Monday, August 29, 2016

Back to School...Should Have Been

This should be an entirely different picture.

But it is just this

...and honestly, it freaking sucks...worse than anything could possibly suck, and then sucks a whole lot more. All day everyday, not just the first day of school. But these times that really push the "should have been" to the forefront, there just are no words to describe the heart and soul ache.
Too many families are dealing with this as their 'welcome back to school', and that all-day-everyday ache. Too many kids are having to put up the fight for their lives.

Stay with me for a few minutes. September is #ChildhoodCancerAwareness month. It's the month we #goGOLD for the kids who are forced to grow up faster than they should, and be forced to think about things that they should not have to think about at a young age...the kids who will N.E.V.E.R have normal lives. Even when they achieve remission, or even experience a joyous cancer-free status, the thought of relapse is always lurking in their minds. They wait with bated breath for good news at every check-up. The fight is never over. The roller coaster never ends.

The reality is that nationally, about 46 kids will get a cancer diagnosis today. Just today alone. About 46 will get a cancer diagnosis tomorrow, and the day after that too. Imagine about 2 entire classrooms of children, all with cancer just diagnosed today. On September 13, 2012, there were about 46 kids who were diagnosed with cancer. My son was one of those 46. Before September 13, 2012, I really didn't think much about children's cancer. Maybe you don't think much about it either.

I would have never believed that my happy, healthy, super athletic son would be diagnosed with the "most curable kind" of leukemia at age 11, then relapse still on treatment at age 14, and die less than a year later. Across the world today, about 250 kids will die from cancer, and about 250 will die from cancer tomorrow. Did you read that...did you absorb that? Two hundred and fifty kids will DIE today from cancer. Childhood cancer isn't cute, smiling bald-headed children who get to do fun things with celebrities or have Disney vacations. It's UGLY. It's horrid. It's lost hair, lost weight, lost muscle mass, it's feelings of shame, of being different, not fitting in, missed friends, missed school, missed sports, missed important milestones, handfuls of pills, shots, and more shots...the kind that go deep and the liquid burns into your legs, surgeries, ports, anesthesia, spinal chemo, bone marrow sucked out of a needle that was drilled into your hip bone, blood tests and more blood tests, scans, x-rays, wearing a mask for your own protection, lowered immune system, fevers, more overnights in the hospital, chemo infusions, radiation, miles and miles getting to and from treatment, nights upon nights away from your own bed, constant beeping, trouble sleeping, nightmares, worry, wondering if this thing is going to kill you....that's what is REAL to these kids. This is their life, and most of the time, it's a short life.

I challenge you to think about #ChildhoodCancer at least for this upcoming month, and put those thoughts into action. Do something to make a difference for these kids. Please.

#BJStrong #CureForBJRound2 #MollysKids #ChildhoodLeukemia #PediatricCancerAwareness #TheTruth365

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One Decision. The Beginning of the End...One Year Ago

One year ago today, BJ had a normal monthly chemo infusion visit to Levine Pediatric Hematology Oncology clinic. On the way there, we talked about how exciting it was to be down to single digit clinic visits until the marked end of treatment (1/4/2016). It had been a long road and we were finally beginning to see the end! When his blood results came back, we were blown away with the news that his leukemia had relapsed, and was now showing up in his blood stream. That meant that his bone marrow was full enough of leukemia cells that they were now spilling out of his marrow into his blood. After the initial shock, the crying, the "no!!", the "why???", BJ accepted his new battle with utmost grace and bravery. Because of his strong faith, he knew God was in control and he took solace in that confidence.
Another Sunday marks another week of this new existence. BJ has been gone for 11 weeks today. 11 weeks ago we watched the traumatic end and heard the last gurgling breaths he took on this earth, and the silence that followed. He fought hard to the very end, until his soul was snatched out of his body and he immediately saw Jesus face to face. I can just hear Jesus tell him "Well done", and see BJ's contagious smile and twinkle in his blue eyes as he delights in the One who loves him the most.
We grieve for BJ, and it is sometimes overwhelming, but it is grief with hope... Knowing that he's just on the other side and we will have that joyful, ecstatic reunion one day.
What matters most in this world is one decision you make...whether or not you choose to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. (1 John 5:12-13) 

I know BJ would say, "I hope you make the right decision."

