Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Tuesday, January 31, 2006 2:08 AM CST

I'm losing my mind. Can't find my address book. I need these folks to e-mail me their mailing addresses:
Peter & Cheryl Wiederspan
Mark & Christina Nelson
Erik & Evy Haroldson
Peter & Danielle Bain
Thomas Bebee
Will & Stacy Mouat

Just a few notes, I am still soooo tired!
We went to the basketball tourney in Lewiston. Wow! What fun we had. Great group of kids. And to top it off, they beat Clarkston to win it all! Clarkston beat us in the Pendleton tournament, and they also beat us on Saturday at this tournament. Sweeet revenge....the Warriors did awesome! Just a few pictures:


Some of the fans...these are the sibs.

Zach and Gran'pa Spud (Judy's dad).

Zach and Nana (Bob's mom).

Other fans in attendance: Bob, Mindy, Annalee, Caleb, Uncle Butch, Aunt Christy.

And of course, Grana and Granpa.

Congratulations, Warriors. We love you!


PS. Here's a clip of Zach 22 on defense!

video deleted???

PS. Found in Dave's day planner:

"Happiness is not the absence of conflict
but the ability to deal with it."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Conspiracy of Hope

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 0:34 AM CST


Click here to see the front-page Union-Bulletin article on Conspiracy of Hope! I tried to scan the full pictures, but it didn't scan well, I'll play with it a bit and scan it later! There was a picture of Dave, the one at the top of the page in the frame Lisa gave me, and a picture of the photo board, too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 0:34 AM CST

Here is a picture of Shane teaching Zach to play Dave's guitar. I love the smiles. I hope that Zach will smile when he plays, like Shane does, like Dave did.

This is what Kate is doing when Zach is playing guitar!

This is what Kenny is doing while Zach is playing basketball.

Here is a picture of Zach and his team. They were AWESOME in Pendleton, going all the way to the championship game and taking second in the tourney....only losing by 3 in the last game. Amazing. And such great kids.

See what I mean? Here is Zach and Ryan helping Zach S out the door. Zach S broke his ankle and is out for the season. Drat!!!

This is the team amusing themselves on the slide in the park between games.

After celebrating a great showing in the b-ball tourney, it was time for all loyal Seahawks fans to make a LOT of noise at the Meyer house. Wish I had got a shot of them with their HONK FOR THE HAWKS! sign that they were waving at all the cars on Bryant street.

And tonight, how do I even begin to describe tonight? Once upon a time, there was a teacher named Dave, who wanted to be a rock star. He and some kids at WaHi, who also had rockin' dreams, got together with some other folks, called themselves "conspirators" and brought a dream to life. Kids (and Dave) sang and danced and played music and made people laugh and cheer and cry. They took money at the door and donated it to a worthy cause. They called it: CONSPIRACY OF HOPE.

The COH concert was always near and dear to Dave's heart, as was his music, his guitar, his desire to make a difference in the place he lived....but nothing was dearer to him than those kids.

Tonight they did a video tribute to Dave. It had clips of some of his COH performances and pictures of him. It was beautiful. I love those kids. They are amazing. Dave loved them all so. And it's obvious, they loved him, too.

Front of shirt.

Back of shirt.

Speaking of amazing kids, Kenny has three businesses signed up for his Recycle for the Cure project, and many, many individuals committed. He has already received 20 cartridges, and I've been notified that more are on the way!

And this morning...there they were on our doorstep! WOW! Thank you, Kathie, you are amazing!

Thank you so much to everyone...spread the word.

We can make a difference.


Love, Shelley

Monday, January 23, 2006

Another One of Those Days

Monday, January 23, 2006 11:25 PM CST

Warning: not for the faint of heart or the worry-warts.

I'm having another of those days.
The days when I not only can't fix it,
but I can't stand it, either.

Another part of the cycle.
Another low on this roller coaster.

Kevin is faltering.
Lou can't walk.
Fred is dying.
Hadley has no trial to enter.
Hailee's been in the hospital.

I write to these people.
I love these people.
People I've never seen,
never touched,
who are still my friends.

Sometimes my only friends.
If it weren't for Lisa,
dropping by,
the gift of another adult voice
in my house,
someone to just hear
the small, everyday stories,
I think I'd come unglued.
Amid the busy, rowdy noise
of kids and their friends,
it's so lonely here.

I try to pray,
for those still in the fight,
I try to pray
for my children
I try to pray
for what's left of my family,
but on nights like tonight,
my prayers feel useless,
falling through darkness
to land

And I know, I realize,
each time I write to these friends,
that I am living their worst fear.
I am their nightmare.
I live in the place they never want to go.

