Tuesday, November 4, 2008

To Go or Not To Go

The past few years we have had to ask ourselves this question so many times. With Kaye and "being" around people, we have had to truly think about every step we make. Even around family and our dearest friends, we have had to say "no". This week Kaye asked herself this question, not because of her body but because of her heart. You see, Monday was Matthew's service, a time to say goodbye, a time to close the chapter for this sweet young man. Kaye truly had a hard time because she was so torn about going. She had prayed so hard for God to bring Matthew through, to allow him to "make it" andthen be able to have a reason for a grand testimony. We did not go to the service. She was filled with wonder of what people thought. "Why did Matthew die and not others?" "Why was he so sick and his body could not handle it and mine did?" Kaye has asked herself that many times and I just cannot answer that question for her. She wants to see Tricia and Jeff, hug them and be able to minister to them but wanted to wait and do it in the way and time God would have us to. She amazes me. I know her heart continues to hurt but she is so much wiser with her emotions than others. So, we will wait for a few weeks, then travel up to see them and I pray she will be able to bring a smile to their face and then she will embrace them and they will feel the love and honest joy of this sweet young girl having the opportunity to meet their family and having the chance to get to know Matthew. Our time here is like a breath and I want to make every breath count. I see her walking in those shoes and that makes me more proud than I could ever say. I pray my children will dream big but will keep their focus small and true. We can all do so much, running around like chickens with our heads cut off, doing, doing, doing.....but I want to do it well, I want to matter. Matthew was only here for 15 years and I will say, he did it well and truly what he did mattered.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Am Still Alive! - Just When Is It A Good Time?

Yep, I did it again! It has been a long while since you have heard from this old girl but life is just passing right by. I must admit, I think almost everyday about things I could go on an on about right here in this little space, but the day and night get away from me and then its over, the day and my desire to write words that would be an encouragement, bring laughter or perhaps tears.

Just to set the mood, I am in our office with Lucy in my lap, Katherine is sleeping on the couch because a day at clinic and school have slap worn her out and my honey is out of town which means Kaye and I will have Chinese food for dinner! Today was hard, my thoughts were not about me in anyway, well ok, I have gained eight extra pounds and I hate how my jeans feel and I did think about that.

We are on our knees these days lifting another sweet young man up because he is just not doing well. We met Matthew Litchfield just 2 weeks after Katherine was first admitted to Vandy back in September, 2006. He was a quiet, blond tall young man. We watched him go through chemo treatments like Kaye, same side effects but he also had to go through a bone marrow transplant. The year was so hard on his body but he did everything that was required and I enjoyed seeing him in clinic and sometimes Kaye and Matthew were in the hospital at the same time so Tricia, his mom and I would "hang out" on the floor. Tricia always love talking to Kaye and I remembered one time during her last hospital stay this summer Matthew was in the hospital. On our nightly laps we would stop in and see the two of them. We would smile and say HI to Matthew and then Kaye would say Hi, Tricia would always say, "She is a pretty girl, say Hi!". Tricia always made me laugh and she sure is a great momma. Matthew was able to go on his Make A Wish Trip to Hawaii, he loved it, but right before he left they were told "his numbers" did not look right. Once back the nightmare began again, Matthew had indeed relapsed and that meant another transplant and huge volumes of chemo to get him "clean" again before he could even be ready for another transplant. He is currently on 6A at Vandy fighting for every breath and there are hundreds of people praying and begging God for this sweet young man and his family.

While Kaye was at clinic I went over to try and see Tricia but the nurses informed me "It's Not A Good Time". I felt helpless and wanted so badly to run down that hall and just take it all away, but I could not. The entire way to Vandy that morning was full of consent prayers for Matthew. Even when Harold, our wonderful welcome guy at the front door loved on Kaye I almost felt empty. All I could think about was Matthew. The hospital was all the same, nothing had changed except our sweet friend was hanging on and there was nothing I could do and that broke my heart.

Just when is it "A Good Time"? We just move in our life from one day to the next, one event, one struggle. I can tell you that it is never a good time to have the Beast....Cancer enter you life. It truly knocks the wind out of your lungs and knocks your feet out from under you. You have to learn to lean on something much stronger, something that encourages you to have hope, hope in the day or even just the moment. My insides ache right about now and I know I will have to feel this pain. I keep checking my email to see if Tricia has either posted there or on Caringbridge. I pray for good news....I need good news, I just pray.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Day Mama!

