Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Grieving Still

I love to read other people's blogs.  Sometimes I get neat ideas from them or at other times it's just fun to hear what is going on in that particular family.  I few months after TJ passed away I received an email from a friend of the family's to check out a certain blog.  This particular family had just lost their 15 year old son to pancreatic cancer.  I decided to go back to their caringbridge page to read more about their journey.  There were some similarities and some major differences, however, we have both experienced the loss of our sons WAY too early.  I love to read her blog because I can totally relate with her.  I almost feel as if everything she shares are my feelings as well.  She shared something on her blog the other day (something someone else had shared with her) and I hope you all don't take this the wrong way, (I'm sorry in advance) but Our transition is still a grieving one. They are SPOT ON! I thought I’d share them with you. I’ve heard it a thousand times that people just do not know what to say to us. Here’s a hint.

THE ONLY THING’S TO SAY:

“I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“There are no words.”
            (this is true even 9 months later)

Don’t say — it’s going to get better. (It will eventually, but that is not helpful to hear right now UNLESS perhaps YOU HAVE ACTUALLY LIVED IT. . . sometimes not even then. I can't imagine how it will ever get better)

Never say — after you survive the year of firsts . . . everything will seem better! Stupid, stupid, stupid - it will always be hard.

Don’t compare this to any other death or experience you have lived through. NEVER a parent or sibling – especially as an adult.

Don’t ask or don’t keep asking — What can I do for you? If we knew what would help or what we needed, we’d ask! Prayer is the best!

Don’t say: “How are you?” – Say – “It’s good to see you.” Or if you really want to know, you’ll probably get tears and much more than you want to hear.

Abide: Have someone “be” with them/us. Especially to just “listen” to them/us. DON’T try to have answers! There are none right now.

This may not sound compassionate. And close friends of course, will sometimes grieve with us. But it is not the same as losing your child. (I’m just telling it like it is.)

In the beginning, take care of simple needs – if they are comfortable with that. They need it, but they might always have been the giver. I appreciated it so much. Probably didn’t even notice what all was done for us.

Have some one go with them anytime they are leaving home. . . for appointments, grocery, errands. . . The grocery was brutal. I would never have thought it!! The choices you make in the grocery for this child, for each member of the family. I can walk an aisle and still gravitate toward his favorite foods without thinking.

NEVER has intercessory prayer been more needed or more valuable!! There are many times where at most I just groan and say, “Lord, Lord. . . help me/us please!”

Do NOT worry about notes and thank you’s! That time will come later. I WILL get it done!

Books sometimes help people. After a few, it hasn’t helped very much. It is nice to have your thoughts/emotions affirmed in words. It hasn’t really helped me to read about someone else’s devastating experience. . . at least not now.

I think some of these hints fit the ______  family. Pray for them, Pray for them, Pray for them! Remember, they will be overwhelmed for a little while.

There are a few that don't totally fit,  but for the most part all of what she had to say is very true.  Our hearts are still hurting and broken.  We are soon approaching the one year anniversary of when this whole journey began.  It's still hard to believe.  I am not the same person I was a year ago and I'm not sure if I'll ever be that person again.  I also realize that it is harder for me to just go up and have a conversation with people.  I am unsure of their reaction to me or even my reaction to them.  I find myself wanting to hide out, withdrawal and not be around anyone.  I am sorry if any of you have felt this from me.  I'm still trying to figure this all out - what is my place, who am I?  I have so many unanswered questions and I'm not sure if I'll ever get the answers in my lifetime.  I'm searching my heart.  All I ask is that you continue to pray for our family.

