And here we are, a year later and our hero is gone

I had switched to MealTrain for updates so people weren’t looking in multiple places and for those not on Facebook to have a place to subscribe to the latest on how Brad and our family were doing.

I feel called to share our journey and perspective because what I’ve realized is that young people dying with a hospice situation is 100% different than an elderly person. Beginning to End, Top to Bottom TOTALLY different. I feel like if I can share my knowledge and journey I can help others prepare and navigate.

Brad left us on Thanksgiving at 4:30pm after our precisely planned and executed dinner. We knew he was waiting for something and he always was annoyed by the cleaning up process so while the kitchen was loud with laughter and clanking of dishes he and I shared his last moment of breath. I was dumbfounded…I smiled and said to him “you chose me?!” We had waited for 15 hours…the last phase that usually lasts minutes or maybe a few hours lasted 15 hours! It was sad and exhausting and terrible. We all took turns sitting with him and talking to him. I remember sitting with Carter and Makenzie and saying to them and to Brad that “this can’t go one for days” I begged him to stop it, he needed to go. His body was grasping for air and hanging on for an agonizing long time. Selfishly I wanted him to go and stop the suffering he had endured his last year. I knew he wanted to stay for every last ounce of life with us.

So in that last moment it was beautiful, heartbreaking and heartwarming. My sweet husband, who I met when I was 18 chose ME to be in that moment and silently summoned me. We were so connected all day, I felt like I was in a trance. My brain didn’t work, I didn’t feel my body, I was moving through the day doing what I could to make things feel better for others and for him. Saying everything I could so that he felt like things had been completed. Forgiving for anything and everything, promising that we could do this for him. We played music and were all around, we stopped the music and gave him quiet but he still hung on. Then…he gave me 3 quick breaths and one long one. I have a little box in my brain to remember that moment but try not to relive it often. Was he trying to speak? Were the breaths an attempt at I love you? 3 quick breaths for the kids and one big one for me? Or was it all brain activity impulses meaning nothing? You all know me…I’ll spin it into something wonderful and those 3 breaths were different and intentional so I know he was reaching out.

So Christmas was a month exactly. Heartbreaking to some degree but we just sat in the day and did our best. We did the things he had planned, we rested, ate good food and leaned into each other. It was a quick trip for my inlaws as they had all been to our house for a long time and multiple times in the last few months.

I have been paralyzed by feelings and numbness and can finally feel like I can work. Between the two weeks of preparation for his service and then two week to prep for Christmas I felt like I could barely breath. I had days of paralyzing grief where I could barely even function, eat, exist. I was pretty much nauseous for a month except for the service day, I felt amazing and strong that day. All the forces of heaven carrying me through. Today I feel better, still can’t eat much but try so that I can keep sustained and have the energy I need to move through to another side.

What I will say for anyone in this position, the after feels like nothing you could imagine. The relief was a cushion at first, the relief that the mean things, the constant instructions, the questioning of my smallest decisions, the them vs us dynamic, the fight between him working and talking to me and the kids in his last weeks…all of that ugly and hurtful shit faded in an instant. The relief wore off and I was left with such sadness that my best friend of 32 years was gone. The guy that always planned the fun or brought the fun to ordinary days. The guy that pushed me forward even if it was challenging me to do better. I know in the end he was proud of me, appreciated all that I was doing and knew we had worked hard to get as much ready and organized as we could.

Here is a link to a video collage Whitney put together that makes me laugh and cry but remember MY BRAD the way he really was.

Here is the link to the service.

I’ve watched it about 5 times just to connect my brain and heart and the reality of pulling off such a wonderful day for Brad. I would build strength then it would drain out of me. Saying goodbye to all of our friends was so hard…they’ve stayed connected and reach out just when I start to feel alone. The thought of “widow” and “single mom” is too much so I just don’t go there. I’m a Mom of 3 kids and Dog Mom of 2 busy dogs plus a full time hustler as a Senior Recruiter. That is where I’m leaning into as my currently defined purpose. Care for my people and get people jobs. My two responsibilities for now.

God Bless you all, thank you for your prayers. I’ll be using this blog to update my experiences and share what I can to help.

Help I’m trapped in a dark convention center

One of the biggest joys in my life is watching my children participate in their activities.  However, two back-to-back dance weekends with a baseball tournament thrown on top is a bit much!  I will say I learned the fine art of conserving energy to sustain enough to get me through three days on the second weekend.  My sweet friend Erin and her family hosted us at their house so we didn’t have to drive back and forth to Lees Summit during the breaks.  It was fun!  We did some crafty little projects and she inspired me to quit doing whatever I do at home and squeeze in the craftiness I have in me.

The weekends were very fun and the kids did an amazing job dancing!  Whitney had a blast during her little spotlight solo in the big production number and the second weekend it earned a diamond!  Yeah!  I don’t remember many “1st” place awards for our big number we do each year so that one is a special one.  Two of her dances, “Let Us Out” in which she plays an angry elephant and “Fish Fry” which she plays a fish won Entertainment awards which is a judges choice award!  Those are always very special to receive because they don’t hand them out to any old dance.

While we were laying low during our breaks I made two fun little plaques to commemorate Whitney and her dear friend, Zoie’s first solos.  I copied pictures I had taken and jazzed up the area around it.  I think they turned out pretty cute and I know they will be treasured.  This was a monumental year for Whitney’s dance career and I know will be remembered as a highlight.

Zoies Solo Plaque

Zoies beautiful pose during her dance


Whitneys solo plaque

Close up of her image

ooops eyes closed but this is the only pic I have of this pose


Do you believe in angels?

12 years ago this month my first baby boy was due to arrive.  Unfortunately he had a neural tube defect that was fatal, he went to heaven on 9/29/98.  Of course me, my family and my friends were crushed.  This was when I felt my first real loss, one that almost robbed me of any sort of bliss I could ever have again while having my babies.  On the day he was due, February 17th, 1999 we found out we were pregnant with Carter William, my 11 year old.  We prayed really hard throughout my pregnancy with him and when he was born during a very sweet, magical delivery I was beyond thankful for him to be so healthy.  Throughout the early years of being blessed with my “oh-so-sweet” Carter he had an imaginary friend named “Mit Wit.”  He talked about him from when he could barely talk and still talks about him and to him today.  I’ve always thought that was his big brother watching over him and keeping him company.  In fact, if Carter has a day where he has lots of friends around he has to balance it with alone time outside or in the basement to get his time in with Mit Wit.

Over the years we’ve talked about baby Tyler and celebrate on his birthday anniversary.  The kids, even 4 year old Russell, know the story of Tyler and talk about how he’s their big brother.  They talk and wonder what he would look like and what he’d be like.  Someday we’ll find out but until then we cherish our sweet guardian angel.

Ok, so that’s the background.  This morning I was getting Russell into the car, he had walked out of the garage to step in the snow.  He turned around, hands in his pockets to come back to get in the car.  He stepped on a patch of ice and was literally falling onto his face because his hands were stuck in his pockets.  I watched that child held up by his angel brother and steadied on the garage floor.  I immediately said, “Wow Russell, good thing your guardian angel was there to catch you.”  I said, “I bet that was your big brother Tyler helping you out so you didn’t land on your face on the hard garage floor.”  He just smiled big and said, “Yes it was, he takes care of me.”

Yes he does.  Happy Birthday baby Tyler!

WE LOVE YOU!!! oxoxox