Today my mom would have been 66 years old. She went to heaven when I was 9 years old and yes I miss her so. Many have said there are times or seasons you miss them more but I always correct them and say, "I miss my mom and dad almost daily, weekly, monthly. I have been blessed to have the most awesome "mother-in-love" but I still have a special place in my heart for my mom. Only my family knew her. Not one of my friends or my bestest friend, David, knew her. They only know about this beautiful women through me. She was tall, blond, green eyed and could teach you how to dance, sew, smile and make a memory and how to make the best pan of corn bread you would put in your mouth. Many have said, "I never met her in person but I have known her through you. I love love love to dance, sewing is well something that is just apart of me, I love to make people smile, ok, I am not tall, just normal but I can make an iron pan of corn bread that will make your mouth water.

The past few years have been hard for me and I can almost feel her arms around me when I need her. I pray I have made her proud. I love her so and am proud to be the only daughter of Betty Jane Mincey Westbrooks. House work was not something she loved to do so I have memories of playing outside with her until late in the day, laying by our small pool in the sun or playing softball with all the kids in our Atlanta neighborhood and then when it was 4:30 p.m. we would run to the house like crazy and get it looking grand before dad came home. Dinner was always great, she was a wonderful cook. If daddy only knew what we really did all day.

She could make anything, and I mean anything. All the curtains, even recovered chairs. Not to mention making all our clothes. The yard always look grand, she loved making everything just right but in turn spent lots of time with my brothers and I. If I close my eyes I can see her dancing in the kitchen, I can even smell her perfume. And of course that smile, and that long beautiful body. I am blessed and I pray I will continue to strive to be the mom that she helped me to be.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Smiles and Tears At The Publix Store!

It has been almost two months since I sat down to write, sorry for that. I wish I had a good reason, but to be honest, once I check on all my "kids" via email, caringbridge, etc. I feel a little guilty to spend additional time sitting in front of the computer. I am a person who must do do do. Many of my sweet friends and family tell me this is a season for me to "just be" and I have had to really relax and take one day at a time. Anyway, enough reasons, I have so much to blog about, I even started writing titles on small pieces of paper and putting them into a wine glass that sits on my hutch. I will start with this one because it is most recent and something that truly touched me.

Many of you know that Publix has become the place to go! While Kaye was so sick and weak, Publix was the only place we would venture out and of course who could forget all the stories about the electric cart with the big basket on it. We now have many people who know us by name and smile and speak every day. Yes, I guess out of 7 days I am at Publix 5 of them. I have even gone Green and have those cute green Publix bags. Anyway, I was there to pick up just a few items and heard loud voices from the cereal row. I looked down and there were three kids, one of those car carts and a dad who was giving them direction in picking out cereal. Most of us have been there at on time or another. The kids ranged from the ages of 4-10 so there was no way they would pick the same cereal or even two of the same. I stood for a long time watching this "event" unfold and smiled. The dad was trying so very hard to be patient. I wanted to help and I thought about telling him how David's mom would allow the Arnold boys to pick cereal. They could have anything they wanted as long as when they turned the box to the side and read the ingredients, the first ingredient could not be sugar! Perfect! That keep the Arnold boys eating good cereal until Connie came along and of course being the baby, he always wanted the chocolate cereal.

I did not talk with the little family but by the time the cereals were in the cart and after lots of "talk", they had 4 different flavors and I could tell they were with their dad every other weekend. My light heart sunk and I began Asking God to give them a sweet weekend with their daddy.

Later that night I was in the car and heard a new song by Reba and Kenny named Every Other Weekend. Yep, you guessed it, I cried through the entire song. My thoughts went back to this sweet family who sure loved their daddy. I also thought about my family and how I do understand how hard this life is for everyone involved. We just go about out daily business understanding divorce but do we truly Understand Divorce. I wish I could just make it better because at times it can be a big ole mess and many are hurt, not just for a short time but for many many years. Because of my experience in the Cereal Row I will have a very special place in my heart for kids who go to different houses Every Other Weekend.

Friday, April 4, 2008

6A Families

While we travel through this life we are surrounded by so many people. People who are family, you can't choose your family, friends that enter your life through school, church, other friends, work and then their are seasons of life that take you to a place you never understand why. We have met, talked with, cried with, rejoiced with so many wonderful families during Katherine's journey. A journey that began on the 6A Floor of Vanderbilt here in Nashville.

Some I got to know just as true family, some I may have just waved at, smiled with and cried when I was told of their struggles. Others Kaye and I received the gift of love through, and cried when they were no longer with us here on this earth.

