"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase"

Martin Luther King, Jr.



Monday, September 4, 2017

Time Stands Still



There's an internal clock within me that knows exactly what time it is. I feel what I felt 2 years ago and my heart still aches, I can't breathe as I blankly stare into the space ahead.

Two years ago I was in Illinois spending my last days with Mom. I'm counting down the days until September 21st, it was 2 years ago I held my breath every single day of this month waiting for what we never wanted to come.

I can talk for days and days about the happy memories and how hard Mom fought for her life for so long and how happy and positive she always was. Today and the days to come I'm still grieving her loss and I don't feel like expressing any postcard sympathies or future happiness to look forward to.  Today I'm simply missing my Mom, even more so than most other days.  So the countdown begins and my heart aches and that's all for now...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

In Her Words

September 21, 2016


Today is the 1 year remembrance of Mom's death.  I've shared many photos and thoughts on my personal Instagram and Facebook, but the Blog was so important to Mom.  It needed to be updated, especially today.  I promised myself that I would not stop and eventually turn it into how we all cope and "Kerry On."

Last night I was in Mom's email account cleaning out the junk mail and came across a few special gems in her banking folder that had been misfiled.  These emails were between her and Kylie from April 2015.  Mom was helping assist with a psychology project to interview someone who had to adjust to an illness or chronic condition.  Kylie asked several wonderful but difficult questions; which allowed Mom to really think and express her situation in her own written words.  I love reading things from Mom and I hope you enjoy this also.  It's obviously very special because you can see where she was mentally and emotionally just 5 months before her death.  She shall never cease to amaze me!  I've complied several of my favorite parts below.  I would also love to see Kylie's actual paper one day because I'm sure it's very beautifully done!




During these seven years my rewards as a mother have been more than one could ever imagine. My children have been "the wind beneath my wings" to put it lightly. The most supportive loving family any mother could ever ask for. From graduations, to marriage, to grandchildren, to new careers, new homes, I have seen them grow into wonderful caring adults. And my granddaughter grow from just a child to a beautiful young lady.  

Reaction from others is always very encouraging and heartwarming. I have had such a wonderful group of friends and of course my loving family supporting me through all these years of fighting. Cancer has changed my life and the way I view the world...
I think maybe the biggest thing I see is how much people take for granted their life, many don't see how each day is so precious. It's through situations like mine that you really appreciate what you have and not want for the materialistic or self centered desires. Cancer in a way has been a gift to me and my family, to open our eyes to the importance of love and friendship. It's brought us closer to God and prayer for support. Most of all to appreciate how greatly we've been blessed and to just breathe that in and embrace it every day!

It's been a hard thing to think about goals and future when you've been giving a diagnosis like mine. However I have found that you have to live each day to the fullest, enjoy every moment and live as though you are going to live forever, cause if you think you have no future you would go crazy!
We always try to have a goal of some activity or fun thing to do. Whether it be a family vacation, a weekend get away, planning a party or wedding, something to focus on and look forward to.

I pray a lot and I try to stay as positive as possible, keep a smile on my face, because if today does happens to be my last day I would want to be happy one!


Love Kerry



Sunday, September 4, 2016

Memory Lane


It's been so many months since I've written here. I used to make sure to update the Blog monthly, but times have changed. I can't believe we're approaching the 1 year anniversary of Mom's death. Honestly it's completely surreal and only feels like a few months have gone by. I can't say it's been a super "happy" almost-year but we are all trying very hard to smile, stay positive, enjoy life, etc. We've had happy times such as family time together and especially the birth of our newest nephew. The hardest part is that we all just miss her so much. Life is not the same without her.

I've been accused of being mean and depressed. I've frustrated people with my occasional moments of grief and sadness and I've lost some friends along the way. It's unfortunate that people don't see it and they can't understand; because everyone deals with loss of a loved one differently. I am clearly occasionally still sad. My heart swells up and I get that feeling to pick up the phone and call her. No one can tell you how to deal with this. Everyone is different. It's not fair for anyone to expect me to deal with this great loss how "they think" I should. I know that Mom would want me to be happy and enjoy life and celebrate joy in her memory. I know that I will get there one day, but it's way too early for me to feel that way. It's all part of the healing process.

