I am not the Grinch!

This morning while drinking a cup of coffee I stared at our Christmas tree. It is a fine tree, six feet tall, adorned in ornaments collected over the last thirty years. A gorgeous shroud neatly placed around its base (thanks to my daughter) and presents arranged by size to give it that proper appearance. By all collective purposes the perfect holiday tree. But as you know, something has been missing.

The Christmas spirit resides within us all. It is not just expected motions or deeds, it is a humbling of one self, to give without expectations, to seek no reward other than a feeling of self-worth associated with being a little more tolerant of everyone and everything. To look upon your neighbor and say; Merry Christmas! Thankful for all that resides within your life.

My Christmas spirit has been like that funny noise in your car. You hear it constantly, it’s there, but when you take it to a mechanic for repair, it just won’t make any noise and you look a tad bit crazy trying to explain what it sounds like! Yep, I’ve had Christmas spirit I think? But mostly only when I am alone, for the second I am surrounded by people, I begin feeling a little bah humbug and no noise is to be found.

I have tried everything to make it happen! Purchased some egg nog, drank it cold, drank it hot, drank it with a little brandy and got a headache! Hmm is that my heart growing three sizes to small? Went Christmas shopping, didn’t buy anything and grew irritated with the continual rudeness of those around me! Yep feeling a little green poking through my skin. Helping the kids with our Christmas tree, felt giddy throwing the lower branches in the fire and watching them sizzle! GRRRR!!! Grew tired of our Christmas music, took some ibuprophen and drank tea while all three children argued over ornament placement which brought a strange smirk to my face!

What did it all mean? I wasn’t sure, thought maybe it was just a funk from Jacy being gone so long, but then it hit me! We were all lounging around watching How the Grinch stole Christmas and I found myself laughing and secretly high fiving the Grinch’s actions!!! Holy cow! Have I become the Grinch? Is my Christmas spirit gone for good? Am I going to turn green? Nervous with this enlightened moment, I almost had myself talked off this crazy train until Jack waddled in and jumped in my lap chewing on an ornament!!! AHHHHHHHHH! He looks like the Grinches dog! I am doomed!!!!

Replaying many actions over the last few days in my head trying to justify this new found failure the picture became clearer.

Have not moved to Mount Crumpit! Plus!

Trying hard not to live a solitary life. Plus!

My dog Jack, unlike Max is loved and loyal as opposed to unloved and loyal. Big Plus!

I have never thrown All the presents into the abyss! Hmm ok, I am allowed one, right?

And no one named Cindy Lou is pestering me with syrupy sweet kindness, although Jessica is trying her hardest! Plus!

Phew, its official, my heart is not three sizes two small!

Yay!!! I am not becoming the Grinch! So with that revelation let me put on my Santa suit, pat little children on the head while Jack and I load up the sleigh and then hand out the best Christmas present ever!

Jacy is on track to be released to outpatient status! We don’t have an official date yet, but so far it could be as soon as the first week of January barring any unforeseen complications!! Within the last week, she has upped her diet and is eating solid foods! She is motoring around the quad without much assistance, she no longer has a catheter and her bladder has chosen to bleed considerably less! She is getting stronger by the day! It is as though a switch has been thrown and her body is now trying it’s hardest to work! There is still some lung issues we are dealing with but they are small potatoes in the grand scheme of things!

So keep your fingers crossed everybody! Hopefully she will be at her dads within two weeks and we will finally begin phase two of this ordeal! Then if all goes right she will be home by possibly March? Who knows!

Strangly I feel my heart is growing three sizes to large!!

Merry Christmas everyone! May you be surrounded by those you love, may you send love and prayers to those who cannot be with you and may the Christmas spirit always reside within you.

The_Grinch_(That_Stole_Christmas)

 

 

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So I sat in a barn..

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Yesterday after cleaning house, shuttling children, and spending the better part of an afternoon fixing my tractor (something I hadn’t planned on) a feeling of failure for accomplishing none of my daily goals swept over me yet again. Frustrated and tired, I fight a daily battle of just giving up. Wanting more than anything to walk into the house, climb into bed and pray that maybe I’ll just sleep until this is all over. Lucky for me my will is stronger than my lazy ass, feel sorry for myself attitude so I did something I haven’t been able to do in a while.

I walked into the barn and just sat down.

Now for some there could be no understanding of just how important that moment was for me. You see with life running at a hundred miles an hour there is one thing that has been cast aside day after damn day. My horses.