I can't even remember when I met Renee Garcia but Kennedy is a site we love to see. Katherine has kept up with so many beautiful children, large, small, young and older. As I check my email to see how to pray I went back to Renee's personal blog and noticed an area I guess I just did not see before, she has a list of all the kids she and Kennedy "look after" and also listed are the Angels who are now in heaven. As I read all the names of the Angels my heart broke because we have met so many of these angels, their sweetness entered our lives either on 6A, 6B or the clinic. I am thankful Renee keeps them on her blog because they in their on special way have helped us during our travel of this journey. Even our sweet Rachel who we loved getting to know and even a shopping day was on the calendar for her and Katherine.

God truly uses every person in our lives, every single one of them. I sure hope each of you always take the time to do what God whispers in your ear. That person just might need you right at that moment. Perhaps to stand in a hallway trying to understand what the doctors have said. In the late nights when you just can't find sleep. When you get good news and are afraid it won't last. When you stand for more than an hour in the kitchen area on 6A or 6B trying to fix some comfort food which for me was chicken noodle soup with potatoe chips and you end up sitting in the floor with the cup and talking with another mother so you won't wake the sleeping child in their room because they had been up for days throwing up or hurting and when you just need a hug through words.

The families on 6A & 6B then and now are special and have a special bond as they are working to walk through a battleground. I pray we all will find the peace that God's love, grace and healing will show.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

10 Random Things About Me!

Ok, my dear sweet friend Caroline "tagged" me. I now have the task of giving 10 random things about myself. The hard part is that I am a very transparent person so there is not much about me that all don't know. But here goes!

1. I am not a good speller and I hate that with a passion. I am grateful for spell check but sometimes the word is spelled right but it is the wrong word! Damn

2. I love love love music, I played the saxophone in middle and high school and was very good. I love jazz music and many special memories of my life are surrounded with music. My daddy taught me how to dance and our home had lots of dancing. I loved watching my parents dance in the kitchen. As I always say when a pair of people "float" on the dance floor, "they sure look pretty". I wished I had had music and dancing at my wedding, but I did not.

3. I lost both of my parents by the time I was 25. At a very young age, I prayed that God would send people right into my path that would help instruct me with life training. Some of those people are still with me, some were a part of only a season of life, but their "imprint" is ever lasting. I want to leave a leagcy. One of my favorite saying is "I'm Just Trying To Matter One Day At A Time". "Make A Memory"

4. I was raised around race cars. While growing up, I loved going to the track...West Atlanta, Rome, and Dixie. Yes, I have driven a race car and I love the way it makes you feel while you go faster and faster but once standing outside the race car, I am scared to death. With all these years I must admit, I have never been to a NASCAR race. That would be so cool!

5. I died twice when I was 9 as a result of a car accident and I never saw a light. God sure has a purpose for me.

6. Traditions are so important to me! I think it is totally cool to work so hard to keep a tradition going. The tradition I miss the most is Sunday Dinners. As a child I went to a grandmother's house almost every Sunday for a meal that included either pot roast or fried chicken, sweet tea and lots of stories and laughter. While a teenager, I prayed not just for my husband to be but I wanted the whole package. I wanted a family that was fun to hang with. And God gave me all that plus SUNDAY DINNERS WITH GRANNY ARNOLD!

7. I am married to the greatest man in the world and I met him at McEachern in the 8th grade in band class! Music was our beginning!

8. I love to fly in planes my favorite part is taking off. When I was 19 I looked into being a flight attendant. Yeap, I even had the application filled out. I love to travel

9. I was an undercover detective for Macy for about 2 years! Yes, I have ran people down in the mall, used handcuffs, even sat on a lady and put people in jail but then my partner was kidnaped one weekend by a shop lifter while I was off and David said, I had to "change jobs".

10. I hate when someone says "there is no way you can do that". It just makes me want it more than ever, I had rather be the one who "Does" the part instead of the one who "thinks it up". I love being the "Giver" rather than the "Receiver"

11. I will be different........a true want in my life is to work on a special project with Extreme Make Over. Not just wear the blue shirt but help develop something and then use my talents and hands to create something for a sweet soul.

12. OK, so I am really different....I think words are so very important and there are many who do not care how they use them. This world was created with words. Thats pretty big to me! I have learned to be careful with words because once they are out and running around creating messes, you are spending valuble time catching them.

