Wednesday, December 28, 2011

'Tis the Season

Christmas, and the upcoming new year have been tougher than I'd expected. I'm not sure what I expected, but it was good, and I thin it sucked because it was good.

 Robin always loved Christmas, I think because she enjoyed giving things to others so much. She really loved it after we had kids. When we were poor(er) we always made it a point to get stuff for the kids, usually at the cost of something for each other.
 When we were doing better, we did the same thing. Her delight in giving rubbed off on me too. It's just something she enjoyed. Even towards the end, as sick as she was, she wanted me to load up a visa shopping card so she could buy me a present, and I wouldn't see the receipt.

 Just another in the long list of things we never got to do.

 But I focused on the kids this Christmas. I got them the things they asked for. Through the generosity of a lot of people I work with, presents from a mysterious Santa arrived at the house. So the Christmas for the kids was pretty big this year.

 We talked a lot about the real meanings of Christmas, and Christ's Sacrifice. We also talked a lot about feelings and enjoying the Holidays, even without Robin around.

 I've been focusing on trying to be patient with the kids. I don't know how I could possibly do it without my Mother-in-law. I feel bad that we are such a burden, but she has been a real blessing.

 The biggest change I've noticed in myself lately, is that I'm praying less. I start to, and then the feelings creep in. Bitterness, anger, sadness, disbelief, others. The feelings wash over me. Sometimes I yell. Usually I cry. Then it's over. I tried to pray, but didn't get very far.

 What I do find myself doing is talking to Robin. She doesn't answer, but I imagine her there, listening to me. I tell her about the things the kids did, I tell her about the things I did at work. I tell her about the things I want to accomplish.

 Then I feel like an ass. All we wanted to do was grow old together, and be those cute, in love old people.

 But you can't always get what you want. All you can do is move on. I think once the Holidays are over, it will be easier to deal with it again. It hurts now though.

 Soon it will be a new year though, and it can't come soon enough.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

What a change from last year.

 Last year we were still figuring out her surgery, chemo schedule.

 This year, she's looking down on us from Heaven.

 I'm not sure how emotional it will be tomorrow, because Christmas was always Robin's favorite Holiday. We always managed to do it up pretty well, so I decided to carry that on this year.

 I focused on my children, because I wanted to show them we can still go on and enjoy it, and give to each other, even with it being so different. It will be rough, and I've been pretty depressed lately, but we are gonna make it through.

 I feel for all my friends deployed over Christmas, and all my friends who are going in to work tomorrow, instead of being with their families.

 The suck is still the suck, even if you are stateside.

 I'm sitting down to a little bit of Christmas cheer, and eventually sleep will come.
Tomorrow I'll enjoy my family, and I'll see what the future brings.

 2012 is going to be a better year, even if the world ends, or we have a zombie apocalypse.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

16 years. (1m10d)

 Today is the anniversary of my first date with Robin. It was in 1996. I don't think either of us knew what we were getting into. I certainly didn't

 Sixteen years later, after almost 12 years of Marriage, 3 beautiful children. After joy, pain, frustration, fear and sadness, I still love her.

 You never know what you are in for when you open your heart to someone. I found the love of my life.

 Too bad true happiness can never be in this world. True passion burns so hot that the gods become jealous and take it from us.

 That's the writer in me saying that, but it's true.

 Shakespeare agrees with me.

 I miss you honey. One hundred years wouldn't have been enough, so I can only be thankful for what we had.

 I'm sorry I took you to see Beavis and Butthead, but I was am, and will probably always be, a jackass.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thank You (1m5d)

 I have gotten to the point where I'm ready to sit down and start on my thank-you cards. I had started them several times before, but I never got very far. The emotions they brought up were just a little too much for me to sit there and go through them.

 Now, though, I think I'm ready. I'm at the point now where I am having a much easier time discussing things with people, and just talking about things, especially the Holidays is coming a lot easier.

 I think the scar tissue is growing, and I'm thankful for it. I still have moments. pretty much daily, but I accept them, let them happen and then move on.

 It's still the little things I miss most. The conversations, holding hands when we watch television, random hugs throughout the day. The little stuff like that. The one that usually gets the tears flowing is when something the kids do makes me laugh, and I want to tell her about it. Then I remember.

 All in all though, I think I'm doing well. I think the whole family is doing better. I've realized that I'm having a hard time reconciling things with God, mostly because it hurts that she had to suffer so much. I accepted that she was dying, so instead I prayed that she wouldn't suffer.

 But she did. It was the hardest thing I ever did to watch that and hold her hand and try to comfort her through it. In the end, I almost feel betrayed.

 I realize it's because I'm heartbroken. I wish she could have talked to me at the end. But that last day, all she could manage was: "I love you", "Amen", and a laugh. That still hurts, especially sine I miss talking with her pretty much more than anything.

 I'll get through it though. I still pray. I pray a lot. I'm not expecting answers, I'm just voicing my opinions and feelings. This too shall pass.

 The biggest thing I wanted to say today, hence the title, was thank you. I want to send out my heartfelt thanks for all the prayers and contributions and kind words of support. The biggest blessing through all this was the love that was shown to Robin, my family and I through all of this. That was the biggest impact.

 It is amazing, and humbling to have the amount of love poured out on us that we had. No thank you notes I can write will ever capture that, or even reach everyone who gave of themselves.

 So I figured saying thank you here, where so many of you discovered our struggle, is as good a start as any.

 Thank you all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One Month Out

 So far I have been doing well with slowing down on posting. I ended up taking a bit of a break from my writing to focus on Christmas and whatnot with the holidays coming up. That has worked out pretty well. I feel like I decompressed a bit, and I think I'm ready to start work on some of my bigger projects.

 A month out. I can hardly believe it.

 As much as we think, in those moments of pain and loss, that we will never move past it, we do. We might not actively move forward for some time, but time keeps moving on. The wheel continues to grind forward, pushed ever on by enseen hands, and those sharp seeds are crumbled down as it passes over and over in it's travel.

 You wake up one day and find that you can start taking steps again. I've been back to work a little over a week now, and that's going well. It is restoring that sense of normalcy I'd been looking for for so long. It's funny, but the hardest part of my day is when I walk out to the car and check my phone.

 I find that I'm expecting to see a message from Robin, but it isn't there, it won't be there. It usually take a moment for everything to register, and it does. There is that pang of sadness, like the one I'm having while I write this, but I usually just take a deep breath, and finish what I was doing.

 I keep getting asked at work why I'm back so soon. I look at the calendar, and it was almost a month before I came back. I had been off almost a month before she died as well. I guess what I'm saying, is to me, it felt like a much longer time. Add to that the sense of guilty relief that comes when someone who has been sick for a while passes on, and to me it felt like a lot longer stretch of time. It felt as if months passed.

 You might ask what I mean by guilty relief, but I can't think of a better way to put it. Robin was sick for a year, and I had to watch her slowly die. At the end, she had lost so much, and I knew it was a relief for her. It was a relief for us as well. But you feel guilty. You feel guilty for feeling glad that it's over. But in the end, you start to get rid of that guilt, when you realize that it's alright to have that sense of relief. It was a long, hard, painful road, but you are at the end of it. Your loved one isn't with you at the finish line, as they have moved off to the winner's circle, so you don't have them to share those feelings with.

 I think you have to embrace that feeling, and it's hard to do that. We can embrace it because of Hope. We can rest on that Hope, because we know are loved ones are waiting for us with God, and someday we will join them.

 Any of you who know me, know that I feel that faith is a very personal thing. It is between you and God, however you feel about Him. He is on the other side of the equation waiting on you to make a choice. No one can do it for you. That is your personal Faith. My Faith, and my inner strength, and the strength from Robin and my family and friends is what has carried me through this. Emotionally, it has been, and will be a rollercoaster. My Faith has stayed strong, though. I may have had questions, and anger, and hurt; I still do, and I'm sure I will for some time. But I still have my faith.

 If I didn't, I know I wouldn't be here now, writing still. I'd rather be with her, away from the pain, but like one of my friends told me: "Your story isn't done yet. You still have shit to do."

 So here we are, a month out. How do I feel about it? I'm still sad, but the wounds are beginning to scar over. I have a life to continue with, and a story to keep writing.

