Monday, April 30, 2007

When it rains, it pours

"I'm also realizing that my grandparents are getting ever older. We just never know how much time we have left." Journal entry April 13, 2007
It turns out I am strangely prophetic. Grandma (who was Aunt Teresa's caregiver) was admitted to the hospital a week ago today as she was dehydrated and in a pain crisis from her back. After bloodwork, a bone scan, and several other tests, she was diagnosed with Stage III Multiple Myeloma and renal failure on Wednesday. The doctor told us she was actively dying and without treatment, she would be with us for maybe a few days to a few weeks. Needless to say this has been a hellish week. She started chemotherapy with the hope of decreasing her pain and increasing her time (quality time, that is) left with us. Each day she has improved! Her kidney function is up to 51% now and her calcium continues to decrease. Her numbers are looking good, although there is no hope outside of a miracle that she will be cured. It is wonderful to see how she is doing. It was such a shock to see how declined she was last Wednesday. She was very lethargic and disoriented, sleeping most of the time. I did manage to get a smile out of her when I told her I, her favorite granddaughter, was there. It's a new joke between me and Grandma since Teresa started on hospice. Hopefully Clara and Emily won't be offended! Work has been hard, especially Thursday and Friday. A new patient I saw first thing Thursday morning told me her goal was to make it to her granddaughter's wedding in 2 weeks. A great goal but all I could think of was how unlikely it is that my grandma will make it to my own wedding. For the past few years I have teased her, telling her she has to take care of herself because I want her at my wedding- and we all know how long it could be before that happens! My bosses have been pretty understanding and I've been able to work a few half days. Friday Grandma was more awake and yesterday she looked so much better! We were able to have some good conversations and I will cherish these moments forever. I don't know how much time we have left but I know Grandma is determined to fight this thing and with the million people we have praying (she's a part of the Catholic network and well esteemed throughout the country), who knows what will happen? I have felt God's peace increasingly since last Wednesday and I know He will continue to comfort us no matter what the outcome.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Teresa May 11/18/27 - 4/11/07

It has been an overwhelming week. Teresa's wake was Sunday afternoon. Over 500 people came through Conley's Funeral Home to pay their respects. We wore bows in our hair in Teresa's honor- her bows were her pride and joy. It was nice to spend time with family and see relatives and friends I hadn't seen in awhile. At 6:30 there was a visitation service where people shared their favorite memories of Teresa. If my thoughts had been more pulled together I would have talked about the time I learned Teresa was a White Sox fan (she always tended to agree with her favorite great-niece...me!) or when my former Aunt Linda and I pulled Teresa out on the dance floor at my cousin's wedding. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. My grandpa shared the eulogy he had written earlier and that is when my emotions got the best of me. He read, "What will we do without our Teresa?" alluding to an inside joke between my grandma and Teresa. After the service the visitation line continued as not everyone had had a chance to go through before the service. It was a long but encouraging day to see how many people had been affected by my aunt. The church was full for the funeral Monday morning. My grandma asked me to help place the pall (a cloth) over the casket at the beginning of the funeral, which I was honored to do. I was most affected by the music selected and when my grandpa read the eulogy again. Originally I was going to leave after the luncheon and work a half day but the hospice team members that came for the service convinced me that I needed to go to the burial as well. A decision I'm glad I made. Bruce Conley, the funeral director and a close family friend, added so many special touches. Everyone at the cemetery was given a packet of wildflower seeds to be planted in Teresa's memory. After the service, they released a dove which was an amazing thing to see. There's so much I could say and yet I'm still so overwhelmed and exhausted by these last few days. After the service I went back to my grandparents' house for a few hours to spend more time with family. I joked with my cousin Pat that I wasn't going to know what to do with myself once I didn't get to see him all the time. There are a lot of adjustments ahead for us all but especially for my grandma. At the same time, life goes on. Today my dad had knee surgery. Mark Buehrle built his confidence. And I need to find the balance between work and home, especially now while the lines are blurred. What will we do without our Teresa? It's hard to say and too soon to tell.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Church of St. Theresa

That is the term Chaplain Ron used to describe Aunt Teresa's final vigil when he visited yesterday afternoon. Tuesday night Grandma was finally able to tell Teresa goodbye, that it was OK for her to be with their mother again. Wednesday morning Teresa slipped into a comatose state. My coworkers let me know that she was actively dying. I was able to be at the house with my grandparents, hospice RN Donna, hospice volunteer Karen, and Ron during her final moments. She went to heaven at 4:53 pm April 11. We are sad but comforted knowing that she is finally at peace. It has been a long journey but a blessed one. God provided wonderful caregivers that were able to help Grandma when her back gave out 2 weeks ago and a fantastic hospice team (I'm not saying that just because I'm biased!). I had prayed that I would be with Teresa at the end, both for myself and to support my grandparents, and I am glad that it happened that way. In a sense even Teresa waited until the perfect time- just that morning she had had her hair done and her fingernails painted! Even now I marvel at God's timing and how he has brought good from the bad. It has been overwhelming at times to see my personal and professional lives blur together but I would not have had it any other way when I look back and see how God has worked in my life and continued to teach me. I pray that I will always be teachable and ready to receive His grace and strength.