Friday, May 13, 2016

Knocked Down - Grief 68 days

The crashing wave of grief. It's so torturously random. It doesn't care when it just does. Just driving to pick up my daughter and her friends from school, it sneaked up on me and I physically felt knocked to my knees, nauseated, and struggled to hold back the rush of tears I knew were coming. I'd been having a pretty strong day. Until now. Now I just want to scream at the sky and shake my fists. I WANT MY SON BACK!! I want to see him, and hug him, and hold his face in my hands and look into those beautiful blue eyes again, and see the other half of my entire world there. I want to curl up in the corner and stay until this nightmare is over. I want to run to where he is...I want to find him and be there. I want more conversations and meals with him, more vacations with him, more moments of pride in his accomplishments, more dirty laundry piling up in his room, and damp towels on the floor and places to take him, and more wisdom to give him, more everything that should be and now isn't.

It's a struggle at times like this just to breathe. That's no exaggeration. The wind is gone from my lungs and I struggle to fill it back up. Who am I kidding anyway...I'm empty. I poured everything into BJ, and what I had left was dripped into Carly. There's no space in me that doesn't need to be filled.




Monday, May 9, 2016

BJ, Carly, and Mother's Day 2016

BJ was a good big brother. And like a good big brother, he was the only one who could pick on his little sister. A couple years ago, he went down the street in big brother style, to have a talk with a kid who was being mean to Carly on the school bus. That boy never picked on Carly again. BJ was always easy-going, but also he was always so tall, not many wanted to test him. From his first day of school until his last, he was always one of the tallest kids in his classes. As he got older, he became more and more protective. He didn't like to see bullying or kids being mean to other kids. He stood up for many people over the years. He stood up for his little sister, too, but he loved to pick on her. He would jump out and scare her at any opportunity, pour ice cold water over the shower curtain on her, take pictures of her sleeping with her mouth open in the car, and talk her into participating in various shenanigans (like riding a wagon down the driveway). Whatever he came up with, she followed. He laughed at her 'old soul' personality, and occasionally called her "Gladys" because of it. He secretly adored her, and he was her big brother and very best friend. BJ gave Carly a special gift during those 90 days in the hospital. The gift of time together. He asked her to teach him how to crochet. That's something she loves to do, and he knew that's how he could spend quality time with her. I remember sitting there watching the two of them working together... BJ getting frustrated with the hook and how to hold the yarn, and commenting on how Carly made it look so easy. Carly was so happy and proud that she was teaching her brother something, and he was smiling and happy with knowing he was making her happy. She taught him how to do to a chain and a single crochet stitch, and he started making a scarf. He never got around to finishing it, so Carly did it for him. She gave me the scarf for Mother's day...a gift from her and BJ. heart emoticon heart emoticon heart emoticon
I hope Mother's day was good for all the moms out there...moms who have their children here, and moms who also carry this unimaginable pain. I was blessed with 15 years of being the best mom I could possibly be to BJ, and I am thankful for every single minute. Cancer didn't take away our love. It's still there, as strong as it ever was. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

All Things. All Things. All Things.

"My life is but a weaving, between the Lord and me; I cannot choose the colors. He worketh steadily. Oft times, He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride, forget He sees the upper and I the underside. Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly, shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why the dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skillful hand, as the threads of gold and silver, in the pattern He has planned." - Anonymous
“God works all things together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
"There will be good that comes from this" - BJ

Monday, April 4, 2016

29 days Empty

It's just that....emptiness everywhere.


Empty bedroom.

Empty laundry basket.

Empty place at the table.

Empty spot on the couch.

Empty arms.

HUGE empty hole in my heart.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"It's My Honor"

4 weeks ago today....BJ crossed to the heavenly realm. 
I wanted to share a story with you. My sister-in-law came by on BJ's birthday to drop off some things and she had a few minutes to just talk to BJ. During their conversation, she told him 'thank you BJ, for letting God use you to shine His light to the world'.
BJ responded with "It's my honor".
My sweet, loving son...warrior against cancer.... Warrior for God.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

What's the Plan?!