 I have a Christmas to make spectacular for my children. And their smiles and hugs and "I love you's" make it easier to keep going.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 20. Working through it, thoughts, etc.

 You might have noticed that I've been slowing down a little bit with this blog. I guess it's because I'm speeding up back in life now. I've been working on sorting through our room, sorting her clothes, and going through pictures and stuff.

 I've started to feel that writing this blog daily is causing me to dwell on things more. So, I think I'll move to a freer updating schedule on this, and get back to updating my other blog. If I could find a way to condense everything into one blog, that would probably solve the problem.

 I have a hard time not compartmentalizing things.

 I think it's the natural evolution of things. I am moving through my grief. Not that you ever move through it completely. It's open ended and there is no time frame. You learn how to live with it. Live in spite of it. It's a part of you, but instead of indulging it, you let the flare ups pass like smoke in a breeze.

 Like the rest of life, it is a dynamic process. It changes.

 So, I'm not sure where the road heads, but I have to look forward. I'll still always look back to remember, but the way lies ahead.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 17. Where to go from here.

 So yesterday was one of those days. Most of the day was decent, but like one of my friends told me a few weeks ago, it gets easier, but you have those moments that ambush you. I had a few of those, and they mostly come when I think about the future and everything we strove for.

 I'm glad we didn't put off a lot of things. I'm especially glad we took that day and went to the beach. I was looking at the pictures from that day again and remembering. It was one of the last really good days.

 Now, I'm looking at the good days that will come in the future. I don't know what it holds. What I do know is that I have my kids, and we will forge the path together.

 I'm gonna get my bike this spring. No sense putting it off. The kids and I are going to see more movies and do more cool things whenever we get the chance.

 This week I'm going to start going through Robin's clothes. That will be tough, but she was never one to hold on to things. We watched too many episodes of Hoarders. The things have memories attached to them, but the things aren't what is special. The memories are special. The memories will remain.

 When my new computer gets here, I'll have enough memory to put all the pictures back onto it, so I can start working through all of them. That will be an open ended process. Luckily, we took a lot of pictures during our life, so I will have a lot of things to save for the kids.

 So the memories will always be there. Now we start making some new memories.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 16. Metal Therapy

 So last night, I went with my buddy Jon to the Five Finger Death Punch show. Which is also why I'm posting it this morning as opposed to last night. I wan't sure if I was going to go to the show after Robin died. That took a lot of internal struggle for me to decide what I was going to do. In the end, i obviously decided to go, and I'm glad I did.

 Robin always liked concerts, and whenever I commented that there was a band I liked coming by, she always told me to get tickets. I wish we had gone to more concerts together. So I decided to go to the concert. I don't think that not doing things because of grief helps us move through it. I think it's ok to avoid certain things that might cause you too much grief to enjoy, or you might ruin it for everyone.

 I feel we all get to a point where you have to make the choice to actively live again. Going back to work, doing those things you enjoy doing. Doing those things you enjoyed together. Don't let grief become your excuse not to live.

 I missed Robin during the show, I know she would have thought it was too loud anyway, but I still missed her being there. It was an awesome show, and I'm glad I went.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 15. Figuring out the new normal

 So today I took the kids out to the movies. With Morgan being so little, it's always up in the air how it will go, but Muppets do a good job of keeping children entertained. And adults for that matter.

 We had a great time. It is still strange realizing that it is just the four of us now, but we enjoyed having the time together. I made me sad Robin wasn't there for Morgan's first movie, though I think she was watching us.

 I guess that is the thing about healing. You have to start living again, doing the things you like to do and trying your best to enjoy it again. It makes it easier for me, since I have my kids, and they were the real joy of our life together, so when I'm spending time with them, I see Robin in all of them.

 I know time won't heal it, but at least it will all scar over. The little ambushes of grief, I can really compare to moving too much with a fresh wound, and it opens up again. Eventually, it'll get better, but it'll hurt for a long time. It won't ever be perfect again, but the scar will be tougher and thicker than your old skin.

 So there's that.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 14. Thanksgiving Makes Two Weeks

 So, for the first holiday without Robin, and the two week mark at the same time, it wasn't terrible, all things considered.
 We opted for a smaller, immediate family meal instead of the huge meal her family usually does, and it was nice. It was quiet. Her absence was noted though. I found myself doing all the talking, and I missed her complimenting her mom and dad on how wonderful the food was.
 I took up some of the slack there, as did everyone else, but it wasn't the same. She was always so quick with a compliment, or words of encouragement. That's just how her spirit was.
 All in all, though, we enjoyed the day. We shared a good meal, had good memories, and enjoyed what we had. We still have much to be thankful for, and it is important to remember that.

 What I'm most thankful for, as I said yesterday, is that Robin is not in pain anymore. That in the reality, and the true horror of cancer. Watching your loved on suffer, waste away and then die.

 She had said toward the end that she was just so tired of the pain. That is the true joy of my heart that that part is over.

 Now I just have to start gearing up for Christmas, which was always her favorite holiday. She always loved giving gifts, and making people happy, so I think I'll enjoy carrying that on. I have to do all the shopping myself, but hey, I have to do a lot of things myself now.

 I'll figure it out as I go. It got me this far.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 13. The Holidays

 I think the holidays are going to be rough this year. This will be our first holiday without her. I'm still not quite sure how to feel about it. I'm sad that she's gone, and I'm going to miss her. At the same time, the kids love the holidays, and I'm sure that will take some of the edge off.

 I'm not sure how Thanksgiving will effect me. I'm not looking at it like I have nothing to be thankful for this year. I still have so much to be thankful for. I have my three amazing children, I have the rest of my family, I have my job. I have my friends. And I have every memory Robin and I had together.

 I'm thankful that she has no pain any more. I'm thankful for the good days we had in spite of sickness. I'm thankful for every day we had. Which, as I just discovered come out to:

5438 days from when we started dating in 1996 or
130512 Hours, spent together, thinking of being together. or
7830720 minutes. That seems like a lot of small moments that became something wonderful. Or,
469843200 Seconds, even though it will never seem like enough.

The total of our time as a couple was 14 years, 10 months and 21 days. We were married for 11 years, 5 months and 14 days. So the way I see it, just looking at the raw numbers, I have a lot to be thankful for. 

 And I have 3 really good things to be thankful for.

 I think Thanksgiving will be better than I thought.

 In retrospect, we were pretty upbeat last Thanksgiving too. 

"You have to enjoy every day, or you will wake up and find you don't have many left."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 12. A Gray Day

 Today was nothing but rain and gloom. That doesn't do much for your mood. Today wasn't bad though.

 I think is everyone is starting to get over their colds, and that is good. We got some of the normal cleaning done today.

 Logan had a good day at school, and Meg decided she will sign up to play trumpet in the band. Morgan, well, Morgan took 2 hours to put to bed tonight, but that was really a first for her, so I can let it go.

 Meg had a good night at the Dojo, and I'm glad to see her back in class. I think it's a good way for her to move through things, that and all the other good things it imparts on a person.

 I pointed out to Meg that one thing Robin wanted to do when she got better was to come watch her at the dojo. I think she got the chance to do that today. We cried a little, and hugged, and remembered better days.

 Remembering better days seems to make the current days better. It's easier to move ahead when you are smiling in spite of everything.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 11. Dredging up memories

 Today was one of the better days. One of my friends gave me a gentle reminder of where strength comes in our lives. Strong people carry the light internally, and Robin expected me to be strong and live on because it is the right thing to do. Not because I promised her, or anything else. I will survive because it is what I need to do.

 So I spent time working through all our picture filed on the computer, and I moved them to my external drive. I spent a lot of time looking through the older files I had already had stored. I found a lot of pictures of old Thanksgivings and Christmases and summer days from when we lived at Fort. Meade.

 It's amazing how looking through old pictures, and living in memories for a while will send you back to the moment when they happened. Looking back and seeing Meghan as a child, playing with her mommy.

 Seeing Logan as a baby with his mommy. Seeing Morgan from a few years ago.

 The memories are what can't be taken. They are part of the light that give me strength.

