Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 2:36 AM CST

It's after midnight.
It's Dave's birthday.
He would be 43.
He loved pizza and bowling and football.
He loved pie and didn't care for cake.
He loved Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
He loved the ocean.
He loved hugging.
He loved singing.
He loved his guitar.
He loved Jesus.
And he loved us.

So many times, I've missed him so.
So many times, I could actually see him.
Laughing at Kate and Zach squealing and squirming when picking up pieces of fish to feed the seals.
Helping Zach with his first shave.
Stretching his body, leaning his head back, half-closing his eyes in the passenger seat of the Suburban..."Riding in style, eh, Shelley?"
Buying roses for Kate's dance recital.
Making Darren put on the Santa hat to fill the stockings.
Going with Darren to buy silly, stupid, outrageous, and sweet stuff to put in the stockings.
Putting bows on his head.
Smiling, laughing, the spark of life in any gathering, that was Dave.

We miss him so.

Saw an ad for a movie today. A quote from the movie: "If you cain't fix it; ya gotta stand it."

So we're standing it.


Kate and Amy opening stockings.


Zach and Kenny opening stockings.


Luke and Jake, well, opening stockings.


Zach saving the puppy on Kate's new game system.


Getting ready to leave Kelso, in the new Suburban. PS. For Lord's sake! I have my CHEATING shoes on, which add at least 2.5 inches. Those boys are getting too tall!


Kate and Grandpa, we're back in Walla Walla for Christmas part 2!



Annalee, Kate and my new "grandbaby" Kacey.

Standing it.


Love you all, 'Chelle

PS. More photos on photo page. Tomorrow I'm going to try to see if I can find some birthday pictures of Dave through the years. Don't know if I'll be able to pull it off on such a short time line, tho!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2005 9:25 PM CST

December 23.
A date that will always burn in my memory.
The date that our world changed forever.
The date that we began a roller coaster ride that brought the highest highs and the lowest lows, that lasted forever, but ultimately ended all too soon.

Most of you know this story. Nine years ago today, Dave and his brother, Bob, decided to go to Portland, about 4 hours from our home, to pick up some furniture. I didn't want them to go. Selfishly, I wanted Dave home. So they left very, very early in the morning.

And hit ice outside of Boardman. They rolled the van three times. I got a call from the state patrol saying they'd been taken to the hospital, no word on their condition. Mom and Dad were packing to leave. They stayed to help get things sorted out.

So began one of the longest hours of my life. Phone call after phone call to hospitals in the area. No-one knew anything about them. Finally, an hour later, I reached a nurse in the Hermiston ER. "Yes, they just came in. They're fine. They're making all the nurses laugh. Bob will need a few stitches, but they're okay."

Whew! Crisis over, so I thought. We drive to Hermiston. Dave says, "There's something growing in my head." I think he's crazy. The doctor put the CT scan on the lights. This huge mass is staring at me. This huge white thing, pressing Dave's brain to the side. "That's got to come out," I say, running my fingers over the outline of this monster living inside my love's head. "That's got to come out."

"Yep," says the doctor. "We're sending you to the nearest neurosurgery center by ambulance." Dave was having an erratic heartbeat, they didn't want us to go by car. Where in the world is that? I ask. "Walla Walla," he says. So we ride home, in a bumpy ambulance.

They hook Dave up to IV's. Tubes. Medications. Scans. Tests. Anxiety. Fear. Terror. Hope. Love. A cycle we would come to know intimately over the next 9 years. A cycle we'd repeat every 8-12 weeks for the next 9 years. Holding onto one another. "We'll get through this," Dave would say, "together. We'll beat this thing."

How many times did I sit with him, holding his hand, while they pumped medications, poisons into his veins? How many times did he reach over to reassure me? How many times did I hold my breath as the doctor put the scans over the lights, waiting to see what the beast was doing? Was it asleep or on the prowl? Too many to count.

Too many times sitting in waiting rooms. Too many times facing the possibility that the monster in his head could take away everything that mattered. Too many days of sickness. Too much fatigue. Too much loss. Too many times.

And yet, not enough. Not nearly enough.

2005 is almost over. Today is 4 months since Dave died. One third of a year. I have a hard time believing we've made it this far. So many things he's missed. Kenny's first football game, his first touch down, his smile in that WaHi Blue Devil helmet, Kenny's 15th birthday, Zach's touchdowns, interceptions, sacks, his love of the game, his excitement, his basketball games, Kate's dance recital, her Christmas program, my birthday, our anniversary. And more to come.

It's funny that we ended 2005 in much the same way we began it.

In January of 2005, Dave was scheduled for surgery in Seattle. We had a new (to us) car and went over the pass on the worst travel day of the year. It was horrific...like something out of revelations. I remember thinking, "Everyone I love is on this mountain. We're all going to die together." There was snow, torrential rain, ice...what a mess. The pass was closed, the flights were cancelled. We pulled over to put chains on the cars. Dave wandered around with the directions on this little plastic mat, reading them, drifting from car to car. Finally, he put it over his head to dodge some of the snow/rain that was coming down. I remember watching him, and the fear, it was so sharp it took my breath away. Earlier I had handed him a cell phone, and he looked at it like he wasn't quite sure what it was. It was one of those moments, where the bottom drops out of your world, and you're left with that sickening, gut-punched feeling.

And now, at the end of 2005, again in a new car, travelling on one of the worst days of the year, bumping over ice in Hood River, torrential rain in Cascade Locks, high winds in Troutdale, and no electricity in Seaside, here we go again...this time without Dave. And I look at our kids, and I have that same sharp fear, that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Because it's so wrong. They are doing well. I'm proud of them. They stay focused on what matters, and they keep moving forward. But it hurts, because they shouldn't have to. They all have that sadness behind their eyes. They've been robbed of something so essential. They'll be okay. I promised Dave, they'll be okay. But it could be, should be so much more than just okay.

Love, 'Chelle







































































Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Santa Continues

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 1:20 PM CST

Okay,
Wow.
Lots to tell.

First of all, Secret Santa:

I don't have the little tags handy, so I'll have to post the clever poems later, but at Annalee's Bowling Birthday Bash, the Secret Santa-S! revealed themselves. The poem for the 12th day mention being tired of running around! Anyway, I was partly right...it was my lovely family...sister Mindy, sister Missy, mom Judy, grandma Ginger, Dee Wellington and sister Stephanie. What a fun adventure that was. It was wonderful for the kids to have something to look forward to each day. So thoughtful and so just like them!

Now there's another mystery...someone left a GIANT bag on our doorstep, someone who's been reading the website...there was a picture of McIllvaigh man, and a Patrick sitting on a crabby patty ornament to keep M-man company! (If you don't watch SpongeBob, ask your nearest neighborhood kid.) A lovely angel ornament for me, a purple ornament for Kate, a note and ornament about John 3:16 for Zach, a snowman made of football ornament for Kenny, other ornaments that said PEACE and LOVE and this beautiful framed PEACE with the verse about "My peace I leave you..." Beautiful. Amazing. And I have no clue who it is!!! Thank you, Mystery St. Nick!

Last...we did trade in the Toyota. With the year-end rebates and the red-tag specials our local dealer was having, I had the choice between an 03 Tahoe, an 03 Quest, or an 05 Suburban....all for roughly the same money. So we got a good trade-in on the Toyota, and bought the Suburban. Will post a pic soon. Hooray. I purchased the extended warranty, too, so hopefully, no more car woes for a while!!

Love you all,
Shelley

Friday, December 16, 2005

Gosling

Friday, December 16, 2005 11:21 PM CST

The concert was awesome! And LOUD!!! Kate was miserable until Teri gave her some earplugs. Then she bounced around and danced. The kids had a lot of fun.

The crowd lifted Tim up and passed him around. I'm not sure what they call that. Guess I'm getting old.

They had a good turnout, especially considering they were competing with WaHi's Winter Concert!

Thank you, Timm. You are amazing!

If anyone would like to donate to Tim's concert for brain cancer research, contact him at mailto:tandt@bmi.net

We've been busy, busy with dance rehearsals. Kate is a gypsy. Very cute!