Jake is doing a good job. He is riding them when it’s not raining, making sure stalls are cleaned and they are fed in the morning. One of our borders Ms. Lisa takes care of them all in the afternoon, spreading the very same love and care I would lay upon them if I were here myself. But I am not and that is my mental meltdown.

Mornings of days past haunt me like an elderly hunting dog who can no longer hunt yearning for one more chance. Feeding, walking, riding, cleaning stalls then heading over to another ranch where the rest of my morning and early afternoon are filled with more horses to ride/train and of course working cows. To enter a show ring, scared to death and no matter the score when it’s over ride out having learned something new. A dream constantly plaguing me, that one day I will ride into Fort Worth on a good sound horse, under the lights with fresh cows. It’s all there, teasing me, feeling father and farther out of reach.

So what does sitting down in the barn have to do with anything?

It is where it all begins. We move so fast every day we forget about our dreams, putting them aside as life throws roadblock after roadblock in our path. Every second centered on the next dollar, the next moment with our children, appointments, sports and well LIFE. Our priorities and supposed priorities.

So instead I chose to stop and sit in my mares stalls. Cassie is my rock, she is a special horse for me. Most stories about people and horses for some odd reason revolve around little girls. I am sure it has to do with ponies, then unicorns, oh wait, pink unicorns and of course countless books written about a girl and her horse! Yet I have seen more than my fair share of grown, tough, grizzled men shed a tear over the loss of their riding partner, their friend. The same dynamics apply for us boys/men as do the girls/women, these animals we’ve spent countless hours riding, training, growing to know and understand become a part of you. As a boy you are John Wayne or the Lone Ranger, Quigley down under or the Man from Snowy River! As a man they are your roping partner, cattle mover or cutting friend. They become a sounding board for your day, they listen to your frustrations without arguing back and keep you in check when your emotions filter into the riding experience. These four legged beasts continually teach us every single time we are around them, whether its patience, empathy, kindness, sharing, determination or love. It’s all there every time they are around, and if they get sick of your attitude because you are the one not listening to them, well you just may find yourself looking up from the ground as a muzzle is looking down upon you. If we are smart, we slow down, take measure of ourselves and reward them for all they have given to us.

Sitting in Cassie’s pen, she snorts at me, walks a few circles as if to ask what the hell I am doing there in her space. Then realizing there was much more on my mind than just occupying her space, she walks over, tips her ears forward and slowly leans up next to me. Once my hands are upon her neck her head drops and she leans a little more. For the next 30 minutes she listened as I apologized for having not been around. She is a funny horse, if she knows you she will talk back, little grumbles here and there but for me it’s like sharing a cup of coffee with an old friend.

I looked around the barn, not at the barn, but actually looked around it feeling disconnected. I think I needed to feel that moment to help me reconnect and reaffirm that although this journey has been a very long two years, in the grand scheme of things it is only a blip in time. Leaving Cassie’s stall she whinnies at me as if to say; hey dad, don’t go! I gave her some fresh hay and moved on, heading over to my daily rider, my amigo Mr. Tank. Checking in with him was much the same, except this old boy is still a proud stud, therefore he doesn’t have much to say unless you are a mare. Then, well he is the Barry White of the barn. Walking around I checked on the other 15 horses in our barn, said hello to each one with a little pet/scratch time in between and by the time I was done, my world was a bit more centered.

I am blessed for all that I have. A great family, good kids, a wonderful place to call home and barn full of some of the coolest animals on earth. Tomorrow is another day, so we will keep trying.

Jacy is still fighting hard. As I have said before we are in for a long tough battle. We were lucky enough to participate in an E-wing Christmas party the other day and it really brought some wonderful Christmas spirit to those who attended. Christmas Carrols, hot coffee and cookies, plus handmade stuffed animals for everyone! I never tire at the caring that comes from each and every staff member in this wing. In a place where it would be easy to only see the negative there is nothing but positive all around! It is never a place one would dread to be, and I am speaking from the patient/family member side of things. I can only image how it must feel to work there, they are all truly special people.

Jacys bladder continues to bleed, we are still hoping for a miracle but know this invasive procedure is right around the corner and as Ms. Jacy says; if it gets me outta here well then so be it! Her diet has been increased again and as of yesterday I watched her eat a turkey burger!!!! It was awful and she could only stomach half of it, but what an incredible step towards walking out! She almost has a full covering of hair upon her head and she is walking a little more each day! Her lungs are still giving her trouble but the breathing treatments she receives twice a day seem to help. What an amazing fighter my wife is, she inspires me everyday.