 I sometimes come dangerously close to depression. That comes from letting myself indulge in grief, instead of realizing it, accepting it and moving past. Grief is a natural expression of loss, and we should grieve. It's healthy. What isn't healthy is when we hit the point we can't get past, and it consumes us.

 Just like when I almost let my anger consume me, but I moved past it; I won't let my grief consume me. I will move past it. I will be strong for the children because it is the right thing to do. I will miss her, but I will live through this.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 10. Day to day

 Today was the first day I went back to my martial arts class since Robin passed. I think that was a good healing time for me. It was basically the first "normal" I have had in a while. The part that I'm desperately trying to get used to is the fact that I don't have her here, physically, to tell about my day.

 That is going to be the big adjustment. Robin and I were one of those couples that did everything together. Everything. Shopping, reading, gaming. I can only think of a handful of times we didn't go to bed at the same time, and a lot of that was work. I think we went to bed angry twice.

 That isn't to say we never fought. He had our rough times, several years of them in fact. The difference was, we pulled it together, grew up and made everything work. We remembered why we got married in the first place. I can truthfully say we loved each other to the end.

 All in all, today was a better day. The kids and I are adjusting to living our life as it is now. It will be a day to day thing, but I believe we will get through it. We don't have a choice.

 I will mourn her for a long time, but I'll be strong, because I promised her I would.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 9. Bittersweet Recognition

 So I got a call from our local newspaper, and it appears they have come across my blog through this. They want to interview me. So, this gives me another platform to get Robin's story out to the world. I don't miss the irony that I am getting recognition for writing what I never wanted to write, and the one person I wanted to share it all with is gone. Who the hell is writing my story? I always hated tragedies.

 Her story is ultimately the story of all women suffering with breast cancer, especially metaplastic breast cancer. I just read that another one of the young women in her Facebook Group is on hospice now. That's too soon. It breaks my heart to see it happening again.

 The normal treatments just don't work for MBC. I keep praying that some new ground will be broken, because so many young women run out of options well before they run out of hope. I know Robin did.

 I still expect her to text me, or call me, or message me to let me know to come pick her up from the hospital. Then it sinks in all over again. My nights are so empty and I hate going to bed.

 I do like it when Logan crawls into bed though. He doesn't want me to be lonely. I love my children, and they are why i'm still pressing on.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 8: Bittersweet Blessings

 Today I filled out some paperwork for work, and realized that 5 years ago, when I started at the prison, I must have been paying attention, since I listened and bought and maxed my family life insurance option. I didn't remember doing it, but obviously I did.

 The life insurance payment will pay off all of Robin's medical bills, and we will be completely out of debt. What sucks though, and as much of a blessing as that is; it was what we were aiming for.


 We had made so much progress before she got sick, and we kept up our progress during everything. We spent more wisely, we saved, we paid things off.

 I'm realizing all the things in life that I'd wanted to achieve in life that I am achieving are suddenly empty. We fought for these things to improve our life, and now that they are coming to fruition, it is just me.

 Victory feels empty alone.

 I woke up this morning with Logan in bed with me. He hasn't done that in a long time. He said, "I didn't want you to be all alone, so I got in bed with you."

 Robin and I have beautiful children. I miss her.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 7. One week

 This time last week, I was in shock.

 This time this week, I'm still in shock.

 Most of the time, it still doesn't seem real. Every time I come home from being home with the kids, there is part of me that expects her to be there. Like I'm just waiting for her. Well, I am, just on a longer scale.

 I've made it a point to start showing the little ones older pictures. Showing them their Mommy when she was healthy. I think filling my mind with those pictures, and those memories is helping a lot. I know she wanted us to remember her as healthy and vibrant, so I'm doing my best to do that.

 I really want to reinforce the kids memories of her, so I'm spending a lot of time in the videos and pics on the computer. The actual photo albums will come a little later.

 We picked her ashes up today, and that was very emotional. I know she isn't in there anymore, but I couldn't help it.

 At a week out, the pain comes and goes in severity. It is constant, but sometimes it is an ache in my heart. A resignation to the new truth of my life. Sometimes it swings over to utter despair, though, those are coming fewer.

 I'm being strong for the kids. I promised.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 6. Sorting Memories.

 Today, while I was out running errands, I felt I should go by our storage locker. I wasn't sure what I was looking for, but I stopped by. I sat down and started looking through all of our stuff. All our life together that we weren't currently using, and was kind of humbled that a lot of what we leave behind is just stuff. The chronicle of who we are can be boxed up and put in a room.

 So I sat down and looked. I found pictures from when we lived in California. Most of them were from a now Legendary Halloween party. I found some of Meghan's earliest days. I found pictures of us and the cats. We were so young, and so in love and that's all we wanted out of life.

 I found my book of poetry, and looked through it. Most of them were from high school and college. What a tortured young artist I was. Some of it is good, some of it not so. One of the last poems I wrote was to Robin. It seems my poetry stopped after I was happy.

 I also found one of Robin's journals from high school. It's funny the things you worry about when you are young. One thing she wrote struck me deeply. She wasn't worried about success or any other part of life. She just wanted us to be happy and together.

 I really think in our last two years together, we finally got it right. We truly enjoyed every moment. Even more so after she got sick.

 At the end of it all, every day we had, from all the way back to December 20th of 1996, every day was a blessing. Even the days when we were angry with each other, even the days we fought, they were all perfect. We fought for our love, and sorted our life out. It wasn't our idea to part.

 I can truthfully say we never stopped loving each other.

 Today was a better day. The grief hits at random moments. Putting away laundry. Driving. Making breakfast.

 I know this is going to hurt for a long time, but I promised Robin I would be strong. I will not lie down and curse God and die, though there was a time I wanted to. I will live, I will raise my children, because they are our legacy.

 I will live because I promised her I would.

 My only fear is I will live to be 100. It runs in my family, and that is too long to miss her.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 5. A little more healing.

 Today, I noticed that when I think of Robin, I haven't been thinking of her when she was sick.

 When I picture her in my minds eye, I remember her from when she was well. That makes me happy.

That's how I remember her. Vibrant, full of life, and happy. That's how she is going to stay in my heart.
Today I was uploading all our old phone micro-sd's to the computer, and I found a ton of videos that Robin had. That made me really happy, because I'd been trying to find something with her voice on it.

 And I have her laugh in a few videos.

 As much as it hurt, it was a good day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 4. A little healing

 Today was the best day that we've had since Robin died.

 When I put it bluntly like that, it really leaves damn near anything open. What I really meant was that so far, today was the first day anyone could really talk about anything without getting choked up and sobbing.

 Not that I didn't do my fair share of sobbing, especially when I picked up Lily's ashes and read the "Rainbow Bridge" poem they tucked in with it, and thought about her waiting when Robin got to heaven, and how happy that made me. And I got caught in a sunshower walking with her ashes back to the car. I think that was heaven letting me know all would be alright.

 The part that is hitting me the hardest now is thinking about the future. All the things she won't be here for. Our Honeymoon we were planning, since we never had one. Logan Losing his first tooth, Morgan going to kindergarten. Meghan going to prom.

 I don't want to experience all those alone. I believe she will be watching, but I can't hold her through those.

 I miss her so much.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 3. Regrets.

 I only have a few regrets from our married life. I regret our fights. I regret unkind words we said to one another. I regret the honeymoon we never got to take. I regret that Robin won't be with us for Logan losing his first tooth, or Meg's first boyfriend. Not that she'll ever date.

 I am bitter right now over what we will never have. I am bitter for the moments when my brain registers the fact that my wife is dead.

 I take solace in the fact that she is in heaven, but I miss her. I miss her a lot. I hardly recognize myself in the mirror. I see someone else's life, because it can't be my life. My wife was vibrant and full of life.

 I miss her.

I hope time dulls the pain. There has been so much pain lately. Joe, Andres' mom, Robin. What the hell is next? A zombie apocalypse? At least then I could deal with it. I know what to do then.

 Eventually, I will have to stop self-medicating. Alcohol is not a good long-term answer. But, for the short term, go with what you know.

 Semper Fi.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 2.

Picking up the pieces.

 That about sums it up. As much as this hurts, and as much as I miss her, it is like any tragedy. Like the floods this year. After everything calms down, and the waters recede, you survey the damage and start to rebuild. Like in all of this, life has to go on as much as we don't want it to. I still have kids to raise, and they need me more than ever now.

