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

 

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The Face of Leukemia- A day for surprises…

 

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What does it mean to “touch” a life?

Everyday we walk this earth, worrying about our “in the moment” crises, complaining about our “bad” days, struggling to get ahead, feeling father and farther behind. But do you know what it feels like to actually touch someones life? To be that moment, that bright and shining star leaving someone wanting to see you again, yearning to feel the warmth your presence brings. Do you?

I believe everyone does. I believe every single person walking the face of this earth is just what I described to someone. Maybe to more than just one, but at least one person in your life feels that way when YOU walk through the door.

It becomes very easy to forget what our presence can mean to people in our lives. As I previously stated life itself does have a strange tendency to get in the way. But what if we could look outside ourselves for just a minute? Have the ability to look back upon our lives feeling the emotions within people surrounding us. Know in that moment of weakness leading us to complain about life, while feeling down upon ourselves that those moments are ok, but in reality are really nothing more than a  waste of our energy.  A waste of our precious time.  What if we could do that before we leave this earth? Before it is all recounted upon the lips of a friend or family member without us ever knowing?

Today-

Today I stood by while my wife was mobbed by students at her school. They looked like puppies held at bay as we rounded the corner onto a black top designed for play. These children lined up into perfect rows, facing their teachers. Until one noticed a look of surprise cast across another’s face, and as most inquisitive minds do, turned to see what caused such a shocked reaction.  It started slowly, a gasp, then murmurs of Ms.Jacy here, and another there, until they all were screaming it loudly! Ms. Jacy!!!!! MS. JACY!!!! Not knowing whether to run or stay in perfect formation the looked; “like puppies on a leash”. Until they could no longer contain themselves and all it took was one puppy to break free from the constraints of rules. They came fast and I saw a smile arise from my wife (Ms. Jacy) and emotions shared from these children that said to me; this is her moment. She now knows…

This was the moment as a human being you hopefully realize you mean more to the world than your little daily problems will allow you to believe. A moment when you stand back and let a wave of love overcome you. A moment that most people won’t realize until its to late.  Watching my wife smothered in love from both students and co-workers today left my heart aching with joy. At one point while speaking to some colleagues she began to cry at how much she missed them all, how much she loved her job, her classroom and what it meant to be a teacher at Dixon Montessori School, surrounded by colleagues who felt as she does towards these children.

She cried and I stood aside; normally I would have swooped her up, protected her, whisking her away, shielding her from emotional pain. But in this one moment, I just stood there, gulped down hard as to not look weak and let her friends, her co-workers surround her with love.  This was her moment of clarity and I prayed she was, for a second standing outside her body to see, just what she means to these kids, these parents, these friends.

We left after roughly 30 minutes or so, Ms. Jacy becoming increasingly exhausted. As we walked through the campus, several children grabbed at her sweater, looking for hugs, looking for a smile, looking to tell her they loved her, missed her and couldn’t wait until securedownload-9she returned to them, healthy and whole.

It was in fact the longest walk ever, back to the car.

Cancer sucks, cancer changes your life forever. Our lives together will forever travel a new and different path aligned with Leukemia but together will win this fight.

As you head into this holiday, who are you a shining light for, who waits to see you smile, what family member(s) want nothing more than to spend time with you? Who makes a difference in your life? Who can you not wait to see? What person(s) take up every moment of your thoughts because of the joy they bring into your life?

I beg of you, find out if you don’t know the answer to these questions. Dont waste time wondering, don’t wait until its to late to know.

Today witnessing the empathy and caring my wife has shared  with so many others, her passion for being a teacher and friend, that same love and emotion shared in return; just being a part of that experience with her, leaves me feeling very blessed.

Of course I already treasure the gifts she has brought into my life.  I know who the one person is that I yearn to see, that I long for, whom I cant wait to see walk through the door. The person who brings light into my life.

Just look at her smile, it says it all…..

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The Face of Leukemia (December 2, 2013)

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Another couple of days spent sitting patiently watching her sleep. For some this could become tiresome or even boring, but not for me. Time trudges on, as the thought of her waking to speak with me, even for just a little while weighs heavy with anticipation!  A second of lucidity, a moment, a glance, the chance to press her cheek against mine long enough to feel close again.

