Time for a holiday drink?

Black Friday has come and gone leaving those of us who remember Christmas of old wondering why, and how we as a society ever allowed ourselves to believe this consumer orgy was ever ok. Every blogger under the sun has pounced upon Black Friday so don’t worry there will be none of that today. It was merely a blip on my mind leading to another topic dear to my heart.

My entire blog for the last two years has been devoted to my lovely awesome wife Ms. Jacy. When I started this blog it was about family, fatherhood and the joy associated with raising children. Instead much like a Sunday goulash (only older people remember our parents making that little tasty number) it’s combined many facets of our life. I am thankful for all of you who faithfully follow my writings and the kindness you have shown is flattering to say the least. But today, if you will allow me, I am going to step away from Ms. Jacy (please keep reading) and return to why I began this writing exercise in the first place. Fatherhood.

As I stated, Black Friday has come and gone which leads us officially (Wal-Mart be damned) into the holidays. Friends, family, co-workers, festivities and wonderful Christmas parties await us around every corner. It really is the most wonderful time of year and for many it is anticipated all year long.

Including our kids.

Over the last few weeks several conversations have arisen between myself and other parents in regards to underage drinking. With the holidays approaching and school soon to be out it appears to be an even hotter topic. Don’t be fooled our children are participating whenever and wherever they can. It is disturbing how easily it has become regardless of rules, laws and such for our children to actually obtain alcohol. Thus a serious problem lies and the temptation is no less for my child as it is for yours.

Those who read my blog and have known me since childhood also know for me to speak out about underage drinking is akin to the pot calling the kettle black. So let’s set up a little history.

I began drinking at 13. It was easy to acquire, just hit the old man’s Black Velvet stash and replace with water. (Yeah I know the kids think they invented that trick but it’s been happening for generations) As I became older it of course was a rite of passage for many parents who condoned drinking and had done so feverishly as kids to pass that legacy on to their children and friends, so obtaining alcohol was no big deal. Of course the “rule” was you don’t leave whatever property you are on while imbibing, but that rule was never followed.

Everyone has an argument as to why they drink/drank. Either to be cool, fit in, hide from something or someone in their lives or just because. I drank to fit in, I also drank because I was very unhappy, drinking allowed me to open up, act the fool with no repercussion and pretend to be something I was not. As we grew older the alcohol grew in quantities and the locations in size as more and more young people like myself congregated to our little gatherings. Whether up on the mountain, cruising in the next town over, down in the sloughs or the backyard of some approving parents’ home we partied and we partied hard. Laws be damned!

It all sounds glamorous doesn’t it? Fun, fun and more fun! We were young, we pretended to be adults as the image of alcohol portrays and we survived or at least most of us so what’s the big deal? Right?

Somewhere between my sixteenth and seventeenth year at a party my consumption reached the limits of my body. To this day some 32 years later I do not remember the event I am about to describe. What I know came from friends who witnessed it and the parties involved. I have carried great guilt over this for many years and as a fireman it is what keeps me trying my hardest to keep teen drinking in the spotlight.

Having consumed way too much for some reason I decided to climb into my father’s 1963 GMC and drive home. Now once again I remember none of this, what I do remember was waking up the next morning to my father feverishly wanting know why his truck was missing a mirror and had damage to the hood, door and cab. I didn’t know. Of course being an outraged man further fueled by the stench of alcohol within my room that answer didn’t sit well. What I later learned was while driving away from the party, I struck another truck parked on the side of the road and drug it for a bit. There were people outside and it is amazing no one was hurt. Terrified of what I had done, I did what any other immature young moron would do, I lied.

It wasn’t me, how could I have done this? But it was all true and the sad thing is, instead of curbing my drinking it only pushed me further into a bottle.

By today’s standards that would have resulted in my life being irreversibly ruined. An arrest, a court date, a law suit from not only the involved but those who witnessed the incident claiming mental stress. My parents who had nothing would have lost everything! Why? Because of my ignorance, because of the ignorance of those around me, because at that age making adult decisions is not an option, let alone alcohol fueled decisions.

But it was 1983/84. A different time for sure. My father owned a restaurant in town very popular with local law enforcement and I cannot tell you how many times an officer would say; You’re Bobs kid aren’t you? I would nod yes, use my best level headed Eddie Haskell and with license back in hand head to the nearest friend’s house with a promise my 64 Chevy or my 81 Chevy would no longer be seen on the streets of town. That would never happen today!

Jump forward ten years and beyond. I am at the sight of my very first vehicle fatality. I remember it like yesterday. The car was an 84 Buick, it sat roughly 18-24 inches off the ground wrapped around a tree. A 18 year old male and 17 year old female still strapped into their seats compressed into a space of no more than 4 feet wide. I watched as life drained from their faces. Their eyes once glistening upon our arrival now flat almost sandy looking with a distant far off gaze. They say you never forget your first on scene death, the ones you just couldn’t rescue and “they” are right. Many have come and gone, some have stuck with me more than most, but your first, Yep that will be with me till the day I die.