 We are so blessed that we have been up here with her parents, as they have been everything through all this. Originally, it was because we were going to be building. Then, after Robin got sick, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

 Now we can heal together.

 I took the kids to the park with my brother and his wife and kids, and that was a great afternoon. The kids always loved their time with their cousins, and I know Robin was watching us.

 Today was tough in spots. Some times I feel really strong, and then it will all come rushing back. My wife is dead. She is with God, and that makes me happy. I know she is indulging all her questions, and healthy, and watching us. But the fact she isn't with us hurts to much.

 The part that catches me the most is when the kids do something cute,  or when I see our bald eagle, I don't have anyone to tell it to. That's when it drives it home that she is truly gone for now.

 Though, I have to say that tonight, I got to sit down and talk with the kids about heaven, and sin, and salvation. Granted, Meghan is already saved and understands, but Logan is four and had some off the wall questions. I finished the night feeling uplifted and strong.

 I still miss her so much. You can't love that fiercely, and not hurt this deeply, but tonight was the first time since she died that I felt it would be alright after all. Some day, the trauma off all this will fade.

For now, I still see her everywhere and in the quiet parts of my day, I miss her profoundly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 1.5 a little extra

 The healing process is a series of small heartbreaks. None of them are as big as the first though. God gave us the blessing that our brains can't process it all at once, so it comes in smaller bits.

 When I put Logan to bed tonight, he asked, "When will it get back to normal?" I asked what he meant. Then, he asked "When will mommy come back from heaven?" And I cried. I cried and held him tight, trying to explain how you don't get to come back from heaven.

 "Can we go visit her in heaven then?" I told him I wished we could, but we can't. Then he asked me why we couldn't be with Mommy in heaven right now.

 I cried some more.

 Some times, I just don't have the answers. So I just held him tight.

Day 1.

This is where the healing begins. There is something in that. I cried a lot today.

 Our bedroom always seems cold to me now. I'm numb a lot.

 I hold it together when I have to, I am trying so hard to be brave for the kids.
 We dropped off a few of her things with the mortician, who turned out to be people we knew, so that helped some. I find myself talking to her pictures, and the mirror and the air a lot. I know she hears me though.

 We went out for dinner with my parents, and it hit me that it was just me and the kids now. Our 5 is down to 4. And I think that will take a long time to heal.

 I keep telling the kids that it's ok, because she's in heaven now. She's better now. It is becoming my mantra, and it reminds my why I could let her go.

 But we have gotten through today. I look at her face in all of our pictures. I folded up the letter she wrote me before I left for Parris Island, and put it back into my wallet, faded and stained with time. There are still kisses on it for me to go back to.

 I'm gonna miss her as hard as I loved her.

 For everyone asking about the services, we won't be doing anything to spring. Robin said she didn't want a funeral. She didn't want everyone moping around all sad. She wanted us to have a party, and celebrate her life. So that's what we're gonna do. She didn't want to be in the ground, so she if being cremated, and her dad is making her wooden urn, since I could hear her saying, "Dad could make that better." I think we all heard it.

 We are also setting up a fund for the kids college, so once it's set, I'll get that word out too.

 Thank you all for loving her and reading with me.
It won't be over.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"You Can Rest Now"

 This is the post I never wanted to write. I wanted to write a happy ending to this story, but I guess we don't always get those, do we? As Christians, we eventually get a happy ending, as we know we will meet our loved ones again, since they are resting in Christ.
 Right now, it's hard to take much solace in that, as my heart still aches for my wife. Tomorrow would have been one year since she was diagnosed. It took 364 days for that horrible disease, cancer, to take my beloved from a vibrant young mother to being home with our Savior.
 Today, I was thinking that only last week she was still sitting in the living room with us, and getting around to a certain extent. Two weeks ago, she was even out at our little get-together in the garage.

 Tonight, I go to sleep in an empty bed. A bed that my wife and best friend was in only hours ago. Tonight, I had to explain to my kids that mommy was dead and in heaven. I had to explain that she gets to be an angel now.

 Today, Robin had so much pain. Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease. I realized that before this, I had no real idea what "In Sickness and In Health" meant. It is the good days, and the bad days. It is nursing colds, and dealing with soul achingly terrible days of disease.

 But now, she is at rest. We, who are left behind are poorer by her loss, and heaven is richer for taking her.

 I think I cried most of my tears while she was sick, especially in this last week. I can't describe how hard it is to see the person you talked to every day for almost 12 years lose their ability to talk to you. It broke my heart listen to her try to tell me she loved me. But I knew.

 When Pastor  Harry finished praying, she said "Amen." And She told us all she loved us. I still don't think I ever had enough time to tell her how much I loved her. I don't think I would have even if we both lived into our seventies.

 It's still sinking in, though, even though I have been preparing for it for a while now, or Robin has been preparing me for it. It's hard to wrap your mind and heart around the fact that someone you loved with every ounce of your being isn't there anymore.

 I don't think the Robin shaped hole it my heart will be filled, though, maybe time will get some of the edge off.

 I think the thing I have been struggling with through all of this is what good could possibly come of Robin's fight with cancer, and now her death. Then today, I have gotten a taste of how many people her story has affected. Maybe that is the good? If only one or two lives were touched by our suffering, then it would really give me some solace.

 My real solace now comes from knowing that Robin is resting. Her pain is gone. She has her hair back, she has all her body back. She is free of scars. She is free of cancer.

 The cancer destroyed her body, but it couldn't touch her soul.

 And some how, it's fitting it was on the Marine Corps birthday. Maybe it was just so all my brothers and sisters who have gone before would welcome her dressed in their Blues. "Welcome to Heavenly Battalion Ma'am, you did your time in the trenches, enjoy your R&R."

 Rest now honey. You earned it. We got it from here.

 I love you so much.

                                           Robin Lynne Harris Hrinda 1/21/81- 11/10/11
                                           Beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister. She was a massage
                                           Therapist, a super mommy, a Marine Wife and my best damn friend.

                                            Every Day was a Blessing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All the Little Things

 Today was a middle of the road day. The good side was that Robin's pain seemed to be under control for the most part. The bad side was that she was asleep most of the day. She would wake up when you talked to her, but could barely focus for more than a few seconds.

 So I went for a run to clear my head. I actually spent most of it talking to God, asking why, asking if He will heal Robin, since I know He can, but I was just asking if He would. In the event that isn't his plan, I only ask for a few good days where I can talk to my best friend again. I'm still praying. My faith is what is getting me through this right now.

 I spent a lot of time thinking about little things that we used to do. Like going for walks, since that was the area I was running. It came to me, that the thing I'm going to miss the most is the little stuff. Going for walks with each other. Watching TV with each other, since there are only a few shows we like.

 Going to Wal-Mart, even if it used to stress me out.

 All those little things are the bread and butter of our relationships with one another. All the little talks, that you might think mean so little. The little things that are just the time you share with each other.

 I remember when we were stationed at Meade, and would usually come up here on the weekend. We used to spend all our time talking on the ride up and back. All those things seemed so trivial.

 To quote "The Crow", nothing is trivial.

 This one won't be a long post, since I just don't have it in me tonight.

The Girls at our Cabela's trip.

 If there is anything I can express to you, my constant readers, Hold your loved ones close every chance you get. Appreciate the time you have with each other, because whenever it ends, it won't be long enough.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Darkest Day

I meant to be asleep.
I really did. I got my shower and shaved well over an hour ago.
The kids have been in bed for hours now.
And Robin has been sleeping. It sounds like decent sleep from what I can tell.

 I wasn't going to post tonight. I was drained. I have nothing left right now. I wanted sleep.
But I knelt down to pray. Moved by the fervent cries and prayers and pleading of my daughter
to have her mommy stay. Moved by the simple, pure faith of a child, knowing that God has the
power to heal. Knowing that even the most horrible disease has no power in His kingdom, because He
can deal with that, I knelt down to pray.

 For all reason, I should have no faith left. I have been crying and praying for one thing, healing, a cure for my wife for almost a year now. This has been the worst year of my life. This has been the worst week of that year. We put our dog down a few days ago, and then two nights later our momma cat came back after getting in a tangle with something she probably should not have tangled with. (She is doing better though) But now, today, we have been dealing with the very reality of Robin passing on.