The next few months aren't going to be easy.  Let me share with you some concerns I have right now so you all can be praying.  In Oct. 2011 Will (son #3) had eye surgery to correct his eyes that kept crossing.  Things seemed to be going pretty well until last summer when I realized they started crossing again.  We made another appointment to take him back up to the eye dr.  In Oct. 2012 he got glasses - they thought that his vision was slightly off making his eyes tired, causing them to cross.  We had to take him back earlier this month for a 3 month check up to make sure the glasses were doing what they were supposed to.  Well, I had noticed on vacation that his eyes were starting to cross again.  The eye dr noticed this as well.  So for the next 3 months we have to patch Will's stronger eye 2 hours/day.  He is tentatively scheduled to have surgery on April 8.  However, if when we go back at the end of March his eyes have improved - the surgery will be cancelled.  Will has been doing amazing with this - in fact he is reminding me about his patch!!  I think I've stressed to him enough that if he does this he won't have to have surgery (which he DOESN'T want).  Then the dr. told me something else:  he wants to do an MRI of his brain just to make sure there is nothing else going on in there.  I almost threw up and I'm pretty sure I turned as white as a sheet when he told me.  All I could think about was you have got to be kidding me.  The dr. is 99% sure they are not going to find anything, but with the family history he just wants to rule it out.  I am freaking out about this.  I'm really trying not to think about it, but just have difficulty not.  Well he had to have a physical before they would schedule the MRI because he is going to be completely sedated (which is probably a good thing for Will).  They called me back to let me know when it was scheduled - I bet you will never guess the date..........Feb. 6.  I think I threw up in my mouth - that was the date TJ had his first MRI (the one we thought we were just doing to rule it out things).  Fortunately it didn't work for our schedule so it is now set for Feb 11.  Please pray about this.  Pray for us to be calm, and not to worry.  That Will won't be scared.  And pray for a CLEAR MRI!!!  Will has a few other things going on with him that I just can't help but think this MRI is going to reveal everything we haven't figured out before.  I'm really hoping to be wrong.  They told me it could be a couple of days before we find out the results - which I'm hoping they are wrong and it is much sooner.

We truly appreciate all of your prayers.  We just ask that you please continue to pray for our family. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More of Orlando (take two)

As I promised - more pictures of our time at Hollywood Studios!
 
 
 
 
The boys with Buzz & Woody!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Just part of the light display - it was incredible!
 
 
I'd love to show you all the pictures but that will just take too long to download them all.  The next day we awoke even earlier than the previous two days to head out to Magic Kingdom.  Unfortunately we awoke to rain and cool temps.  We arrived in time to see the train pull in with a bunch of Disney characters welcoming everyone!  That was neat (something I didn't know they did).  We headed off to go explore the park.  I have to admit the rain helped a bit with the crowd.  I'm not exactly sure how many rides we rode where there was NO line!!  However, we were wet, cold and had bad attitudes.  I had mentioned to Jon - let's just go back to the condo and come back later in the day (the park was open until 1am).  We had decided to stick it out at least until 11 - there was a parade at that particular time.  We were told that it went up main street , goes around the loop by Cinderella's castle and then the characters get off the floats and have a dance party.  I'm so glad we stayed!  It was so much fun!!  It warmed us up, changed our attitudes and we were ready to stay and conquer more of the park.  We saw two more parades that day.  At all the parades we had great seats and were even able to interact with the characters at some points (the wicked step mother told Will he had nice spectacles!).  The evening parade is all lit up -very neat.  My favorite was the show they put on - on Cinderella's castle.  I don't want to call it a slide show because it was WAY cooler than that - but they showed and did different things right on the castle.  Then after that was over it was time for the fireworks.  Since it was a cloudy, rainy day they weren't the best - but we still thought they were pretty awesome!  Even though the rain had put a damper to the start of the day - we ended up enjoying ourselves and had a great time!  I didn't take as many pictures this day because of the rain - most of the pictures taken were of the three parades.  Anyway, here are a few:
 

 
In front of Cinderella's castle sporting our TJ shirts (nobody got to see them all day because of the weather)
 
 
 
Cinderella's castle at night - it was so beautiful!
 
 
 
On the ride back to the condo after a LONG day! (Anthony really is asleep!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

More of Orlando

So, day 2 of our time in Orlando didn't turn out the way we had planned.  We had another sick kiddo.  This time it was Anthony.  We were hoping that it wouldn't last long, but unfortunately it lasted all day.  Everytime he ate/drank anything (even one bite) it came back up again.  We had planned on doing an alligator airboat ride and take the kids to the ocean.  Instead Jon took the younger boys to the pool while I did laundry.  We also spent part of the afternoon/evening playing monopoly.  We knew we couldn't push him because we really needed everyone to be well because the next three days were jam packed!

Thankfully on day 3 Anthony felt better, so we headed off to Sea World! Jon and I had taken TJ to Sea World in San Antonio when he was 2, so we knew what to expect - the other boys had never been before.  The weather was perfect!  We really enjoyed the shows and the animals.  It was hard to take pictures of the shows - you never knew when the dolphins or Shamu were going to jump up or do their trick.  I'll just share a few of our pictures of the time we spent at Sea World.




The boys riding on the carousel.  I love that they are sea animals!



 
 
Waiting for the Shamu show.  Will & Anthony wanted to sit in the splash zone, so we did, but thankfully didn't get wet!
 
