We just got back today from a trip to Illinois to spend Christmas with my in-laws. I also grew up in Illinois (about 40 minutes away from Luke but we met in Virginia). My parents now live in South Carolina and so it is nice for me that I still get to go “back home”. We planned our yearly summer trip to Illinois for July 2005 after having been there a year earlier. Nathan relapsed in June 2005 and so we had to cancel our trip while he underwent intensive therapy. Fast-forward to July 2006 and another planned trip. Nathan once again relapses in June and we are unable to travel. This past June we tried to go to Illinois one last time but Nathan was too unstable to go. So that is how it happened that it had been over three years since we got to go to Illinois. It was very good to be back.
We ate so much food that I don’t think we have been hungry since we left on our trip. There are two foods I can’t get here and so I twice had to have Monical’s pizza and Steak and Shake. Add in Luke’s mother’s homemade fried chicken, chicken and noodles, fabulous pies, peanut brittle and much, much more and it seems like all we did was eat! It was great! We will now commence with LIGHT eating though.
Luke’s sister and her boyfriend were also there and it made for a wonderful family Christmas. Julia and Lauren had so much fun playing and being read to. Santa was good (though he failed to bring Julia the $250 4 foot high animatronic pony she wanted).
We drove out (about 15 hours each way) and it was really good. Lauren had never been on a long car trip so we didn’t know what to expect. We did it in 2 days each time. We spent last night with good friends in Kansas City and that was a bonus!
We missed Nathan like crazy and at the same time managed to have a decent Christmas. How can we not when we still have two beautiful daughters. I imagine Nathan had a fantastic Christmas in Heaven and I hope he was able to “pop in” and see us in Illinois.
I am being lazy and so you will see accompanying pictures on New Years Day when I publish the December photos.
I hope all of you have a blessed and merry Christmas.
WARNING – this is one of those posts of interest strictly to family and good friends as it is the 5 year old ballet/tap recital footage.
She had a lot of fun. Professional pictures will come later and I will post those when I get them. It was way to dark for still pictures.
I am really terrible at public speaking. I get shaky and speak haltingly. I can’t stand listening to myself do it and I am sure others don’t want to hear me either. So – since college I have generally avoided it at all costs.
Tonight, I am going to speak to a group of people of unknown size (should be less than 100 for sure). I can’t remember if I volunteered or was asked, but there was never a question that I would do it.
Now the event is upon me – yikes! I just practiced my speech a few times and it isn’t pretty. I do hope that it will have impact, which is why I am doing it.
There is a fundraiser tonight for Flight of Hope.
This is the organization who twice flew us to NY when Nathan needed transportation there. You may recall that last year at this time, Nathan was in the hospital with no immune system and weak and feverish. We knew he was going to die and we desperately wanted to get him home for Christmas. We had been in NYC for three months after packing for a 10 day trip. Nathan had been in the hospital for 6 weeks with no immune system and we had given him his last bag of stem cells and were waiting for him counts to come up. The doctors were adamant that Nathan stay in the hospital. We knew the only way to get him home was to get him on a private plane because he couldn’t possibly fly on a commercial airline. Fortunately for us, Flight of Hope was able to schedule a flight for December 19. We had hoped his counts would have began coming up by then but they didn’t. Against the wishes of his doctors (I think we had to sign a document to that fact) Luke checked him out of the hospital and brought him to the airport and we flew him home.
Without Flight of Hope, Nathan would have been in NY for his last Christmas and we all might not even have been together.
So – while rough and probably teary – I hope I can convey what a worthwhile charity this organization is.
Sometimes it just really hits me how odd it is that life just goes on after someone dies. The details of everyday life continue and have to be dealt with. A week or two just doesn’t seem like enough time to actively mourn someone. Nathan died and we had his service 5 days later. People came in to town and we all mourned Nathan. Nine days later my parents left, Julia started kindergarten and Luke went back to work. Regular life was thrust upon us and this life with work and small children just doesn’t leave room to stop and mourn. So – we got right back into things. School, church, work, playgroups. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. It feels like I am faking my way through everything. I also feel like when people see me, they don’t see any of what Nathan’s death has done to me on the inside and I just look like any other suburban stay-at-home mom with all the normal “problems”. In some ways it seems dishonest. Then, when I think about it I realize there just aren’t any other choices. My girls need a “normal” routine. I can’t just go lay in bed – I have to take care of them. Luke has to go to work and make money. So life trudges on. Something just isn’t right though and I just don’t know what to do differently.
I took Lauren to the cardiologist today. It was a little nerve-wracking because after the cardiologist listened to her for a while he told me he wanted to do an echocardiogram. So – they did that (and Lauren was SO good – not a peep out of her) and the results are that she has a very loud “functional murmur”. It is just the way she is built I guess. He is not concerned but wants to see her in three years as a follow up. That is a big relief.
After the cardiologist – we went over to our local IRS office. I got a letter yesterday telling me that I MUST have put in the wrong social security number for Nathan because someone else used it too. The letter told me to check the number and refile. It didn’t tell me what to do if the number was right! So – I gathered up his social security card and death certificate and headed over. I was told that they will give it six weeks and if the other person hasn’t filed an audit will take place and at that point I can give them my paperwork. It is really frustrating to think I have to prove he was my son and I had the right to file with him as my dependent. Perhaps someone else just made a typo and will correct their return and I will not hear anything else about this.
I am off soon to take Julia to her grief group and entertain Lauren. After that I have a 3 hour choir rehearsal. I hope I can make it until 10:00! I usually attend the parent group that meets while the kids are having their time. I have kind of been hating it lately because I just feel wrung out and crappy when it is over. It is nice to have some excuses not to do it tonight. I was certainly not going to have a grief session and then go sing for three hours and now it turns out that Lauren will be with me anyway.