 Today, she took a turn for the worse. The pain worsened again, and she just wasn't doing well. I found that out after I had taken the kids to a wonderful morning at the park. It's amazing how a few minutes can change everything. I spent the day in tears, sobbing over my sick and dying wife. Then Meghan came home and we broke the news to her.

 The tears flowed. How can you explain to a child that God might decide not to heal their mother? How can you explain to a child, that for all their faith, for all their simple belief, their fervent knowledge that God can; He might decide not to. How?

 So I spent the past few hours on my knees, a broken man. Spirit broken, mind broken, heart broken. Broken before God, praying that He can validate the faith of my innocent daughter.

 She is a child, praying for her mother to live. To live to watch her grow. To tell her how pretty she is in her first prom dress. To be there and watch her graduate. To be there when she gets married. To be there and to watch her live.

 If God's great heart cannot be moved by the simple prayer of a child for her mother to live, then what hope do the rest of us have? Is there a prayer more pure and innocent than that? The simple purity in that puts all these words I have typed to shame.

 I am nothing. Everyone has talked about what a good father, and husband, and what a good example I have been through all this. The thing is, it isn't me. As far as husbands go, I'm mediocre at best, the same with being a father. As far as an example, I'm pretty sure I'm a terrible one. I've spent so many many days being angry, and doubting, and bringing everyone around me down. Whatever light everyone has been seeing in me through all of this is not from me.

 Somehow, I have been reflecting God. The peace that God gives us, and our sincere faith has been shining out through me. I may be a terrible mirror, broken, covered in graffiti; but God's light shines brighter. All peace is not me, it's Him.

 And that is what brought me to my knees tonight. Meghan's prayer for her mother to stay around. God told us that if we had the faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains. He said by our faith, we are healed. I know that usually applies to spiritual healing, but I believe also to our worthless bodies. Meghan has the faith of a child. I have the faith of a father. My heart was broken listening to her, as I believe God's heart breaks listening to all of us.

 But He can. He has changed His mind before because of the prayers of His children. He notes us more than the leaves and the sparrows. He hears the pure and heartfelt prayer of the child.

 At this point, if Robin pulls through and stays with us on Earth, there is no other thing that it could be besides a miracle. Medicine has failed, her body is in the process of failing. But God still can heal. He has the power to do this, and it isn't even a stretch for him. It is a word, or a thought. It is turning His eye upon Robin.

 So I prayed. And prayed. And then I knew I should sit down and proclaim. I'm not praying in the town square so everyone can hear my pretty words. I was praying on a living room floor that I probably should have vacuumed first. I have praying that God would hear my daughter's prayer.

 Her's was so much better than mine.

 There is nothing left. Anything that comes out of this is of God. I am just a fool behind a keyboard. And if all my faith is for nothing, than I am truly a man with nothing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Word that Needs to Get Out

 A few weeks ago, this came across my news feeds, and I talked about it. I mentioned that I had sent off an email to the researchers, and time went by. Yesterday, while Robin was in the hospital for the second time in two weeks, she made the choice to go on Hospice Care, since the chemotherapy hadn't done anything for her tumors, and we were basically out of options, as far as the Oncology team was concerned. They had a few more, more ravaging drugs they could try, but they said it probably wouldn't do anything, and they didn't want to put Robin through more pain needlessly.

 So yesterday and today were spent in trying to collect my mind and figure out where we were going from here. There are a lot of homeopathic, folk, natural remedies; literally thousands. I think there are a few we are going to try once Robin has gotten her strength back, but for the most part, I don't have to much hope in many of them. It's kind of like diet pills and penis growing pills, if there was one that really worked, everyone would know. It would certainly narrow the field down from the thousands that are currently out there.

 Then, this morning I got an email from Dr. Craig Meyers. He said they are hoping to go to clinical trials very soon, but funding has been a huge problem for them. So, that was discouraging, but then I thought, what can I do about it? I decided I could write about it. I could try to get the word out.

 There is huge promise in this. First, it looks like it works, which is a big thing compared to most chemo, which seems to be a lot like flipping a coin. The only thing you get to be really sure of, is that you are going to have pain from it. It is a fact that most chemo destroys healthy cells, since they target fast-growing cells, like cancer, hair follicles and mucus membranes.

 That leads to the second point they mentioned, so far, it seems to be leaving healthy cells alone. That would be a good thing. One of the hardest things I have had the pleasure of doing through all this, is watching Robin writhe through the joint pain, or suffer through the extreme nausea and body aches from the chemo. It's bad enough that you have to endure the pain from the cancer eating away at your body, but then dealing with that on top of it? And then all the drugs that counter the nausea and the drugs that counter the damage to your blood counts cause pain too. So a treatment that didn't cause damage and pain to the rest of your body? That would be good.

 You would wonder why funding would be so hard to come by when a possible treatment shows so much promise? I wonder. The only conclusion that I can come to is that there is no real money to be made in it. I mean, with all the chemo, and the radiation, and the assorted other drugs that come with it, our insurance has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that is not an exaggeration. One of the itemized bills I looked at today was originally for 154,000. Granted, the insurance only paid out 16,000. It adds up, and it really makes me wonder what people who don't have insurance do. Die? Yet another spot that a real cure would benefit so many. But they are having funding problems.

 In this day and age, we can give an old man an erection, even if he is far past the age of really needing to worry about having one. We try to cover everything with different drugs, but tend to miss the idea of curing. We treat. Having the chance to find a cure is amazing, and there shouldn't be funding problems. But there are.

 The reason I am so adamant in getting funding for Dr. Meyers and the rest of the lab at Penn State Hershey to continue their research, is that I'm not looking forward to watching my wife die. This past year has been the hardest one in my life.

 This time last year we were planning our last hiking excursion for the year before the snows set in. The baby was nine months old, and we were waiting to be told it was a cyst. Because young women don't get breast cancer like this.

 But here we are. Not even a year later. My wife lost her breasts, her uterus, her ability to walk well, her comfort, and her hair several times. The amount of pain I have had to watch her go through, and I would love for others not to have to go through that. I'd love to not see Robin have to continue this way.

I don't want to sit here and watch my wife die. There is hope in these oncolytic treatments, how much hope, we don't know yet, but it is promising.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The End of a Road

 So here, almost a year out from Robin's diagnosis, we find ourselves at the end of a road. They decided not to try any more chemo, since it hadn't been working, as it seems Robin's cancer is one of those resistant varieties. Now we are focusing on her comfort. Making the best out of the time we have left.

 I am still trying to contact some people about clinical studies. I think they might be considering more radiation. I don't know. I'm still trying to collect my head at this point.

 All I know is that we aren't giving up. God is still in control, and we aren't done fighting. Hospice just means we are looking after Robin's comfort most of all.

 Tonight, with a sense of peace I could only wish to have, Robin told me that we are going to live with this. We'll have to, because this is where we are.

 This isn't how I would have written the story, since I like a happy ending. I guess we'll see though.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Still Pressing On

 Robin spent most of last week in the hospital with a blood clot in her leg, and now she is back in the hospital with a blood clot in her lung. That is the catch-22 of all of this. You get a blood clot because of reduced activity, but your activity is reduced because of the pain. What to do.

 All we can do is keep the faith, and at the same time, keep pushing ahead in our search. The doctors are doing their thing, other doctors elsewhere are making progress. Natural remedies offer some hope.

 A pastor that Robin's aunt knows came by and prayed over her last night. It was a pretty moving experience. I believe that miracles happen, and I believe that God could do something here as well. Whether He does or not remains to be seen.

 But, like I've said often, we don't know why these things happen, but our spot in life is to suffer through them well, because who knows who we might be encouragement for?

 Sorry to cut this short, but I'm off to bed so I can head out to the hospital in the morning.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Not Done Yet

 So this was one of the tough weeks. It started out well enough, Robin was still having pain, but it seemed to be under control. All in all, it hadn't been too bad.