Secret Santa has been busy, too.

On the seventh day of Christmas
as you think of swimming swans,
Enjoy a shower/tub of bubbles
before the morrow dawns.

(My favorite Bath & Body Works shower gel in Orange/Ginger, plus scented bubbles for the kids.)

On the eighth day of Christmas
the milking maid took sick.
We hope you enjoy this ornament.
Could it be from Old Saint Nick?

(A beautiful cardinal ornament plus some very cute gingerbread ornaments.)

On the ninth day of Christmas
the ladies danced all night.
We hope you enjoy these goodies,
Perhaps you'll share a bite?

(Moose Munch and yogurt-covered pretzels from Harry & David. They were gone in 5 minutes, since Q-baby, aka the bottomless pit, was here!)

On the tenth day of Christmas;
the lords are all a leaping.
We hope this tea is soothing
Just before you go to sleeping.

(A cute mug with a reindeer on the handle, Christmas tea and Peppermint and Spice tea....of which I am enjoying a cup right now! At least this one won't cause me to gain any weight!)

We're really enjoying the Secret Santa. It looks more like Mindy all the time. Whoever you are...thank you for brightening each day and giving us something to look forward to.

Today Zach played in the Student vs. Staff game at Pioneer. The kids only lost by 3 points. Sounds like a good game. Quinn and Andrew did the commentary. Oh, I wish I could have heard that! Zach had a lot of fun. We were up too late last night making him a shirt that says:
FRONT: Who's on the attack?
BACK: ZACH ATTACK
Very fun.

Hugs to all of you.
Love, 'Chelle

PS. No the paper did not catch fire...it's just an odd perspective in that picture! :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Timm Johnson

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 11:35 PM CST

Front Page Article in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
Concerted Effort

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Student's Project draws band for benefit Concert: Concerted effort pays of
Wa-Hi senior Tim Johnson wanted to hold a small benefit concert to meet a class requirement, but he got a whole lot more.

By Sheila Hagar of the Union-Bulletin



When Tim Johnson needed a community service project for his U.S. government class, snagging a band for a charitable concert seemed like no big deal, he said.

``I figured I'd get a small local band and do it at The Underground, and that's pretty easy to do,' the Walla Walla High School senior said.

By Tuesday, between tracking down a sound system and distributing fliers, Tim was no longer so certain of how easy his project would be. In his words, ``Things got kinda big.'

Which can happen when you remember that your middle-school music teacher's kid plays in a Los Angeles-based band that's beginning to get some real press and is touring the Pacific Northwest.

Gosling, which hatched from the earlier name of Loudermilk, is a band on the upward move, said Jim McGuinn, owner of Hot Poop. The band has three albums out and another will be released in late spring.

When the band played a concert in 2003 at his Main Street business, it was one of the biggest, best-attended events he's hosted, McGuinn said.

Lead singer Davey Ingersoll, the eldest of eight children, spent some of his early adult years in Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities, said his dad, Dave Ingersoll.

In recent times, Gosling has been featured on Warner Brothers television, MTV and in movies such as Dracula 2000. ``We've had major producers call our house,' the senior Ingersoll said, ``We've had the drummer from Pearl Jam call and say he's heard stories about me.'

The band plays alternative rock
with a sort of ``twisted-Beatles' sound, said Ingersoll.

Ingersoll handed down his musical talent to his firstborn, bringing Davey into the studio as he recorded television and radio advertising jingles.

More recently, the elder Ingersoll uses his gift as the band and choir director of Sager Middle School, which is where he saw musical promise in another band student, a younger Tim Johnson. ``He played bass (guitar) for me. He's always loved rock and roll,' Ingersoll remembered.

Tim, 17, still loves rock and roll - if he doesn't end up as a pilot, playing in a band is the next option on his list - one of the reason's he's pumped about bringing Gosling back to Walla Walla, he said.

But the project, initially begun as a quest for a good grade in a civics class, is allowing Tim to fulfill another love.

He chose to direct his community service requirement to funding brain cancer research through the American Cancer Society.

The concert will be a tribute to Dave Meyer, a Wa-Hi coach and teacher who died of brain cancer in August, Tim said. Meyer played guitar at College Place Presbyterian Church, where the Johnson family attends and where Tim has played guitar at services since he was 8.

The government class project has gone from a ``lot of nothing to quite something,' said Scott Keller of the local American Cancer Society.

Keller laughed.

Perhaps more important than the money the event raises are the lessons Tim Johnson is learning, Keller said.

Agreed, said Bill Plucker, U.S. government teacher at Wa-Hi. ``Tim has run across some tough challenges.'

This is one of the most ambitious projects he's seen a student undertake, Plucker said. Many of the ideals he has for students are coming to fruition through Johnson's experiences, from finding a proper venue for the concert to getting equipment and advertising lined up on time.

The project requires students to focus on an intended outcome, create a schedule and name a goal that shows awareness of civic virtue, he said. ``They have to sacrifice themselves to contribute to the common good, whether that's for their neighborhood, their community, the nation or the world.'

Plucker knows Johnson's original idea has snowballed, almost running the student over at times, he said. But in the end, money will have been raised for a worthy cause, a mentor honored and the young man will have learned putting it all together is - in Johnson's words - ``harder than it sounds.'

For those wishing to help Johnson earn an ``A-plus' and fund cancer research, the Gosling concert will be at Sager Middle School in College Place on Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dave's Manifesto

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 9:20 PM CST

The Manifesto of the Lance Armstrong Foundation

We believe in life.
Your life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

We kick in the moment you’re diagnosed.
We help you accept the tears. Acknowledge the rage.
We believe in your right to live without pain.
We believe in information. Not pity.
And in straight, open talk about cancer.
With husbands, wives and partners. With kids, friends and neighbors. And the people you live with, work with, cry and laugh with.
This is no time to pull punches.
You’re in the fight of your life.

We’re about the hard stuff.
Like finding the nerve to ask for a second opinion.
And a third, or a fourth, if that’s what it takes.
We’re about getting smart about clinical trials.
And if it comes to it, being in control of how your life ends.
It’s your life. You will have it your way.

We’re about the practical stuff.
Planning for surviving. Banking your sperm. Preserving your fertility. Organizing your finances. Dealing with hospitals, specialists, insurance companies and employers.
It’s knowing your rights.
It’s your life.
Take no prisoners.

We’re about the fight.
We’re your champion on Capitol Hill. Your advocate with the healthcare system. Your sponsor in the research labs.
And we know the fight never ends.
Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Founded and inspired by one of the toughest cancer survivors on the planet.

LIVESTRONG™

That is the Lance Armstrong Foundation Manifesto. Powerful words. Powerful thoughts. Many of you know that Dave wore a yellow LIVEstrong bracelet for the last few years, always replacing it when it broke. He believed in what Lance Armstrong was doing for cancer research and admired Lance Armstrong for making his battle with cancer public and using that to inform people and make a difference.

Here's the thing you might not know. Dave read Lance Armstrong's book, It's Not About the Bike." He, well, how shall I put this? He didn't care for the book much. He was diametrically opposed to some of the things that were said. I'm not going to go into detail, I know that some were very inspired by the book, and that's great. Every cancer survivor, every family member, every health care worker that hears Lance's message and is moved to help in some small way or is empowered to keep fighting, every person Lance touches....they are like candles in the darkness, coming together to bring light into a very awful place. That is a good thing.

But let me offer to you,
Dave's Manifesto
Taken from:The Wild Man's Journey: Reflections on Male Spirituality by Richard Rohr & Joseph Martos
1. Life is hard.
Know this ahead of time and do not waste your life trying to make it easy for yourself, as all uninitiated men will try to do. We must be signed with "the cross" ahead of time, or we will spend all our lives avoiding it. "The stone that the builders rejected...has become the cornerstone." Matthew 21:42

2. You are going to die.
Mortality must be made real to the boy by trials, hazing, scarring, facing death and the fear of death. Without a truthful cosmology, we are trapped in our own pathology, and who is to blame for it? All woundings must become "sacred wounds" to prepare us for the final letting go.