They were drinking. They came from a party. They promised to not go anywhere but I imagine when you are in love and the car is right outside there are plenty of reasons to head off under a moonlit sky to find solace in an orchard. They were probably just working their way through that “rite of passage” we all talk about.

How about a car load of senior girls from the next town over headed home from a party? They too had all been drinking but the funny part is they didn’t cause the accident! 70 mph in the fast lane when two others jostled for position causing an accident that collected them in the process. Their car hit the medium and rolled several times. Funny thing about drinking and driving, sometimes you forget the simplest of things, your house keys, your phone, oh yeah; your seatbelt. Young ladies strewn everywhere! 3 on the ground. My patient, she received an on scene tracheotomy. It was to no avail. Her friends? All gone. Why? Seatbelts…….

Arrive at a house where the parents have been away for no more than an hour. What do they find upon entering their residence? Their underage son, angry he could not attend a party with some friends for New Year’s Eve has decided on his own to polish off the family bottle of Tequila. Yup he is a genius. When we arrive he is nothing short of the devil himself. Fighting, spitting, swearing and rapidly disintegrating as Tequila takes over his body. He was safely transported and survived, but what we learned later, just barely. He had consumed enough alcohol to quite literally walk the line of death. Why? Because News Years parties are a rite of passage! His parents made the right choice but it didn’t stop him from continuing down a very dangerous path.

I don’t want my child drinking. I know it makes me unpopular with many, but I don’t care. Drinking and screwing off cost me ten years of my working life. Drinking and screwing off almost cost me a future. Our children all have bright futures if we show them the way! The right way! Not some antiquated thinking that results in time and again others being hurt or dying! You can sit there all you want and claim you have it under control, it won’t happen to your child BUT YOU ARE WRONG!!!

Have you ever had to tell someone their child, friend or even adult friend or child is dead? I HAVE!!! There is nothing honorable, fun or even remotely great about that moment! It stays with you, eats at you, and gnaws at your soul! We walk around with our heads in the sand thinking everything will be ok, but guess what? It won’t! Not one adult parent I have ever spoken with has said; well I expected this to happen! Nope it usually begins with why? Then leads into; he/she was supposed to be at so and so’s house! Followed by I didn’t even know they were doing that! Yep that’s how it is!

This has to end. We as adults need to break this awful chain. We can keep going around year after year counting our blessing, being thankful it isn’t our child but then when we let them drink are we really acknowledging that we understand the consequences? I think not.

Every year at this time I usually post some little paragraph about holiday drinking, driver safety and hoping everyone I care for stays safe. But this year I hope by opening up about myself, my past, the future that lays before all of us with teenage children you can see, it is not up to them! Oh they bare some of the responsibility, but really it starts with us as parents. If we preach no drinking, hold them accountable for their drinking habits and hopefully do a good enough job of showing the possibilities before them without making a critical mistake we can stop or break this chain once for all.

It is our job to make the hard, unpopular decisions. It sucks! Make no mistake, there are times I would much rather be my child’s friend, but I am not! I am something much more important than any friend will ever be, I am their father.

Listen I am a realist, I know my little blog isn’t going to do a thing towards stopping this generational fueled epidemic, but please, this holiday season take the time to know where your kids are, what they are doing and help me try to break this chain of alcohol abuse. Nothing would make me happier than to never hear or witness another young life lost way too soon.

Thanks for making it all the way to the bottom of this page, I promise a cheerier post tomorrow.

 

 

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Thankful

 glad that something has happened or not happened, that something or someone exists, etc.

: of, relating to, or expressing thanks

As people are winding down their 26 days of being thankful prior to Thanksgiving, I ponder. Sentiments aside, these one, often two line quips of gratitude at times feel forced. You know as in; I better come up with something, I have 18 days to go and I wouldn’t want my friends to think I am a thankless idiot! While other lines of recognition feel genuine and heartfelt, leaving one to pause and reflect, often times a nod of approval comes forth as we connect through their honesty.

I decided in late October this was my year to compete in this annual tradition. 26 days should be simple enough, Lord knows there is plenty for me to be thankful for! Being one who thrives on a challenge it appeared as though I would have no trouble. A comfortable location was established, pen and paper solidly in hand when it occurred to me (quite arrogantly I might add) writing down my overwhelming gratitude in one bold sitting would be of no consequence! Just a man, his love for everyone, gratefulness for prayers answered and the watchful eye of an entire community! It would be as my son would say; easy, peasy….

