This post was almost finished a few days ago. Now I sit here, staring at the computer screen, and ask myself how far does He really want me to go? I have shared my junk. Jason and I have received so much positive feedback, private messages, love, and encouragement since sharing our story… until Monday. It came in a form that I definitely did not expect, and knocked me down. Doubt and depression started to surround me. I have not felt that way since my chapter one. In fact, with each click of publish, I have been able to let go, and it has been extremely freeing and therapeutic.
Jason and I both knew that some people just would not understand us. Some have questioned why we are sharing something so personal on social media. Some are angry because they feel lied to, and that is true. Lies and betrayal are definitely part of this story. Others are hurt because neither of us turned to them when things were getting bad; or, they had to find out thru this very blog. We all are emotional human beings with feelings that we have every right to express and process. I ask that you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.
Perhaps you think we’re saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you. – 2 Corinthians 12:19
January 2017. I suffered my second miscarriage four days prior to the great loss of Jason’s dad. This was the first death experience for my boy’s that affected them. My children had a close relationship with their grandpa; and trying to navigate thru this feeling of grief was sometimes difficult. (if you want to read more about our miscarriage, click here https://livingbygraceml.com/2017/01/09/this-was-not-how-i-intended-to-start-the-new-year/ )
February 2017. Our four year old goldendoodle, Mr. Bennett, was diagnosed with cancer. He had numerous vet visits and surgery, only to be determined that he would eventually need to be put down. He was started on several medications in the hope to prolong his life. My boy’s were so attached to him and they had just lost their grandpa. We were able to enjoy Bennett for three additional months. (That June during Summer break, a time to relax and have fun, we would have to say goodbye to our fur baby. Jason and I remained with him. He was calm, and laid his head in my lap, and went to sleep forever.)
March 2017. Jason, Noah, and myself were up late watching the NCAA Basketball tournament. Noah had fallen asleep next to me on the couch. He had been battling strep throat, but had not been running a fever. Around midnight, Noah sat up and looked at me. I could tell he wasn’t awake, and told him that he was on the couch and it was ok. Something changed in his face at that moment, it contorted and he let out a groan… he then had a seizure. Noah was convulsing on the couch, drool coming out of his mouth, and he had urinated. I told Jason to put him on his side and I called 911. We do not have a landline, and I wasn’t aware that when calling from a cell phone, you may not be calling your county. While I am trying to get to the right person, Noah starts turning blue. I hand the phone to Jason, and begin supporting Noah’s airway, this entire time, he is still seizing. It felt like forever before the paramedics got to our house. By the time they arrived, Noah had stopped seizing, was breathing on his own, but would not wake up. He was actually snoring and very hot and sweaty. It was suggested that it was a fever induced seizure, I didn’t agree. He had been on an antibiotic for two days and had been fever free. I rode with Noah in the ambulance to our local hospital. Noah finally woke up when being wheeled into the ER. He was confused and scared. We were referred to Riley. In April of 2017, after an overnight EEG, Noah was diagnosed with Clonic Tonic Seizures. His results showed several misfires in the left side of his brain throughout the entire day. His neurologist said that she couldn’t believe Noah had only suffered one seizure. Noah started medication, and was told that he could no longer play the one sport he loved… football. Jason and I now had to learn how to adapt to having a child who has the potential of having numerous seizures. It was extremely scary and stressful.
Vet costs, ER bills, and bills from Riley began rolling in and we knew we were in trouble. I was really ready to give up. It seemed as if no matter what we did, how we planned, or what we would sacrifice… things just kept getting worse.
August 2017. I had to remove myself from a friendship that I realized was toxic. Truths were revealed and what had been hidden for years came to the surface. Don’t get me wrong, you by now know that I also carried many secrets; to some extent, we all do. People can make a choice to change and sometimes a friendship can be restored; but, sometimes a person isn’t able to own their mistakes and denies their part for so long, that they no longer remember what is true. This ending of a friendship caused my children, Jason, my extended family, and myself to witness and live thru something I never thought would be a part of our lives… ever. Trespassing, stalking, manipulation, lies, damage to property, car chasing, protection and no contact orders, multiple police reports… My children were scared, and I honestly didn’t know what this person was capable of given what I had witnessed before these events ever took place.
There was a connection we could have easily broken, and looking back we probably should have done so. Our marriage wasn’t in any position to help someone get out of their own abusive marriage. We were struggling, stress of bills, ex-friends, and my vulnerabilities were a perfect recipe for temptation.