3. You are not that important.
The initiate must be rightly situated in the world that demands respect from him, or he will have a false sense of himself that will need constant reassurance (the modern self-esteem movement). Humility is of central importance for human truth and happiness.

4. You are not in control.
The initiate must be led to the limits of his own resources and ability to control outcomes, so he will learn to rely on the Other. It is not a world of unlimited progress, but in fact a limited world. God is in control. We must admit that powerlessness.

5. Your life is not about you.
You are a fragment of something and Somebody much bigger than yourself. Your job is to listen, obey and adore, not calculate. You are a part of a great and holy mystery. Otherwise you will assume that you create all the patterns, and it is your job to figure them out by yourself.

I can't tell you how many times I heard Dave quote these ideas to me. He often said, "Shell, it's not about me." The "life is hard" and "you are not in control" became like private jokes, a shorthand between us.

I'm not as mature as Dave. I would rail on about the unfairness, about the wrongness, about the "why?" of it all. Dave always said, "Shell, it's bigger than that." And "all I can do is walk the path before me the best I can."

Not a serene acceptance of death.
Not a surrender to cancer.
He fought like crazy.
But he trusted the Other completely.
Trusted in the promises.
Trusted in the outcome.

This is what Robin was talking about when he said that Dave would be the first to tell you, he was an ordinary man. This Wild Man book talks about how in youth, we will strive to ascend, to achieve, to rise up. In maturity, we are content to be the patient receiver of the gift, realizing our place in the scheme of all creation. Ironically, it was this sense of humility, this understanding of himself as just a person, that allowed Dave to touch and reach so many. He was not only the receiver of the gift, he was the conduit...passing it on to those around him.

His vision was bigger than mine. Still is.

Love, Shell

Monday, December 12, 2005

6th Day of Christmas

Monday, December 12, 2005 8:13 PM CST

Visit this link: Relay For Life
to learn about a Relay for Life fundraiser. You can buy a ticket to try to win the Dave bear!


Also, all locals note:
Timm Johnson, a young man from our church, has organized his civics project around a concert to benefit brain cancer research! What a kid! The concert will be
Thursday, December 15 at 7:30 pm at Sager Middle School in College Place, WA.
If you live near here, please try to come!


Okay, onto Secret Santa, but first a Dave story. I told this one to Darlene over lunch today (thank you, Darlene...what a wonderful gift. I love you!) and I told her I was going to get it up on the site, so here it is.

Every year we decorate the tree together. The first Christmas Dave and I spent together, we had a Christmas branch instead of a tree, and we stuck it in a cardboard box and made ornaments out of construction paper. We had no real ornaments and no real money, either. He decided then that we should start a tradition when we had children of getting them an ornament each Christmas, so that when they left home and had their own trees, they'd have at least 18 ornaments to put on it!

So a favorite part of Christmas is pulling out the ornaments and remembering that year...Zach's Harry Potter from the year he read the book and became obsessed. Kenny's Tigger with Soccer Ball ornament from the year he first played soccer. Kate's orange kitten ornament from the year we got Macky.

So I asked the kids, "Do you know which ornament is your Dad's very favorite?"

Zach's guess: "The guitar one that Erik got him."
Kenny's guess: "The Yoda ornament."
Kate's guess: "The mom and dad beavers trying to string the lights."

Wrong. It was McIllvaigh Man. What is a McIllvaigh man, you ask? Well, it is the absolute ugliest ornament on our tree. See?



But Dave loved this ornament. It's a little like the Velveteen Rabbit, it looks worn and shabby. I remember it looking like that when it arrived, however. Every year, Dave would hang it front and center. And I would move it to the back of the tree.

See, one of Dave's students gave him that ornament when he taught sixth grade at McIllvaigh. McIllvaigh was a school that was in a gang-infested, poverty-stricken area of Tacoma. And one of these kids, I wish I could remember which one, gave him this ornament. It's his favorite.

So, we hung it on the front of the tree. I looked at it...and decided to move it to the back, where it always was. Sometimes it's the things you can't see that matter the most. I think Dave would approve.

Tonight's Secret Santa:

On the sixth day of Christmas
the geese are all on strike.
We hope you enjoy these almonds
(Perhaps on a hike?)

And a lovely bag with red and green jordan almonds, chocolate covered almonds and butter toffee almonds. Yum!

Blessings to you all.
Love, Chelle

Sunday, December 11, 2005

5th Day of Christmas

Sunday, December 11, 2005 10:55 PM CST

On the fifth day of Christmas
We bring you this good cheer.
Five golden rings we can't afford
at this special time of year.

Secret Santa strikes again, via Mimi. A lovely bottle of Meier Sparkling Spumante! A fizzy, festive, non-alcoholic treat so we can all enjoy it together.

I'm suspecting Aunt Mindy more and more. These cards look suspiciously like birthday party invitations and birth announcements that I've seen before.

Packaged up and delivered tons of fudge today. Peppermint-chocolate layered, peanut butter/chocolate layered, and Irish Cream. Yummy!

Kenny came back from Leadership Camp. He was walking on air. He was so excited. He obviously had a really great time. He got lots of notes, not only from family, but from teachers and friends. Many notes mentioned how they see Dave in Kenny and how proud they are of him. I'm going to put them in an album for him. By the way, he was impressed that I drove up the mountain.

It's funny, I didn't realize how much I missed him until he got back. I didn't worry about him this time. Cody and Amy were there, I knew he'd be okay, and he LOVES the cold and the snow. Usually I fret (at least a little) when one of my chicks isn't in the nest. I guess one of us is growing up. Maybe both. But it sure was great to see his smiling face come bouncing up the walk!

Kate's better. Rat's nest gone...for the third time! Zach spent the weekend socializing with friends, I have to make an appointment to see him these days.

Hugs to you all,
Chelle

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Santa Mystery Continues

Saturday, December 10, 2005 10:09 PM CST

Hey all,

Well, new hints in the Secret Santa mystery. Today, our neighbor, Mimi delivered the package. So....our Secret Santa must be out of town this weekend. That leaves out Cindy and Deb, since I talked to both of them today. And Lisa, she's still home across the street. Hmmmm....

On the fourth day of Christmas
the calling birds have fled.
We hope you like this frame
that we have brought instead.

Inside a beautiful frame, cherry wood with black inlay. Gorgeous. And it goes perfectly in my house, so....another hint, they've been here before. Hmmm...wonder if Mindy is out of town? Peg denies it's her.

I think it's someone who scrapbooks because the little cards are sooo cute, with borders and stickers and little graphics. But I know a LOT of people who scrapbook.

Okay, let's take a poll. If you think you know who it is, write your vote in the guestbook. Deb votes for Alex, who denies it, but also said I was stupid to ask her over the phone because it's easier to lie over the phone than face-to-face. :-) What a crack-up.

Thanks to all who wrote letters for Kenny. I took them up to Tollgate today. Driving through the snow. By myself. In an unreliable car. EEEEEKKKK!!!! is all I can say about that. But I knew they just had to be there for the closing ceremony tomorrow. So I'm not sure if I'm a lousy mom for forgetting to get the letters in earlier or a great mom for having the guts to drive up a mountain to get them to him. No votes in the guestbook on that one, okay?

I'm trying to get a picture of the HUGE rat's nest in Kate's hair after laying in bed for six days. She's finally feeling better. I know because she's running away from me squealing, and she just stole my camera. Brattiness is a sure sign of returning health.

Love you all, Chelle

Friday, December 09, 2005

No Grinches Here

Friday, December 9, 2005 6:51 PM CST

Our Secret Santa has uncanny timing. Went to pick up Zach from the PiHi party, and got back....package on the doorstep.

On the third day of Christmas
the French Hens flew away.
We've brought you a Christmas story
to brighten up your day.

Inside: 2 ornaments, some Christmas tree bling bling and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Which is Dave's favorite story of all time. He used to watch the listings to watch it on tv. We have it on video, but he thought it was better to wait until the movie was showing on tv and plan for it. Lots of popcorn, lots of snuggling and Dave, in his best grinchy voice:

You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch.