After 30 minutes I found myself with head firmly placed in hands, everything I wrote sounded trite, as if I was pandering, pleading for recognition in my sincerity, my “thankfulness”. Verbs, adjectives nouns and pronouns all clashing together like a 60 car pileup on Interstate 80 in dense fog! Of course the metaphor being fog, as in the soupy, dense thought process consuming my brain! Writing then scribbling, scratching then tossing it all aside! Sitting at my desk going through page after page of printer paper was incredibly frustrating! Of course even more frustrating was the moment I realized; I WAS SITTING AT MY FREAKING DESK! WHY IN THE WORLD WASN’T I ON THE COMPUTER USING WORD!!!

Phew sorry I had to take a break and return my heart to a reasonable rate. 

26 days of being thankful may as well been 2600 days describing the taste of peanut butter! I was stuck and stuck good.. Then like the sun rising in the east, it dawned upon me. I am thankful everyday even when at times I may not show it. So if I were too, let’s say, write down my feelings in regards to being thankful, maybe and this is a big maybe now, maybe I could try expressing myself in one single written act of thankfulness? No little one/two liners or single paragraphs although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it just isn’t my style. One written piece that says it all by getting to the root of my thankfulness, no extra explanation, no need to wonder where I am going with it and no publicly being thankful my cat still uses a litter box! (That was day eight on a friend’s page) Although that is a giant plus! Really!

Better late than never! With one day left to go Im diving in head first! Wish me luck!

14 years ago a woman entered my life, she brought with her light. For you see at the time my life was somewhere lost inside a dark tunnel. I was alone, trapped inside myself, cold and filled with hate. Life was not what I had expected, or even planned and I wondered how I would ever be able to share the joys of life with others when there was no joy in mine. For many years prior my personality was a fabrication, a way to hide my insecurities, my short comings. The person I had become over the years I didn’t particularly care for and in reality if I had met myself in an alley somewhere I would have probably kicked my own ass. I yearned for a way out of who I was and what I had become, but did not know how. Stubborn, jaded and incapable of recognizing it was not the world who had a problem with me, but me who had a problem with myself. It was tough to even look at myself in the mirror each morning and I usually hated the upcoming day.

The light walked through my door and she knew, she knew that very minute I was trouble yet there was something more. She knew despite fighting every urge she had to run that this was where she needed to be! She braved the loss of friends and family because in her heart and soul, even though it was confusing and it hurt, this was where God needed her most.

It was a tough decision to love me. She could have done much better, she could have had a better life financially, and she could have found someone with the same values and views right off the bat, but she listened to that voice that said to trust in him. She listened even though at times it frightened her to do so. Sometimes the whole thing was just too much and she would run home for a week or two. After careful reflection she would return, renewed ready to follow this path.

I was no easy catch or treasured prize! In the beginning it was hard, very hard. My angry, one sided, opinionated views were difficult to take, but she took them. She would fight back, never relenting until the hardened crust around me began to break. Even during some of the toughest times she would say, I am never leaving you, never giving up, I know who you are James and I know this will all be ok. I love you.

In the end she was almost always right, I didn’t have to like her methods, but knowing she loved me somehow made it easier to accept my faults. Having her smile at me, give me a hug then let me rest my weary head on her shoulder after a day or two of kicking the ugly side of me to the curb left me feeling protected, needed. She had become the light, carefully leading me from the dark tunnel that was my personality and my life.

For 14 years she has stayed by my side, we have built a life like no other. We have four children who have also benefitted from her stubborn way of doing things, her take no prisoners attitude. One of our children is a solid man ready for the world and three others are following suit faster than I care for! She is the center of our family, the nucleus; from our ranch to the animals that inhabit it, there is a piece of her everywhere you look. She is the best of friends to many, a teacher who loves her students as if they were her own children, a hand that reaches out for you when no one else will with honesty, generosity and love. She loves her town, her church and all of her church family. She has shown our family how life is sweeter when you give of yourself and that receiving Gods love is so very important. She believes everyone and everything deserves a second chance. I used to get upset when she was mad and I never really knew why. Everyone deserves to be mad at some point, I mean no life is so perfect that you are happy all the time. But when she smiles, when she laughs, when she looks at you with that relaxed caring look, you realize you hate to see her upset or mad because it is wasted emotions in regards to who she really is, to what she really provides! To see her inner light as it shines over all who reside within her love.

I really don’t know what I would do without her, she taught me how to accept myself. I still struggle daily with old emotions and it’s hard to not have her here on a daily basis. But inside, when I get frustrated or mad, or feel the “old James” fighting to emerge because it’s the easy way out, I think about the strength of her love. Today when she hits rock bottom with treatment or ongoing issues with her body she looks at me, knows just how much I love her; knows how thankful I am and I’d like to believe it drives her forward. She has given me the strength to be loved and to whole heartedly give that love right back. To shine.

So what am I thankful for this year? Well unfortunately it’s not going to take me 26 days to explain it. (And remember there is nothing wrong with that)

It only takes one sentence.