So hopefully we continue gaining ground, nothing would make our family and of Ms. Jacy happier than seeing her at her dads sometime in January! Please keep us in your prayers.

Christmas is coming, be thankful for all you have for it is not a gift that makes your life wonderful it is the gift of life that makes it all worth living.

 

 

The Christmas Blah’s

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The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things.

Thomas S Monson

Christmas this year has become about time, days, hours and minutes. There has been no Christmas joy in my heart. Each day a beating reminder there are only X-amount of days until Christmas morning. Only so much time allowed for visiting my wife in between hours away from the family at work and minutes of normalcy squeezed into moments with my children.

Christmas time, a time for years I looked forward too as an adult like that of a bewildered child. Its majesty and deep spiritual meaning associated with family, myth and fun. But it just hasn’t been the same. My inner soul has been empty. Deprived of some vison or fantasy of what Christmas means to so many. I just can’t seem to rise from this holiday funk.

Blaming our retailers is of course the easy way out. Black Friday, Cyber Monday or all cyber flipping week, whatever the case may be. Watching our countries citizens crash through Wal-Mart doors crushing others to rip a trinket or cheaply made object from another’s hand with greed and animosity does not sound very Christmas like at all. People purchasing things; things that just add up with more things to become either re-gifted things or things that sit in a corner or in a closet or on a garage shelf.

But it’s not the retailers I blame. In reality I hardly watch any TV so the commercial onslaught doesn’t really affect me personally.

The reality is it has been a very hard year, heck a very difficult two years and I know it sounds like I am whining but I feel we have been blessed surrounded by family during these many trying times. This year for Christmas I just haven’t felt as lucky. Not because of anything family related, it just hasn’t felt right. Oh we have put up a tree, played Christmas music, gone Christmas shopping, and even wrapped a few presents. But it feels like our family is simply going through the motions; add to that my responsibility to work Christmas Eve and its breaking my heart. It is what I must do, it is my job, and the kids will be fine but inside it feels as though our family is being robbed emotionally once again. There has never been a Christmas that one or both of us hasn’t been home. The bond of family broken by circumstances beyond our control.

Thanksgiving we gathered and quickly I found my way down the hill to Jacy’s room. But selfishly for me it was too short a visit, although no amount of time would have been enough I am sure. Christmas feels as though it will be much of the same; just be another blip on the horizon. Like a shooting star, there for one brilliant moment and then gone before anyone really had a chance to gaze upon its beauty. Sad…

Then, as I was riding my very own Debbie Downer red sleigh of despair I stumbled upon the quote above. Quickly realizing my own sorrow had in fact clouded these eyes. A Christmas spirit shined bright and soon the realization it had been shining every day for the last two years hit me like a gallon of egg nog! Stuck within my own bubble I had forgotten Christmas is a symbol that brings out the good in people as they unify over family, spirit, religion and love. If you are lucky and I mean very lucky you get to see that kind of love and devotion throughout the year as Christmas’ regenerating powers overflow beyond 25 days of December. It’s like a check in point for your soul.

The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness.

How blind and pitiful could I be? Never in my life had I been surrounded by more love, generosity and goodness than right here, right now. Without the gift of love shown to myself and my family I couldn’t even comprehend how much harder this journey would become. To love and be loved, to be thought of, cared for and held deep in someone’s prayers, the most intimate sign of love, is indeed breathtaking. My selfish sorrow for what I wasn’t going to have within a Christmas parameter had blinded me to what I have had all along.

Family, friends and community.

At Christmas time, who could really ask for more? So starting tomorrow, I am going to give it another shot! Wipe away my dreariness, put on my best holiday spirit and pray. Just like I should have been doing all along. Pray for those who have nothing, pray for those who are in pain or suffering. Pray for those who cannot make it home, are separated or are alone either by choice or because of circumstances beyond their control. Pray for those alone because they are all they have left. I am going to pray for everyone who has given so much time and love to our family and pray for my family as we work through a Christmas without our girl. I am just going to pray and be thankful for all we have.

In my prayers I will also keep praying for my wife. It is tough being in the hospital this long. Her room is decorated but it is not the same. There is a tree with lights, bows, garland, and ornaments. But it will be her first and hopefully her last Christmas away from home and her children. We will visit her Christmas day and smother her in love so she doesn’t lose her Christmas spirit. We will pray.

Thank you everyone for reminding me what matters most.

