It has been a very long since my last post. We had an extraordinary summer! Part of me wishes I would have taken the time to document all our exciting endeavors, but I really needed some time away from the computer, time to think, time to process life. The three children had the best summer imaginable, a complete turnaround from these past two years for sure!
Our summer adventure started in Maine, the first week in July. We were so blessed by my mom joining us on this trip. Our neighbor growing up, Linda Weinmann, had moved to Maine. We were able to see her and the children got to meet her for the first time. It was amazing to see her again after all these years! Maine was absolutely beautiful. The air smelled clean and fresh, it was a great getaway. The children had their days filled with swimming, fishing, kayaking, campfires, hiking and more. Adelaine met a little girl named Amelia, from Mass. The two girls are the same age and were both diagnosed with ALL at the same time. They had a lot in common and really hit it off! Amelia had broken her arm and asked Adelaine to sign her little pink cast. They were so cute together.
We met so many amazing families in Maine who share our same journey, our cancer journey. Many faces and stories I will never forget. At every camp we were blessed by amazing people who touched and changed our lives. There were several families in Maine who live in West Palm Beach, Florida. They shared with us about their Oncologists and how extraordinary they were. One little boy told me how much he loved his Oncologist – he even had his cell phone number! I decided we just had to take a trip to West Palm and meet some of these doctors – and that’s just what we did when we returned home from Maine! (More about that later)!!!
Within a week, I came home, went to West Palm, met oncologists, toured hospitals, made a decision and changed doctors, and then flew to Michigan! God had us in His hands during all of this. It was very stressful, but so worth it. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I have been terribly unhappy with our oncologist for some time, but I felt so trapped. God opened so many doors this summer, and He lead us to a place where I feel completely at peace with!
Now I get to talk about Michigan. If I say it was a bizarre trip, people might think, bizarre in a bad way. No, it was bizarre in a great way! Here’s what I mean… I kept telling Doug we needed to leave, or we would miss our flight, but he insisted that we didn’t need to get there two hours early because it was the first flight of the day. Long story short, we didn’t miss our flight, but only because it was cancelled! Kat and I had all our children and we spent several hours at the airport waiting for a flight. The children had a blast playing on the indoor playground at the airport, plus we each got a free airline ticket because of the inconvenience. (So instead of actually missing our flight, we all got free tickets, how bizarre! Kat and I planned all our summer camps together. Our children became like brothers and sisters and Kat and I have a very tight friendship).
Once we got to MI, many hours late, instead of traveling the five hours to the Upper Peninsula, we stayed in a hotel and traveled the following day. We ate dinner at the most incredible restaurant, The Red Wood Lodge. It was an unforgettable experience that we would have otherwise missed. In fact, on our way back, we made a special point of eating there again. The family that started the camp met us at the airport. Their four daughters were there. They were all lined up and introduced to us. Adelaine pulled at my arm and whispered in my ear, “I choose Julia”! I explained to her that she didn’t have to choose one girl that they all wanted to spend time with her and get to know her. She repeated to me, “I choose Julia”.
Adelaine has a history of choosing her favorite person in a crowd and well, it’s pretty much all over for the rest of us, me included!!!! She had different pockets of groups that she associates with and she has her favorite person in each group. I tell her all the time that the rest of us love her too and we’d all like a turn with her, but she just can’t seem to help herself. I’m secure enough as her mother to not just accept this about her, but to love it about her. (Later in the summer when we visited my parent’s church in Georgia, I walked down the hallway with the children to take them to their classes. The boys clung to me like, “You’re not really planning on leaving us with these perfect strangers, are you?”, but Adelaine just skipped on ahead trying to catch up with the rest of the girls, excited about her new adventure!!!!) After all she’s been through it truly blows my mind how well adjusted she is.
