Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lessons Learned in Hebrews

Tonite was another one of those nites that sleep seems to not be my friend. As I laid in bed staring at the ceiling thoughts of unforeseen events that transpired today just flooded my brain. I quit fighting and decided to just journal it.

Hebrews Chapter 13

2. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

I have arrived safely at today. I don't know where tomorrow will take me. My old life was pretty simple and for the most part planned on a daily basis. A pretty, well....normal life. Normal is not part of my vocabulary anymore. Change is inevitable but my particular change is not the kind you just adapt to very easily. If ever. It is a strange feeling to not have a purpose and to lack any motivation to do anything. This day was no different. I got up and my big task for the day was to clean and wipe down all the ceilings in our house. Just trying to keep busy and figured that it was ok to do spring cleaning in the late fall. I know my life probly sounds relatively boring. It is..........

The unexpected part of my day happened around 5 pm. Another sharp turn off the roadway of life. I didn't recognize the number immediately as I answered my cell....The call was from a case manager needing an emergency placement of 2 siblings for the night. About 30 minutes later they arrived at our house. I will just say when I first saw them my heart broke, as if its not broken already. I knew they where scared. Imagine for just one second being a child and having to go and stay at a strangers house with not one thing you own except the clothes on your back and shoes on your feet. I know that I am always anxious when a child comes to our house for the first time so I know its magnifide tremendously through a childs eyes.

They warmed up to us relatively quick. We ventured out and got pizza and rented a movie from Redbox.....After eating and movie they where pretty tired and ready for bed. They are good kids, just victims of circumstance.

As I laid in my own bed I just thought and imagined their life and what little I know about them. My thoughts are as follows........

How unlucky they are to be in their situation. To have a life of such uncertainy. No home. No family. Living with strangers. Nothing but the clothes they are wearing. But also, how Lucky they are to be alive, relatively healthy, to have each other.

I thought how Lucky Jessi was....she lived a good life....a too short one...however she did more than I did at 14. I never went on vacation. If I had lost my life at 14 I surely would have not done 1/4 of the things Jessi got to experience. She was born in Southermost city in the U.S., Lived on an island, lived on a farm, drove a car @ 11, snorkeled, tubed, skied, flew on a plane, amusement parks, cruises, hiking, mountain biking, camping, canoing, horseback riding and the list goes on. She was so lucky to have been blessed to enjoy these things. But so unlucky to get cancer.

I thought also how I have been dreading October, November and December for obvious reasons.....Thanksgiving is fast approaching and this year it will be a double blow....The date of Thanksgiving is different this year but it will still always be remembered as the worst day of my life. Black Friday has a whole new meaning this year as it falls on the 25th. I laid in bed thinking these kids probably dont even really get the whole Thanksgiving thing based on their past. I worry about being the House without a Christmas Tree and they don't even have a house to put up a Christmas Tree.

Maybe the whole purpose for them winding up at our house was to show that alot of people have it really bad. Even kids. I don't believe their is anything worse than losing a child. But if your a child and you lose your family I can definetly agree that this can be the worse thing ever for a child. I guess I am just trying to make sense out of life. And I am not sure that is ultimately possible. One thing for sure at least while these kids are with us they provide a diversion and sense of feeling needed. It doesnt take the pain away but they do make the time go faster and keep you busy.

I will close with something I have to say. My grief at times is unbearable. People say I'm strong. I'm really not. I just try and get through a day. Some days are much harder than others. I have cried everyday for over a year. Sometimes I cry so hard I almost cant breathe. That uncontrollable crying that takes your breath away. I miss the hugs and the "mom...luv u" I miss alot of stuff.

It sucks to have to hug a picture of your child when you long for the real thing.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Beads Of Courage.......A Dream Bead......The Butterfly Bead that took the Dream away.

It has taken me very long to confront this blog. I have alot to say and share but just lack the motivation to do so. I just keep storing my thoughts in my brain and surprisingly they are still intact just waiting to be released one day.

Im writing today because I plan on staying far away from the computer tomorrow. It will be the big day for me to stay busy ALL day. Tomorrow morning at 8:10 am 15 years ago I gave birth to my first and only child Jessi. I knew the years would fly but never imagined the course I was on or what awaited us just 13 and a half years later.

So here I am. I have arrived at today. Pressing on till tomorrow, and the next day and the next day so on and so forth.

Beads of Courage...........a wonderful program for children with cancer....Jessi treasured her beads....she has hundreds....each bead represents a procedure, blood given, blood taken, chemo, wheelchair rides,infections, hair loss, the list goes on. Interesting thing about Jessi and her beads. She was probably the only kid on the floor that didnt make necklaces with them and hang them on her IV pole or wear them. She kept them in a large ziploc bag. All separted by color and what each one stood for. She was very protective of her beads. I had thought about putting them on some nice leather strands and hanging them on my rearview mirror. That thought quickly faded for me cause most of the beads represent hard times in the hospital. If I had to pick one I liked or made me laugh it would be the wheelchair one. Jessi loved it cause she thought riding in the wheelchair was too cool. She had even tried to talk us into buying one for her for at home......
We have all her beads put away and I had thought about putting them in a shadow box but havent got there yet....not ready to look at them really yet
cause when I do I see cancer and I just hate it and what she had to go through to try and beat it.