Update: Jacy is holding her own. Her numbers are getting better and she is finally able to eat some solid food!!! Yesterday she had sausage and pancakes! That is incredibly huge! Her gastrointestinal tract seems for the moment to be working just fine. No bleeding. Her lungs have switched from viral infections in the upper respiratory to the lower respiratory. She is still having trouble breathing and needs a few breathing treatments a day but overall she is starting to sound better when she speaks. Her bladder is still bleeding and there is future treatment options on the horizon. She is growing hair and it is coming in quickly! When you put it all together it appears she IS getting better!! We are still on a wait and see plan but overall it feels different this time.

So please if everyone can continue to pray, I believe we may just see a turn around here real soon and that would lead to a very happy New Year!

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

 

In it to win it!

In it to win it

Proverb[edit]

you’ve got to be in it to win it

  1. In order to win, or succeed at something, one must first compete or try.

 

It is 11:30 am and doc is making his rounds. Strolling onto E wing our paths cross and we have a “short but sweet” conversation in regards to Jacy’s care. Also the topic of his monthly rotation arises as he is rotating off Jacy’s care leaving his vacancy filled by the next in line. I really like this doctor although in reality my feelings have been very strong towards all 5 doctors caring for my wife over the last several months. Each one brings with them a new unique perspective and none have ever given a hint of egotism or pompous air as I have experienced in other health care settings. But this doctor in particular; well as the spouse of a patient I have felt a connection. Whether it be I just understand him better, or appreciate his no bullshit approach with me, I am sad to see him move on to another most deserving candidate.

Strolling into the room “doc” is surrounded by other staff members including our nurse (who is awesome!!) and begins discussing where we are, where Jacy is headed and then of course his plan of action for treatment. It really is a lot of the same. A wait and see approach as her body continues to find it’s balance between what her new white cells consider good vs evil. This of course is the hardest part for my wife as it leaves her with no set in stone go home date. I liken it to loading up the ship, pushing from the docks, heading out into a vast ocean without ever plotting a course. Left to time, tide, wind and wave, one hopes each morning when they awake land will be on the horizon.

Her steroids have been lowered again, she remains on antibiotics as her lungs continue to battle a nasty virus and her diet has been increased from clear liquids to GvHD1 which means some very bland, light solid foods. It is time to give her gastrointestinal tract another chance to perform without bleeding. Her need for blood has decreased although she is still receiving daily platelets and her skin is slowly starting to clear up. Her bladder remains the same, bleeding with occasional clots. This will be the very last treatment option posed as we continue praying her bladder heals itself. Ms. Jacy does has a little something she hasn’t seen in months. Hair. That’s right a light covering of hair has sprouted from her head! It is not much but it is a start.

After a lengthy discussion about her future, doc smiles and asks if she has any comments, questions or concerns to which my wife slowly strokes her scalp and through a gravelly voice replies; hey I am in it to win it!

This really should be her main motto, what she lives by on a daily basis. For as long as I’ve known her she has been; in it to win it. Whether it’s sports, coaching, teaching, exercising, competing, friendships or even falling for one really dysfunctional man. Jacy Franceschi has always been, in it to win it. There is a no quit attitude and some days more than others it astounds me. She has her moments, her doubts, becomes scared and frustrated just like anyone would, as most people should in this situation. But one look at her kids, pictures of her friends, her family, her house, the ranch and those feelings step aside allowing her true grit to appear. Of course a steady dose of Ativan doesn’t hurt either.

Jacy is the only person I know who in five minutes can make friends with a complete stranger, let alone have the love and admiration of so many people who continue to root for her on a daily basis. Walking around yesterday I realized she is the “Norm” (from the old T.V. show Cheers) of E wing. Everywhere we walk all you hear is; Jacy! Now if we could just get her to learn some one liners like Norm used to have after he walked through the door she would have it made.

Example

Nurse: looking good Ms. Jacy how’s another lap around the quad sound?

Jacy: Like this; can’t catch my breath (pretend heavy breathing) can’t catch my breath!

Nurse: you’re looking very pretty today Ms. Jacy

Jacy: Hari Krishna is a difficult look to pull off but I think I nailed it!

Nurse: how you feeling today Ms. Jacy

Jacy: Like a bear just out of hibernation; Hungry and looking for food!

Ok I don’t have a future as a sitcom writer but you get the point.

So we remain for the most part, status quo. The news isn’t overly good, but it also isn’t overly bad. In reality if this week goes well, hopefully some positive changes are on the horizon! It is all we can ask for! So as your week goes forward and little struggles arise just remember this.

No matter the challenges in life, we should wake up each day, put our feet on the ground, be thankful for all that we have and walk out the door ready. Why? Because every day we should be “In it to win it”!

Just ask Ms. Jacy…

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