This year I am thankful the light in my life is still able to shine.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in my life, I love you all…

 

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What a difference a day makes

What a difference a day makes

Twenty four little hours

Brought the sun and the flowers

Where there used to be rain

~Stanley Adams-Maria Mendez Grever~

 

Yeah it’s a tad corny I know but you see yesterday Jacy and I had a meeting with her doctor. Now for the last 48 hours work has been my home. Any information received was met with fret as no alternative exists for me in regards to any form of action. In reality there is no “action” to provide for as hard as it is to abide, my wife’s wishes remain the same. Take care of children, ranch, work and you before coming to sit by my side. Being a good husband I try my hardest to fulfill her requests.

I digress… The last 48 was met with daily updates in regards to a nasty gastrointestinal bleed (yes the very same one we have been discussing for the last 7 days) which has grown considerably in volume since the last time we prayed for it to stop. Within the last two weeks another conversation has repeatedly taken place in regards to Jacys care should this bleed become unmanageable in combination with several other issues that keep rearing their ugly head! Not a very comfortable conversation to have.

Now back to the GI bleed. It just would not slow down! Her volume increased, several options were discussed and throughout the last 48 hours her intake of fresh blood and platelets expanded to a point where it became prudent for an offensive stance as opposed to continuing with the defensive wait and see position. Several phone calls were made, and I being trapped within the four walls of one second home (my fire station) began pacing the floor. Talk in regards to urgency of care, ICU and paperwork which appeared unclear to some being properly disseminated so there would be no doubt as to our wishes should this bleed progress with no option for repair.

Nuclear medicine was advised and late Wednesday evening she was shuttled down for a radionuclide scan. A very small portion of blood was drawn then mixed with radioactive isotopes. Once the two were “shaken not stirred” they were re-administered into her vascular system where a machine rapidly captured pictures using gamma rays emitting from her blood to track, trace and locate any bleeds. By 10pm no conclusive evidence had been found. Early Thursday morning after checking her numbers her doctor decided another round of photography was in order as her output was increasing. By noon we had our answer.

Arriving to Stanford at 1130 my mind was weary from 48 hours filled with negativity. You know the very demons I have written about prior, taking hold of common sense and reality, forcing you to dive into the deepest most negative places your mind can go. Yet, I did what I always do once my shoulders pass through those gigantic, elegant glass doors. I stood up straight, put on my best poker face, took a deep breath and walked through as if I hadn’t a care in the world! If only it were true.

I hadn’t been in the room long when Jacys doctor came in. Prepared for the worst, simply because that’s all I’d thought about for the last 48, plus after seeing how much better Jacy appeared I just knew her appearance couldn’t possibly be indicative to her reality. Doc greeted us both, sat down and proceeded to give us a general, sanitized run down of where we were in regards to status. You know, like that little teaser they print on the inside cover of a book that leaves you wanting to either buy it, mull it over or throw it as far as you can. Afterwards he took a deep breath, started talking quickly and confidently while throwing it all on the line. Something I truly admire about this man. Basically; Jacys body needs to start working! They located several bleeds in a section of small intestine and though many options had been tossed around from surgery (although there was some confusion as to where that little rumor started) to an endoscopy procedure where they would cauterize or put a spring style blocker in to slow and stop the bleeding, to continuing the current course which would be platelets and more blood.

This doctor is a fan of giving things a chance. He circumvented a solid push to have Jacys bladder treated with chemicals to stop it from bleeding. These chemicals would have left her incontinent. Why did he do this? He felt even though her bleeding bladder had gone on for much longer than need be, there were other pressing issues and he just wanted to give her body a chance! Result? Clear urine for the last two days! What, what!!!!

Now with many pushing for the invasive endoscopy procedure he stood his ground once again prefacing with: I will do whatever your primary doctor wishes, but you are my patient this month and I am going to fight to give your body a chance! All we need is blood, and we are the largest user of blood anywhere, believe me there is plenty on hand!

When asked how Jacy felt about this she stated that since yesterday the amount of blood coming out feels as though it has slowed down. Her nurse confirmed this to be true, in fact 1/3 as much fluid had been collected during the same previous period of time! To that we all smiled, he (her doctor) smiled the biggest and proceeded to cover some finer aspects of his plan to which we all happily agreed! So we proceed, more blood, more platelets, more waiting and more prayers! I believe not only is she in good hands with her doctor this month, but that something else might just have something to do with it!

What a difference a day makes? Yes this catchy little song popped into my head. I am a sucker for old music and this hypnotic little 1959 tune just naturally stuck. As her doc walked out the door he patted me on the shoulder as if to say; I got this, quit worrying, and relax for a while. After speaking with him, feeling the confidence he exudes in combination with his very straight forward and at times humble explanations what else could I do?

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Sunday

Sunday

 

We gathered around as “wine” was passed about along with bread torn away from its crusty fibrous center. It was Sunday and as with any Sunday there are only a couple of places where a majority of civilization spends its time. Church, Football, Baseball, Soccer, NASCAR, a child’s sporting event or surrounded by family and friends. Yes I know there are those who work on Sundays as well but it’s not my fault we have allowed our society to create this thriving need. Plus that is a topic for whole different rant.