Anyway, for the next week Adelaine and Julia (Adelaine calls her Ajulia and I so I do too) were inseparable. Ajulia was 11 years old and Adelaine thought she hung the moon. Ajulia seemed just as wild about her. Every morning when I opened the door to go to breakfast Ajulia was there waiting for her. They ate every meal together, and Ajulia even tucked her in bed every night and read her a story. Ajulia is a VERY talented gymnast and cheerleader, for the talent show they did a dance routine together. Adelaine stood on her shoulders and Ajulia through her around it was unbelievable. They practiced many hours for it. Adelaine remembered every move! I hope I can get a video copy of it.
In MI there was to be a wonderful church group there at the same time as us called the 616. It wasn’t until day three that Kat and I found out that they were there just for us. WE were their summer mission trip! For three days I just thought they spent a lot of time with our children because there wasn’t much else to do! All these people were sent from heaven to love on us. It was like having a village of people helping to raise our 7 children! The prepared meals, made crafts, played sports, entertained with music, swam, and even slept in tents in the middle of bear country just for us. We felt very loved and so hope that we can see them again. The talent and oneness of this group just blew us away. They showed what it is to be a servant of the Lord. They helped the camp owner by scrubbing bathrooms, empting and cleaning out storage closets, just doing whatever they could just to help out. While our children were being cared for and entertained Kat and I had time to relax. We went on long bike rides every day. It was like being a kid again on those bikes. We rode through fields of flowers and talked for hours, all we needed were pigtails and braces! Kat and I spent a lot of time by ourselves thinking and reflecting. It was like we were both coming off this big cancer wave and really needed time to process these past few years.
As for Ajulia, I was very worried about Adeline having to say goodbye to her. My heart broke not just having to say goodbye to all our new friends, but for Adelaine having to leave Ajulia. She has creid for her many times since we left. Funny thing is, as much as Adelaine fell in love with Ajuila, I did too. I have had dreams about her and I miss her so much. My heart AND Adelaine’s has been broken, but like the saying goes, “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all”! Ajulia, we love you and miss you, you will ALWAYS be a part of us! Thank you for touching our lives. Conner, although Adelaine gave you the cold shoulder the WHOLE time, she talks about you all the time and secretly she REALLY likes you! 616 Group, you rock! We love you and miss you. Thanks for sharing your gifts and talents with us. You will never be forgotten.
After leaving MI, we flew directly into the Florida Panhandle for our next camp, The Lighthouse retreat. Kat and I shared a huge mansion on the beach. Our children played and together and swam for hours. The camp was filled with great food and good times. We met more amazing families and shared amazing stories of survival, one miraculous story after another, about how their child is beating cancer. My parents, and aunt, uncle and cousins from Mississippi rented a condo close by. It was great spending time with them too. They participated in the Beach Olympics one evening that they were there. It was so much fun.
After that we went home with my parents to Georgia. We saw old friends and met new people, it was great. We went boating and skiing while we were there, it was a blast. Thanks Mr. Billy! My dear friend Sheila and I went bike riding for hours talking and reconnecting. Again, it was like being a kid again!!!!
We did see Doug a little here and there throughout the summer. He picked us up from the Pensacola airport, and drove us to the Lighthouse. He came to my parents to see us too. We both have had to swallow a huge a cancer pill which has had us chocked up for over two years now! But we have great news! That cancer pill is about to go down. Adelaine’s very last treatment is set in West Palm Beach for Thursday, September 4th, 2008, exactly two years, three months, and three days after she was first diagnosed. Doug and I are reconnected after a long summer, stronger than ever and ready to start our new lives together! Praise God!
(I want to post all about our visit to West Palm and our wonderful new oncologist next time). Anyway, we came back from Georgia and went to West Palm on the 7th and stayed for the weekend. On Saturday, Doug drove us to South Beach for lunch and window shopping. We had a great time. Finally we are home for the summer. School starts on Tuesday, 19th. Daisy dog is happy we’re all home again and snuggles with Adelaine. She is the best pet therapy dog ever! I have not glanced at my email account since summer started. I am sorry that I had to just drop everything. Please forgive me if you’ve tried contacting me. I can’t wait to sit down and reconnect with all my wonderful friends and family. I miss you!