The Dream Bead......Last year around September there was a big Beads Of Courage event at CHOA and Jess wanted to go to pick up her Dream Bead. Kids where able to request a bead that they wanted made for just them that no one else would ever have. Jessi's Dream Bead was a 2010 Maroone Chevy Camaro. Her bead wasn't ready at the event but she received it a few weeks later while in the hospital for treatment. We still have that bead. And it's still a Dream.

The Butterfly Bead.....I never knew of such a Bead. It's certainly not on the list of beads when a child is collecting them. It's the bead no one wants that's why no one knows about it. I was handed the butterfly bead by a nurse shortly after Jessi's passing. I read about the butterfly bead then. You only get the butterfly bead and learn about it when your child doesn't make it. It's the bead that takes your Dream away.

I feel so ripped off many times. We were suppose to be shopping for that Dream Car today. We told Jessi when she was in the hospital that next year when she turned 15 we would get her this car. Some will agree with that and some wont. However I've learned to not care what other people think or say at this point. But, when your child is faced with a terminal illness you do what you can to instill hope and give them something to fight for and look forward to.

As of today, I don't do birthdays or holidays....that may change one day but for right now that is how it is.

So my whole goal tomorrow is to keep busy.....I will be driving to do Lily's Run. Last year we attended it but Jessi was sick and I pushed her all over in a wheelchair and then she wound up at the hospital because of a fever. So no matter what October 9th will be a hard day. Always. And unfortunately it will keep coming just like the holidays. Nothing stops.

There will be no celebration, blowing of candles or unwrapping of gifts. It will just be another long day to endure.

A bead of courage.

A dream bead.

A butterfly bead that became a nightmare........

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Seeing Past the Cover

I have learned to do this very well. The old saying to "Never Judge a Book By It's Cover" is so very true.

Last week a friend invited us to go school shopping with her and her girls. They are friends of Jessi's and we all went school shopping the summer of 2009. Of course we had all intentions of going again in 2010 but everyone knows that that was not possible. Initially when I was asked I thought about it and was considering it. Well, the more I thought about it the more I talked myself right out of it. Somethings are very painful. It is just hard to do things that Jessi should be doing with us and I know how much she loved to shop for clothes. I however was in a rational state (which by the way does not happen very often) and re-thought the whole shopping thing. Another friend of ours has a 11 y.o. girl and I just felt that I would love to take her to do some school shopping. She comes from a very large family and times are tuff these days and I just felt led to give her some shopping time.

We all met up Tuesday and did the usual mall and also some other stores. It turned out to be a fairly decent day. I won't say that I did not think of Jessi because I did. The entire day. It's kinda hard not to. But I am proud of myself for doing something that is very hard to do. It was a major step for me.

During our time at the mall and a few other stores around the mall a few random people caught my attention.

There was the young woman in a wheel chair with what I assume was her son....The woman pushing a stroller with 2 chinese babies and another toddler chinese little girl walking with her (Mom was not chinese)......Another woman in a wheel chair at Target watching her son play video games.....

I wondered what was their story and how they got to the place they where at?

Then I looked at myself......It was me, Bud, Steven and Sandra......I wondered how many people saw us and thought wow look at that lucky family...they got one of each, a boy and a girl....Maybe know one thought that but I know I have thought those things way before our life made a drastic change over a year ago. The funny thing is, of all the people we came into contact with or passed by that day know one knew that someone was missing from the picture or what we have been through over the last year....no one knew that Sandra isn't mine she was just with us for the day to go shopping.....That Steven is not mine yet, he is living with us during this trial period to see if we can adopt him...

To the world we look like the perfect family......I just wonder how many people I pass daily that appear to have it all but it not to be so.

I look at people and the world differently than I ever imagined I would.

I joined a group on Facebook for Moms like me....I was saddened to see that there are alot of "Me's" out there.....I don't know alot of people that have been through this AWFUL process so finding these Moms has been good. But however many times it's too depressing to learn so many parents suffer the unthinkable.

Long and short of it all.......Don't be so quick to think negatively or look down on someone cause they many not fit how you think people shuld look or because they seem mad, sad or just plain miserable looking....There is usually alot past the cover of what you physically see..

And about Steven......2 years ago this August we were going thru the process of being approved for adoption....Just shortly before Jessi was diagnosed we where aproved and licensed to adopt....she so much wanted a brother or sister...of course it was out of the question for quite sometime...but Bud and I had the choice to move to Florida and live in the Villages with a bunch of retired people....or to add a little purpose to our life...to be needed....Steven will never replace Jessi...He gives us a reason to get up everyday......to help us get thru life.

So Next time your out......please look past the cover.......

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Perfect Life.......Until.......