Zach was delighted, looking like a little boy instead of a half-grown man, smiling and laughing, "How did they know?" He also counted the days until Christmas and figured that this Secret Santa must know our schedule, since the 12 days will end just before we leave for Seaside. (Thank you, Ted and Laura for that gift!)

Wow.

Thank you for the lunch, Peggy. The food was wonderful, but the company was even better!

Love you, Chelle

PS. Can you stand one more good thing? Today we all wrote letters to Kenny for the closing ceremony at his camp, and when I asked Z to write one, he said, "What do I write?" And I said, "Just write some of the things that you like about your brother and tell him you love him." Z said, "I don't think I can do that." So I mentally prepared the speech about how there is something to like in everyone, even if they annoy you sometimes and how we sometimes need to search for the positive, yada yada...and Z says, "There are so many things I like about Kenny, how could I chose which ones to write about?" I said (my mind reeling in sudden confusion and awe), "Just pick your top few." Z thought for a minute and said, "They're all my top ones."

Okay, everyone together, "Awwwww!"
What a kid. Both of them.

Guess What?

Friday, December 9, 2005 2:12 PM CST

Okay, folks.
Sit down.
Are you sitting?
I mean it.
Sit down.
Now put down your coffee.
And swallow whatever's in your mouth, we don't want your computer screen spewed upon.
Ready?

GOOD NEWS!








Ha! Bet you didn't expect that!

My dad, hero that he is, knew someone in Kelso at a Toyota dealership. If we can bring the van in there, and prove that it has this problem that Tim at Wayne's Automotive says it has, they will fix it.

Yep. THEY WILL FIX IT!

Free!

Yipee!!!!

Thanks to all of you who prayed for us. Don't stop yet...but it looks like we're on the way!

Love you all, Chelle

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Secret Santa

Thursday, December 8, 2005 10:01 PM CST

Okay, guys. My pity party is over. For now. I'm sorry, sorry, sorry. I really, truly didn't mean to induce guilt! I didn't. I was just whiny yesterday. And feeling profoundly alone.

It truly does help when people write in, I feel less like I'm in a fishbowl then, and more like I'm sharing with friends. Claudia wrote on her site (link above: Robert Williams) about the power of a witness. The need we have for someone to verify, to affirm, to testify to an event. When we're facing about a life-altering event, like cancer or death or autism, the need for a witness, someone to affirm and verify our reality is so profound. It's easy to feel alone, even when surrounded by people. It's easy to feel that tenuous grip on sanity slipping away. So thank you, for being willing to be my witnesses, there is real power and healing in your very presence.

Still, I apologize for guilting you all and feeling sorry for myself.

Speaking of feeling sorry for oneself, I ordered some buttons that say, "Cancer Sucks." Let me know if you want one!

Joan Didion writes about self-pity in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking.

People in grief think a great deal about self-pity. We worry it, dread it, scourge our thinking for signs of it. We fear that our actions will reveal the condition tellingly described as "dwelling on it." We understand the aversion most of us have to "dwelling on it." Visible mourning reminds us of death, which is construed as unnatural, a failure to manage the situation. "A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty," Philippe Aries wrote to the point of this aversion in Western Attitudes toward Death. "But one no longer has the right to say so aloud." We remind ourselves repeatedly that our own loss is nothing compared to the loss experienced (or, the even worse thought, not experienced) by he or she who died; this attempt at corrective thinking serves only to plunge us deeper into the self-regarding deep. (Why didn't I see that, why am I so selfish.) The very language we use when we think about self-pity betrays the deep abhorrence in which we hold it: self-pity is feeling sorry for yourself, self-pity is thumb-sucking, self-pity is boo hoo poor me, self-pity is the condition in which those feeling sorry for themselves indulge, or even wallow. Self-pity remains both the most common and the most universally reviled of our character defects, its pestilential destructiveness accepted as given. ...In fact the grieving have urgent reasons, even an urgent need, to feel sorry for themselves. Husbands walk out, wives walk out, divorces happen, but these husbands and wives leave behind them webs of intact associations, however acrimonious. Only the survivors of a death are truly left alone. The connections that made up their life - both the deep connections and the apparently (until they are broken) insignificant connections - have all vanished. ... I could not count the times during the average day when something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death. What ended was the possibility of response....We are repeatedly left, in other words, with no further focus than ourselves, a source from which self-pity naturally flows. ...I remember despising the book Dylan Thomas's widow Caitlin wrote after her husband's death, Leftover Life to Kill. I remember being dismissive of, even censorious about, her "self-pity," her "whining," her "dwelling on it." Leftover Life to Kill was published in 1957. I was twenty-two years old.

I'm still thinking about that. Interesting to me, that my self-pity is okay, but pity from others stings. I'm not sure why that is. It's definitely something I think about. When am I wallowing or dwelling? When am I simply honest? When am I putting on a brave face and denying the reality of what I feel? I'm in an odd space tonight, thinking about feelings rather than actually feeling them.

Thanks, Mike and Lisa for being there to help with the auto wheeling and dealing yet again.

Thanks to our Secret Santa...

Yesterday, a beautiful basket of pears with elegant pear napkins came with this note:

On the first day of Christmas
We bring these pears to you.
We would have brought the partridge
but from the tree it flew.

Today, we got a cute Christmas bag with CHOCOLATE!!! You'll see what kind...

On the second day of Christmas
We bring this gift with love.
Please eat the turtles,
and definitely eat the Dove!

We have no clue who this Secret Santa is. We feel so loved. Thank you, whoever you are!

Love, Chelle

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

Wednesday, December 7, 2005 5:25 PM CST

(An aside, CaringBridge, amazing CaringBridge...our guestbook finally got big enough that they archived older entries. So....when you go there today, it will only appear that a few people have signed. You can click the link to see the older entries...if it's your first visit to the site, I recommend you read those. They are the most interesting part!)

(Aside #2...speaking of guestbooks...THANK YOU to folks who take time to "sign in, please." I can't tell you what it does for the little sanity I have left. This site gets between 500-800 hits per day, and even given that 100 of those might be me and another 100 might be two or three people who like to obsessively hit the refresh button, and 20 or so are my mom...that's a lot of visitors. But what's with the 2-3 entries a day in the guestbook??? Charlie's talking to the wall. Only a few select folks will get that one. Anyway, I do feel less nuts when you talk back to me!)

Back to your regularly scheduled drivel....er....program:

AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!

Okay, what am I doing wrong?
I've tried to live a good life.
I've made a lot of mistakes, but I'm always sorry.
I try to be a good person.

Somebody's got it in for me.
It's not paranoia if they truly are out to get you, right?

Found out today that my van's engine is kaput.
Kaput.
Zonk.
Dead.
Well, dying.
End of the road.
Going to the great junkyard in the sky.

It's a 2000 Toyota Sienna and has only 65,000 miles on it. Of course, the warranty expired at 60,000 miles.

Sigh.

Maybe instead of talking about crap sandwiches, I should have been busy being grateful for transportation! Sorry, Meshach, for not appreciating you. (Our van's name...as in Shadrack and Abendigo...don't laugh...why can't all Bible names be easy to spell like Adam or Noah?)

Another bite, Judy P?

Okay, gonna go sulk for a while.

Love, Shell

PS. The kicker? Get this. I paid the dern thing off Monday. As in, this past Monday, three days ago.

Still think I'm paranoid?

Maybe I am, because I'm considering removing this entry in case I decide to trade it in!


Sunday, December 04, 2005

I made my bed

Sunday, December 4, 2005 0:28 AM CST

Okay, okay, okay. Settle down everyone. I made my bed. You guys are hilarious. I can't believe how many emails I got about sleeping on a mattress. It's made now. You can sleep better tonight. I was sleeping fine. :-)

We got our tree today. We always go to Klicker's and pick one from the field. Mike Klicker was there, and it was great to see him. I even got to talk to Laurie on the phone when she called looking for him. It was cold and muddy, the snow has melted into muck.