Thank you to all who have been praying and for all the words and gestures of support. Words aren't enough to express my appreciation.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter!

Excerpts from an email conversation I had with friends a few years ago on the concept of forgiveness:

Seems to me like betrayal is a key issue in the Bible. Jesus was betrayed by his own friends...I always see the foot washing service as Jesus caring for and forgiving in advance, those who were to hurt him by their betrayal. So when I wash feet, I forgive the person in advance, because they will fail me. God was betrayed by Adam and Eve, who chose their own way over God's. So maybe it is just one of the big themes of life...as is power and control, and trusting. So each time it happens, we process it and decide who we are planning on being now. How is this going to form our life's story? My husband has a big problem with criticism and always feels like a failure. So if I say, "Did you remember to get the milk?" which is a question, he hears, "You are a failure, you can't remember somethings as simple as milk, you are a total idiot." But he doesn't feel the hurt and rejection I feel. We had a married couple as friends. When they chose to walk away, I was devastated. He was not. One book I was reading, calls those tender spots, arrow wounds...that is where someone sent an arrow of pain into our life, and although the end of the arrow is pretty invisible, anything touching even lightly on it, causes movement and great pain. I want to see if I can be brave enough to face the arrows in my life.

As far as forgiving the person in advance...If we could do this sincerely in all relationships, knowing that as imperfect people we are bound to disappoint one another, I wonder if we would be able to accept these failings with more grace and understanding. I've been learning to hold my relationships loosely, knowing that they are a gift to me while I'm on earth but not anything I'm entitled to have or can claim to control or hold on to.

I say about any relationship, that I will hold it in my hand as a butterfly, treasuring it, but not holding on to it. Of course, I don't listen to myself. I ask people for promises that they inevitably break. So, a new rule, no promises asked. People do really mean to follow through, but times change and they change, and suddenly it is a new person with a familiar name who broke that promise. And I know, too, I will fail people, be grouchy when I should be caring, be busy when I should be present, talk about my issues rather than listening to theirs. So we can only function in that truth of our brokenness.

May the truth of God's gift of forgiveness guide you further in your walk with Him and extend to all your relationships. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Home Opener Review Attempt 2

So Blogger is dumb and posted my review of the home opener in very very tiny font, which I did not notice until now because when you preview everything, it looked fine. So here is what I wrote yesterday underneath the Scott Merkin quotes.

Paulie and AJ prove yet again why I love them! Ah yes, Opening Day. It started out with much promise but our hopes were mostly dashed by the first inning, aside from Darin Erstad's stellar home run. Pretty much glad to have him on the team! Nonetheless, we all had a good time at the game. I enjoyed baseball food- Nachos!- and even got some free Sox beads. This must be my year for getting beads- I like it! Jackie and I made up a new cheer for AJ inspired by a game of bags and it was good to have the Bond crew together again for the home opener. I'm still excited for baseball season and things can only improve from here! (Thus sayeth the eternal Sox optimist.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A bad start does not equal a bad season

"Falling behind hitters. Location. He couldn't get his split over the plate," added Pierzynski, expounding on Contreras' problems. "They didn't swing at any and it just kind of spiraled from there. But he's going to be fine. It was just a bad day."

Pierzynski and his teammates viewed the team's Opening Day loss in the same manner, poking fun at writing off the season after one very rough showing.
"You just hate that it comes on Opening Day, when everyone has high hopes," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who hit his first home run with two outs in the third. "But we won the last Opening Day and what did that do for us?"
"If you get off to a great start, everyone is on cloud nine. If it doesn't happen, everyone wants to make less of it," Pierzynski added. "I saw the Cubs lost, too, so I guess their season is over. Get ready for Bears football." -Scott Merkin


Paulie and AJ prove yet again why I love them! Ah yes, Opening Day. It started out with much promise but our hopes were mostly dashed by the first inning, aside from Darin Erstad's home run. Pretty much glad to have him on the team! Nonetheless, we all had a good time at the game. I enjoyed baseball food- nachos!- and even got some free Sox beads. This must be my year for getting beads- I like it! Jackie and I made up a new cheer for AJ inspired by a game of bags and it was good to have the Bond crew together again for the home opener. I'm still excited for baseball season and things can only improve from here! (Thus sayeth the eternal Sox optimist.)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Shane and Shane

Shane and Shane never let me down. The show Friday night was no exception- what a truly worshipful experience! I did not want it to end and I pray that the communion I felt with God will not be limited to the concert. The lyrics speak to my heart time and time again.

Psalm 13 lyrics
by Shane and Shane

how long oh Lord will You forget me
how long oh Lord will You hide
hide Your face from me
how long must i wrestle with me
and everyday have sorrow in my heart
sorrow in my heart

i will wait on You
i will wait on You
i will wait on You

look on me Lord and answer me
give my eyes light or i will sleep in death
i will sleep in death
my enemies say "i will overcome him"
and my foes rejoice even when i fall
i dont want to fall

for i will trust in Your unfailing love
my heart rejoices in Your salvation
i will sing to the Lord