Day 4 found us waking early to head to Hollywood Studios.  I was thankful that Jon made us leave early and arrive at the park before it even opened.  For once it worked to our advantage.  They were scheduled to open at 9am, however, they opened up a half hour earlier.  So we were able to get to the Toy Story ride before there was even a line.  By the time we got off the ride, I couldn't believe the line that had already formed.  It also helped us get in line early to see Buzz & Woody!  Will was absolutely thrilled.  I had promised him that we would see them (hoping that they would actually be there - I know I shouldn't make promises I'm not sure I can keep).  It worked out great.  We were able to see all the characters the boys wanted to and then some.  We saw Buzz, Woody, Wreck it Ralph and the little girl (I can't think of her name right now), Mickey, Mr. Incredible, Frozone, Handy Manny, Phineas & Ferb, Lighting McQueen, Mater, Mike & Sully (Monsters Inc.).  Those characters sure do make it fun.  I think I was just as amazed as the kids.  We also saw more characters when they had the afternoon parade.  We watched a Disney Channel Dance party - this one I had a harder time watching.  It was everything TJ loved - music, dancing and Disney!  His little brother (Charlie) did him proud - they asked the kids to come up and dance with them.  Charlie was the only one (I was surprised the other boys didn't join in) and he rocked it!  I stood there with a smile on my face as the tears ran down my cheeks.  Another one of those sappy moments!  We also enjoyed the Muppet Theatre (I grew up watching the muppets and now I've got my kids hooked on them, so it was fun to actually go "see it") - it was a 3D movie!  We saw a Beauty and the Beast performance, played at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids set and watched a Disney Jr. show - we stayed the whole entire day!  We ended the day watching the Osborn light show.  It reminded me of the lights on Christmas Vacation - I believe they said there were 5 million lights!!  Then they would change to the music playing - it was incredible.  Jon said it reminded him of Fremont Street in Vegas!  We REALLY enjoyed our time at Hollywood Studios!  I have way too many pictures to share them all with you, so I'll just share a few of my favorites!
 
 
 
 

 
With Phineas & Ferb!
 
 
Ok, so I guess I won't share them with you now!  I can't seem to get them to download (I'm sure it can't be my lovely interenet!)  I'll share the rest of my photos and the rest of our vacation another day when I am less frustrated!!
 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Florida, Day 1......Daytona & Pirates!

Our first day in Florida we slept in.  We were all very tired from the late night/early morning.  We decided to head out to Daytona.  Originally when we were to go last February we had purchased tickets to the Gatorade Duels along with Sprint fan zone passes.  So since there is no racing going on (I should say NASCAR) we decided to show the boys the track and to take a tour.  Now they keep talking about coming back for a race!  The tour we went on included several different stops.  We drove down pit road.  We stopped at the start/finish line and walked on the track - there is only an 18 degree banking there.  We drove around the whole track - checking out that 30 degree banking - that is scary.  It's hard to believe that there are 43 cars, sometimes 3 wide going over 200mph on that kind of banking - it's amazing.  We also got to see Nationwide & Sprint Cup car garages, where the drivers have their meeting, victory lane, the Sprint fan zone, where they inspect the cars and even went up into the sky boxes where broadcasters sit.  The tour ended with a quick movie and getting to see the car from last year's Daytona 500 winner (Matt Kenseth)!  The boys really enjoyed the visit.  Here are a FEW pictures of our time at Daytona International Speedway!

 
Here we are in Victory Lane!!
 
 
 
 
The boys with Matt Kenseth's car.  It still had all the confetti and "stuff" all over it!
 
 
Well, since we slept in and Daytona was an hour drive away from our condo, we didn't have much time to spend at any other places in Daytona - we had dinner reservations at 7!  It was New Year's Eve and I wanted to do something special with the boys.  Have you ever heard of Medieval Times?  Well we didn't take the kids there!!  We took them to a Pirate Dinner Theatre.  It is very similar to Medieval Times - you eat your supper while you watch the show.  It has live actors.  I LOVE Medieval Times and would have loved to have taken the boys there, but I knew that they wouldn't have eaten anything.  The good thing about the Pirate Dinner Theatre was that they had a kids menu - mac & cheese with chicken nuggets!!  They had said to arrive 90 minutes before your time - which really wasn't necessary - but since we didn't know that at the time, we did show up early.  They were still doing their Christmas show (which honestly, I never really caught the plot - I was confused of the story line most of the night).  The boys really enjoyed it.  It was a lot of fun and good food! 

 
 
Cheers! (this picture was better than the family one we took)
 
 
 
This was the blue Pirate, Benjamin - we were in his cheering section!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Vacation.....Atlanta!

