Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for checking out the blog. If our Christmas card led you here, welcome. I'm really great at blogging, as you will witness from the small amount of posts I've managed to put together (sarcasm) but I'm grateful you want to check in with us. Here are some photos of stuff we did over the last year:

Gilbert Temple Open House
Cam isn't a fan of photo booth kissing photos with his mother. I can't imagine why.
My sister Jordan got married. I made sure Derek tagged along.
Dimple faced babe's school photos.
Camden graduated preschool and started Kindergarten. 
My mom graduated college.

Father's day with Dad.
Fourth of July. The first actually enjoyable holiday in a long time. 
Cam turned five! 
And we celebrated in Disneyland.
And attempted to tire out the "Beaches on the Beach" thing. It never gets old. 
Camden dabbled in some modeling. He decided he'd rather focus on his art at this time. 
Camden as Captain Hook. He's a villain sympathizer. 
Halloween pumpkin carving. Also some sort of possession taking place here apparently.
And lastly, we are spending the end of the year getting ready for our next Disney trip.

2014. Better than 2013. Not as good as 2015 will be.

We miss Derek every day. 

We hope your year was as rad as ours. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fourth of July

Our 4th of July was filled with fun, food, and fireworks. The first holiday in over a year that actually felt good to celebrate. 

Cam and I hope your holiday was filled with an appreciation for our liberties and, hopefully, some ridiculously good barbecue.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Last Year

“I love you and we’re going to get through this”- the last words Derek barely was able to say to me before hospital staff shoved a living will in my hands and shuffled me out into a waiting room while they put his failing lungs on a ventilator.

For the next two weeks, I was forced to leave for two hours during the evening shift change and I was not allowed to stay in the ICU overnight.

“Can I stay the night here?” I asked a nurse on the first night.

“We only allow family to stay if the patient might die during the night” the nurse said.

“So…?” I asked.

“You can’t stay the night” she said and I was relieved.

So I had to call and pester nurses multiple times a night to check on Derek and sometimes had to bribe staff to let me in early. I existed like a zombie, barely eating, barely sleeping. Over the next two weeks I watched every single bump and drop on the ventilator screen, watched as he coughed up blood from his hemorrhaging lungs, and dealt with a constant stream of well-intentioned family and friends as many disillusioned themselves to the circumstances.

I sat in a conference room with 6 doctors, all alone, as they took turns telling me how Derek would never recover, how it didn’t matter even if he did because he still had cancer, and how hope and faith were pointless. And yet I still prayed, I bardered, I pleaded, I begged. I was not above any thing to get him better.

But they woke him up out of his drug stupor and told him he would die.

“What will happen to my family?” he mouthed. He didn’t ask how, he didn’t ask if there was anything else they could do.

“That is nice that you are thinking about your family, but you have to think about yourself” the doctor said.

“I want to go home” he mouthed and that was it.

That night, I got to stay the night. And I would wake up and catch him trying to pull out his feeding tube and scold him. I had learned how to do his physical therapy, how to change him, and how to calm him as the drugs made him feel and do crazy thing. I thought I could heal him.

The next day they shut off all the machines, except the ventilator, and we endured a bumpy, anxious ride in an ambulance home. They wheeled him in and he looked relieved to be in his own house. They gave him drugs to keep him calm. He tried to make out with me. True story.

And the next day, in our insanely hot house, they turned off the ventilator and gave him only oxygen and I watched my husband slowly die over 8 hours. And then sat next to his body for another two. I punched a wall as they rolled him out the front door and screamed. It was a tough realization that I couldn’t heal him. That love was not enough to perform a miracle.
So here we are a year later.  What a wild, trippy, terrible, wonderful year. Terrible, for sure. Wonderful..how?

I don’t want to confuse you. Let me be clear: I am not an optimist.

The last year has been hard. So hard. I have had to face some personal demons I didn’t know existed and I have had to see myself in a way that was not very flattering.

I grieve in quiet and my depression has worsened. I have become forgetful and confused. I have probably spent the equivalent of 7 months of the last year in bed. I also went months without crying. I also went months with crying. Sometimes the combination of it all hurts so bad. And as much as people think they are encouraging me with their words remarking on my “strength” and “grace” of which I have dealt with this trial, I feel that people have boxed me into an impossible standard. I am so weak and I feel that no one allowed me to be that way, so I am weak in quiet.

I’ve lost friends. And that hurts.

But as we have celebrated each birthday and anniversary. As I have endured funerals, attended baptisms, and celebrated weddings, I have discovered I am not made of dust like I once thought I was. It is impossible for me to float away with the wind.

This day a year ago I sat by Derek’s bedside and held his hand while he died. And sometimes it is all I see when I close my eyes.