One year ago today my life was just about perfect. Now, that's not to say there where days of difficulty. Everyone experiences them. But over all my life was pretty much perfect. I remember when we still lived in the keys and would travel to Georgia as much as we could I would always sing the Green Acres song. You know, the one that goes "Green acres is the place for me, Farm living is the life for me, land spreading so far and wide, keep Manhattan and give me that countryside".

Our family was so excited to make a move and try something new. Up until this day last year "Life Was Good". Tomorrow will be June 26. The day Jessi was diagnosed with this crappy disease called cancer. The same disease that would destroy my beautiful child. I sit here and cannot believe a year has gone by. I never thought that I would be without her. NOT FOR A MINUTE!

I'm here to tell you your life really can change in a moment. Mine did. No one ever thinks its gonna happen to them.

So.....if your reading this and you have kids.....spend time with them. And I mean really spend time with them. Because to kids its not what they are doing but who they are doing it with.....like their Mom and Dad.

I learned that from and 8 year old this week......he talked about what love was to him. And it was simply having parents to spend time with.

Thankfully I was able to spend alot of time with Jessi. And I mean ALOT.
That's another reason this is so hard. Jessi was the whole package for me.

Simply put.........I MISS HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And our "almost perfect life"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mom...........Jesus is Great.

I feel like I have been away from this blog in like forever. I find myself wanting to journal but as quick as that thought comes to me it leaves just as fast. A great memory will come to mind or a precious thought about Jessi but it just never becomes written. Somethings at times are just very painful no matter how good the memories are. I have found that to look at and remember all the the good times ( which are many) at times are just as painful or more so than the very few bad times. I think about the things Jessi will miss or the things Bud and I have tried to go and do only to think that "if Jessi was here she would love this or say that". Grief from losing a child is like no other. I have had people say how they have lost a parent and they know how hard it is or it's the same kind of grief. Guess what.......it's not. I'm speaking from experience.

Since Jessi has been gone I have had many mixed feelings on alot of things. So many that I could probably write forever. I look at life through a different eye now. Somedays I'm mad. Other days I'm sad. I admit that I have been mad at God. You see, there are people that I have met that have lost a child because of some type of accident. Many times in cases of car accidents a child has died that was riding with a friend. For those families that their child was a victim your flesh has "someone" to blame". That's just human nature and a fact as to how it works. With sickness or especially cancer there is no one to blame. The only one I have been able to look to an ask "why" has been God. Well, I haven't been the best Christian lately. I haven't really read my Bible. I have not been consistent in prayer. The only thing I have been able to talk to God about is why. My flesh expects Him to answer me. My time is not God's time.
On October 27th Jessi and I walked out of our front door together for the last time. I never thought she would not be coming back home. This was her very last chemo treatments then it would probly be on to Bone Marrow Transplant. I still remember that day at the front door. Hannah had spent the night and Bud was taking her to meet her mom for school. We all left the same time, Jess and I headed to Atlanta. Earlier in the wee hours of the morning I had a dream about another child that was very sick. In my dream she didnt make it. I saw things that I'm not gonna write about, nothing bad I just want to keep them private. After we got to the hospital Jess and I where in clinic waiting to be admitted, that child I had the dream about passed away while we were there. That nite after Jess was admitted I was awoke again at almost the same time and I saw that little girl and here is what happened....I asked her if she was ok and she said yes, I asked her if she hurt or was in pain and she said no I'm happy and she showed me that little grin and her special giggle and I sat straight up in bed. That little girl was Ava and I shared that dream with her mom. It seemed so real. I have always said I wish Jess would come to me in a dream, that I could see her and talk to her. It finally happened. And this is how it went..........I was standing in the doorway to Jessi's room that connects to her bathroom and Bud and her were jumping on the bed. It was Jessi at about 11. I yelled "Jessi"!!!! And Bud said " It's real its really her" about that time she came running over to me and we reached out to hug each other and she just dissappeared.....Then immediately Jessi was sitting on steps and it was the Jessi we all new just before she got diagnosed....I looked at her and asked "whats it like, what do you do" she new I was talking about Heaven without even saying the word. She said "Were in groups" I was so desperate in my dream to know everything.....Then Jessi looked right at me and said "Mom.......Jesus is Great" I woke up immediately after she said that crying. Those are the best words she ever said next to "Mom.....I love you" I cry everytime I try to share it with someone and even now while I'm trying to type this.

Everyday is still very painful but this dream has given me some peace. It was the exact words I needed to hear. Words to remind me that I need to keep my focus on God as hard as it is sometimes.

"Mom.......Jesus is Great"......She is right you know, He really is......

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Life Goes On............For Many.

I never thought much about that statement. It is one that is often said and I have used it many times. Alot of times before June 26,2010.