A barren place,
a place where
the loneliness is numbing
and the pain is searing,
a place of utter solitude,
where I am completely alone
where there is no Dave
and I can't feel God
and I don't feel love.

If you can't fix it,
and you can't stand it,
then you've just got to wait it out,
ride it through,
keep moving,
keep breathing,
and wait
to be able to see
the love that never fails.

I know it's there.


PS. Update at 12:35 am Pacific time....
of course the love is there...
it came knocking on my door,
in the form of Dee,
friend beyond measure,
bringing coffee at midnight,
Dee, you are wise
Claudia, thanks for nudging her!

Quick One

Monday, January 23, 2006 0:42 AM CST

Very quick update before bed:

Lou is in the hospital, he cannot walk. Please pray for him. They don't think his symptoms are being caused by tumor, but aren't sure what it is. Pray for Lou and pray for Cathy and their two boys, Drew and Damon. She is handling things beautifully, but is very afraid. Pray for God to continue to guide her steps as she cares for Lou, makes decisions and cares for her boys.

The tournament in Pendleton was great. The boys did fabulous, taking second place in the tourney. They lost the championship by only 3 points. Zach was on fire, despite his blisters. Oh to be young and heal that quickly!

Kate had a great time with Uncle Bob on the slopes. She loved it and is already trying to figure out how she can get on the mountain again!


Love, Chelle

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Saturday, January 21, 2006 9:20 AM CST

*** We're at almost 100,000 hits on this website. If you are the 100,000th person, write a note in the guestbook! Then send me an e-mail. A Dave Meyer cd to visitor #100,000!!! ***

A year ago we were in the hospital in Seattle. Dave had surgery for the third time on January 18th. The trip over was like the third circle of hell. Rain, snow, sleet, every person I love in a car on that treacherous mountain. The flights were canceled. Dave was out of it...the tumor causing so much swelling, his brain not working right. Tension was high. I remember my Dad deciding to go out of our way to get gas at Costco and being furious, not wanting to go over the bridge in the snow, handing Dave the cell phone, telling him, "Call my Dad and tell him we are NOT going to Costco. I'll give him the $2.50 he'll save in gas." Ranting in typical Michelle style. I looked over at Dave. He was staring at the cell phone like he'd never seen it before. The bottom dropped out of my world. It was the scariest moment of the journey. I think at that moment the tumor became "real" to me. We'd been battling the blasted thing for 8 years, but Dave was always on top. Small headaches, a bit of forgetfulness, tired sometimes. But this. This was different. This man, Dave, so bright. So bright in so many ways. Quick, intelligent, caring, loving, sensitive, creative, musical, determined, strong. He shone so brightly, people were drawn to him in an inexplicable way.

And here we were, driving down the road, and he didn't know how to work a cell phone. It became a joke later. But it was never funny.

And within a few days after surgery, Dave was back. He fought and won again. He was walking stairs, smiling brightly, no longer crooked, making jokes with the nurses, telling me, "Not today!" A year ago today, I had so much hope. We were ready to go home, scheduling gamma knife for the tiny residual tumor they couldn't remove during surgery. Dave was back to being himself. I spent so much time on my knees, thanking God for this reprieve, this gift. "We'll beat this, Shelley, we will," Dave would say. I was sure we would. We always had.

Don't forget CONSPIRACY OF HOPE at WaHi on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Other news:

Zach is learning to play Dave's guitar. Thank you, Shane, from the bottom of my heart.

Zach has a basketball tourney in Pendleton this weekend, but his feet are messed up from snowboarding blisters that aren't healing correctly. Went to the doc yesterday, and Ted did some minor "surgery" on Z's feet. He's riding the bench for a bit until they're better.

The plumber came and fixed my faucet. Said we need a new water main. Guess I should be glad some things never change, eh, Evy, who understands exactly what I mean...car, plumbing, sewer...repair projects gone wrong$$$!

Kate is skiing with Uncle Bob today. She's very excited. Kenny is skiing with Special Olympics today. They should have a lot of fun.


Duke, well, looks like we're out of the newborn puppy stage. We're doing all the usual puppy things now. Chewing, barking, waking us up all night long, pooping and peeing every 10 minutes. But, wow, he's so darn sweet!! We love him to pieces. For everyone that asked, his dad is a chocolate lab and his mom is a smaller, white, mixed-breed mutt!