Funny aside, Zach predicted this. That the snow would melt and it would rain. Then he said it would snow again in a couple of weeks and do the same thing, but that we'd have a white Christmas. Well, Kate is now convinced that Zach can tell the future. "HOW did he know that, Mom?" "Well, sweetie, that often happens, it was pretty easy to predict." "NO, Mom, he KNEW!" She's very impressed. I told Z the story, and he smiled, then said, "Mom, I was just making stuff up." I said, "Yes, but you're her big brother, she thinks you can do anything." A moment of introspection...Zach looking serious. "I'd better be careful then, huh?" Wow.



Looks like an ordinary tree!

So, at Klickers, there was no Dave to say, "Uhhh, guys, that one's way too big."



So we ended up choosing a tree that, once on top of our van, drew some wide-eyed looks. Zach thought it looked like the tree was eating the van.



As we drove up to the house, Zach, humming the Mission Impossible theme song...."Project Xmas: Your mission, should you choose to accept it...get the tree IN the house..."

Easier said than done. We got it halfway in the door, but Kenny, who was kindly holding the screen door open, got stuck. And he was in the way. So we jockeyed him out.

Then we get it in the house. We stand it up. Crunch! "Why does that tree have that big bow in it? It didn't look so crooked in the field." And we realize that the tree is bowed because it won't fit. It's bent like a banana, scraping off half our ceiling.

So I get the stepstool (Thanks, Grandpa Bob!) and Zach gets the handsaw (Thanks, Mike Braddock!) and he cuts the top of the tree off so it will fit. Having never used a saw much before, that was a precarious kind of maneuver, the tree swaying and me trying to keep it upright.

So we finally wedge in into the corner. Now we have the tree that's trying to eat the living room.

Tomorrow we put lights on it. That ought to be fun.

Today, Kenny said to me, "Mom, you're doing a good job. I know it's hard without Dad and you have to be the only one all alone. But you're doing a good job." He was so earnest and so serious. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both.

The house is full of kids tonight. I love boy town. They are so funny. Even if they do eat everything in sight.

Love, Shelley

Update: we got the decorations on:

Kenny said, "It will never fit!" You can see that even after a second cutting of branches, the angel still tilts quite crazily on the top of the tree, although she is actually pretty sturdy, only because her head is wedged against the ceiling! Kenny thinks it looks like she's going to jump. I said, "No way. Any guardian angel for this family is going to be a heck of a lot stronger than that!"


Zach hung Kyle's ornament.


Kate hung our special, secret ornament. Apparently, it involves holding your tongue just right.

The tree looks great....and our living room survived, as long as you don't want to get anywhere in a hurry! See...I can't even get the whole tree in the picture!



Just for Cheri and Cathy, my far in distance, close in heart friends. HERE IS THE BED!! You can see the sheets...however, Kate is sick, so she's in the bed, so it's not made-made, but there are sheets on it!

Thanks, Darlene, for being part of that team!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

10 Things I Hate About You

Thursday, December 1, 2005 11:33 PM CST

Where do I even start?

Joan Didion (sp?) in her book, "The Year of Magical Thinking," talks about the great divide that is death. She says, people will say, "Oh, he died after a long illness" as if the protracted means of death gives one time to prepare or get ready or lessens the sting somehow. And yet, no matter what, it's like a grand piano falling on you from the sky. She talks about, it was an ordinary moment, and then everything changed. One minute you're fixing dinner. The next your life is irrevokably different. She talks about how every death is sudden. One moment, someone is alive, is here. And then they are not. They are dead. Irreversible. Permanent. Unalterable. From one moment to the next, everything has changed forever. Never, never to be the way it was before.

It's a bleak thought. Bleak and cold, like the snow outside my window.

But it's not as bleak as the quiet desperation that lives within my heart.

Tonight, I finally managed to get some sleep as the kids were doing homework and relaxing. We had gone to Zach's basketball game, watched him make a great steal and sink it, watched PiHi squeak a win over their cross-town rivals, wished Dave was there. Renee said, "You know he sees." I said, "Yes, but I can't see him...can't see that smile, that glint in his eye that says, 'That's my boy!'" But it was a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute missing of Dave, an ache that is familiar to me as the rise and fall of my chest as I breathe, my constant companion, part of me now, like my heartbeat or my skin.

But later, as I was napping, Kate woke me up to tell me that the one working toilet we have was overflowing. And that constant, familiar ache for Dave just exploded. Exploded into a fury. I climbed out of a bed that hasn't had sheets for four days because I just don't care about putting sheets on a bed, to clean up in the bathroom and try to work a plunger that's as foreign to me as a chainsaw, and take towels down to the laundry basket that's overflowing, and walk by the van that JiffyLube has probably ruined and see the snow that I hate to drive in and step on a sticky mess on the kitchen floor and...all I could do was scream. Not on the inside. Out loud. Really loud. Wordless, mindless, screaming, agony and rage.

Three pair of startled eyes stared back at me. They scurried and scrambled and helped. And I cried. Just cried. The kids came and we cried together.

I took out the garbage and walked around in the snow, my footsteps soft and muffled, all sound absorbed by the blanket of white, the light glowing from our windows, making the snow sparkle. I breathed in icy air, deep into my lungs, so deep it hurt.

And I thought, "He's never coming back. Never." And I couldn't bear it. At all. Not at all.

I came back inside, Kenny, Zach and Kate were all subdued. We stood together in the kitchen. Each of us leaning on a different counter, arms folded, eyes averted, waiting, silent tears rolling down my cheeks, the rage quiet for now.

It took a long time. They just waited with me. And I told them how sorry I was that I had frightened them. I talked with them about how sometimes, it's like Jania says, you turn your back on a faucet that has a slow leak, and suddenly, it overflows, seemingly without warning. "The sink is full," she used to say, shaking her wise head. "Sometimes the sink is just full." And today, my sink was full.

"In plain words, it just sucks," I said, sounding not nearly as wise as Jania.

Zach looked around and said, "Pretty much, yeah."

He did that little shake of his head, and looked at us out of the corner of his eye. And we laughed. Pretty much, yeah.

We put the house back together. I spent some time talking with each of them. They are amazing kids. Each of them said, "Mom, it's okay to feel that way. We all miss Dad. It's not your fault. It's okay." They have had some hard lessons, but they have learned well. They are honest and true and courageous. Their feelings are deep, and they are able to manage them, and able to stay present when others are having strong feelings, too. Unafraid to reach out in love, even when things are at their hardest, their stormiest, their scariest...they know about sticking together, about being honest, about love.

They are sleeping now. I am blessed to have them, each one of them.

But I'm lonely. I went down the long list of people I could call. I'm blessed, there are many. But none of them is Dave. That's who I really want to talk to. That's who I need to hold me. I get lots of hugs, and while that's nice, to be honest, it's not even close to what I want or need. Not even close.

Well, except Mark. I could use a Mark hug. It's close to a Dave hug.

You know, sometimes I try to remember Dave's faults. Isn't that weird? I do it to make myself remember that he was a real person, not something I made up. One of his high school classmates, Bryan Stroud, wrote about that once. He said, "I suppose it's natural to idealize people in these situations, but in Dave's case there wasn't much you could idealize.

I inevitably pulled out the yearbook last night. I wasn't exactly in the thick of things at high school and when you go to the index the evidence is right there. By my name there are two page references, one of which was the senior picture. By Dave's there were about 10. He'd been a football team captain, basketball team captain, homecoming king, member of the ASB (Associated Student Body) cabinet, choir, etc. A very talented guy, but most important of all, he wasn't a conceited ass when he easily could have been. He never talked down to anyone. I saw where he was also listed as "most inspirational" on the basketball team. But of course.

Dave went on to follow in his father's (Smilin' Bob, as he was known) footsteps to teach at Walla Walla High School. He was apparently a favorite, just like his dad had been.

When I saw him at the last high school reunion his head was still chopped up from surgery and he talked about the cancer fairly casually. It was discovered by accident, literally. He and his brother had been in a minor car accident and when they were checking him over they discovered it. He called it "Willy Walnut," because that was about the size of the tumor. He was still able to smile about it.

A genuinely good man has left this world."

I know what Bryan means. It's almost unreal. It's easy to remember the good stuff, there was so much about Dave that was beyond good, beyond ordinary, and for me, sometimes it feels like a fantasy, so I try to remember the bad stuff, too. Truly, there isn't much.