Now it has a different meaning to me. It is actually the most painful statement one can hear when you have lost a child. It is a reality. One that is hard to comprehend. I must admit that if I wasn't in this dreadful position it really would no have as much serious meaning but all in all it is a very real and factual statement. Life does Go on. For me though now it is a bitter thought. And also selfish on my part but I readily admit that. When I lost Jessi on Thanksgiving my world literally stopped. One would expect everyone elses to stop also. But, I remind myself of people that I know have passed before Jessi and realize that my world didn't stop. It is a hard thought to accept. Albiet a selfish one too. Probably only people that read this that have lost a child will actually get what I am saying.
It's hard to see life go on as normal when your stuck trying to find out what your suppose to do now that everything has changed. I would never expect anyone to stop living life, it's just a feeling that is extremely hard to accept but I hope that I can get to a point in my life that it will not be so painful.

I have so many questions that have no answers......I struggle with why some people survive cancer and chemotherapy and some people don't. I might add that I am happy for all the ones that survive. I just wish that I could proclaim Jessi as a survivor. I believe in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. With that being said it makes it even harder to accept that Jessi wasn't granted longer life on earth. I know for a fact there where well over 3000 people praying for Jessi to beat this and survive. So when I hear how God healed some and answered peoples prayers on healing why did He not answers ours. I just don't believe that God picks and chooses who's prayers He is gonna answer and who's He isnt. I believe prayers is a life line to God. But what do you say to someone in a conversation when they tell you "God is so good, He answered prayer and He healed ________" My response naturally is well "He did'nt answer mine" What am I supposed to say??? It is a very awkward and uncomfortable situation for me. I just don't have praise in my heart right now. I still love the Lord without a doubt but I am spiritually drained right now. I have too many questions and not enough answers.

I have learned alot since last June and up until this very moment. I feel that there is no reward here on earth for good behavior. I have seen that with my own eyes this last week. I have seen first hand that the more things you do wrong the better off you are. I have seen people with a blatant disregard for the laws and responsiblity to others have know concious about how their actions and choices affect others. Why do people addicted to drugs have more and more children with those innocent children being born addicted to drugs themselves. And then you have people that would be the greatest parents ever to never be able to have a child. Or to have them and lose them.

I do know the answer to one question......

God did not give Jessi or anyone else cancer......That I do know.....After much thought I have my own theory on cancer. It is another man made tragedy. Chemicals, radiation, pesticides,cigarettes. It's in everything we eat, drink and breath. Cancer is man made. If you don't believe me just do some research on the most recent catastrophe in Japan. There is a direct link of all those people in the danger zone exposed to radiation from the nuclear plant to get cancer and specifically Leukemia. And if that isnt enough man trys to fix it with more poison by way of chemotherapy. Thousands of people everyday including way to many children are diagnosed with cancer. It is one word that no one ever wants to hear......Especially a parent....

In summary, I thought we where doing things right. Raising Jessi in God's Word. (This is the only thing I have no reservations about). Teaching her to save for the future by way of a mutual fund and she would save a good part of her birthday and Christmas money each year and she had a good little savings account that was supposed to be used towards a car when she got her license. We had signed her up for the Florida Prepaid college plan when she was 5. At the age of 10 her college was paid for. A 4-year University of her choice fully paid for.

Of all these things I am most thankful that she knew the Lord. Because if not for that I would have know hope. That is the only thing that gets me through each very long day. And even though I am spiritually drained right now, which I accept full responsibility for, I remind my self everyday what Jessi said her last stay home before she went back into the hospital the very last time. She was very sick, throwing up, and Bud was praying over her and asked God why this was happening and if He wanted to use Jessi to help others he didn't understand how she could do that if she was so sick.
In between throwing up, Jessi looked right at Bud and said to him a statement that is what we hold onto this very day......

"Dad, don't question God".

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Well if that title doesn't put a big question mark in your brain probably nothing will.

It's may sound like a pretty random title for a journal but after you read this you won't be thinking that anymore.

Last week we made the dreadful trip to our home in Marathon. We have been in The Villages for a while visiting with Jessi's Poppa who had open heart surgery in the beginning of January. We where with him last week and since he is doing pretty good we decided to make a trip to Marathon to Face that Giant that was waiting for us. There is not alot of Jessi's things left in the house as over the years she has brought things to Georgia each trip we made. However, it is still hard. Jessi was born there and spent a big part of her life there as well as making several trips a year back to visit. Our last stay as a family was Christmas 2009 when she brought Hannah. We didn't know it would be the last together in the house. I was dreading the arrival the whole drive down. As we pulled into the driveway, I was overwhelmed with just such immense sadness. I got Jessi's dogs out of the car and went for a walk before even going into the house. But, when I got back to the house, the house was still there, and Jessi was still not here. I walked up and went straight to her room climbed in her bed, grabbed her pillow and cryed.......make that weeped......it was a good hard cry.....did it make me feel better? Maybe a little, but it still as of yet hasn't changed anything.........

On Sunday Lisa did my hair for me, she made me feel great on the outside....I wish there was a salon for grief and heartache......I really enjoyed spending that time with her. It was just the two of us and we havent talked at all since October.....I don't do much talking on the phone....

I had lunch with Carm on Tuesday and that was a treat also.....It's really hard for me at times to be with my friends, I know that sounds odd, but I know that they grieve for me also and everyone wants to make things better but they can't. Sometimes the ones your closest to are the hardest to be with. Simply because they feel your pain but are helpless.

