of grief. I was so upset and definitely shaking my fist at God. How could he take John from us at that time? I would soon understand why. But in that moment I sure was mad and had a lot to do along with the other volunteers there.  I was definitely grateful for having a lot to do. I needed it. I needed to stay busy otherwise I would stop to think about John and I couldn't just yet. 

I was so impressed by the amount of help offered by various members of their ward family (congregation) as well as the help our family was able to give.

 I was in charge of decorating the cake, table centerpieces, and the food table. Shout out to my family for helping me make it happen. There were so many cute details, I wish I would have brought my camera to take pictures as well. 

The cake came together beautifully. My Mom helped me with the final touches. and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. You can catch a glimpse of the table centerpieces. I was so proud with how they turned out. I needed successes in the little things...especially because McDonald's didn't have my drink! Who does that?! Clearly I'm still stuck on that.

Here's a picture of me and the finished cake. 

A close up of the cake.

And how could I not put in a picture of the beautiful bride and her cutest flower girl! 

I know the post was picture heavy. All pictures were taken by my amazing sister. 

As far as symptoms, I didn't have time to notice them that day. As I put on my MuuMuu for the Reception I was a little self conscious about my bruises that were all over the back of my calves. But I quickly forgot about them as I went to work. Staying busy was definitely a blessing. 

After the reception I went home and picked up all of my pictures I have from when all of us were little. I wanted to go through the pictures, veg, and start to mourn John at my parents house. It was fun going through the pictures with family and remembering the good times. 

It was definitely the good times that carried us through the hard times that were looming closely ahead. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

May 06, 2016 -That night...

That night John's sweet baby girl was to be sealed for Time and All Eternity to her future husband. 
John had made it clear that if anything were to happen to him the wedding would go on. He had the same expectations for his Children who were serving missions throughout his sickest times. John loved the Lord and His work and wanted to put Him and his family first. Always. 

Throughout the morning we mainly clung to each other as much as we could. We couldn't bare the thought of leaving John's house before he did for the last time, so we waited. That's when the reality of us having a sealing that night and a reception the following day really hit. The day needed to be special for John, for Jen, and we were determined to make it be, 

An unsung hero in all this and a woman who can always be seen in the background is my Mom. As time passed she passed the cake torch over to me and she has always been right there to provide support and helpful guidance. Not only that, anything for Jenn's wedding that Jennifer presented as a dream or a vision, my Mom would bend over backwards to help make it a reality. She loves so deeply she just wants to help everybody, and she does. Even the day her baby boy (that's what she refers to him, because he is) went home to our Heavenly Father, she spent her day serving others.

We grabbed obligatory caffeine and headed back to Mom and Dad's house where my Dad and I tag teamed my niece's wedding cake. Yep my Dad rolls out the fondant for me and Anna came to the rescue in helping me place it. It only took a couple tries and I believe plenty of tender mercies to finish her cake. It was beautiful like her.

All that I needed to do was finishing touches the morning of the reception. The details were the only thing I knew that could keep me held together, emotionally. I realize now physically those details and blessings to serve were what may have held me together longer.

I started feeling a little weird once we finished the cake. I just wanted to sit a lot. We went to the Provo City Center Temple for Jen's wedding. It was such a bittersweet experience. Bitter for me that John wasn't there, or at least I couldn't see him...and sweet because after being blind for so long, John got to see his baby girl on her wedding day. Yes pause and think on that for a moment. Our John got to see his daughter in all of her beauty and details on her wedding day. 

Afterwards a small group of us gathered to chow on some of the most delicious Pizza known to mankind. Two Jacks. Dip it in ranch and you will be in Heaven. Dear Two Jacks, I'm really sorry you're gonna be going out of business now that John is no longer single handedly funding your business. 

I could feel my grief swallowing me whole and knew I needed to head home because something didn't feel right. I started feeling weaker and shakier. I went home and changed right back into my California comfort outfit. 

 I don't know what about the outfit brought me comfort but for days it was the only thing that did, and I still long for it a like a security blanket. 
 It was all I could do to just curling into a ball on my recliner. It just felt like my body was growing heavier and weaker at the same time. I was asked to go visit John's sweet wife Ali with my Sister and Mom, I knew my body wasn't up to it but it was important for me to let Ali know that we are here for her. 

I barely made it into John's house when I started to get fever chills, cold then hot, cold then hot. I had to rest, at first my head, and then my body against the stair wall in order to not collapse. My youngest nephew took me home early and that's when it felt like I'd never be warm or still again. I couldn't stop the rolling shaking.I climbed into bed and my teeth would not stop chattering. No matter what I did I couldn't get my body to still. After applying blanket, and blanket, and blanket on top of me, as well as heating pads, my husband gave me a priesthood blessing which calmed me enough to stop shivering and jerking around and actually fall asleep. I'm so grateful that I received that blessing through my husband by the power of my Heavenly Father, I received true words of comfort from my Father and know that if I was talking to him face to face he would say the same things. 

I was grateful for the pause of my body aches and heaving. I began to wonder if perhaps I was feeling such deep grief that my body had literally started to collapse. I had heard of people dying of broken hearts when a loved one passed away. I didn't think that was quite what was happening...

But, the following morning, I started to see and feel more..

Friday, June 10, 2016

May 06, 2016- The Day My World Stood Still

It's 4:00 am. Everybody else is asleep in the household. If it was a Christmas story the phrase, "not a creature was stirring not even a mouse." Would be a perfectly placed sentence. 
And yet for some reason I was startled a wake. It almost felt like my heart received a hug and I uttered one simple name, "John." 

I lulled myself back to sleep for a few hours longer since sleep just doesn't happen these days. I put on my favorite pair of leggings and a large California Roots hoodie and headed to my parents house. It was a Friday close to the end of the school year so I knew how I could get away with my outfit. I just wanted to feel comfy that day. Each morning we gather at my parents house to do the baby swap, They keep the 2 youngest and I take the oldest with me to school. It was like any other morning. Slightly over cast and the weather was so nice. Then, the phone's started ringing. I remember looking at Mom as she took the call. I remember her uttering in disbelief "John died last night?" I remember my world crashing to the floor and I along with it. No matter how loud I screamed his name, he wouldn't answer. John was gone.

Anna my oldest sister was in town since his youngest daughter Jennifer was going to be sealed that night for time and all eternity to her eternal sweetheart. Talk about about timing that we sure didn't understand. I will revisit this timing as my journey continues in a later post, 

I'm not entirely sure what happened from the time we found out about John and when we all headed over to his home to see him one last time. I know loved ones where contacted, my oldest Son still went to school since he didn't know exactly what was going on. I just didn't want to leave John's side. Here's an excerpt from the post I shared on FB that morning:

"I am so very heartbroken today. Today one of my very first best friends passed away. I saw two ladies running by and I was so upset with them! I wanted them to stop and grieve too. Don't they know that one of the greatest lives the world has ever known passed away?! Please hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them. You never know the last time you will see them again.
Johnny, thank you for being my Evensteven and an amazing big brother. I love you so much! I am so grateful for the atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ, that he overcame death and because of Him, I will see my big brother again. Aloha Oe. — with John Krutsch."

It was crazy to see the outpouring of support from friends and relatives alike and so very very hard to come to terms (I still haven't)that my best friend was gone, in Heaven. And now what do we do? I'm so grateful for all the friends and family who just kept sharing the importance that it is going to take sometime.  But I didn't realize that time wsn't something I realized I had much of.

It was only a matter of hours until the symptoms started...