 Then Thursday rolled around. I took the dog down to the vet to get her hip checked out, since it hadn't improved in a while, and it had gotten really swollen. We didn't get good news. It seems that it is pretty common with Rotties of her age to develop bone cancer, especially in light of the trauma from her hip displaysia. So, it is pretty much just keep her comfortable until the pain meds don't help anymore.

 So, I stayed home from the Dojo that night, since none of the family was really in the mood for much of anything. I put the kids to bed, and then Robin started having terrible pain in her leg. Her pain meds didn't touch the pain, and she was in too much pain to stand the car ride to Geisinger, so we called an ambulance for her.

 Sitting in the Emergency Room waiting for them to get her pain under control again was rough. How much healing can one do while in agony?

 She hadn't had any scans done in a while, so we didn't know if the last chemo she was on had done anything. We know the radiation on her head had done something, that much we could see, but as far as the rest of her, we were in the dark. That was the worst, since we were working with something, and for whatever reason, this far along, the best idea they had was just to throw things at it, and hope to find something that works.

 I'm not a doctor, but I am pretty vested in her recovery, so I think it's a little late in the game to try that. We already wasted a few months since her Breast Surgeon wanted to get good margins for her surgery, even though she kept pointing out that she wanted a double mastectomy, so the margins were basically pointless. Then, after two chemos and a few months, we found out her tumor had grown. And spread.
 I'm not trying to place blame, but this was the same doctor that told her, a year ago when she had the duct removed, the one that was causing her to get blood from her nipple, his advice was that it was probably nothing. And that she should stop playing with it.
 So, one of the main indicators for invasive ductal carcinoma was no big deal. It couldn't be that, because "we don't see that in young women." Once again, not trying to place blame, but if more attention had been paid a year ago, we might not be at this spot right now. I know I can't change the past, but the word needs to get out, you need to be in control of your treatment.
 Don't let the Doctor's ego get in the way of your treatment. Obviously, young women do get cancer, and this is one of the main reasons young women often die from it. Young women usually get the more aggressive forms of breast cancer, but the government and big medical tell us not to worry about it. Young women rarely get breast cancer. But how many young women in Hollywood have we seen just this year? How many young women do you know yourself?

 So now we are at the point we're at now. Robin is in the hospital with a blood clot in her leg, metastases in her lung, hip bones, arm, not to mention the ones that were in her head. They finally admitted that they had been doing a poor job of pain control. Not that she hadn't been telling them that for months now. Yes, a lot of chemotherapy drugs cause pain. Some of the pain is quite substantial. When you have cancer eating away at your hips in addition to it, there is probably pain.

 So we finally met with the NP from Palliative Care, who specialize in treating the pain, not the actual disease. They are a tremendously underutilized specialty, since most modern medicine is only concerned with wellness, and not the state of the  patient. It looks better on a resume to heal someone. The ends justify the means, so to speak.

 Also, to clarify, Palliative Care is not Hospice Care. Palliative Care does not mean you are just waiting to die now, though they do come in also when it comes to that point. They are the ones who specialize in making you feel better. So, the NP we talked to told us there was no reason for her to hurt this much. There was no reason for her to be constipated all the time. These things could be treated.
 She also pointed out that she would get them all together so they could really sit down and talk treatment.

 So, at this point, this late in the game, it seams that Geisinger's talk of her "team" was just that. It always felt like the discussion between specialists had been poor, with the most constantly up-to-date specialist had been her Radiation Oncologist. He made it a point to always be read up on her charts, and had always talked to the other Doctors in charge of her treatment.

 But where we are now, all the chemo seems to have been ineffective. Her cancer seems to be chemo resistant, something we were all starting to feel from the beginning, when her breast tumor grew to 8 cm while she was receiving the chemo. We could have monitored that better, but when we mentioned that to her Oncologists, that we felt it wad grown, he "hated to burst our bubble", but it hadn't. Even though, the surgery, when the tumor was on the table in it's disgusting, bulbous glory (Metaplastic Tumors are a horrible amalgam of different kinds of cells, like an insane stem cell), it had, in fact, grown significantly.

 So now here we are, modern medicine has failed to this point. The run of the mill treatment has done very little. We had been praying that if it wasn't going to improve, that God would just take her home. He hasn't. For some reason, it is our lot to suffer. I just pray that something will come of it.

 I pray that through our suffering, someone else will avoid this. I am still praying that she will be healed, or at least we will find something that works. If we find something that works, trust that we will get the word out.

 I just started to contact some people who are working on some cutting edge things. I don't know what to expect; I know that actually getting to try things, things that might work, is like pulling teeth.
 Remember that corporations run things. Therefore the dollar ultimately makes things happen. We have scientists out there really making strides, but they are often held back by the community and the government.

 That's just the state of it. I for one, and not done yet. I am willing to make the calls and try. I am not ready to tell my children that mommy isn't coming home. I'm not ready to be a single parent.

 I'm not ready to spread the ashes of my best friend and the love of my life over her favorite spot and the pond, because she doesn't want her body alone and in the dirt, at a place she doesn't want to be.

 I can't blame her either. I would rather have my body someplace I love.

 But either way, I'm not ready to do that.

 Otherwise, if that is all we have to look forward to, God didn't do me any favors bringing me back from the War. So I trust there is more to hold out for. I trust that there is a reason we're still here pushing on.

There has to be a reason for the pain.

 We're not done yet.

 Fuck Cancer.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Shameless 'Stache plug

 As most of you have probably noticed, I am competing in this year's Mustaches Vs. Cancer competition, which is an annual competition in October and November that raises money for the pediatric department of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC.

 Every year, brave men grow spectacular lip-sweaters, to not only make the world more beautiful, but also to do something great. Since 2008, they have raised over $75,000 to combat cancer in children.

 So, for another year, I am bravely stepping forward into the world of mustachioed gentlemen, doing my part to raise money for fighting children's cancer, and making the world a little bit more wonderful in the process.

 My profile is here, under the pseudonym Miyamoto Mustachi (pretty catchy!) I promise to keep growing if everyone keeps giving!

 Here are some amazing cookie dusters to look at while you ponder dontating. (borrowed from The Art of Manliness

                                                                           Sam Elliot

                                                                      Teddy Roosevelt

                                                                        Burt Reynolds

                                                          The incomparable Rollie Fingers

                                                                       Ron Burgundy

                                                                           Sean Connery

                                                                      Wilford Brimley

                                                                      Bill the Butcher

                                                              And of course, Tom Selleck

Friday, October 14, 2011

Small Miracles

Small Miracles are just as good as the big ones.

 On Wednesday, Robin woke up and told me that her legs didn't hurt as bad as they had been. We didn't talk much more about it, so as not to jinx it, but we were definitely excited at the prospect of an increase in her mobility.

 She said she had actually noticed it at first during the night, when she got up to go to the bathroom. I'd forgotten to bring the potty chair into the bedroom, so when she woke up, groggy, she just walked to the bathroom, and didn't think much more about it.

 She still needs the cane for short distances, and the scooter for any type of long mobility, but we will take less pain. It is definitely a start, and a small miracle in my eyes.

 Robin was just telling me the other day was that her mobility was what she missed the most. The pain, you can deal with. Eventually, I guess you just get used to it, and it becomes the new normal for you. The lost mobility, however, isn't as easy to deal with.

 I realize it is something that I take for granted. Even with back pain, and the occasional other aches, I have no real loss of mobility, so I can't even begin to comprehend not being able to chase the kids. When I want to get up, I get up. When I have to run, I run. My legs do what I tell them to.

 That's the thing she misses most. It is a loss of freedom when you really look at it. When your mobility suffers, you end up being a lot more dependent on others. And, as a very independent woman, that has been tough for Robin. We all take for granted being able to do for ourselves.

 So, while she didn't "take up her bedroll and walk", getting up with significantly less pain that she had been dealing with every day is definitely a start we're happy for. Add that to the fact that the tumor on her skull is barely noticeable, and God and the chemo are definitely making things happen.

 Here is to the beach next summer!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Small Breaks

 This week, we had a few small breaks. Robin got her scooter, which is pretty much a Godsend. As much as it sucks to see Robin having to use a scooter to get around for any long distances, it gives us back the mobility she had been missing.