I was going to post one day at time of our vacation, but then realized that day two was mostly a travel day.  Not too exciting to post one day about that!  We spent a day at the Georgia Aquarium - very cool place!  If you have never been - I highly recommend it.  They had some pretty neat exhibits, a dolphin show and a 4-D movie!  Here are some pictures of our time spent there:


The boys are part of the river exhibit!

 

Wearing our 3-D glasses waiting for our turn to watch the movie!



 
 
One of the huge exhibits with very large fish!
 
 
 
 
 

 
They had one of those underwater tunnels with the walking sidewalk.
 
 
While we were in Atlanta we spent some time at Coca-Cola.  This was a pretty fun place as well and it was right next door to the Georgia Aquarium.  You enter together as a group into a room with a bunch of Coca-Cola memorabilia.  After a "tour guide" explains a few things you go into a theatre and watch a little movie.  Then you are released to go throughout the museum to see and do what you like.  We saw the vault with the secret recipe, another 4-D movie, history of Coca-cola, a mini make up of how it is made and put into bottles, (there were other rooms/exhibits I just can't seem to remember them right now) and of course the taste testing room!!  That was a lot of fun - the kids enjoyed that part.  They had stations from other countries and the products they serve there.  Then there was a touch screen where you could pick from a 100 different Coca-Cola products - I never knew they had so many flavors!  When you leave they give you a souvenir 8 oz bottle of Coca-Cola!  Here are a few pictures of our time there:
 

 
The boys and the famous Coca-Cola polar bear!
 
 
 
 

 
One of the characters from the movie we watched.  I think she liked Jon a little more than me!
 
 
I took some more pictures - but this post is getting long enough - I share some other ones of other things we did.  We also spent some time at a children's museum.  Our last day in Atlanta we went to an Atlanta Falcons football game!!  We were super excited to go (this was the boys first NFL game), unfortunately Charlie got the flu that day.  What do you do when you've already bought the tickets?  You make your poor sick go to the game!  I felt terrible.  I offered to sit with him in the car, but he didn't want to - he was determined to go to the game.  Poor kid.  Jon even went to the concession stand offering to pay for a bucket with no popcorn just so we would have something for him (they wouldn't do it either).  Even though we had a sick kid, the Falcons lost - we still enjoyed our time at the game.  Here a few pictures of our time at the game:
 

 
 
Got our tickets and waiting to go inside!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Coin toss!
 
 
 
Falcons vs. Buccaneers final score :(
 
After the game was over we headed to Orlando.  Let's just say it was a very long night.  We arrived at our condo around 1:30 am.  I'll share the rest of our vacation on another post or two or three or......!  
 

 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our vacation....day 1

We decided this year that we were going to give the boys a vacation as their Christmas gift.  We also decided to take it during Christmas break.  I know....not the best time to go, however, I didn't want to spend break at home.  I knew that this Christmas was going to be difficult and thought it would be better to get away and spend time together as a family.  Besides, when else can you take a 12 day vacation and the kids only miss 2 days of school!!  You see we were originally going to take this vacation in February 2012, but TJ got sick and the vacation was cancelled.  We chose to go with the same vacation - just change a few things.  We spent three days in Atlanta, GA and the rest of our time in Orlando, FL.  We had a great time!  I will admit there were times when I fought back the tears and TJ's presence was definately missed, but it was nice to be together without other distractions.  We had originally thought about leaving December 28, but as the time got closer we kept moving that date up.  We ended up leaving on Dec. 26 shortly after lunch. We had also decided that we were going to drive.  We didn't get much passed St. Louis the first day.  Here are a few pictures of our first day of vacation!!

 
Here is all of our luggage, goodies and stuff to keep the boys busy!  Can you believe it all fit in the car?!
 
 
The boys listening to their I Pods!
 
 
The boys enjoying some time in the pool before bed!










TJ's tree

 
Here is a picture of TJ's tree that we all decorated at Christmas on the Ferguson side. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Christmas

Since the last time I wrote on Caringbridge was in November, I thought I would rewind a little.  I will have more than one post to let you know about the rest of our 2012 - as we did quite a bit in December.  The month of December was a hard one.  We had the boys school program, church Christmas program and Christmas all without TJ this year.  I was anticipating these being difficult, but never realized how hard they would be until we actually went through it. 

The first of these was the church Christmas program.  For those of you who didn't know TJ well - he LOVED to sing and entertain.  He always shined when it came to any kind of program.  Let me tell you his brothers would have made him proud.  All three of them sang their little hearts out!  I was so proud of all of them for the way they shined this year in the program.  I sat in my pew and smiled at the boys while tears ran down my face.  It was hard not to envision TJ up there.  I know he would have rocked it too!!