Well there you go, I could probably add another 10 but I must be good. I now have the chance to tag a few people, who will you be? Heather Arnold, David Arnold, Joshilyn Winn and Mandy Mann. You must do this! If you don't have a blog email and then I will post on my blog.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Our Attitude

I have had so many topics I wanted to take time to blog about, but by the time I thought I had time to express my thoughts, there always seemed to be reasons not to sit down at the computer. I think I might need to get a "Topics Can" and scratch them out on a piece of paper and then pick one out so I will complete the task.

I have always enjoyed my ride home to Franklin. The view is always beautiful in all seasons and once we get on 840 West right outside of Franklin I just have a sense of home. Last night as Kaye and I traveled home from Georgia, we listened to a CD that Rev. Ike Reighard gave us entitled "Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People". I have had the opportunity to "get to know" Ike and I call him a close and personal friend. I know the roads he has traveled, the hardship, the darkness so as I listened once again to his "life's" experiences I felt sure I knew everything that would be discussed via this CD. God always uses these times to give us just a little more than we expect. I knew all the stories but something he said stuck. One of the most important freedoms we have is our attitude. I can acknowledge that even in the darkest of times it truly is your choice to allow a person, a situation or an event to take or affect your attitude. It is a choice and one that at times just has to be "willed".

Our season's of life change, come and go but inorder to use our experiences to help others, heck to even help ourselves not get stuck, begins with our attitude. I choose to try and move forward even if it is 1/2 step each day. Getting stuck dosen't help me and it sure dosen't help those around me. There are times to rest, grieve, be still but we must take a deep breath, take a step and move. I pray this can always be apart of my legacy that I give my children and the people around me. I love to laugh, I love to hug and both of those element truly help my attitude. Hugs to you all!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Just The Unknown

We are live our lives from day to day, thinking we know just what we are walking into. We just move from one event that was planned to another, schedules never change, we see the same people and then we truly become numb. We could even close our eyes while driving and make our way there...I would not advise this but how many times have we just "done" something without thinking because "it's just the way we do it?"

This morning I have a huge praise. One of the beautiful children we have met through our journey is Jillian. In fact her website is Joyful Jillian. She is truly a mess and today they celebrate, she is finished with her 10 months of treatment! Yes, we are all so excited but then we will turn the page, go to the next day and wonder, what is next for Jillian. Ok, I know what you are thinking right now. Sharliss, stop worrying, don't go there. Well, those of us who have traveled this journey see things through a little different view. Yes, we are so thankful, so grateful for the medicines that kill all the cancer but we also know in the back of our heads, we must keep praying, must keep covering them just because of the Unknown.

Jillian is a 4 time cancer survivor. Yes, that is what I said. Her first was MDS at the age of 1 and then six months later went into AML. Her twin sister had the same cancer and Jade died after her bone marrow transplant. Jillian recovered from MDS, AML and then she relapsed two years later and had to receive a bone marrow transplant. She made it through that war and in 2007 they found that she had osteosarcoma, cancer of the bone. For the past 10 months she has fought hard, been through chemo and surgery and as of today is cancer free! Yes, this family has stood firm in the storm, worked hard to care for their children and will once again walk out of Vanderbilt and "begin life". A life with questions, fears, and just learning how to function in what we call normal.

I read her mom's entries and then I pray for God to cover her and Jillian. This little girl make me laugh. She is truly just a mess. I pray this morning for a true new beginning for this family. This breath of fresh air. I pray that the Unknown will become less and less scary. That God would show Himself in such a way that they would feel His arms holding tight around them. Enjoy life, one day at a time, treasure oh treasure health.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Do You Miss Me?

Yes, I know it has been a while since I was "on". Sorry for that, to just be honest, I wanted to put some Christmas Pictures and that has been my reason because all you guys know I am not the best when it comes to computer stuff. Just as my favorite computer guy...Chris Wills. It takes a lot of work to just move pictures from my camera...to the computer...to the blog. Now, some of you might think it is easy, well bully for you. Anyway, the days a full of running around for Kaye, meds and trying to finally get all the boxes unpacked and put somewhere in the house. Yes, these are still some of the boxes in our garage.

Life is moving pretty good right now, but I must admit, holding my breath. They tell me as the years go by I will relax more when it comes to Kaye. I will not be as scared when her counts go crazy, she falls, or she just says "I'm not feeling good this morning". I cannot wait until that time, all this still weighs heavy on my heart.

David informed me my blog was boring! I laughed because I guess that is just where I am these days, in a holding pattern. No tournaments or meets to attend, no dance, no appointments with clients, no damage furniture, no fabric "looking". Yes, I guess it does seem boring. But that is the season God has me in right now. I am sure it will pick up and begin moving faster soon. Well, hope you have a grand day. Peace Out!