 It was a little bit of a fight to get it. I think there is a certain stigma when it comes to mobility devices, since she isn't old. People expect that if you need one, it comes down to being lazy or fat. One of the things people don't consider about wheelchairs is that when you have a young family, simple things like going to the grocery store is a huge hassle.

 Our oldest is ten. The middlest is four and our youngest is 20 months. I'm pushing the cart with Morgan (the youngest) in the seat, and Logan (the middlest) in the cart itself. Robin doesn't have arm the strength to push herself in a wheelchair, due to the muscle breakdown from all the chemo. Not that her chair was one she could really push anyway.

 So, we were left with trying to get one of the chairs with a basket from the store, or she tried to fight through the pain and use the cart as a walker. I hated seeing her do that.

 Or, I suppose we could have tried to make a train and push everyone through. Or, I suppose Meg could push the cart or the chair, but we did most of our shopping while she was at school, since my weekends are usually in the middle of the week.

 Yesterday, though, we had our first outing with her scooter, and it performed really well. I can lift it into the back of the van fairly easily. It breaks down for easier lifting and storage, and it fits almost perfectly in the back of the van. To fit the scooter and groceries requires a little bit more maneuvering, but it is a small price for the benefits it gives us.

 The best thing, though, is that it saves Robin from a terrific amount of pain. It seems the majority of the pain is actually a side effect from the chemo, which not everyone gets. So far Robin seems to be hitting all the 'low occourence' pain side effects. When you add that to the pain that comes from the state of her hip, it makes her pretty much housebound.

 So, once again, the scooter is a Godsend. We are years away from the things we used to do, like hiking, long walks, but I have a lot of hope we will get back to that someday. For now, I'm happy with being able to get back to the little things.

 I know it's a huge step for Robin. When you are used to being active, and being out and about, being housebound is torture. For a while now, just coming along on errands made her feel better, even if she often stayed in the van. Sometimes a change of scenery is enough to keep you going.

 The thing that is most poignant to me is all those little things we used to take for granted. Getting groceries, going out for lunch. Going for walks together. You have no idea how much those little things mean, how much of a blessing those little things are until they are gone.

 Treasure them. I regret all those times I got frustrated on simple trips like that, be it the kids, or the checkout lines, or whatever, and I let my temper get loose and ruin it. Those simple little things are the bigger part of life, and I am going to try to make them special.

 Make every day special.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I also just noticed that the last post was the 50th!
I think that qualifies as a Milestone.

One Foot, then the Next.

"A journey of One Thousand Miles begins with a single step."
                                                                                            -Lao Tzu

 When this all started, it was one of those things we couldn't see past. For all intents and purposes, I couldn't see anything past Thanksgiving of last year, the future just wasn't registering, but yet, here we are.

 In another month and change, it will be a year since Robin was diagnosed. What a year it has been. I had times in my life when I thought life was hard. Parris Island, being a freshly married PFC with no money and a kid on the way, Afghanistan, transitioning out of the Marine Corps. So much in our day to day lives is a struggle, but nothing prepared us for this one. You just expect life to end, in a way, shortly afterwards.

Except it doesn't.

Kids still have needs, bills need to be paid, work needs to be done. Then you have all of the things that you couldn't have thought of having to do: Dispensing meds, dealing with Chemo sickness, trying to help your loved one through the pain. For me, the last one is the worst. It's not something you can actually do anything for. You can only give someone so many narcotics. All you can do is hold them until they fall asleep again.

 It's like trying to fight an enemy made of fog. When it comes down to it, there is no fight. There is nothing you can do to make it better sometimes. Sometimes all you can do is wait for it to blow over, then help them up again.

Like I've said so many times before during this, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep going. You have to be strong and push them, pull them, carry them through it.

It is a long road, but they are all single steps.

P.S. I just looked at the stats, and I think the blog has gone completely international. At least to one or two people on each continent. That makes me happy. Cancer doesn't care about color, religion, age, sex or any of that. If someone gets hope, or at least some understanding from reading my words, knowing they aren't alone, then I have done something.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Some Normal Days

 Robin finished her radiation the other day. This was her second round. The first round was to her hips, and comparatively, it wasn't bad. This was twelve shots of radiation to her head.

 It started with them custom fitting a plastic mask to her face, drawing targets on it and using it to strap her to the table. Then a buzzer would go off, and start the procedure. She told me the flash that she saw during the procedure was violet, and it would show up about chin level. Then, she would immediately smell and taste metal. When it was over, she was exhausted.

  She said the first day was the hardest, because it was kind of claustrophobic. She has a touch of it anyway, but I imagine anyone would feel that way wearing an iron plastic mask.

 Now, she has one more week of the oral chemo she is taking, and then she has a week off from it. It is literally a handful of pills, twice a day, added to the handfuls of pills she already takes. Luckily, the multi-vitamins are the largest ones she has to take.

 This week coming up might actually have no appointments of any type. She has another week before her infusion, and starting the oral chemo once again.

 All in all, though, we are still hopeful. Halfway through the radiation, the tumor on her skull started to get tender, and it now appears to have stopped growing, something the doctors also noted. Now, it feels soft.
 That is some hope.

 She has also been noticing a bit of change in her lungs. She said she is getting out of breath more quickly, and since the tumors there weren't effecting her at all, that is a good sign.

 They told us when the treatments start working on the tumor, the tumor and the tissue around it become inflamed, so that will give you a lot of these symptoms. That's why she ran into all those issues in her brain.

 And those issues saved her life. Otherwise, we wouldn't have know about it.

Tomorrow is another day. We step bravely and with faith into it. We don't know what it holds, but we can have hope.

"Always in motion, the future is."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everything Changed

 So, this is kind of off of my usual topic line, but hey, it's relevant.

 Today is 9/11/11. It has been ten years.

 Hard to believe, isn't it? I still remember what I was doing when it happened.
 I was at Goodfellow AFB as a Lance Corporal, and we were coming back in from a break in class, and happened to notice everyone crowding around the television in the Soda Mess.

 At that point, everyone still thought it was an accident. Then the second plane hit. The movement on base pretty much all ceased, since no one knew what was going to happen next.

 I often wonder if that's what it was like after Pearl Harbor.

 I imagine it must have been similar.

 God bless all my brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, and all those in Emergency Services. Bless those people who put their lives on the line day in and day out, protecting those who can't protect themselves.

Never Forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Can't See the Future, It's Foggy...

 So Robin started her whole head radiation today, and should be starting the Chemo running concurrently with it next week. That means more pain for her. That means more pain for the rest of us who have to watch her go through this. I keep praying that if she isn't going to make it through this, God will just take her home so she doesn't have to suffer anymore.

 This went from breast cancer to breast/bone/lung cancer to breast/bone/lung/brain cancer. It seems every time we accept this, and start suffering gracefully and moving forward well, and really trusting God, every time we make a little progress, it gets worse. I'm afraid to try to let go again, but I'm trying.

 She's still here suffering, so maybe that is a good sign.

 I think the fatigue of all of this is catching up with us. Everyone is on a hair trigger, and tempers are flaring. We are all trying to keep it together, but I guess some days you just have to breakdown so you can pick it all up again.

 I know for myself, I have to keep the real situation tucked away deep inside so I can get through the day without breaking down. I think that's why the little things get to me so much.

 We moved some furniture around tonight, and I ended up being pretty grumbly when it was all said and done, and it all led to a fight. We fell apart, but we picked it up again and put it all back together.

 The reality of it is I am scared shitless of losing my wife. I am scared of having to be a single parent when I am woefully unprepared. I'm terrified of a future that I can't see. I'm terrified that it is in the cards for me to be a single parent, and for my kids to only have a mom for part of their life. What then? How the hell do I get past that?

 God, we could use that miracle now.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Humbled by Everything

 The Peach Festival was, by all accounts, a tremendous success. So many people came out, it was a great time of fellowship. Robin was so happy, and humbled to see everyone. It's amazing to see a turnout like that for anything, but to realize it is for you is pretty overwhelming. But she made it through very well.

 Everyone ate well, enjoyed the music, and things were raffled off. It seemed like good times were had by all.
The biggest miracle of the day was the weather. It was threatening in the morning, poured the hour before, and then, it was clear and beautiful for the Festival.