Next was the school program.  We had someone to watch (either a son, niece or nephew) in every grade!  That always makes the program more enjoyable when you know someone and have someone to look for.  And once again, the boys did a great job.  They sing the cutest songs and I love watching the boys have fun up on that stage.  I was doing pretty good until the fourth grade class came out.  I instantly had flashbacks to last year when TJ was in fourth grade playing his recorder.  He was so excited about it.  And then, last to perform was the band - something near and dear to TJ's heart.  I sat there once again with tears running down my face as I watched TJ's best friend play his instrument in the band.  I was also excited to see some of the kids who were in band because of TJ's memorial money!!  It was one of those sappy - you know happy but sad - moments.

Of course, Christmas was next.  I wasn't looking forward to Christmas - not just the day, but I struggled with the whole holiday season.  I had a really hard time getting into the Christmas spirit.  I knew that it was going to be different.  Nothing in me wanted to celebrate, but I knew for the sake of the boys I needed to.  I couldn't put up the tree - but the boys were begging to do it.  You see, our ornaments are mostly made up of one the kids had made.  So, I left those all in the box, went to the store and bought all new ones.  That may sound really stupid to some of you, but I just couldn't do it.  We bought green Christmas lights, lime green fillers, silver balls and an ornament that represented TJ - a disco musical note!  I actually liked the tree (so did the boys)!  I normally hang our stockings up, but couldn't do it this year.  I didn't want to just hang the 5, but wondered if it would be worse to hang all 6 - so they stayed in the box as well.  Stockings were such a huge part of my childhood (and I loved it) that I wanted my kids to have the same.  I know the kids missed it this year, but I just couldn't do it. 

I knew that getting together with our families was going to be difficult as well.  Each of our families did something different and I thought both were great.  My mom had decided to put up another tree - a TJ tree.  She decorated it with green lights, lime green ribbon and bow.  She had told all of us to bring an ornament that represented TJ.  Something that when you see that - it reminds you of TJ.  So the day we did Christmas at Mom & Dad's all 19 of us gathered around TJ to share our memories and stories of TJ with our ornament.  My mom started it off by sharing her story of loosing her mom when she was my nieces age (12).  How they stopped talking about her and how she eventually forgot things about her mom.  She explained how she didn't want that to happen with TJ.  That we can talk about him and how now it may bring tears to our eyes because we are sad now - someday those stories will bring us joy.  Then we all went around and hung our ornaments on the tree and explained how that reminded us of TJ.  I thought it was pretty cool that out of all 19 of us there was not one single repeat!!!  I LOVED hearing all the stories - I really enjoyed hearing my niece and nephews share their TJ stories.  I don't think there was a dry eye.  He affected us all in different ways and I think that is pretty cool.  My mom ended it buy giving Jon and I a gift - money to go to our Guatemala trip (youth group trip) to sponsor a house in honor of all of her 12 grandchildren!!  The whole thing was a very special memory - one I'll treasure for a long time.  (I wish I could figure out how to download the picture of his tree.  If I ever figure it out, I'll share it on here later).  Jon's family did something a little different.  His parents decided to give us money in honor of TJ to go towards the house that our youth group will build in Guatemala in memory of TJ.  After they shared this gift, we were asked if we had any stories to tell about TJ.  Once again, it was fun to hear what everyone had to say (especially the younger ones)!
Our own Christmas just wasn't the same.  Nobody came and jumped in our bed to wake us up.  The excitement was there with the boys - just in a different way than usual.  We enjoyed our time of opening gifts, sharing a nice meal together and then spending the rest of the day packing!  We decided that this year we were going on vacation during break.  That will be another post for another day (once I figure out how to download pictures).  My heart just wasn't in it this year - it was breaking for the one that wasn't here.  I couldn't help but think - what is TJ doing?  Do they celebrate Christmas in Heaven?  If so, what is it like? 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Welcome

Welcome to our blog!  This has been more work than I thought it was going to be and I still have more work to do.  I think I'll just keep working on it a little bit at a time until I get it the way I want - SO it might look different every time you check it out.  Who knows!  I thought I'd create a blog for you to keep up with us instead of checking on caringbridge everytime.  I don't know how often I will update.  Just know that I will be sharing our life with you as it is without TJ.  Some topics might be just the everyday things our family is experiencing - school, holidays, vacations, etc.  And at other times I might be sharing my heart.  Follow along if you wish to know how we are doing, what we are doing and ways you can pray for our family.  See you soon!