So what does all this have to do with Ping Pong? Nothing.....But what you are about to read will explain that question.

Bud's cousin Frieda and her husband Lynn and there 2 kids Kaite and Seth also live in Marathon and where with us during Jessi's last day...We went to their house to have dinner on Monday nite and when we walked in their house where you would normally see a dining room table there sat a Ping Pong table.......Most of us (including myself at one time) would never put a ping pong table directly adjacent to your kitchen. Well, that is the wrong way of thinking.......Most peple have heard the saying "The family that prayes together stays together" That I believe is absolutely true but I also believe that " The family that plays together stays together" too. If that ping pong table was outside it probly wouldnt get used as much..Seeing as how its inside and you have to walk passed it to go outside, to the kitchen or to the bathhroom its kinda hard to avoid it. I confess that I didn't play this time. Bud did and as I watched him he actually smiled and laughed for a few minutes.....I'm not sure of the last time I can remember him doing that since June....
Who would of thought that a Ping Pong table in the middle of a kitchen would have been a blessing to someone and would also be a way for a family to spend great quality time together.

I guess the lesson would be is you don't have to have a fancy dining room table, a chandelier, matching placesettings and all the trimmings. Sometimes doing things right won't make you any happier. Your dining room table may look all pretty and put together but that's about it.

But.......a Ping Pong Table and your family can be better than any dining room table. And if you still want to sit at a table and eat, back when I was a kid they had these things called TV Dinner trays.....get u one of those and sit on the couch and eat.......

Your children will remember the Ping Pong table years from now..............

Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to Play. 1 Corinthians 10:7

Monday, February 14, 2011

Don't Be Afraid.........

This Thursday it will be 12 weeks since we said bye to Jessi. Alot of things are different now for us. However, differnt didn't just start the last day we spent with Jessi. Different for us started June 26.....Day of Diagnosis......

The last weekend in January The Cure Foundation has an Annual Bereavement Weekend for parents that are unlucky enough to have a child with cancer and even unluckier to have lost a child to this dreadful disease. I really wanted to go in hopes of maybe making some new friends, visiting friends already made and hoping that I could find some comfort after the weekend was over knowing I'm not the only one and be with others who truly understand this pain. I really had to pursuade Bud to go, he really wasn't up for it. On the first day after listening to one of the speakers, talking with other parents and then going to the candle lighting ceremony I had had second thoughts and at one point remember thinking this wasn't such a good idea. During the candle ceremony it was like reliving Jessi's service all over again. I sat in my chair hoping that they were not gonna call her name, that it wasn't real. But they did call her name, showed her picture on the power point and we lit her candle. As I type this I'm reliving that very moment. I remember looking at the screen and seeing her name and the dates........

I will say this......For once in weeks I didn't feel like I was different. I felt like I could cry and it was ok. I could talk about Jessi and it waas ok. I realized my thoughts are not crazy ones, as many people have the same thoughts as me.

I'm writing this post for one reason.....In hopes that when you are done reading this if you see me or Bud out at a store, or a restuarant, getting gas, at the post office, or wherever it may be you wont't be afraid to say "Hi" or wave or give a hug to us.

The worst thing in the world is to see one of us and then look the other way then walk away because you don't know what to say. Guess what??? We don't know what to say either......Nobody has to say anything....Actions speak louder than words and we love hugs. Will that hug bring on tears? I can tell you as for me that is almost a sure thing. But, tears are not a bad thing because even though the root of my tears are because of Jessi, I can cry happy tears too because thats what hugs do for me.....they do make me happy for a moment.

Bud and I have both experienced being at the store and having people we know see us and then having them turn away. I just want everyone to know that we are approachable. Don't be afraid to say Jessi's name....Please don't pretend that you didn't see us. So if you see us out and you don't know what to say, don't say anything a hug will do just fine......

This whole tragedy has really showed me many things......I'm thankful for all the special people that are in my life....Friends that have been there for many many years and God has brought some new people along to help Bud and I thru this unthinkable journey. People I never expected to step up and check on me everyday. My dear friend YoYo that texts me and Bud every morning and every nite and many times throughout the day.....And Carm, who I call when she leasts expects it than has to endure listening to me cry on the other end of the phone. Carm cries with me. Crystal and Leslie who randomly text me just to let me know they are praying for me and they luv me.