He didn't save BJ. He didn't heal him in the way we thought He would, or even thought He should.

It's been 3 weeks now. I've never been so broken or felt so lost. I've been sad, and distraught, and solemn and sullen. I've had fleeting moments of laughter with no tears, and laughter through tears. I've felt absolutely crushed at the realization that this is my life. What kind of life will it be now? Will this pain ever lessen? Will there ever be a day that goes by that some reminder doesn't open the free fall of tears?

With Easter coming, and thinking about Jesus' death, and that BJ is with Him now. Some thoughts came to mind...
Jesus went to the cross. He suffered excruciating pain, he felt ALL of our sins (past, present and future), and he felt the loneliness, the isolation from his father. He was mocked, and spat on. He was crushed, he was pierced, he was brutally beaten. Spikes were driven into his hands and feet. He was God...He could have saved himself from that pain. He didn't. He went willingly. He knew there was a plan, a reason for his suffering. No one else knew. His mother didn't know of this plan while she was watching her son hang on a cross, in so much pain and anguish. I can only imagine how she felt, maybe as I felt watching my own child suffer, and take his last breaths as I screamed and cried and begged him not to leave me.

But Jesus didn't save himself from the cross...He knew He was going there, and He knew why. He knew the plan. No one else knew, but He did. We know that plan now. We know that Jesus died in our place. He died so that we may have life after our own death. He died so that death would no longer have victory. Satan will never win. What beauty in's called love. Because God SO loved the world, he sent his very own son to die so that when we believe in Him, we would live with Him forever.

God didn't save BJ from cancer...He knows why. He knows the plan. No one else knows, but He does. There will be good that comes from this, because that is promised to those who love Him. BJ loved Jesus. I know that BJ is with Jesus right now...cancer free, pain free and no longer fighting to live.

Wandering 3 Weeks

Three weeks ago today, BJ left us. For three eternal weeks, we've been trying to find our way through each day without him. We fought a long, tough battle side by side and the abrupt end of it has left us lost. We put our complete faith in God that BJ would be healed. With faith like that, there was no room for doubt. BJ shared that faith. His faith was wide open. He wanted to be healed, and live his life, but he also had room in his heart that God's plan was good, whatever the outcome for himself. In his words... "It is whatever it is."
I found a note on his computer, written January 27th. It was going to be a video for his facebook followers. "Hey everyone it's BJ! I just wanted to say Thank You So Much for all the continued prayers. I have shocked the doctors and I truly rely on GOD through all this and trust in him to take my hand and guide me through this. GOD has a plan for me and for every person on this earth. It may not be what we expect but in the end there will be some good to come out of it."
As inconceivable to us as this is, there was a reason that BJ wasn't healed here on Earth, and we still know that God's plan is good. Ultimately, BJ was right. There will be some good to come out of it. There already has been good realized through his fight, through his determination and immoveable faith in God. BJ made an impact in lives across the country. He challenged strangers to face their obstacles and live without complaint. He pushed people who followed his story to be ‪#‎BJStrong‬!
One more thing is for certain...cancer has poked a momma bear and a sister bear. This 'most curable' leukemia that with standard chemotherapy protocols just wasn't "curable, curable, curable"...Take notice...a warrior mom and a brilliant little warrior sister are coming for you. BJ's story is far from over. He didn't lose his fight. He passed the baton to two more-than-willing and able teammates, who are fueled by the unconditional, never-ending love of an incredible 15 year old boy who made a difference and never gave up.
With this 3rd week being Easter Sunday, we remember Christ's death and resurrection. We are thankful for our risen Savior, Jesus Christ, and because of Him, we know we will see BJ again. We know that BJ is in the presence of Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:8) He took BJ by the hand and ushered him into Paradise. Our faith will remain strong...why would we ever push away from the One who BJ is with?
I invite you to comment or message this page with stories of BJ...a fond memory of him, or simply how he impacted your life. Carly and I take great comfort in hearing these remembrances. Thank you for the cards and letters. We appreciate all your thoughts and prayers.