We were lucky enough to have nailed two of those listed. As the entire Franceschi family came into Stanford to visit their mother, Ms. Jacy, we were greeted by a much welcome visit from the Pastor of our church. It had been awhile since we were able to go to church and with Jacy being at Stanford for 5 months now Pastor Cathy was a welcome sight indeed! Saying our hello’s we laughed, hugged and welcomed her into Jacys little room in E wing. After some conversation it seemed like no better time to get a little serious and read a few psalms, rejoice in each other’s glorious presence and take communion. It was Sunday after all. So the “wine” was passed, the bread was torn (Parker exchanged his piece for a bigger one, Hmm gluttony?) and quietly, spiritually we took communion. After saying the Lord’s Prayer I was filled with so much inner joy, my heart felt overwhelmingly full.

Jacy and Parker

It is hard getting all the children to Stanford at the same time. Cody has a job, Jake runs like his dad in three directions at once so Parker and Jess are always the easiest to corral for a little mother child visitation. On this Sunday though everything fell into place. Cody was ready to go the second he arrived home from work and the other three quickly followed suit. Our afternoon was filled with talk about Christmas lists for the kids, discussions about grades and the condition of all our much cared for animals. Jacy is longing for home, it is in her eyes; she misses every little thing about the Blue Sky Ranch from riding horses to weeding, from cleaning up hay in the barn to playing with her dogs but most of all she misses cleaning stalls. Good hard work, where the only reward she receives is watching a horse stroll in, sniff the fresh shavings and flop on their side for a good roll! Job well done.

Cody and Jake went for a walk about the Stanford campus while the four of us watched a movie together. Pastor Cathy was still fresh in my mind, so my quiet voice was whispering a little prayer to God. A prayer of peace and thanksgiving for this very moment my eyes were a party too. Seeing Parker curled up in his mommas lap while watching the movie; I knew in my heart it was just what Jacy needed. A peaceful respite from being poked, prodded, tested and manipulated by strangers. Just a mother surrounded by her children with the littlest one in her lap. Nothing could be more heavenly.

Upon returning an hour and half later the boys regaled us with tales of exploration across the massive Stanford campus. The place was more than they expected and Cody even quipped; why didn’t you take me here when I was looking into colleges? Yep he thought Stanford was pretty cool and I would have to agree. Of course I also couldn’t let him dream to big without reminding him of the annual tuition to attend such a revered university. (Roughly $64,000.00) Of course his retort was sharp and to the point. Uh scholarships??? I cannot tell a lie, for a moment I pondered my son attending Stanford and it made me a bit giddy! But then really it becomes about me being able to walk around stating “my son attends Stanford” and well that just sounds pompous.

A few more laughs were had at Jakes expense which is pretty normal in our family and then it was time to go. The kids all said their goodbyes, kissed their momma, stripped off their gowns and headed to the family room. Jacy decided she wanted to go for a walk while I was there and we made two laps around the quad before she became too exhausted to continue. One more goodbye was had by all the children and I slowly escorted her back into her room.

Saying goodbye is always the hardest part. It just feels so wrong to leave this woman who I adore alone in a room without me there to take care of her. But we do it time and again. It is always a long drive home for me. My brain never shuts off, I feel like I am abandoning her and it tears up my insides. Sunday was no different, with the exception that I actually smiled most of the way home knowing we had not just a good day together as a family, but a great day filled with love, God and all the trappings (short of a home cooked meal) a Sunday should bring.

For moment in a very long time; life was good….

Jacy and family

 

What????

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Never in my life have I seen anything like this and trust me I have seen some crazy ass shit! Last night I came home from the hospital, distraught, worn out, fearing for my family, my wife and myself, for you see the thought of losing the very center of our lives, my wife, their mom was overwhelming to say the least.

So I put out the call!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I believe in faith! Now faith is a funny thing, there are those who believe it ties directly to the bible, some believe it is a feeling or an attitude, while others believe it is a positive energy randomly floating throughout the universe! Either way my beliefs are not what matters here, what does matter is as long as I can remember having faith in something is what’s kept me alive and running. Without faith in myself, in God (yes I am one of those) and in the ability to keep an inner positive attitude no matter the situation without disturbing anyone else’s emotional process, I could not have survived these 49 years. Faith has proved me right more times than not and when faith let me down there was always something to be learned from that experience.

Prayer warriors

Wow! There is definitely something about prayer warriors that is mind blowing! Everyone I could ever imagine along with their friends and friends I don’t even know, joined the prayer warrior cause! Last night and this morning I was completely blown away by the amount of people saying prayers for my wife! Even the Atheists in my group were hoping for positive energy to encompass my wife’s being! To say I was humbled by it all is an understatement! I personally believe in the power of prayer, there is something to be said about a mass of people converging their beliefs and energy into one combined focus to accomplish a positive result.