My friend, Cathy, and her husband Lou, who live in Chicago on the 58th floor, they don't have a website, and I forgot to ask for prayers for them on Thursday (I'm so sorry, Cathy!), but Lou had an MRI Thursday, and it looks like there is some growth. They are making treatment decisions, and it's so hard. Here's a post she put on the list, since it's already public, I think it will be okay to post it here. It gives you an idea of what they are battling and how much Cathy loves that man. Please pray for them.

Greetings dear list friends,

MRI was late last night...scheduled for 8:30, we got there at 9:15 due to
various reasons......no one there to check us in. They are open until 11:00.
We go into the MRI department and find someone. The only good thing about
evening MRI's is NO ONE is there and so it goes faster. Go with Lou into the
changing room, like always. How many MRI's have there been since October
05.....perhaps something like 12 at least.....each one, the "first" one for my
Lou......"have we been here before "....."what do we do
here"....sigh.......last night, no different. Go into the MRI room, hold his feet, like
always....and pray as the machine makes it's loud noises.......please please not this
time, not yet... we aren't ready for that yet.....we can live this way, we
really can......it's ok like this.....I'll take him like
this..........sigh...... it's over.....back to the changing room. On our way out, Lou says "I
thought we were going to go dancing after this"........this is why we keep doing
this, isn't it.........this is why we keep going, keep searching, keep

This morning, no email from the dr. Not a good sign. I finally email him.
He says "where can I call you". Not a good sign. He calls. It's not
good news, but, it could be worse. There is progression in the main tumor
(which has been dormant since it shrunk over a year ago now), and the lesion.
"How much progression" I ask? "maybe 15r so, just eyeballing it". OK,
like I said, could be worse, huh, I know this. I know this after the week
we have seen on our lists.....it could definitely be worse. Some say less
than 25 percent growth is "stable", right??? We have had hardly no treatment since
October really. There was no change after 5 weeks of no treatment, so we went
to the low dose temodar, but he didn't really get much this month all told.
Now what? Doctor says several chemos we can try....and a new trial is
available. But I know the real issue.........should we do it.........can Lou do
it.........he is NOT walking well now.......doctor says it is not due to the
tumor. Why can't he walk well? His counts are all very good. He does look
good. I think maybe the ruta is helping his alertness.....but.......chemo
and Lou.........tough.........bad reaction to just about everything........

Now what........don't know........nothing until we see the doctor next week
anyway..........just going to be with my guy, as the snow falls
outside........snuggle in, hang on, and pray...........pray for all of us.........what a week
it has been............God bless us all........

Cathy B. w/o Lou, age 69, dx inoperable gbm 10/04

Kevin and Kari are starting a new chemo combination on Tuesday, his MRI showed growth. Please pray for this next chemo to be THE ONE!

Fred, Cheri and Olivia are making it through the days, a slow process, painful, but full of many small gifts and much love. Please pray for these days to bring many blessings, many memories to treasure.

There is an 18 year old boy on our list who has been given no hope by the doctors, his spinal tumor continues to defy any treatments thrown at it. Please pray for him, his mom and his sister.

Hadley Bug, Hawaiian princess, her treatment is in a sort of limbo right now, pray for the right treatment to become clear to her mom, Angela.

Hailee has been quite ill and in the hospital. Please pray for healing for her and strength for her mom, Melissa.

Brenda, her husband Clyde and their son, Justin need our prayers. This BT journey is so hard on families. Clyde has chosen not to pursue further chemo or surgery.

So many families, so many struggles. Such bravery, such heart, such love.

Such love. Shelley

PS. Please join me in praying for the families whose loved ones have lost
the battle against brain tumors in 2005. These are from one of the
lists to which I belong. The name of the patient is first, and the
parenthesis indicate caregivers/family members who were members of the listserv. As you can see, the list is far too big. Please pray for a cure to
be found.