Stay alert! Watch out for our great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8
November 2017. My mom had started to feel sick. She had just retired in August, and we had begun to spend more time together. We were crafting, and were toying around with the idea of maybe having our own side hobby/business called “The Wise Old Owl”. We wanted to go to festivals and sell our crafts, mainly to just be together, but some side cash wasn’t going to hurt either. It was Thanksgiving Day, we were hosting it at our house, and mom made the comment that she was going to watch what she ate. My sister and I responded that of all days, allow yourself some freedom to enjoy some food! I noticed mom had tears in her eyes. I think I was annoyed, but a small voice said that something was wrong.
December 2017. She had begun feeling much worse, and was having pain in her stomach. All of us insisted she try to get in to see another specialist. It was suggested that her symptoms could be related to her liver, but the specialist she was scheduled with couldn’t see her until the end of January. Mom wanted to wait. So, I stopped pressing her. I rationalized with myself that if she was really in that much pain, then she would try to get in anywhere. Christmas was my moms favorite holiday, and her home was usually decorated immediately following Thanksgiving. That wasn’t happening, and she asked me a couple weeks prior to Christmas if I could help her. It was the best day!! I hadn’t helped decorate a Christmas tree with my mom in fifteen years. It was a day I will always cherish.
Christmas day my mom asked me to feel her stomach. It was fully distended and firm. I immediately looked at my mom and said you have to go to the hospital. She did the next day, and had over 6 liters of fluid removed from her abdomen.
January 2018. The appointment was finally here. She was diagnosed with Non-alcoholic Cirrhosis of the Liver. She was instructed to change her eating habits, exercise, and a small chance of a liver transplant years later. Despite her being compliant with the doctors orders, mom’s symptoms became worse.
February/March 2018. Mom missed my niece’s birthday party. That was something mom just didn’t do. My step-dad came and told my sister and I that mom wasn’t feeling well, and he thought we really needed to go see her. I was stubborn. I didn’t go, and how I wish I would have gone that very day. Mom began vomiting daily, retaining fluid in her abdomen that again had to be drained, significant weight loss, and trouble breathing. I then knew something was definitely wrong. The doctors were missing something, and it was big. Finally, the liver specialist felt a mass in mom’s abdomen after she had the area drained for the third time. My mom had been trying to tell him about it since her first appointment. He referred her to IU Hospital. That Sunday, mom was admitted. Two days later, after multiple tests, mom was told they thought she had ovarian cancer. The oncology gyno team came in and we had a plan. Mom would go into surgery to have a full hysterectomy, would have probably six months of chemo, and the prognosis was good.
We were called into the conference room after mom’s surgery. We walked into that room with hope, and left it with fear. Mom did not have ovarian cancer. In fact, her reproductive organs were healthy. What mom did have was a rare form of cancer that is estimated to affect about two people per million…Appendix Cancer or Pseudomyxoma peritonei. Her cancer had obliterated her appendix, had spread across her abdomen, and had “frozen” a part of her intestines. That was why mom couldn’t keep any food or liquid down, was not getting any nutrition, and as for her liver… no issues.
April 2018. Due to the rarity of this cancer, there isn’t a lot of research material or statistics out there. Mom was moved to the Simon Cancer Center and was given the option of chemotherapy. She wanted to fight, and received her first round. Those three days were the best my mom had felt. There was a new light in her eyes. Hope had returned.
It was short lived. You see, throughout all of this, I thought I had to be the strong one. I looked at this from a clinical standpoint. I could see that those around me were crumbling, and I told myself that one of us has to keep our heads and retain what the doctors were saying and be realistic. I think I saw the writing on the wall well before anyone else did, and this was how I handled it. So, when we were given the news that nothing more could be done, I went home and wrote my mommy’s obituary. I started saving photos from her FB and phone, and I started going through photo albums. I made a list of songs, scriptures, and pallbearers.
Mom was moved to Hospice care in Columbus. I was going to go see her the day she was moved. Jason had bought us tickets to a concert that night for my birthday. I wasn’t going to go, but after speaking to some friends of mom’s and my step-dad, I did. Mom had sent him on a few Starbucks runs already, she was tired, so I made plans to visit her the next day.
April 22, 2018. The following morning, my step-dad called and said I needed to come. Jason and I made arrangements for the boys, and headed that way. I walked into her room and knew that she would not wake up. I told her that I was there and that I loved her. She took two breaths… and was gone.
Summer 2018. My world and life became a pit of darkness. I fully embraced my sinful nature. I had created an out for my marriage, and Jason and I separated. I had stopped praying and refused to step foot in church. Shame, guilt, regret, doubt, anger…I welcomed. I convinced myself that I could never change, that I was a burden to my children and family, and that the only way to relieve them of the pain I was causing, was to eliminate myself.
So, I made a plan to take my life…
By His grace,