It worked!

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it freaking worked!!!!! We went from end of days through the doctors own words to; hey there is a possibility you might make it out of this mess! That is huge!!! Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!! A huge thank you to every one of you who prayed, focused, thought or said a kind word while moving through their day. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, she is my world and to see how many people are in her corner is astounding!!!

So here is the gist of things!

Today her doctor came in to report the test results from yesterday’s exploratory investigation and it looks as if the bleeding has slowed down in her gastrointestinal tract. (YAY!) Her lungs continue to be an issue but they are not as concerned as it appears treatable. So after hearing the day before that her body needed to wake up and start working or else! We’ll that’s just what it did! The doctor then went on to talk about another patient who had similar issues to Jacy’s and after a year in the hospital walked out a free man! This man now runs marathons and lives a fairly normal life. Yes he is still plagued with GvHd issues but he is healthy, home and living life to the fullest!! Doc also explained that even though Jacy’s road is going to be rocky (paraphrasing) she has a shot at making it out of the damn hospital! Woo hoo! THAT IS ALL WE HAVE EVER ASKED FOR!!!!!

So to all you prayer warriors again I humbly say thank you!

I don’t care what you believe, there is definitely power in prayer, and positive thought! We owe it all to you guys! Everyone came together, praying as hard as they could and it worked! This morning I opened FB (Facebook) and was blown away by how many people took time to remember why they either liked or loved my wife! People were sharing positive memories of her and I must say, seeing some of you change your profile pictures to a memory or personal experience with my wife was so incredibly touching! Looking up from the screen it was raining, but only behind my glasses! I swear when this is all over I am throwing a huge BBQ, inviting everyone and I plan on kissing or hugging every person who has ever thought a kind thought or prayed for my wife! I spent last night dreading the worst and today I feel positive energy abounds!!! Jacy also feels as though a weight has been lifted from her shoulders, she is still scared of the unknown but there is hope and hope feels pretty darn good!

Keep them prayers coming people! Let’s harness all that positive energy and prove once and for all it just isn’t this woman’s time! She has plenty to do here still on earth and a husband who will stand right beside her!

Once again! Thank you all! I love you, Ill pray for you, and hopefully one day soon I will pay it forward!

Love is something special

Yesterday I sat with my wife on her hospital bed. Leaning into me we listened to others talking in the room and I staring longingly at her once again realized I am a very lucky man.

It is very easy to fall in love. The world is filled with interesting, beautiful people who intrigue and excite our lust for closeness. Each person’s definition of love is different, thereby allowing varying levels of intimacy amongst those parties involved. There is love acquired over time, love by design, and love at first sight. There are people who know a particular person is the one for them right away and while pining away for their affection develop love through mutual interests. It takes a special person to not only peak those interests but keep them thriving. A person who is willing to walk side by side supporting and surviving every possible situation one could develop or live through over time. For you see, love is not for the faint of heart or quitters.

There she sits. Yesterday while staring at her it came to me that I missed her more than I let on at times. Everyone at the hospital gets to hear her laughter, see her smile and relish in her constant silliness. All the things I took for granted or at times bothered me because of my own selfish moodiness I now longed to have back in my life on a daily basis. I was actually jealous of their ability to bathe in her good Karma.

Today someone sent me a picture of an actress on a current show (I won’t give the pleasure of repeating its name because this show is sheer poppycock) and stated she looked just like my wife! I dismissed it and then after coming back to this picture three, four or five times it dawned on me they were right! Just like that my selfishness missed her hair, her eyebrows, her eye lashes, and her round face with make-up, wearing a slinky dress on date night or goofy overalls on the way to school! I miss the way she smells, her choice of lotions always leaving her skin smooth and soft. I miss her holding me tight while dancing, whispering in my ear “I love you”. I looked at the picture of this actress over and over and I yearned for the wife who at one time didn’t have Leukemia.

I am a very lucky man

Most people felt that way at one time in their relationships but having grown used to their partners they no longer feel a longing deep inside for their significant other. Time, life, work, children and school have robbed them of time they should have spent with each other, instead creating a divide and conquer relationship which ultimately leads to a divided relationship.

I long for her to come home. I hate leaving the hospital, I want to stay there all the time. To hear her laugh between coughing and vomiting. To watch her smile even though the news she has been told sucks. To hold her hand even when she feels as though she is a thousand degrees. To walk with her down the hallways even though she must have help from a nursing assistant. To sit and eat lunch like two old people with no teeth! She with soup and me complaining there isn’t enough candy in the drawer.

In the past we too were a divide and conquer relationship! I divided to conquer and she wanted us to handle things together. She never gave up on me even though there were many times she could have, many times I may have needed to talk her into one more chance, she calmly continued loving me. Stubborn and tough she never ever gave up, she always knew that even though I was going to fight, kick and scream, I would come out the other side, wiser, gentler and more giving.