2005 Honors:

Laura Adams (mother of Ashley)

Lori Arquilla Andersen (daughter of Linda Magiera)

Glen Baker (cousin of Jacki Fitzmorris' mother)

Ugo Bartole (husband of Debbie)

Doug Bennett (brother of Don)

Bill Bither (husband of Carol)

Bruce Brink (husband of Shaun)

Jack Brownell (father of Jacki Fitzmorris)

Gordon Brunhild (gentle husband of Sunnie)

Leo Burr (husband of Jean)

Tino Carbone (father of Krissy)

Pam Caulfield (wife of John)

Johnnie Cochran

Kevin Collins (husband of Carol, brother of Carol Roberts)

Mary Lois Cook (mother-in-law of LeeAnn Boston)

Damien Cusick (husband of Susan)

Ginger Dorn (wife of Henry)

Dorothy (mother of Stacey)

Lesli Farry (twin sister of Lori Najera)

Lauren Fitzgerald (daughter of Michael)

Donna Fraser's father

Darlene Garth (mother of Kelli Froman)

Melanie Gillmeister's mother

Sophie Goddard's father

Howard Goldberg (husband of Carole)

Rich Gordon (father of Carey)

Raymond Gravlin

Larry Graybill (husband of Sue)

Janel Gubeno (sister of Michele Jenkins)

Betty Hamlin

William Hapgood (husband of Lili)

Dell Hesler (brother of Terri Martin)

Daryn Lyn Holland (son of Fritzie Samford)

Janet Huebner's brother-in-law

John (husband of Kathryn Geyer)

John Jacobs (father of Abra)

Jamie Johnson (husband of Cindy)

Tony Kapulka (husband of Melissa [Plantation Towers])

Andy Keenan (fiance of Erica Brown)

Kevin (husband of Angela Gilliam)

Gwen Kuss (sister of Jessica Smith and Natalie)

Nigel Lee (husband of Diane)

Daniel Richard Levin (son of Barb Ott)

Myrna Lewis (sister of Diane Eickhoff Barnhart, stepmother of Cindy Butler)

Shelly Lewis (husband of Peggy, father of Lynne Siegel)

Spencer Mattson (son of Julie and Rob)

John May (father of Marci Baumann)

O'Dean McKenney (husband of Sabrina)

Ken Melton (husband of Sue)

Edith Meltzer (mother-in-law of Cathy Meltzer)

Michael Metcalf (husband of Donna)

Dave Meyer (husband of Michelle)

Mike (fiancé of Troylene Cooper)

Stephen Miloscia (son of Mary)

Roxanne Morrissey (mother of Christine)

Gill Mustafa (mother-in-law of Ziv Shevket)

Ivan Noble

Brittany Renée Nolan (daughter of Marilynn)

Norman (father of Francesca Cull)

Apostle Babalola OlaOjo (father of Ann McLean)

Will Oliver (husband of Helen Pitt)

Martha Jane Pap (mother of Lynn Krasiewich)

Bud Paulding (father of Trish Thackston)

Irene Philips' aunt

Bob Popowski (father of Maria Carr)

Andy Posa

Leigh Roberts (wife of Stephen)

David Rufo, Sr. (father of David)

William Sansalone (son of Maria)

Sarah (daughter of Ron Holmes)

Linda Sargeant (mother of Scott)

Ian Scott (husband of Marje)

Scott Sellers (husband of Kellie, brother of Heather)

Vince Sgro (husband of Fran)

Bonny Shannon (mother of Patty Simons)

Philip Shattuck (brother of Shari Ouillette)

Russ Shields (husband of Tina)

Hardip Singh (father of Harpreet Kaur)

David Taubenfeld (husband of Felicia)

Robert Tisch

Barbara Tona (mother of Mike Tona and JoAnn Sei)

George K.Y. Tseo, PhD (husband of Hui Fu)

Eugene Vance (father of Wanda Graham)

Patricia VanDragt (mother of Kellie Wiersma)

Chris Wilcome (friend of Lisa Weinstein)

Jeff Wilcox (son of Ken and Kathy)

Dr. Lee Wiltse (father of Emily Woudenberg)

Pat Wolter (son of Connie)

Mike Wowk (father of Julie Watt)

Paul Young

Yuri (father of Marina Mandelzweig)

Richard A. Zanol, Sr. (father of Jennifer Talluto)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Monday, January 16, 2006 7:28 PM CST

Today, ten years ago, Dave got his girl. He called her Katie and BabyCakes. Every time we were pregnant, he was sure it was a girl, hoping for a girl. And then Kate was born.

Dave was radiant. We watched the video today from the day Kate was born. How little did we know that our lives would change so drastically in less than a year. Dave looks happy, joyful, energetic. But he also looks pale and thin. Or do I only see it now?

We celebrated at the ice rink. Just like last year. Last year, we were preparing for Dave's third surgery, scheduled January 18th. Dave couldn't skate, but could cheer the girls on.

I can't believe she's TEN!!

I'm so proud of her. The shirt she wore for her party has a picture of her as a baby, with Dave and I both looking at her. It says, "Pretty baby." I hope she always remembers how he adored her.