The way I cope right now is to live in "Memory Lane". The family and friends who follow my Instagram have seen it more than anyone. I like to look back at photos and place them in the present thinking back to that time. I remember how it felt and all of the details. I'm just wired this way and I always have been. When I was younger dealing with sad moments I'd sit in my bedroom doing similar things, but probably listening to Mazzy Star and Mom would yell up the stairs "Why are you listening to that depressing music, go outside and do something!" So now when I'm feeling this way I go drive my Jeep outside and blast my music of choice as I grieve, heal and pray for comfort. On the outside I smile and do all that is expected of me, but sometimes inside it's a struggle. All I can do is Kerry ON! I do it with the help of my faith, amazing family and friends that understand and have stayed by my side.

Since Memory lane has been on my mind, I have a few Moments to share. Yesterday, September 2nd of 2015 - I was on a plane home for a long weekend that turned into a month and my last moments with Mom. I remember each day, especially looking at the photos. I remember the special moments I wanted to freeze in my mind and heart. I remember everyone's love and support to help us through each day of last September. Today, September 3rd of 1977 - my parents were married. Because two people loved each other, they started a journey which I am extremely grateful for my entire past and childhood. I love both of my parents more than one can imagine and think they are both amazing. I am so proud of who I have become and where I came from, especially of the growth life experience that still lay ahead.

I can't thank you enough for all of your continued love and support towards my family. Everyone has truly been super amazing and you know I love you... To the Moon!

Love & Hugs... Kerry ON!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

SMILE

video


The beautiful legacy which is our amazing Mother is certainly felt in each of our hearts and in all that we do each day.  She is so much a part of us and she always will be.  Remembering her grace and kindness warms our  hearts and our sweet memories bring smiles to our faces.  The occasional tears pour but we reach out to each other for comfort.  Our faith brings us hope and guides us through the difficult paths we face.  We have good and bad days.  We realize as time goes by that it's normal to grieve in our own individual way for as long as we need.  The outstanding part is that we are all doing really well considering the great loss we have been facing.  Mom wouldn't want us to be sad and she would want us to enjoy life just as she did!  Of course she knew more than anyone that sometimes that's easier said than done but we all continue to KERRY ON and Just Smile!

Love & Hugs,
The J's

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

90 days later

It's been 91 days since Momma passed away.  This has been the most difficult and challenging time of our lives; yet I can speak for my siblings when I express that everyone is handling this extreme loss, tremendously well!  I could not be more proud and I know Mom would be too!  She raised us with her grace, strength and faith.  

It's hard to express all of the emotions and changes we are dealing with.  At times it doesn't seem real and it's so hard to grasp that her death actually came after fighting SO hard for SO long!  How can we not be proud of her fight!  How can we not be at peace and find comfort in the fact that she's no longer suffering!  We have faith and hope in the promise that we will get to see her again and this helps get us through each day.  Having our siblings and family close to us also helps us cope.  Having such amazing and beautiful memories of her bring us smiles during our tears.  There are so many wonderful memories and because we were all close and special to Mom; these memories and joys will last us a very long time.  

She will never fade from our hearts, from our lives.  Mom will live on through us each day.  We will be strong and Kerry On just as she showed and demonstrated.

Thank you for all of your love and support during our healing and sadness.
We have greatly appreciated our family and friends during this time.
I'll continue to keep the blog updated when I feel it's right to share our journey.

Love to all, Kerry On!

{by Jess}


Monday, October 19, 2015

Through My Eyes

When I booked my ticket home to see Mom; I knew things were getting worse and her treatment options were changing rapidly.  I tried to prepare mentally for the journey ahead.  My sisters were hesitant to tell me just how bad things had been for Mom, but soon confirmed what I already feared.  One afternoon on the phone discussing my long weekend travel plans Jen suggested that I extend my stay as long as I could.  She confirmed the reality approaching and didn't want me to be surprised at Mom's weak and fragile condition.  With the support of my co-workers and amazing boss I was able to change a weekend trip to 11 days.  No one had any idea my visit would turn into a month or the loss that lay ahead.  It was a hard time to leave work.  My stress level was extremely high especially leaving Cory with Bailey's medication regiment and the list goes on.  However daunting the encouragement received from everyone in Arizona made it feel a little easier to get on the plane.  