That is why it’s my time to be there for her! I know she is kicking and screaming on the inside! So I keep her going, telling her it’s going to be all right while showing her how to remain calm, think things through and understand there is a better tomorrow for her waiting. When this is over and she comes home she will have known I never gave up on her, I calmly helped her to understand it is ok to feel sad, ok to feel frustrated and ok to want this all to end as long as you vent it all out and then restart towards the finish line. She is fighting hard, but she is not fighting alone. She is not superwoman, she did not become the fighter she is today without losing a few rounds in life. She will come home knowing I love her with all my heart and soul, and I am thankful for all she has given me.

Our lives will never be the same. Leukemia has made sure of that. But what our life will be has yet to be written. An open page awaits us and as much as I long for the wife of days gone by, I cannot wait to see what life has in store for us as a team, a couple, as friends who are lucky enough to be married to one another.

Like I said; it is easy to fall in love, staying in love is something very special indeed.

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It was a very good day..

mom and parkerStrolling into the quad my daughter, son and I all turn the corner to see Jacy taking a breather from walking during physical therapy. Standing quietly we wait a second as to not startle anyone. Jacys mom see’s us and starts squealing with joy. Mom is happy. Out of breath, mask covering her face you can see smile lines around her eyes as they struggle to fixate on two small silhouettes. Our children each take turns hugging her then wander over to the rolling chest of body isolation gear to begin the arduous struggle associated with a 10 and 11 year old trying to don these items. After a few minutes and what appears to be a 3 ½ foot high stellar version of Tommy Boy’s Fat guy in a little coat, my son puts both hands in the air with medical gloves on and says; doctor? Yep it’s going to be one of those visits.

Once inside Ms. Jacy’s room she claps her hands with joy as her children lay a little more love on their long lost momma. Questions about school, life, sports, rodeo, the ranch all flow freely as a mother needs to know exactly how her children are faring without her. Yes I have kept her abreast of every activity, function and behavioral (both good and bad) condition associated with these two monkeys. But it means so much more hearing it directly from their mouths. She is beaming.

Jacy lets the children know how happy she is they are there, gives them a simple version of her current condition and apologizes for the fact she cannot see them very well. Her eyes are back on the blurry side which makes for a lot of squinting while searching for each person’s location through vocals. Both children ask a few more questions followed by laughter and silly kid actions, afterwards things begin to settle down. Good thing as there isn’t much room for horseplay.

Now I remember being a kid and a hospital room was the last place I would ever want to be! Parents telling you not to touch anything, to quit making so much noise, to stop touching each other and above all else quit fidgeting in those chairs! Today would be no different as most of those words came out of our collective mouths at one point or another. Yet they smiled, acted as though a behavioral modification had just occurred while finding a new way to fidget or make sounds.

A suggestion was made for a trek outside and with her nurses blessing we loaded up then traveled to the fountain. The fountain is a wonderful meeting place. Water flowing, plenty of shade and ducks traveling around unmolested as if they owned the joint. We almost didn’t make it there as while pushing Jacy through the lobby doors in her wheelchair the I.V. stand became ensnared in carpet almost crashing to the ground! Fast hands by both Jacy’s mom and a nice lady who happened to come through the door at that exact moment saved the day! Jacy was a little frazzled after that interaction but a few deep breaths and her anxiety quickly waned. After all when you are this close to the outside as a prisoner you don’t let one little bump in the road keep you from freedom.

The kids ran around, the adults chatted away, at one point her mom went to get her a paper mask so we could hear her better as she spoke. Parker would come by just to get a hug and say hello, then run off to play with his sister. We had 30 minutes and we were going to make the very best of it.

Back in the room Jacys mom said goodbye, spreading more love on the munchkins’ and a big old hug for me. Once her mom left we all settled in, found a movie and silence fell across the hospital room. An hour and half went by, not a word was uttered, and we just sat there, like old times, at home, watching a movie together as a family. It wasn’t the most perfect of settings, it wasn’t the best TV or the highest quality sound system. But we were all together, it was perfect.

It is always hard to leave. When I am here alone it pains me to walk out the door, but when the kids are here it is doubly as hard to say goodbye. They are all good sports about it, their mom no matter how hard she tries to look positive always has a little sadness showing around the eyes. I cannot imagine how she feels, what is going through her mind, how her heart must break every time they close the door behind them. One week to three weeks, that’s how long it is between visits from her children. She gets me two or three times a week then her step-mom, mom, sisters and father fill in the remaining gaps. A virtual revolving door of family making sure Jacy is never alone. But your children, they hold a special place in your heart and they definitely hold a special strength when it comes to the healing process.