Last Wednesday I opened the mail and we received Jessi's death certificate....Let's just say, Bud and I did not handle it well. We decided to go to church that nite and I think I cried the entire time from when we got the mail till I went to bed.....I'm not sure how I looked but I'm sure by the time I got to church people could tell I was not having a great day.....Well something special happened to me this nite and I'm about to share it with you.......during service there is a time to shake hands and I made it through part of that but got to a point that I needed to get myself together so I went to the restroom. I don't think I was in there a minute and while I was trying to clean up my face through the tears in enters Joanne Galloway....she didn't have many words for me but she gave me the biggest hug and didnt let go. She even said I just dont know what to say. You see, theres more to this than Joanne jsut being there with me......she must have seen me sometime before and during the beginning of the service and knew I mite be having a bad nite....she was watching out for me.....I finally went back to my seat and thought about that the rest of the nite.....Joanne knows she cant take mypain away, but she just came to be there with me and hold me up....Miss Joanne I hope your reading this because I wouldnt be able to say all this to you without crying.....I love you and I thank you for having my back....
One more short note and I will be done......Jacob Berry is another one who's actions have left a mark on me. We saw Jacob at Camp Meeting in Seffner about a month ago. FOr those of you who dont know Jacob he is an evangelist you can check out his website at Jacob Berry Ministries. Jacob is in a wheelchair and has been on a respirator his entire 22 years of life. Jacob knows our story and Jessi was privileged to hear him preach. While at the camp meeting, Jacob asked us if we wanted to go eat after the service. We told him we would get with him after service and let him know.....As we went and sat down I remembered Pastor Chris mentioned at the last Youth Retreat that Jacob had never tasted a cheeseburger, or ate food like we do. So you see, Jacob didn't want to go eat with us, he just want to be with us.

Again, actions speak much louder that words.........There are alot of friends and some family who have surprised me by doing just the opposite. I have not heard from some at all.....Not a text, email, phone call. Nothing. I don't understand this. Friends don't let friends grieve alone......There may be days that I don't return your text, and Im sorry for that. Sometimes its easier to just pretend things are different. But be assured I listen to every message I get and read them all. They always put a smile on my face.

Wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. James 1:19

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sleep Overs.....Lunches.....Jessi's Friends..........Priceless Therapy.

Well friends for all of you that follow my blog I have not deserted this site and will continue to post I just took a little sabatical for awhile. I truly have been wanting to post but the entries would have been more on the sadder side and I don't always like to journal when my mood mode is in the sad status.
I have ALOT to say but will break it up in separate entries because all the topics would take a while and I like to keep the topics seperate and I also want to hold your attention and not ramble from one story to another.

The title of this entry kinda explains itself. Everything good is summed up in it.

I'm really thankful for some of Jessi's closest friends and also that she had shared with us who they where. Some of them I know better than others and that is only because of time spent with each of them. However, I'm learning more about them each day and also being privileged enough for them to share some things about Jessi that parents don't always see. Another side of your child from a friends perspective is actually kinda cool as they experienced a different side of Jessi then I did as her mom.

I love all of Jessi's friends but they all represent a little something different, therefore each one of them has a significant part in my healing process. They each hold a very unique spot in my heart.

Sleepovers are just that. Something everyone of us has done as a child and sometimes even as a grown up. Well, almost every weekend for over the last 2 years Jessi would either spend the night with Hannah or Hannah would spend the night with Jessi. They where pretty much together every weekend. Believe it or not, Jessi didn't spend the night at other peoples houses. I think there was only one time since we moved to Georgia that I allowed her to go to a friends house. I always wanted to protect her, so in order to spend the night at someones house I had to really know the family or it wasnt gonna happen. Hannah just happens to be one of those families that Jess could stay with anytime. I know the family. I knew she was safe with Hannah. The real reason I mentioned sleepover was because Jess's friend Hannah has stayed over our house several times since Jessi has been gone. I think that is pretty huge for a 15 year old. Imagine it.....just for one minute.....goin to your best friends house, without your best friend there. I honestly don't know if I could do it. Especially at 15. Hannah seems to handle it pretty well. It's actually a pretty mellow nite. We mostly just watch a movie and spend time together. Let me just tell you, it is hard to hold back the tears. I not only have grief for myself but I also have alot for Hannah. It's hard to find a good friend. That goes for when your an adult also. Knowing that she could be doing alot of other things she comes and spends time with us. Just like the many many trips she made to the hospital and all the sleepovers there. I'm so grateful for this, but I also know not to expect or be dissappointed if Hannah chooses not to come when I invite her. My heart breaks for what she has lost. I just hope in some way that we help her as much as her visits help us.

This past Monday we went to Jessi's school and brought lunch to 3 of her friends. Kennetha, Olivia and Baria. All different. I took the recommendation on one of my FB posts one day. I had made the comment that I should be packing Jessi's lunch and taking her to school and a comment was made that I should go to the school and have lunch with some of Jess's friends. I took the advice and it has turned out to be a real blessing. Jessi had a good mix of friends. Kennetha, well she is pretty quite but always has a smile on her face, Olivia a little more talkative with the sweetest personality and Baria who talks alot (which I love!) and always always makes me laugh! I marvel at the vast difference in the personalities of Jess's closest friends. I know that it can be hard on them too spending time with us because we are a reminder of what was for them and lunch can be hard because Jessi is the topic of most discussions at lunch. Imagine that......I also have had to catch myself many times during lunch not to break down in tears. It is hard to go to that school. I just look around and try to grasp the fact and reality she is not ever gone walk the halls of that school again. And it's hard to see young people hurt and there is nothing you can do to change things. At least in this instance.......