Love, Chelle

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Puppy Dreams

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 6:16 PM CST

Did you see the D.O.G. banner above? It's our new motto: Depend On God. And we have Duke to remind us!

Okay, Claudia....I'll tell the story about Duke's name, but first, let's see if anyone can guess. All of Claudia's guesses were wrong. Deb and Melinda, you're disqualified, because you already know where "Duke" came from.

First 5 people to get it right get a Cancer Sucks Club button!

I've been thinking we need to add a middle name that starts with "J" so that he can be a DJ like David Joseph. Even though no-one ever called him DJ. Any votes on that?

He's been such a sweet puppy. As you can see, he mostly sleeps:

We are enjoying him tremendously!

Other news:
Kenny went skiing Saturday. He said he had a blast, only fell once and went on the lift six times! He's such a snow enthusiast.

Kenny's decided to do his community service project on brain tumor awareness and wants to raise money for research. So...here's a request: if you have used print or toner cartridges...for printers, copiers, fax machines...send the empties to Kenny. He will turn them in to Al Musella, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to brain tumor research.

If you see Zach walking like an old man, that's because he went snowboarding on Sunday with Uncle Bob. He had a fabulous time, but methinks he overdid it just a tad. Hmmm, so unlike Zach.

Kate started back to Explorers, and it seems to be going well so far. She's very excited about her birthday this weekend, because the cousins are coming, the cousins are coming!

Me, well, it's a good thing that Duke is here, filling us all with such love, because most days remain pretty empty. Full of "stuff." Stuff to do, stuff to take care of, stuff to taxi kids to....the ache, however, remains, just under the busy.

Love, Shell

*****Jan 12 update*****
We have our 5 winners:
Kari Terry
Sara Huxoll
Kelli Knudson
and Kevin/Stefan via Kirsten

Consolation prize to Claudia, for entering twice! :-)

Well, we actually named him Duke for the Duke University Blue Devils basketball team. Zach has been a fan of Duke and their b-ball team since he was 4! (A Duke fan, even before a Cougs fan....hard to believe, I know.) We also thought that it was a bonus that Duke University has one of the very top brain tumor treatment centers in the world, and that they directly consulted on Dave's case for several years.

Cancer Sucks Club buttons going out to the winners. Please e-mail me your mailing address, my address book is buried in the closet!

Claudia gets a button, too, for pure persistence!

Save those printer cartridges, toner cartridges for fax machines and copy machines are good, too! And a HUGE thank you to Kathie, for all your help and dedication. Kathie found a way for all the printer cartridges from Walla Walla Community College to go to Kenny's project!! HOORAY!

And in response to Kathie's question, my understanding is that Kenny can continue to do this project all 4 high school years if he chooses. He will definitely continue through this school year and the summer. He re-evaluates his blueprint in the fall for his sophomore year, and decides then what to do. I suppose there's a chance that the Musella Foundation will stop accepting cartridges at some point, but they've got a great deal going for now, so I wouldn't anticipate it ending anytime soon. You can check it out at Virtual Trials & Musella Foundation Website They can get up to $5.00 for a single name-brand cartridge. And 100% that goes to brain tumor research. Whoo hoo!!

Also, please note,
THE DAVE MEYER CONSPIRACY OF HOPE CONCERT will be at WaHi's auditorium on January 24 and 25 (repeated show) at 7:07 pm. Free will donations at the door...I'm not sure what cause the concert is benefiting this year, will try to find out. Please try to come!

Love you all, Shell

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dog-gone It

Sunday, January 8, 2006 1:43 AM CST

Okay, first some pictures from the past few weeks, just so you can keep up on what we've been doing.

This is Dave's birthday party. It was rather impromtu. We had decided to just spend time together, just me and the kids. But as the day wore on, we decided we had to have a cake. It was a big joke in our family, how we always got a cake, even though Dave didn't really like cake. So we got cake, rented Stripes, Dave's old favorite movie, and a few friends dropped in. We decided to have the sparkling cider that Secret Santas brought.

Will and Zach toast Dave.

Kenny, Meg, Kate, Will and Zach blowing out the candles.

Deb and Shelley, from Kate's slightly lower perspective.

Kenny being, well, Kenny.

We were invited to the Bergstrom Almost New Year's party and the kids made gingerbread houses.

Will and Quinn. Or as Dave called them: "Double D and Q."

Kate and Zach. Notice the Cougar shirt? In this picture, the last one and the next ones. Does he own anything else?