Tonight the kids and I were at KFC/A&W, and Kate wouldn't share her rootbeer float with Zach. "Just like Dad," he grumbled. And we all had a good laugh about how Dad never did like to share food.

And he was unbearably cheerful in the morning.

And he didn't know how to fix a damn thing.

And he wouldn't make phone calls. Ever.

And it took him 20 minutes to put in his contacts.

And he never changed the oil in the cars.

And he couldn't keep a secret.

And he wouldn't put Christmas lights on the house.

And never listened when he was playing his guitar.

And he trimmed his beard and left whiskers all over the sink.

And he called me ShelleyBelly.

And he would never hurry.

And he would never make a decision if he could avoid it.

And he got mad when I put more garbage into the can that was already full.

And he trusted everyone.

And he would obsess over random details, like finding a 3 cent error in the checkbook.

And he used to sing silly little songs when you were trying to be serious.

And he would never defend himself.

And he left little yellow sticky notes everywhere.

And he left glasses of milk in the freezer.

And he entered every sweepstakes that came in the mail. And bought the magazines, too.

See, he was real. And he was the best. There was nothing about him that I didn't love completely. And I'd give anything to have him back. Anything.


Love, Shelley
who is off to her unmade bed, to sleep on a bare mattress, alone.

PS. A few corrections: Willy the Walnut was actually the size of the residual tumor after surgery....the original tumor was the size of a tennis ball. And the car accident that Dave called minor...they rolled and totalled the van, but did have only minor injuries.

And I found out that Dave's Rock at WaHi, was not 3,500 lbs. It's actually over 3.5 TONS! 7,500 lbs. WOW!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 1:12 AM CST

Well, we made it through Thanksgiving. That's about it. We made it through.

It was hard. Just as hard as I expected. Harder in some ways.

Dave was missing at every corner. Denise and I kept looking at each other, saying, "Dave would love this." There was no Dave to do funny things to the turkey, no Dave to get in the way when I was making dill rolls (which I didn't make), no Dave to say a prayer before the meal, no Dave to remind us what we were gathering for, no Dave to fight with Dad over the peach pie, no Dzve to dance silly dances, sliding through the kitchen. No goofy hats. No unexpected hugs. No toll gates. No shouts at the football games. No sense of wonder. No child-like delight. No Dave.

Just a hollow feeling. The sense of something missing. Someone missing. Us missing someone.

It was good to see Denise, Darren and kids as well as my mom and dad. We were glad to be with them again, it was far too long. The kids were elated to be together again. Uncle Rufus and Shelly came for dinner, which was great.

On Friday, we saw Disney on Ice. The show was Finding Nemo. It was wonderful. The kids had such a great time, wearing Nemo hats and Bruce hats. Eating $10.00 snowcones from turtle cups and watching the skaters with wide eyes. When Goofy skated out, Denise and I looked at each other, and tried to smile.

We got to see Kari, one of the first Whitman students to work with Kenny, when he was four, five and six years old. It was wonderful to see her. I was proud of Kenny, he's grown and changed so much, and I was glad that Kari got to see him, to see all the work that she did so many years ago paying off in so many, many ways. We ate dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Dave and I were both working at OSF when we began dating, so that was another moment where I could scarcely believe he wasn't there. I kept looking for that smile. Looking for that gleam of pride in his eye as Kenny talked to Kari. Kenny who was the little guy that Kari helped learn to put words together into sentences. I wanted Dave there, to remember with me, how far Kenny's come. He's the only one who really knows. The only one besides me.

We got to see Erik, Evy, Canute and Sonja as well as Mark and Christina in Seattle. It was wonderful, we've missed them so. They've stuck closer than anyone throughout the past two years. They are our family. Check out the picture of Zach and Sonja at the end of the page, and you'll get some kind of idea of how much love there is.

But it was the first time we gathered without Dave. It was a strange feeling, stranger than I expected. Our family is like a chair with one leg sheared off, shorter than the rest. The damage means we no longer sit easily. We shift and tilt and try to find the balance we used to have. We try to find a new way to belong in the places that we love, with the people that we love, but it's a shift we don't understand how to make yet. We've found some kind of equilibrium when it's just us, but if you add anyone to the mix, the hole is so prominent, we're at a loss. I find myself stuck, not wanting to move, feeling hollow, brittle and scared.

But I'm learning. And trying. So I'm grateful for that.

I did find much to be thankful for this holiday. I am trying to make that be enough. But it's not. It's just not. Every thing that Dave misses, every moment that we need him and he's not there...it's just not enough. People try to help. They remind me of all the good things. Don't they know that I'd trade all of that and more to have him back here with us where he belongs, where he fought to be? I find myself saying, "Yes, but..." Yes, we have wonderful memories, but we don't get to make any more. Yes, he's in a wonderful place, but we wish he was here with us. Yes, people are supportive, but they aren't Dave. Yes, we were so so lucky to have had him at all, but we want him still.

Kendrie's mom shares a story she wrote last Thanksgiving, which is pretty funny, but also dead on. Click here for Kendrie's Website

Friday, November 28, 2003 0:21 AM CST
KRISTIE'S PATHETIC, LAME, COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS CANCER/THANKSGIVING ANALOGY:

First of all, I have to say how much we appreciate those of you who check on this web site and take the time to sign the guestbook. Several of you, and some who have e-mailed me privately, have made the comment you are glad to see me (try to!) put a humorous spin on things, and that you’re glad to know we’re coping so well. To be honest, I have no idea if we’re coping well at all. I just make it a point to do my crying and worrying and stressing in private, and put on a happy face, USUALLY, in public. But today, in this journal entry, I’m going to be a little more honest about things and the way I am really feeling. I’m not sure what has brought about this pathetic moment of self-introspection, but feel the need to get some things off my chest. If you don’t want to hear it, exit now, it won’t hurt my feelings. I promise to kick myself in the butt and be back to normal tomorrow. (No, I will not be taking volunteers for the chance to kick me, so all of you just put your hands down now. No, no, do NOT form a line!)

I think it’s the whole Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving. Giving thanks. Something I’ve found pretty easy to do most years, and took for granted pretty much every year up until now. Sure, I know a little bit about worrying about the health of family members. Who doesn’t? My dad has muscular dystrophy. My mother-in-law is on dialysis for renal failure. My husband had two major surgeries to get rid of a cancerous tumor six months ago, and had a nice chunk of the inside of his head removed at the same time --- reconstruction still a work in progress. So I thought I was a veteran at worrying, but always managed to give thanks irregardless. WRONG. Nothing prepares you for the fear and worry when your child is ill. More than ill. Ill with a disease that, even in this day and age, still claims innocent victims. And now you want me to give thanks????? So here’s the lame analogy I came up with:

Imagine every year for Thanksgiving that you and your family go to a wonderful all-you-can-eat buffet. The food is always great and you look forward to getting the same delicious meal, year after year. So this year, you give your standard order to the waitress: an appetizer of “love”, a “caring” salad, the side dishes, “thoughtfulness” “compassion” and “laughter” and a big, juicy entrée of “good health and happiness for everyone”. The waitress brings you everything you asked for but the entrée. Instead, in front of you on the table, she places a big, fat crap sandwich. And the conversation goes a little something like this:

You: “excuse me, I didn’t order this crap sandwich”

Waitress: “house special. You got it without asking”

You: “but I don’t want a crap sandwich. I want good health and happiness for everyone.”

Waitress: “well, you got a crap sandwich.”

You (getting upset) “well take it back and give me what I asked for instead!”

Waitress points to a sign that says “Absolutely NO substitutions”

You say adamantly: “there is positively no way I am going to be able to choke down this crap sandwich and I think it’s really unfair for you to expect me to”

And the waitress replies “hey, look. You’ve still got love, caring, thoughtfulness, compassion and laughter, so try to appreciate those. Oh, I almost forgot, here’s your condiment tray for the crap sandwich. You also get big overflowing bowls of fear, worry, anger, guilt and resentment. Bon Appetit!”