 After the Festival, the clouds rolled back in and the thunder started up again. A few hours later, and it was pouring again. Thunder and lightning and gale-force winds, got us later that evening, but it was wonderfully clear for the time we needed.

 It was so great to see everyone who showed up, and it really looked like everyone enjoyed themselves!

 I also want to that everyone for their generosity. It just amazes me what people can and will give in situations. Thank you all!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lessons learned, or, the Zen of Suffering

 When I woke up today, I realized I just learned something. Through talking to my friends and family, including some old friends I never really expected to hear from, I realized that many people have been talking about how strong we are, and how well we are dealing with all of this.

 I didn't really see us as dealing well with this. We spent a lot of days crying and shouting, and yelling at God, and bitching about how unfair it all was. And it is. Life is totally unfair. I can think of roughly 1400 inmates I know who totally deserve cancer more than my wife. I also realize at this point, that I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone either. It is the great equalizer. Young or old, rich or poor, it doesn't matter. Cancer sees no races, it kills indiscriminately. It's unfair to everyone.

 But a few weeks ago, I let my anger go. One night after I took myself off of my anti-depressants, I had a moment where I visualized a Sith version of myself being sealed off. It is geeky, really geeky, but it worked for me. I told him I didn't need his destructive anger anymore. I didn't need the Dark Side, as it were.

 Now, onto the lesson I learned.  I have been noticing there are a lot of spots that Bushido and Christianity cross paths. (Read Bushido, The Soul of Japan by Nitobe Inaz┼Ź) And this particular spot is dealing with suffering gracefully. As Americans, we are bad at that. Especially this generation. We really suck at it. We have this sense of entitlement that is rampant (some worse than others), and if we don't get what we want out of life, stand the hell by.

 The Japanese were always, as a culture better with that. Nitobe pointed that out in his work, and I trust his viewpoint, as he was a Japanese Quaker from the turn of the century. I trust he knows what he was talking about. But if you want a more modern example, just compare Katrina and the Tsunami/Earthquake/Nuclear Holocaust in Japan.

 Who dealt with it better? Any looting in Japan? Anyone floating out giant screen televisions? Nope. People got in line and did what was expected of them.

 It is the whole philosophy of suffering well. We can look at it as dealing gracefully with life. I am by no means a master of it, but I am learning.

 And learning, like everything else is a gradual process. One day at a time.

 One foot in front of the next.

 True courage is to live when it is right to live. - Nitobe

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hell of a week...

 On Monday, when my weekend was just starting, I had no idea the week was going to go like this. Robin had just started her new chemo, so we were expecting all the things associated with that, but nothing else. Sunday night, she had been complaining of headaches, and had been forgetful and slightly irritable, but we just attributed it to the chemo. This was her first round, so we had no idea what was going to happen with it.

 Monday morning, she woke up with a sever headache and nausea, and the told us to come into the ER. A few scans and an MRI later they told us there was also a tumor in the back of Robin's head, and that one was in her brain. It had been causing the headaches and nausea, the vision issues, etc.

 So there it was. Every time we had gotten bad news, we tried to look on the good side. When it was the first breast cancer, it was, "Well, at least it's something they can operate on." Then it was the lung mets they found. "Well, at least it isn't in the brain." Now, it was in her brain.

 The spot on her skull that we knew about was bad enough. A spot in her brain was our worst fears realized.
This was the first time that I really thought about how I would break it to the kids that Mommy might not be coming home. This was the first time I really thought about the fact that I might have to bury my wife.

 It terrified me.

 I mean, the thought is always there when dealing with cancer, that your loved one might not make it. As many advances as we have made, it is still a fairly imprecise process. Chemo is basically betting on killing the cancer before the poison kills you. Surgery is hoping you get it all, but always waiting for the next thing to pop up.

 With the scans we have these days, we can stay on top of it much better, but we still aren't anywhere that would make me happy. (though, the T-cell studies vs. leukemia are promising.)

 Then it happened, I posted in on Facebook and Twitter, asking my friends and family to pray. They asked their friends and family, word spread, and we ended up with a prayer net all over the world. Then, the Doctor came in to discuss the process with us, and gives his impressions. He told us that it was in a good spot for surgery, and he recommended we go that route.

 Then, the great Beast Coast Earthquake of 8/23 happened. I know it may have been just a coincidence. I mean, sometimes things happen while we are discussing things, and it comes across in an ominous or uplifting manner, depending.

 Then again, when you are discussing the best way to deal with your wife's brain tumor that suddenly showed up, and then when the Doctor Mentions surgery, and an earthquake shakes the hospital at that moment, it made me take notice. We are on the East Coast afterall.

 It kind of reminded me of the way Marine Drill Instructors stomp their foot to make sure we are paying attention during classes.

 It seems to have been the right choice, because Robin's surgery went very well, and she is resting. They hadn't moved her to a room by the time they told me to leave, but I know she had gotten some anti-nausea meds and some morphine, so she should be sleeping well right now.

 So, as tough as this week was, I'm feeling hopeful. Faith is one of those things, I know I can't convince everyone that God has his hand on all this, but I know he does. I feel it in my heart, and it helps me go on.

 And when you are dealing with stuff like this, having the strength to go on is important.

Also, as an aside, I'm pretty sure now, that God is non-denominational. A very varied crew was praying over the past few days. I'm just saying.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Crunch Time

 Hello everyone,
 I haven't posted in a while. Everything has been kind of a whirlwind with Robin doing her Radiation and everything, but now that's over. I just didn't have the drive to write then. Terrible case of ennui.

 You might have noticed if you are on my Facebook, that Robin went to the ER the other day with horrible back pain. We (and the Doctors) were worried that she had thrown a blood clot or something, which thank God she hadn't. It turned out to be some deep muscle spasms.

 We did get some scans done while we were there, and it looks like the Mets in her lung have spread. I guess they were seeing little stuff all over in there. And she has a bump starting on the right side of her skull now. Since she hadn't hit her head, they are just going to assume it's cancer, thince she already has some bone mets.

 But, She also started her chemo again yesterday. Her Oncology team is really at bat right now, and they seem to have a plan ready to go right now. They are going to be hitting this hard, so now we just have to hold on and ride it out.

 So, here we are. It is serious. I was starting to get really depressed with all this the past couple day, but then I realized that we haven't even started this part of the fight. God is still in control of this, and as long as we can still fight this, we will. As long as there is the possibility of hope, we will hope.

 Like Master Yoda said, "Always in motion the future is."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Farewell to a Brother

 I am going a little bit off topic tonight, so you will have to forgive me for that. Before I go though, I just want to let everyone know that Robin started the radiation on her hips today, 10 rounds total, both hips each time. Tomorrow she is getting another unit of blood and some iron to help her through this recovery and moving through this radiation. Chemo (again) and more Radiation on the lungs will come after.

 Now, on to my side-track. I found out last night that one of my Brothers from my Marine Corps days died. Came right out of the blue, and totally unexpected. I hadn't talked to Joe in a few years, but when I heard about his passing, all of the memories came flooding back. That's one of the things about the military. Your friends are your friends forever. Sometimes you lose track of one another, and when you find each other again, you pick up where you left off.

 Joe Weldon was an amazing man. I was lucky enough to know him well since we ended up in the same platoon in California, and we were in the same suite in Texas. Joe was one of those people who could always lighten the mood, no matter how serious it got.

He was a loyal friend, and dependable.

I don't even to where to start with memories. Running the Asilomar in California. Joe arguing with the chow hall lady in Texas whether or not it was safe for her to make him a tuna melt. I think she made him sign a waiver, since she thought it was unsafe.

 Going all black ops to repaint the O-course wall at Goodfellow. (Recon was in his blood). Also, I'm pretty sure he drew on my face one time in Monterey. I can't say for sure he was to blame, but it looked like his handwriting.

 I don't know what else I can really say. Joe was a great guy, and I am richer for having known him. I wish I hadn't lost track of him after Texas, and I would have liked to have gotten down to 2nd Radio and seen him.

 We always think about those random phone calls, or emails we should make from time to time. We think about talking to that friend you haven't had contact with in a while. We always think.

 We need to do.

 Semper Fi, Joe. I'll miss you brother. You took up the watch on the Golden Streets.
The rest of us will be along after a while.