Then today, well, a friend had these puppies....you can guess the rest of the story.

Will, Zach and Andrew...riding in the car, on our way to "just look." Kenny was skiing today, so we knew we couldn't get a puppy, just look.

Zach fell in love with every puppy he held.

This is Duke, previously known as Chase. I took the most pictures of him. I must have known.

Kate holding Duke/Chase and Ty, the second runner-up.

How could you say no?

Whew, it's been a long day, and we're all DOG-TIRED!

I can't believe I did this.
But if Hailee and Melissa can do it.
And Olivia and Cheri can do it.
I guess I'll survive, too.
I guess I'm not brave enough for the tatoo!

His name is Duke, and he is impossibly, ridiculously cute.

And I promised Sara I'd tell you that he has one sister and five brothers that are just as cute, ready to go to new homes. Her email is in the guestbook!

Thank you, Sara, and also McKenzie, Megan and Mia, for letting us have this little darling. We promise to take good care of him. So far the cats are a little miffed, but mostly disinterested. The puppy looks for his brothers and sister a little, but likes to burrow in Kate's hair, that seems to make him feel happy. He hasn't cried much at all, although he wasn't happy on the ride home. I hope he learns to like riding in the car! Anyway, he's asleep, snuggled up to Z right now. (His name got drawn out of the bowl first.)

PS. Duke may be a Blue Devil, but his collar is Cougar Crimson!

Goodnight all,
Chelle...craziest woman in three counties!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Saturday, January 7, 2006 2:12 AM CST

January 6.
Happy Birthday, Cindy.
Happy Birthday, Cheri.

Dave used to call this day "Happy Un-Tumor Anniversary." And, as you might guess, he had a little song that went along with it.

That was one of the differences between Dave and I. He saw this as a day for celebration. The day the surgeons took out the tumor.

I saw it as one of those dark days. The day they told me that my husband's tumor was malignant.

He had been in that wreck on December 23. They did an MRI, put him on anti-seizure meds and steroids, and scheduled him for surgery. At the pre-surgery conference, the doctor asked, "Do you have any questions?" Dave said, "Only one. Do you believe in God?" The doctor looked Dave in the eye and said, "Yes, I do." Dave relaxed into his chair and said, "Okay, Shelley, you take it from here."

So I asked a million questions.

Then the doctor had one for us. "Do you have a will? A living will?" Dave said, "Do I need one?" Dr. Gehling kind of shook his head and said, "What you and I are going to do, there's nothing more dangerous, except maybe a heart/lung transplant. You need a will."

Dave said, "If it will make you feel better, I'll get one. But if I was going to die, it would have happened on that highway. There's a reason I'm still alive."

So Dan Hess helped us draw up wills. Thank you, Dan.

Then we researched everything, everything. And talked to doctors all over the place. Debated about having surgery with Mitch Berger, who is a world-reknowned surgeon, then at UW. Didn't know what to do. Dave said, "It's okay, we'll just pray, and we'll know." The next day, huge snowfall, closed passes. Dave said, "See, that's the sign. We stay."

The band came. Mark, Erik, Steve. They played music loud and late into the night. They wanted to shave Dave's head and write "Open other side" on his left side, but didn't, they were too busy playing guitar and singing. Our little house rocked that night.

The next day, we went to the hospital. There were crowds of us in the waiting room. All with these bandages around our heads, thinking we'd make Dave laugh. Dr. Gehling had thought Dave's tumor was very slow-growing as it was so large and Dave had had no symptoms. He said, when we do the surgery, I'll look at the cells, we'll know if it's malignant or not." Dave and I held hands, Robin prayed with us, and he was wheeled down the corridor.

Dave's tumor was right temporal lobe. They told us it could affect memory and emotion. We waited. Would he be okay? Would he still be Dave? Would he remember us?

Dr. Gehling came out and let us know that things were going well, but the slides had shown malignancy. Told us he'd know more after the UW pathologists had looked at the samples. Preliminary results were grade 2.

Whew, I thought, grade 2. We're not at 4. This will be okay.

I went to the recovery room, a friend snuck me in. Dave opened his eyes, smiled at me and said, "Not today." (Story of that in journal history.) So I knew he was okay.

Was feeling pretty good, pretty optimistic, Dave had come through surgery with flying colors, the tumor was low-grade. This was good, right?