And so you’re looking around the restaurant, feeling really grumpy about your crap sandwich, and you realize that there are a lot more people with crap sandwiches than you ever thought possible. And from the looks on their faces, none of them ordered them, either. Then you see a couple of tables with really, really big, Dagwood-sized crap sandwiches and you summon the waitress again. “Excuse me, why are their crap sandwiches so big?” And she explains that those people are facing situations even worse than yours. Their kids haven’t responded well to treatment, have had cancer relapses, or worse yet, died. And you start to think maybe your crap sandwich isn’t so bad after all. Maybe you should keep your big mouth shut, choke it down, and be glad when it’s all gone and everyone is well again. And then, right then, your waitress reminds you of one last thing: “Management reserves the right to serve you another, bigger crap sandwich, anytime they want”

That’s a little how I feel right now at Thanksgiving, living in this surreal world of leukemia. I know there are other people who are having a rougher time of things than we are. I know Kendrie is responding well to her chemotherapy. She is in remission and God willing, will stay there. But I am having a very difficult time Giving Thanks for this crap sandwich, and I’m unbelievably resentful that there are more crap sandwiches being made in the kitchen even as I type this, and terrified more than you can possibly know that our family might be due another platter.

I resent that “in remission” doesn’t mean cured. It doesn’t mean anywhere near cured. It means cured for right now. Today. Kendrie could relapse tomorrow; next week; next month; ten years from now. When are we ever supposed to relax? When will this knot in my stomach go away? It’s the last worry on my mind at night and the first thought in my head when I awake each morning.

I resent that for the rest of her (my) life, every time she complains of an ache or a pain or runs a fever, I will fear that the cancer has returned. Prognosis is no where near as good for kids who have relapsed. Dear God, don’t let her relapse.

I resent that I can no longer brush her forehead or cheek without covertly checking for signs of a fever.

I resent that despite my best intentions, my other two kids are getting the short end. There are only so many hours in a day.

I resent that I am so tired, and then feel frustrated with Kendrie for being the source of that, then feel ashamed of my frustration.

I resent that I saw Kellen had bruises on his shins tonight and for a split second, all I could think was “Dear God, not two of them.” It does happen; two kids in one family. What family could endure that? The ones that have to, I guess.

And that’s my point --- to all of you who say, “I don’t know how you do it” or “I don’t think I could do it” Well, of course you could. Do we have any choice? We do it because to do otherwise would be to shortchange Kendrie, and all the kids with cancer, which simply isn’t an option. And I try to do it with a little bit of grace and humor and optimism because quite frankly, if I wrote too many journal entries like this, I would depress the shit out of everyone, myself included. In fact, I don’t know what I hope to accomplish with this one, except maybe trying to explain that underneath the jokes and “looking on the bright side” is a terror so real that sometimes I lie in bed at night and can’t breathe. And I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. I’m trying to be honest. Leukemia kills children. Yes, the “cure” rate is 85 percent (For ALL, which is what Kendrie has. Other kinds have lower rates than that.) That means 15 percent still die up front, and the other 85 percent ONLY have to worry about a relapse for the rest of their life. I’m feeling a little sick to my stomach just typing all this, so maybe I should move on.

There are some things I am truly grateful for:

I am grateful that it looks like a CVS pharmacy exploded in my kitchen. That means there are drugs that can be used in an attempt to cure my child and beat leukemia.

I am grateful Kendrie has tolerated the treatment so well so far. I am grateful for remission.

I am grateful my husband has a good job with good insurance and that so far, finances are not one more worry to add into the rest of this.

I am grateful for the friends and family, both near and far, who have supported us so kindly, and who will read through this awful journal entry and love me anyway.

I am grateful that when Kendrie was diagnosed, my mother was able to drop everything to come to Georgia and be with us. I am grateful that my dad and my sister so willingly held down the fort in her absence.

I am grateful my husband had cancer this spring. Had he not, he wouldn’t have been placed on the “Do Not Deploy” list and he would have been in Sarejavo when Kendrie was diagnosed. As hard as that week was, I am grateful we were able to face it as a family.

I can’t come up with a reason to be grateful that Kendrie is going bald, but I’ll work on it.

I am grateful that my crap sandwich isn’t any bigger than it is.

So, like Kristie, I'm grateful my crap sandwich isn't any bigger than it is. I've choked down a lot. More than some, less than others. When you get past a certain point comparisons are useless. It's all crap.

I'm trying to focus on what I am grateful for.

I'm grateful for the three children I have left on this earth,they are my heart.
I'm grateful for my son in heaven, he taught me how to be a mommy and how to survive even when...
I'm grateful that I have family and friends that care, far beyond what I deserve.
I'm grateful to live in a town that loves like no other.
I'm grateful that I had the honor and priviledge of loving Dave for a million reasons.
And I'm grateful for the God I believe in, who promises not to leave me or forsake me.
Love to all of you, 'Chelle

Here are some pictures:




All the kids, posing with Bruce the shark.


Zach and Kenny with Kari.



The guys.


Luke with his Nemo hat.


Jake, too cool for words. I LOVE this kid!



Kate and Sonja, better known as JK, "Are you sure we're not related?"


Kenny, Zach and Canute.


This picture is worth a thousand words. How hard it is to leave.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Quarter

Wednesday, November 23, 2005 10:33 PM CST

Okay, I was wrong. I am grateful. For all of you. You are such steadfast supporters, always there in deed, thought and prayer. I am thankful. I am thankful that I got to have Dave in my life at all, even though it was far too short. Many, many blessings have come our way, and I am indeed grateful.

And yet, still, there is this part of me that screams....TAKE IT ALL AND GIVE DAVE BACK! Talking to Claudia, she said something that resonates with me...for instance, yesterday, I wanted to get back in bed, pull the covers over my head and wait. Wait for him to come home. I wanted to say, "Okay, God, I'm done. I did well, I've been strong, I passed the test. Now give him back."

Three months. Three months. A quarter of a year.

That "quarter" does weird things to my mind. I keep thinking about when Doug (Dave's college best friend) brought me a cake with the word "HAPPY" and all these squiggles on it. He had made it himself. Two-layer, leaning, frosted in mounds of buttercream...with these little red marks on the top. Looked like chicken scratch. I puzzled and puzzled. Finally Doug said..."HAPPY quarter of a century!" The squiggles were the top 1/4 of the letters in the word CENTURY. Dave laughed until he had tears running down his face.

Now, a quarter of a year without Dave. It feels like a quarter of a century. No, it feels like a whole century. It's been forever without him.

We rode in the car today, on the way to Denise's house, and the version of "I'm Already There" by Lonestar with the wives and children of the soldiers talking on it came on. "Daddy, when are you coming home?" "Daddy, we miss you." "Daddy, be safe and come back to us."

Driving down the freeway, all four of us cried, tears streaming down our faces.

I'm already there
Don't make a sound
I'm the beat in your heart
I'm the moonlight shining down
I'm the whisper in the wind
And I'll be there until the end
Can you feel the love that we share
Oh, I'm already there

He is. He isn't. How I wish he was.

Love, Shelley

PS. I'm also grateful for Blue Devil football and all the people that make it what it is. More about that tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday, November 21, 2005 1:39 AM CST

I found this note from Dave today. Not the first time. Not the first time I've seen this note, it's been tucked away for years. And not the first time I've found a note from Dave since he died. I've found many. Hundreds probably. Dave was a note-leaver. On the bathroom mirror, under my pillow, in my pockets, on my windshield. His love language was "acts of service." And that was how he showed his love. By doing the little things, things that showed he cared.

When I got ready to leave the house in winter, I'd find my windshield already scraped.

When I stayed up late, and Dave was already asleep, I'd find my toothbrush sitting next to the sink, toothpaste already applied, and my contact case waiting there, too.

When he was gone late to football games, he'd leave messages on the answering machine, singing songs, so I'd be able to hear his voice when I got home.

I can't tell you how much I miss him. I debated about putting this note on the website. But if you read it, maybe you'll understand just a little better how impossible it is to adjust to life without this man.

Now that he is, face-to-face with God, I wonder what he's saying. I wonder if he knows how much we miss him, how much I miss him. I know he knows how much we love him, how much I love him.