Through all of this, I am reminded that as her husband it’s my job to care for this woman.  It is an honor to ensure she has all she needs and it’s my privilege to do so. But none of that would be as easy as it sounds if it weren’t for all the wonderful people who continue to support our family back home. To continually be humbled by the kindness, care, love and empathy shown to us by our friends, co-workers, acquaintances and strangers is overwhelming to say the least. But I am and I thank you all..

Saturday while staring at the east Kaiser wall an epiphany overcame me! So after a little one on one discussion, today with Jacy’s help the two of us acted upon that revelation.

This morning my wife woke up, shuffled her way into a shower, did her hair along with a little make-up. Now this of course took all the energy saved up from a solid nights rest that one participating in chemotherapy could muster, but that did not deter her from participating in this master scheme. A phone call, some texting, our kids taken to school without the slightest knowledge (because loose lips sink ships), and I stealthily rolled into the parking lot of Dixon Montessori Charter School at 0800.

At 0815 I cleared the threshold of Ms. Jacy’s classroom with nothing more than a smile, a cell phone and one iPad mini in hand.  The students were gathered together and a simple question and answer period began. You see Ms. Jacy (as most already know from reading my blog) was hauled off to the hospital right after returning home for her lunch break on the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday. Although her students knew what was happening through reports on Thursday and Friday, they had not seen or spoken with the teacher they have all grown to love since.

That was about to change

Jacy’s students know me either as Mr. Jacy or Firefighter James, Ms. Jacy’s husband. So not a lot of time was wasted with useless questioning about my presence. The kids were excited to see me and to hear the latest news, especially in person. But when I held up the iPad and explained my plan the place went nuts!

Now it took me a few tries as I am not the most advanced person immersed in the world of technology. But for the rest of my life I will never forget the sounds of joy that came from each and every student when I turned the iPad around and there was Jacy’s smiling face looking back upon these students. They cheered and clapped and screamed HELLO! A few “bomb-diggities” were tossed about freely! It was fantastic.  She could see all of them and they could see her. I stood as still as I could holding the iPad up so she could take in the room and they could feel as though she was right there with all of them.  This woman truly loves these kids, all of them and they love her! She has spoken of them everyday since being incarcerated in the Kaiser hospital system.  She told them all about her stay, what was happening with her and how much she missed them! It was grand.

When we were finished,  looking down and saying goodbye into the iPad, she beamed at me with a look of happiness. The look on her face warmed my heart, but being the ever gruff man I am supposed to be I choked back a bit of mist in my eye, told her I would see her in a couple of hours and hit the end button.  Walking out of the classroom I knew Jacy had just received a good old-fashioned jolt of uplifting spirit! Something we all need from time to time, but more so for her right now.  Looking back, pretty sure some skipping was done on the way back to the car. Maybe even a selfie high-five?

This week is going to be a long one. There are more complications like the persistent headache that never goes away, continued fatigue and weakness, there are also some sporadic nosebleeds which have us worried just a bit.  She can’t bleed as there is no way for her blood to effectively clot, so she has been receiving blood and platelet transfusions.  Friday is D-Day and it cant come soon enough. It’s when we find out whether the first round of chemo did the trick! There is a long road ahead for us and every time we meet the doctor I feel as though it is preparation for the road to get longer. But never the less we will travel this road and hopefully meet some really wonderful people along the way. Hopefully we can spread the word about Leukemia and the effects it has on its victims, their families and friends.

The face of leukemia spares no one.  It belongs to your mother, your father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, friend, acquaintance, and stranger.  The face of Leukemia can attach itself to any and every person in the human race and it does not discriminate. The face of leukemia cares not about your age because, old face, young face, the face of an infant it still survives. The face of leukemia doesn’t care about your  financial status, whether you vacation in the Hampton’s or live in a cardboard box under a bridge.  The face of leukemia is driven by this disease and the victims it inhabits therefore the face of leukemia is and always will be you.

Look in the mirror and ask yourself, what would I do if I had cancer? Who would I turn too. What questions would I ask? How would I react? Would I be ready to take cancer on and kick its ass without wavering?

I never asked myself those questions before now. But I have, and I am going to do everything in my power to make this a success for the woman I love. I am also going to tell everyone I can about leukemia, it effects, its signs and symptoms.  Then with a little luck, the power of positive thinking, prayer and the amazing skills associated with the many medical professionals we have encountered up to this point.

“The face of leukemia” will have a happy ending!

Because I love her face, and leukemia can’t have it anymore……

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