By the time we got home they had been asleep in the car for quite a while. When we walked out the door of Jacy’s room she too was fast asleep within moments of our departure. Looks like everyone got all the love they needed. Squeezed, kissed and hands held to exhaustion.

It was a very good day indeed.

Hi ho, Hi ho, its off to work I go…..

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It felt strange pulling into the parking lot and I have no idea why. I have stopped by a hundred times over the last few months, yet walking into the building it was as if a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Moving effortlessly down the hallway with the lightness in my step of Danny Kaye (only us old timers will understand that reference). I opened the door to our day room and was instantly greeted with the boisterous banter of a warm firehouse. The back and forth one liners that are often associated with this type of setting are what in-house legends are made of. My smile broadened.

Individually guys would walk up to say welcome back, I greeted them with: hey I am the new guy James, nice to meet you, division sent me down so anyone know where I can put my stuff? A couple good chuckles were had, I grabbed a hot cup of jo and sat in a very familiar chair. I was home again, with people who have supported me as only family could. Sighing a very heavy sigh, at that very moment all felt right with the world.

Friday was my first day back in the firehouse and I was shocked at how much I missed it, all of it! The chores, the calls and of course the guys! Two months are a long time to be away from work, let alone people you consider your second family. But here I was, knocking the dust from my helmet, going through my turnouts and checking all my gear. I was smiling, actually smiling and feeling the warmth that came with that smile. Gone for a few moments was all the worries associated with my life, it felt great.

That feeling was short-lived as before we started our day I gathered everyone around to give them an update on Jacys condition and where we were in regards to treatment. It was an awkward silent time. I understood. What do you say when a co-worker/friend gives you that much information? They all feel my pain and understand it is very difficult for me to adequately express those feelings while meeting everyone else’s emotional needs. But one thing is always a constant when it comes to this family, each one has my back, as I would have theirs in a similar situation.

We ran calls, did chores and by mid-day ended up downtown for the annual Downtown Business Association Halloween hand-out! How fun! Handing out candy to hordes of kids all dressed up in their Halloween costumes! Meeting people, talking with kids, joking around and generally having a good, old-fashioned normal day, as if nothing else was happening in my life.

That night was hard. I didn’t sleep well, tossing and turning in my now unfamiliar bed. When I did sleep I awoke confused, disoriented and afraid. Worried that something bad was about to happen, scared that my kids needed me, panicking over an inability to just drop things and leave in case the phone did ring.

The second day was fine and the second night not much better. My worrying seemed to be getting stronger, I consoled myself that there were only 6 or so hours left and that my children can make it without me. I have raised them to take of themselves and I know Cody will do a great job! Hell in the 1800’s dad would leave the 8-year-old in charge of the 6-year-old for a week! It all turned out ok most of the time, right?

When I got home the next morning my overall feeling was of relief. I had made it through a 48 hour shift without losing my mind. I had proved to myself it could be done, that letting go of some of my worries must happen. My heart was filled with joy over the reunion of my crew and the interesting calls we had run during our rotation. It felt good to have my mind and body back in a normal groove.

I spoke with Jacy this evening. Her prognosis is still the same as things haven’t changed much. She still smiles and see’s the positive outcome although we have started talking more about the “what if’s” with her doctor. I don’t like “what if’s”. They weigh heavy on my soul, leaving me nervous and gun-shy. Once the lights go down late at night after I say a prayer or two the “what if’s” start gnawing away at my insides. Eating at me, taunting me into believing they are real, testing my faith. It’s like they are a broken/scratched record playing over and over again in my head. Certain nights they bring me to tears as I drift off to sleep. I awake several hours later in a cold sweat, face and pillow soaked as they play out their dirty little mind games while I dream. I don’t particularly care for being the unwilling participant in these dreams so I struggle to stay awake staring at the ceiling and wondering why?

Faith is a tricky bitch. You must hear any and all negatives to fully understand and reinforce any positives. To have faith is to attest unconditionally that through faith only one outcome can become a reality. In turn you must suffer through many negative thoughts processes to achieve faith. You must sort them into categories, holding onto only those entrenched in reality. Once they are in a neat little folder wedged inside your mind you can proceed to judgement though careful, faith driven evaluation of any situation. The tricky part is understanding the importance of negatives while never allowing them to overtake your positivity based upon faith. Some nights that is harder than others.

Tonight as I write, the empty sound of my house is deafening. The dull drone of silence beats loudly in my ears. It is time to go to bed and I tire of my best friend not being there when I turn off the lights. Like a small child clutching their blanket or bear to keep away evil spirits at night; how I wish my wife was here so that just one night I could clutch her while sleeping peacefully, be protected instead of the protector, guarded from evil dreams continually questioning my faith. Only then could I awaken the next morning to find this was nothing more than a really long, extremely bad nightmare.

But that is not to be so I toss and turn some more, constantly fighting faithless thoughts in the dark while counting down the minutes until I can hold her again.

I love you honey, please come home soon….