Tears today. Lots of tears.
Thanksgiving's around the corner. And I'm not grateful. I'm not.
Love, Shell


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005 7:57 PM CST



That should say, "Kate."

We love you all.
'Chelle

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Quick Update

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 11:16 PM CST

Hello everyone,
Just a quick note. Zach had his first basketball game today. To check his schedule, click here: PiHi 8th Grade Schedule

Kate is enjoying choir and dance at school and preparing for her dance recital at Cordiner Hall on December 17. She seems to be doing well with not having to switch schools and feels more secure.

Kenny is trying out for basketball at WaHi. I'm quite proud of him, because there must be at least 40 freshmen in there, and only room for about 24 players on the teams. He's working hard.

Watch the paper, everyone, on Thursday, I put a note to you all in there, with a pic of Dave. I'm working on the handwritten "Thank You" notes, but with tendonitis in my right arm and 600 to write, progress is extremely s...l...o...w! I apologize for that. I hope you know how very much all your support is appreciated.

Thanks Wendye for the soup, "Spouting once, spouting twice, spouting chicken soup with rice!"

Thanks, Erik & Evy, Mark & Christina for the phone call. Hearing your voices filled my heart. I miss you all so much.

Must sleep.
Love, Shell

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 8:31 PM CST

NEW ALBUMS WITH ALL THE ROCK PHOTOS, ALL THE COUG PHOTOS AND ALL THE TOUCHDOWN PHOTOS--CLICK ON THE FAMILY PHOTO LINK ABOVE (THE YAHOO ONE)

Union-Bulletin article entitled "Rock Solid Tribute"

Bear with me, this page keeps getting revised as I learn more of the story behind this awesome memorial. Keep checking to be sure you've read the latest version.

Another amazing, heart-warming, gut-wrenching day in this journey. Val told me to bring the kids and be at the WaHi gym at 3:30. We gather, the day crisp, clear and cool, the sun shining brightly, not a cloud in sight. Football season is over, bringing a sense of sadness coupled with a new freedom. Anticipation fills the air. As this huge flatbed semi pulls into the parking lot, with a mysterious, huge lump wrapped in plastic on the back, I find myself looking for Dave, truly expecting him to come jogging out from behind the weight room, keys jingling, the ever-present bounce in his step..."Did I miss anything?"

Val "Applebutter" Cole, and the class of 1981 got this giant rock to put on WaHi's campus. Karla Broughton, Dave Cochrane, Joe Golden and Lisa Pontorolo were there today, too. Val, Joy Cunnington Moniz and Scott Young had picked out this rock. Joy tells the story of going through a field of huge boulders, testing out each one, laughing and crying and asking Dave, "This one?" They got the right one. This rock is 3,500 pounds! A huge crane lifted it from the truck (carried it right over my van!) and gently placed it on the grass, just outside the entrance to the gym.



The kids pulled off the black tarp to reveal the most beautiful rock, etched with Dave's name, the WaHi emblem, a basketball #22, a football helmet, plus his guitar. Not just a generic guitar, but his friend, his companion...his guitar. (Recognize your photo, Evy?)

Here's a pic:


It was overwhelming and beautiful. I had a hard time looking at people, I was scared to slow down and let myself feel. I held together okay, until I hugged Skip, who walked through the valley with us. Val talked a little, dedicating the rock to Dave and giving our family the Class of '81 donations. We held hands in a circle, Skip prayed, Lisa commended Val on pulling it all together so beautifully.



It's so fitting that there be something of Dave at WaHi. The people at WaHi meant so much to Dave. He loved that place. He gave his all, as a student, as a coach, as a teacher. He was proud to be a Blue Devil. He was involved in ASB, he was homecoming king, class speaker, football and basketball co-captain, involved in Chamber Singers, drama and an excellent student. He loved it at WaHi, he wanted to be involved in everything, and know everyone. He loved the class of '81. He carried that love and school pride into his teaching there.

The rock is perfect. It's big enough for kids to climb on. And our kids certainly were climbing, wrestling, cavorting around--with Matt and Doug, of course! Mindy looked at them and said, "You know Dave would be right in there." I know he would love this. Dave always said, "Stand on the Rock." His foundation was always secure. Dave was my rock, my steadfast protector, my fortress, my hiding place. He never faltered, never wavered. The man was as solid as this rock. I'm not the only one that drew strength from his constant faith and his abiding love. Touching the face of the rock, so deeply etched, designed to weather any storm, in any age, from now until forever, I was reminded of Dave. I saw many people tenderly trail their fingers over Dave's name, clearly they felt it, too.

One of our favorite songs by the Shepherd's Staff:

Put my feet on the Rock,
A firm place to stand,
Put a song in my mouth
And now I lift up my hands


The rock, like my bracelet, says:

FAITH HOPE LOVE
THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE

Dave showed us that love, every day, in so many ways. Each day brings new memories. It's conference week, and I remember Dave, bounding out the door to conferences, eating dinner on the go, looking forward to the night, never complaining, wanting to meet the families of his students. Wanting to find a way for each student to succeed. And most importantly, making sure that each student felt valued, felt cared about, felt loved.

Do a Dave thing. Go let somebody know that you love them. Especially if they are hard to love. The ones who are the least loveable need it the most. "Make it a great day." (DM after Coach Frosty at PLU.) Do a Dave thing...and remember.

Last week the WaHi choirs had their first concert of the year, under the direction of Norb Rossi. The last song was in memory of Dave, "I Will Lift Mine Eyes." Music, another place where Dave gave so freely, and now WaHi remembers. Just like homecoming, Dave always read these goofy poems announcing the court, this year, Ron read one for Dave. WaHi remembers. Football players with DM wristbands. Students with gray brain tumor bracelets and yellow LIVEstrong bands. WaHi remembers.

Thank you, Val. Thank you Class of '81.
Thanks to all the people that supported this incredible effort in one way or another:
(The list was big: if I missed you, let me know! Any errors are mine and entirely unintentional.)
Special thanks to Lloyd Cunnington of Thompson Monuments and to Dave and Charlie Konen of Koncrete Industries and Konen Rock. Thanks to Dave Cochrane of Konen Industries.
Thanks to school district administrators and plant facilities staff for your efforts and cooperation.
And to the Class of '81 members:
Val Applebee Cole
Thomas Beebe
Scott Young
Joy Cunnington Moniz
Lisa Webb Pontorolo
Karla Griffin Broughton
Vickie Kibler
Tim Towner
Tammy Toon Cordoza
Tammy Buccarelli Sprengal
Steve and Laurie Jordan
Craig Nelson
Janalee Croft Davis
Dave Cochrane
Joe Golden
Stephanie Edwards Plowman
"Stella" Cheryl Hansen
Sarah Williams Dahger
Roger Zander
Robin Clayton Thomas
Rick Tuttle
Rick Anglin
Brad Springer
Ray Hansen
Mike and Laurie Klicker
Mike Lucarelli
Marlit Stevens Stubb
Marla Fitzsimmons
Mark and Lisa Klicker
Margaret Noble Jackson
Denise Richmond Habash
Lori Gardener
Lori Deeringhoff Wahl
Lori and Matt Tucker
Lance Jacky
Lori Long Hinton
Linda Hapner Clark
Laura Rau
Kim Gugliemelli
Kevin and Kirsten Pribilsky
Kelly Thompson
Kay Gugliemelli
Kathy Lopez Yancey
Jenny Lloyd Charlo
Gretchen Mann
Dave Neissl
Cindy Pederson
Chip and Roxanne Lake
Cathy and John Hair
Carri Aichele-Klein
Bob Case
Becky Girsberger Janis


Thank you for making this possible. Thank you for the donations for the children. I wish I had better words to let you know, how much this means, how your gift honors Dave, how truly grateful we are, how loved we feel. How important it is to us that you all remember.

There are many places in this world that are wondrous, but none come close to this town...Walla Walla, a small town, in the middle of the wheat fields, where love is something you can touch.

Love, Chelle


Here are some TOUCHDOWN photos!
THANK YOU KEVEN PECK!

GO BIG BLUE!!!










Thank you, WaHi coaches and players. We love you all!