I arrived in St. Louis September 2nd and was greeted by 2 long-time amazing friends from our local congregation.  They drove me almost 2 hours and then I finally got to see Momma.  It was a relief finally arriving and seeing her beautiful face again.  We've been so fortunate lately to have seen each other on a regular basis since my brothers wedding and the Franke girls trips to Arizona.  I felt right at home again in the comfort of her sweet little house surrounded by my family and near the street I grew up on.  My sister was right, it was hard at first to see Mom thinner than ever and not quite herself.  I could tell she was trying to be strong but I could see the fear and pain in her eyes.  Jen stayed the first night with me to help groove me into the routine again.  We've all been through caregiving before but never to this degree.  By the next morning I was ready to give my family a caregiving break and felt driven to begin my mission.  It warmed my heart to support my siblings and was nice to have them come over for visits with Mom and I.  

Through a private Facebook page Aunt Margie setup, we created a "Caring for Kerry" network with a few family members and close friends.  There we kept up with medicine, exercises, visiting nurses, grocery list items and the diary of Mom's progress and care.  It was a great help and support.  Very quickly after my arrival the meals started arriving each day.  I can't even describe how much these hot meals warmed our hearts and helped reduce stress.  More family came to visit and help support Mom.  Sadly though her condition was quickly getting worse but she carried on with the routine like a champ!  The pill pile was a huge task for Mom and even making sure she ate or drank enough during the day was a constant adventure.  I started to wonder which pills were actually helping and necessary.  I started to question the strange feeling of doping her with the strong pain medication and then pepping her up with the stimulant.  It just felt wrong, but I realized how important it was in managing the severity of her pain.  If we missed the stimulant she wasn't up for much but sleeping and eating, drinking and the pills had to happen!  

Soon the idea of having the physical therapist and occupational therapist come was the opposite direction of where Mom was headed.  This all became clear without a word between us.  Then one day during a nurses visit she asked what the treatment plan was and if Mom was going to have any radiation or chemotherapy.  Mom sweetly and softly told the nurse that she was done with those options.  Not necessarily by choice.  Anyone who knows Mom and her journey knows that she would have done more, if she could.  The clinical trial wasn't an option and the cancer spread beyond our control.  Since her initial diagnosis in 2008 Mom had been preparing us for this day.  She taught us that each day was a special gift.  She told us that her cancer was a monster and one day it would catch up with her no matter how hard she tried to run.  I know everyone can agree that Mom's fight with cancer has been the equivalent of a true Olympic Champion!  As Mom was talking to the nurse, I smiled and our eyes met as if we were in complete agreement.  This was no surprise.  I told the nurse that Mom's "new treatment plan" was fighting to get up each day and this was true.  I felt so extremely proud of her that feeling sad seemed selfish.  She has fought so hard for so long that it was clear she was going to finish her fight with "Grace and Tenacity!"  

It was after this eye opening visit we had our special talks.  Mom started to open up and share more about her wishes and we talked about life without her.  We cried and held each other; it was the most amazing yet difficult conversation in my life.  Days following I had many deep discussions with my siblings and family about Mom's choice and the reality that lay ahead.  Tears poured down my face when I called my boss to explain how I needed to stay longer and couldn't get on the plane yet.  He was so supportive and helped redirect my focus on being with Mom her final days. Hospice came quickly after and was a great help providing clarity with our goals and new treatment plan.  We reduced the medication only using the most important for pain and nerve control; but made sure the amount was just perfect for her to remain aware and conscious of her surroundings.  Mom's wishes were to control the pain, stay in her home, and go before winter.  She hated winter.  Among many other wishes such as the Celebration of Life and cremation.  Her most important goal was to make this as easy on her babies as possible.  She told us how proud she was of us and felt confident about our lives; "My chicks are all in a row!"  She knew that there was so need to worry too much but of course she knew we would miss her every single day of our lives.  Her love and legacy far outweigh the pain of seeing her suffer any longer.  There are no words to explain the loss we are feeling.  There's only comfort knowing that we will see her again!  The rest of my story will come later in pieces as we heal our hearts.  Perhaps it will help others one day; but it's also a way to share our love and express our sorrow.  Until the next time...

One day at a time and "Kerry On"
Love Jess

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bumble Bee

The Bumble Bee
Cannot Fly


According to laws
of aerodynamics
the bumble bee cannot fly;
Its body is too
heavy for its wings
and that's the simple
reason why.

But the bumble bee
doesn't know this fact,
and so it flies anyway
for all to see.
Remember this when you're
losing faith or hope
God's proof that the
impossible can be.

A.S. Waldrop