Went to see Dave once they got him settled in ICU. Kathy Yancey was his nurse. She's a member of the famous class of '81. As I talked with her, and she worked over Dave, she wouldn't look into my eyes. When I finally caught her gaze, there were tears in her eyes. I knew then that she understood something I didn't. And for the first time since the patrol called about the wreck, I felt real fear. Paralyzing fear. Stomach-dropping, head-spinning, panic-inducing fear. I looked at Kathy and said, "I need to talk to the doctor again." She said, "I think so."

So I met with him again. He explained everything to me again. And again. And I still didn't get it. It didn't sound so awful. Low-grade tumor, debate about radiation, no need for chemo, too slow-growing for chemo.....I made him tell me again. Finally he said, "Michelle, are you asking for numbers?" I said, "I guess I am." He said, "80f people with this kind of tumor will die within 2-3 years." I said, "What about the other 20 He said, "Some on each side of that." Then he told me about a child he knew who had had a grade 4, the dreaded GBM, who was still living 16 years later. Turned out he was a student of Dave's, someone Dave knew and cared for. And then, he said, "But kids are different."

But we all know that Dave had never been 80�n his entire life, right? 80�as never enough for him in any endeavor. So I held onto hope.

Dave was moved to a regular room, some double vision, some facial numbness. They assured us it would go away, it did. Dave was pretty tired, slept Tuesday mostly. Then Wednesday, he wanted to talk. What did the doctor say? I told Dave that it was cancer. He stood up and said, "Hospitals are for sick people. Get me out of here." Then he said, "There might be kids who are having a hard time with this diagnosis, let me talk to someone so I know who to pray for."

The first night Dave was in the hospital, I went home, because Kate was still nursing. When I woke up in the morning, I couldn't find Kenny. Kenny was 5 at the time, and didn't talk much yet. When I went into the living room, he was sound asleep on Mark's chest. I'll never forget that.

He said his first goal was to be home for Kate's first birthday, January 16. He got out of the hospital January 9. His second goal was to dance at her wedding. I suppose they have dance floors in heaven, but it's not the same.

Love, Shelley

PS. Look in the photo album on CB for some pictures of the Kyle grief cocoon and the snowball fight.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Monday, January 2, 2006 1:52 AM CST

(Jan 3 - I added a pic of me with Kyle, see below)

Today is January 2.
One of the five happiest days of my life.
It's the day Kyle was born.
Dave was so excited. All through the pregnancy, Dave was sure this was a girl. He bought this little pink sleeper. He was just sure that Kyle was a girl. Actually, he was sure it was a girl all four times! But if he were to be a boy, his name was to be Kenny or Erik. Kenny or Erik. Erik or Kenny. We went back and forth. Dave said, "Oh, it didn't matter anyway, since Amanda Loree was going to be born." A few days before Kyle was born, we had an ultrasound, because there had been so much confusion on his due date (turned out he was 3.5 weeks overdue!), and we discovered he was a boy! A boy! We were amazed. And suddenly decided to name him Kyle. Don't ask me why or how. It just happened.

Dave's brother, Bob, was in town for the weekend. I'd had a lot of contractions on Dave's birthday, he was hoping that Kyle would be born on his birthday, but it didn't happen. Then early, early on January 2, I started having contractions. Dave was completely beside himself. He got the stopwatch, and not only timed, but wrote down every contraction, with full description. It finally made me crazy and I threw away his paper and pen. So no cute momento for the baby book.

Dave loaded the car.

You can see how excited he was. He took a picture of my giant belly on our way out the door. I don't have that one scanned....sorry! Or maybe not. That's something else you might not know. Dave LOVED baby tummies. He continually rubbed my tummy, talking to the baby, reading books and singing songs. All our babies immediately recognized and sought out Dave's voice. He loved other baby tummies, too. Just ask Denise.

A textbook, almost silent, exactly 12 hour long labor later, Kyle was born at exactly 6:00 pm. He was beautiful. Perfect. Dave was amazed. Simply amazed.

I've always loved this picture. You can see the excitement, the nervousness, the awe.

Dave was the best Daddy ever. He was thrilled. He cut the cord. He gave the first bath. He changed the first diaper. He flew Kyle through the air on his hand...Air Kyle, he called it. He soothed Kyle by snuggling him next to his skin and nestling his little head against his neck, humming deeply, so Kyle could feel the vibrations and hear his voice. He loved to sleep with the baby, could hardly bear to put him down.

We were a family, we were delirously happy. I had planned to go back to work. The minute I held Kyle, I told Dave, "I can't do it. I can't leave him." So we changed plans, so I could stay home.