Many people have mentioned to me that I should look into going to professional counseling..........I have different thoughts about that......I came to the conclusion that I would consider it maybe if the Counselor had lost a child or possible lost thier only child. I certainly dont intend to get advice from someone on how I should feel or how long I should grieve that hasnt worn the shoes I now wear. It is an experience that unfortunately has to be lived before it can be understood. I know that because I am living it.

The best counseling has come from unexpected people. Who unbeknownst to them has helped me make it through one more day.

So as far as Priceless Therapy......spending time with Jessi's friends is just that. It is a way to remember her and share happy times, be able to laugh about silly stuff she did, a time to cry too. I'm just thankful that Jessi's friends think enuff of us to even want to share some time with us.

If they only knew really the depth of what it means to me and Jess's dad.

The Sleepovers, Lunches and Jessi's Friends have been the best Therapy.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shrapnel on the Heart

My intended journal entry changed at the last minute......I will eventually add it to this blog but something wasn't right about me posting the particular entry I was planning on doing.

As I was reading a book the other day a word in it caught my attention. The word is "Shrapnel". Most people associate that word with the military and bombs.

The actual definition is "Fragments from an exloded artillery shell, mine or bomb.

So you ask "How does this relate to anything about Jess?" Well I'm glad you asked.

On June 26, 2010 a mine went off in our family. It scattered shrapnel on our lives but only so far.....

On Novemeber 25, 2010 a bomb followed and this time the shrapnel went everywhere.
The bigger the bomb the bigger the damage. The bigger the bomb the more shrapnel.

I will warn you if you dont wanna be sad at the moment then dont read this. I have just had a kinda sad day and this is what I feel like writing. No day really is every filled with great joy. I think of Jessi probly every minute of every day. Its just part of this whole process. People always say that the grieving will get better as time goes on. Maybe......I tend to think that it wont really get easier, it is a matter of coping with the grief that is what will get easier because the grief will always be there. Some days alot and some days a little. You can't take part of who you are and never totally miss it. Jessi is part of who I was and so therefore part of me will always be missing. Forever.

So like artillery shrapnel that explodes that is what happened November 25.....Jessi's death left shrapnel everywhere. Many of us did not expect this outcome. I know I am one of them. Alot of us are left wondering how could this be? I wish I knew, I ask myself that everyday. I did learn something though from shrapnel. As much as it hurts it also it leaves scars to never forget what happened. Jessi left shrapnel that really really hurts. At times so much its almost unbearable. Like for instance when I go to the store there are pieces of it everywhere. Things the average person would never consider. We went to Best Buy today and even that store is hard to go into anymore. Jessi always wanted a mini frig in her bedroom. Way before cancer and hospital stays. But when she wound up in the hospital she wanted a mini frig in her hospital room. We never did get her one. So today we saw them at Best Buy......And of course IPod accessories.....Rock Band.....and the list goes on. I was at Panera Bread and Jess loved smoothies, well I have a reward card and the cashier informs me I have a free smoothie on my card wood I like one....Smoothies don't sound so good to me anymore...Racetrack Gas stations for icee's which where her favorites....It's hard to drink those too...
Thats the painful shrapnel that is hard to deal with. It is literaly scattered everywhere and appears when I least expect it and usually with no time to prepare for it as I never see it coming. The kind that brings you to tears right in the middle of the store.

But then there is the shrapnel that gets left on my heart. Kinda like Jess's best friend Hannah, someone I love dearly and think the world of. The same Hannah who spent most of her summer at the hospital with Jessi when she didnt have a game. And tried to come and spend every weekend she could when school started..........Jessi's wantand desire
to spread the Love at Christmas to give to others......the messages I get from her school frends about how much she changed in their lives......the youth room dedicated to her.......youth fundraisers at church in her memory........prayers for me and her dad.......stories about Jess that I didnt know about her......There is so much.....All these good things are what's putting my heart back together piece by tiny piece. There will always be one piece missing. Kinda the same result when a bomb explodes, there is no way you would ever find every piece and put it back together. You just have to do the best you can with what u have to work with. And hope it works..........

And old Nursery Rhyme that everyone knows is:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the Kings Horses and all the Kings Men
Could not put Humpty together again

Yea so sometimes I feel like Humpty Dumpty, sometimes I don't. Tomorrow is a new day. None of us know what the future holds. None of us.

I just hope and pray tomorrow is a day for Shrapnel on the Heart........

But the Lord said onto Samuel, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the Heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Monday, January 10, 2011

"There are no Re Do's"

Those are the words I remember in a converstion I had with a very very close friend of mine a day or so after Jessi was called Home.