I still only sleep on one side of the bed, his clothes still take up half of the closet, and sometimes I think I hear him walk down the hallway and expect him to walk into our room.

I catch his scent in Camden’s room at night, and sometimes, I think his spirit lays down on his side of the bed to help me sleep at night.

I have been so worried that he would be so ashamed of me. That now he gets to see me in all my flawed glory. I wasn’t sure if he had realized how weak I had been all along.

But then I have had to realize that love, especially when you have a better view of forever, is not weak. Our love could not heal his wounds and it would not make him rise from the dead. But our love has performed a miracle. In fact, it created one. And over the last year, I have had to drag myself out of bed to give that miracle lunch and make sure it didn’t watch too much TV. That miracle has helped pull me out of my own despair and remind me that life really is worth living. That miracle has forced me to realize that even though I am so weak, I am also so strong. So I couldn’t heal Derek. But the last year has made me realize that I can heal myself and I better take that opportunity before it is gone.

Beach faces. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Susan's Run

Our family participated in Susan's Run, which is hosted by the Susan M. Turley Foundation in order to raise funds for their Weekend Away Program. You can check out the foundation and see what they are all about in the link above. We have been lucky recipients of the Weekend Away when Derek was feeling well and we are so grateful for that opportunity to be together. Our family also started a fundraising team in Derek's honor called Derek's Baconators (you know, because of Derek's love for bacon). You can still donate to the cause here. We are so grateful for everyone who donated and thought about our family in the process. Our #30daysofderek campaign is still going on through the end of the week, of which you can read more about here

Here are some photos from Susan's Run:
Camden and I. Don't be scared, that's just my face.

Jason's Family

Tani's Family

Marlena's Family

Rochelle's Family, Doeshann, and Dad Beach

My mom, Catherine, and my step-dad, Jeff. 

Robin's Family

Derek's dad, Roland. 

Our rad shirts, thanks to Jason and Kami. 

Recipients of the One Weekend Away. Ignore hand shadow. 

The Kids Dash.

Camden looking super fly. 
The family. 
I am so grateful for everyone's willingness to help and fundraising efforts. What a great bunch of people who honored Derek lovingly on this day. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What Cancer is Really Like

I posted this lovely final family photo (Derek is sleeping/drugged, not the other thing) on instagram and Facebook this past week on World Cancer Day to bring about some awareness of what it really looks like. Derek did a great job at hiding his suffering, so much so that his own family were not aware how bad it was until it was the end. I wanted people to see that cancer is more than a disease--that it effected more than just Derek's health. It upended our life, it changed our family, and it was the center of our everything. Nothing could be done or planned without taking it into consideration. In fact, cancer had been apart of our family before Camden was.

I also wanted people to see the faces of families they are helping when they donate to the Susan Mortensen Turley Foundation. 100% of all proceeds go to families, since the foundation has no overhead.

People commented that this was a beautifully sad photo. It was one that encompassed both the sadness at Derek's final moments but the love that we shared with each other. I agree. Still sucks though.

Friday, January 31, 2014

30 Days of Derek

Today marks 30 days until what would have been Derek's 30th birthday. For a man suffering so much, he sure was kind to others and loved helping in any way he could. For the days leading up to his birthday, I have started a campaign of sorts for others to more consciously think about how their actions effect others. I don't know if Derek realized the legacy he was creating as he went about his life. In remembrance and celebration of him, I encourage others to think about doing some act of service for someone else. I have asked my friends on social media to post something they have done or something someone has done for them and hashtag it #30daysofderek.

For people looking to do good now, our family has started a fundraising team for the Susan Mortensen Turley Foundation. This foundation focuses on providing a weekend away for families dealing with cancer. Our family was lucky enough to be recipients while Derek was feeling well enough and it provided invaluable bonding time while being able to get away from everyday life.

You can check out our fundraising team here. Consider joining our team or donating if you so desire. Families like ours appreciate your generosity. Don't forget to post it! It's not bragging if it's for a good cause, right?

Monday, January 6, 2014

The New Year

The holidays were hard, I couldn't wait for them to end. We did do some fun things of which I will have posts for later: Light Up a Life, Denver, massive business growth and Christmas.

But the new year brings both relief and sadness. I have been looking forward to 2014 and all it will bring. For me, there is a sense of renewal and new beginnings.

At the same time, a year now separates me and my former life. I now no longer get to exist in the same year as Derek. I don't get to think about his birthday or Disneyland or feel like he just left me.

2014 will be a year of growth for our family. Last year brought change, some good but mostly bad. This year, I hope for the sake of our son, that it will restore some light that Derek took with him.

Don't let me down 2014. Although, I know that it is really up to me.