We had 25 gloriously happy days. Days of joy. Days untouched by fear or doubt or pain or sadness. Nothing but pure hope, a trust in the future, a closeness, a growing together that was simply miraculous.

Then, one day, at the mall with my friend, Dave with Erik and Mark on the way to a gig, Kyle stopped breathing.

I remember it like a movie. So surreal. I remember my heart beating so loudly in my own ears, pounding, pounding, adrenaline rushing through my body. I couldn't tell if Kyle was breathing, if his heart was beating or if that was my own heart. I started CPR. Someone asked me questions. I couldn't answer, so a little black girl, about 14, tiny, willowy, took Kyle and continued rescue breaths. I watched her in amazement. The ambulance arrived. I remember seeing the paramedic uniforms. It was like my dad had arrived. I felt safe suddenly. I knew that if anyone could save him, they could. They ripped open his sleeper, blue and white striped. They started an IV. They put a tube in his mouth. They motioned for me to follow them. I saw Kyle's pacifier on the floor and grabbed it. I would hold that pacifier for weeks, afraid to let go of it. I climbed into a police car which followed the ambulance to the hospital. It took forever to get there. We were at Cinnabon when it happened. I remember smelling the cinnamon on my clothes and feeling sick, retching in the police car.

We couldn't find Dave. He was somewhere between Tacoma and Seattle in the days before cell phones. We kept calling, calling anyone we knew. Finally, Dave came in the door. I couldn't look at him. Couldn't bear to see those eyes. I just held onto the pacifier. And we waited. Finally, the doctor came in. I don't remember what he said. I saw his face and I knew. I remember feeling like a block of ice. I couldn't think, couldn't feel. We went into this room, and Dave held Kyle, combed his hair, sang to him. I watched. I held Kyle, but felt nothing. Nothing at all.

They took us to a room. A room with a phone. We called some people. The lady from the funeral home came to take Kyle's body. I remember asking her to be careful, be gentle with my baby.

Then it was time to go. We didn't want to walk out that door, knowing it meant that once we passed that threshold, that real life would start again.

We went home. Decided we shouldn't be alone. Dave wanted to sit in Kyle's room, I couldn't go there. Immediately we knew that this was going to be hard, that we were going to have to work to understand that while we were on the same journey, we were taking different steps. We had to work to make sure those steps were toward each other and not away.

We called Peter and Cheryl and they came to be with us. The band arrived late at night, breaking our hide-a-bed. My dad and sister arrived, Denise with one shoe and one pair of pants. My mom was stuck on the highway with a broken down car. Dave's parents came. Peter fixed the screen door, it was squeaking, it sounded like a baby's cry to me, so Peter fixed it.

There were a lot of people there, I remember Mark and Peter and Cheryl and Denise stayed for days. They never left. Our parents, too. They all stayed until we told them to go home.

I remember Mark and Denise and Peter cocooning with us for the few days after Kyle died, waiting with us for answers from the doctors (hypoplastic left heart syndrome), sitting with us, crying with us, just being there. We planned a funeral. We found a cemetery. We selected a gravesite, a headstone. We had the service in a beautiful chapel overlooking the sound, trees all around, Mark and Erik's voices surrounding us in songs, songs that had just been played at our weddings.

On the way home, it began to snow. People rushed back over the pass, hoping to beat the weather. We went home. The tension lifted, enormous relief in the air. And we had this huge snowball fight, screaming and laughing, almost hysterical, verging on mania from days spent inside, grieving. The diaper service kid came to pick up the pail, a somber look on his face. He looked at us like we were lunatics, having expected to find us grief-stricken. We laughed at that, a laugh tinged with just a little hysteria, not sure yet how to "be" in this new world. How to find our place? How to find each other?

We did. We made it through, with a lot of help, a lot of support, and a lot of effort, too. Another of Dave's famous sayings:
"Love is not a feeling, it's a decision."

How right he is. It's the commitment that carries us through. The choice. The decision. The being there, even when it's easier not to.

Some say that time heals. I'm not sure that's true. I miss Kyle every day, just as much as I ever did. It hurts, just as much as it ever did. The death of a child leaves a scar like no other. On the psych diagnostic "v-codes" in the DSM-IV, losing a child is on par with being in a concentration camp. It's wrong, on that level, on that scale. It's out of order. There is no healing that. You learn to live with it, around it, in spite of it. Dave and I talked about how it always felt like someone was missing. Always. Counting heads, "One, two, three.....(silently, in my heart, 'four.')"

At least Kyle's not alone now.
I, on the other hand...

Tears. Chelle