These words have resonated in my head since then. They are incredibly true. That goes for good times and bad. You can't Re Do either. So I think back as I write this how many things I would Re Do if given that option.......My mind draws a blank. I realiize there isn't anything I would want to Re Do in my life. Initially when Jessi passed, I, like most parents start to think of things I should maybe have done differently or maybe done more. But the truth is there really isn't any more Bud or I could do for Jessi. She had a Great Life! She got to go to many places and see and do many things. Even as a baby 17 days old we went to the Swamp Buggy Races in Naples Florida, she won some gift for being the youngest person at the event. Jessi went on 2 cruises before 3rd grade which included destinations such as Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico. She flew on a plane. Lived on an Island for 9 years and was born in Key West Florida, The Southern Most City in the United States. We traveled 2x a year back to the Florida Keys where we used to live. She went to the hills and hollers of Kentucky where a big part of her family is from to be a part of several family reunions. We spent a wonderful summer in 2009 at Myrtle Beach with my very fabulous brother and his family boogie boarding, swimming, playing board games and she even brought along her friend Ashley. Jess went skiing last January with the youth from church in North Carolina. This past summer she had the very best vacation ever in Panama City Beach with her best friend Hannah. We bowled, skated, camped, hiked, biked went horseback riding. You name it and Jess pretty much did it.

I look back on our timeline since Jessi's birth, I know that God has been directing us because in 2007 we decided to move to Georgia. For a few reasons. One, we wanted a simpler life and for Jess to experience more things. Little did we know at that time God was preparing us for this very time. I believe that with all my heart. He sure knew what He was doing. In the 5 years we have been in Georgia we have made a tremendous amount of friends and got in involved in a Vibrant Spirit Filled Church. I know are relocation was in preparation for Jessi's illness. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend the entire time with Jessi during her stays in the hospital, 4-6 week stays at a time, from June through November, 24 hours a day. Then, we where home between hospital stays we where always together. Valuable, priceless time. Not something you can Re Do. Especially now.

My sadness and grief now are for all the things Jess will miss. I see things everyday. Knowing the things she wanted to do and accomplish. That is a very hard thing to grasp. She had her heart set on a teacup chihauha and in October she was actively looking on the internet to find breeders. She had one all picked out. So, when I see chiahuahas , it saddens me that Jess wasnt able to fullfill that desire. She was wonderful with animals. Theres alot more things but I won't go on because I get a sad ache in my heart when I start to think about these things. I'm trying to teach myself to look at all the good and remember how Jessi just laughed about everything and did not take anything seriously. Her Dad always called her "Mikey" from the American Choppers show. She was definatley a Mikey. I smile now as I write this because that is a great memory....

But, back to Re Do's........If you could Re Do something in your life would you? Could you? If you can I suggest you not wait and do it. Escpecially if it is Re Do Able, and you have the opportunity, many things are not.

My life with Jessi is not Re Do Able. But I am learning to try and accept the fact the my life, and what's left of it, is Do Able....So much so that I will make this statment....

One of our band members from church, Billy Garrett, sings this song "I'll Go, I'll Do, I'll Be. The words go like this " I'll go where You want me to go, I'll do what You want me to do, I'll be what You want me to be, I'll Go I'll Do I'll Be. It's a song about God, and it's my song to God.

So God.......Here I am....Take me as You find me, my only way to get through life is with You, I'm asking You to use me for Your Glory. Guide me and lead me to do what it is you will have me do. I'm ready...........

And all the people said............ "Amen"

Monday, January 3, 2011

Open Windows........

On Jessi's first visit to the Dr. she had the biggest compliment about her eyes. That would be the beginning of many many references to Jessi's eyes through out her life.
They say the "Eyes are the Windows to your Soul" I so believe that. Now more than ever.
Jessi didn't have one color to her eyes. I had always wondered when she would get her drivers license what we would list as her eye color. Let's see.......brown,silver,grean,blue,hazel.......you name it the colors where there. That very first Dr's visit in Key West Florida in October 1996 her Dr. said this child has like seven different colors to her eyes. The dr then handed me the thing you look into the eyes with and I saw how very right she was.
I can't help but believe that was part of who Jessi really was.....Not all of us have many different colors to our eyes. Mine are blue, her dads are hazel.........Most people have brown eyes.
Several weeks back our youth leader called and wanted to know the color of Jessi's eyes. I couldnt list just one color....Our church dedicated the youth room in memory of Jessi (how I hate that word memory!) and painted a character of her, they gave her blue eyes which is fine with me because alot of times of course depending on the color of clothes she wore some colors would show up more.
So many times during around journey in and out of the hospital just about everyday someone would compliment Jessi on her beautiful eyes.

I say this probly cause I'm her mom but I believe that her beautiful eyes where just the beginning of what was really inside of Jessi. The eyes where the beginning. Kinda like the Prologue in a book......And as you read the book, if it was really good, you couldnt put it down and each chapter just got better and better. And you didn't want the book to end it was good you wanted it to go on forever, or maybe there would be book 2.

Unfortunately in life there is an ending and there will be no book 2 or 3....

I wish this whole ordeal was a book, and I could put it down, and be done with it. Because this isn't one of those good reads. But every night I go to bed thinking I have to get up and do this all over again.

Then morning comes (or mourning)........The sun comes up and the day starts. The days are very long.

Jessi's book never got finshed........her story wasn't over.....it was just beginning.

Some days are more bearable than others.......today is an unbearable day...