Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a year in review

First, thank you for your prayers for us yesterday. We had safe travels and overall Ethan is doing extremely well! His potassium was high, and so we have to start him on a new medication to counteract that... which is tricky. It's a high volume of medicine, three times a day, and it has a very strong taste - grape salt water. Needless to say, Ethan is NOT a fan, and attempting to get this down his throat every day, 3 times a day, for the next few months is going to require God's grace - and advil for me. We go to the hospital on Friday to ensure his potassium level hasn't gotten any higher (pray it hasn't), because if it has, he will need an EKG to ensure that his heart is okay (high levels of potassium can affect your heart). But overall, like I said, he's doing fantastically well.

Which brings me to my post today...

Adam and I were talking the other night about the fact that for the first time in either of our lives, we can recall every inch of this year - 2008. That might sound strange, but if I look back on my life, I can remember certain "moments"... special days, or how a particular holiday was spent, a family vacation, an anniversary date, etc... but I can't honestly say that I can recall an entire year. For instance, the year I got my drivers license was 1995. I vaguely remember going to the DMV and I remember driving around town with an excited younger sister, but that's about it. 1995 - I don't remember much about it. Oh wait, that might have been the year my highschool cheerleading squad qualified and went to compete in the National Cheerleading Competition at Disney World in Florida. I mean, come on, for a small Christian school in Texas, that was a HUGE deal, and here I can't even remember exactly what year it took place! Well, what about my senior year of college? Sitting here now, I can't even remember what classes I took the semester I graduated! What about birthdays? There are some birthdays - even in recent years - that I can't remember how I celebrated them. Forgetful? Absent-minded? I don't think so... I think maybe it's more that in years past my focus wasn't nearly as concentrated as it has been this year.

But this year.... 2008.... I remember every day and month of it.

Looking back it seems like it went by so fast in a lot of ways, yet at the same time, I can easily re-live each day in slow motion.

We rang in the new year, this time last year (though I don't remember exactly what we did!), with me extremely ready to deliver the child who had decided to take up permanent residence on my sciatic nerve. Twenty-three days later, he was born. The adjustment period in the days that followed were so surreal and strange. All of a sudden there was this little baby boy, who only slept for 2 hours at a time (I do remember that) and I, Kasey Jean, was his mother.

Fast forward six weeks later to March - that's when I went back to work. Teaching my little kindergartners. Dropping Ethan off at my parents, stopping in to check on him during my lunch break... the whole routine. I remember all of it.

Then fast forward a mere 5 weeks to April 8th. I remember that day. The day. I remember dropping Ethan off at my parent's place just like I had done every day for the previous 5 weeks. And I remember thinking that he wasn't acting right but choosing not to worry. I remember checking in on him during lunch, just like I always had. He was still asleep from the time I dropped him off at 7:00 am and he hadn't eaten yet. I remember going back to work and not being able to concentrate. At 2:00 pm I was administering an Achievement Test for the 8th grade class and I felt an overwhelming urge to leave. A few minutes later, I did. I remember speeding to my parents, grabbing Ethan & taking him to the pediatrician. Crying the entire way, but not knowing why. I remember telling myself he had caught a cold. I remember calling Adam. I remember the pediatrician telling me to go down to the Children's Hospital for some routine blood work to see if he had caught a virus or something. I remember me waiting for Adam to leave work and go with me. I can't bring myself to write what all took place over the next 7 hours, but I remember.

All of it.

Especially the utter shock of hearing, "Leukemia cells are showing up in his blood work. The pediatric oncologist is coming in to see you, he should be here by 2:00 am. Right now, though, we'll need to go ahead and admit your son so we can begin the further diagnosing and treatment."

The weeks that followed.... there in the hospital room. I remember the obnoxious machines that would beep all night long. I still remember the code to the kitchen that patient/family had access to there on the floor. All of the unfavorable statistics, all the chemo, all the information, all the people, all the cards, all of the encouragement.... I can recall it all.

Fast forward again to August. After months of searching, a cord blood donor had been found. The temporary move to Boston (7 weeks to be exact), the radiation treatments, more chemo, more information, more encouragement and more cards/gifts.

Every thing. I remember.

Wow. These tears feel so fresh. Simply remembering - actually unable to forget - still feels like opening a wound. I can still feel now, exactly how I felt going through each step. The tears are still hot as they stream down my face. The tears are still vulnerable. The tears are still in awe.

Yes, I remember this year so well that my tears cannot be contained. But what I haven't yet mentioned is how well I remember the beauty.

  • A thriving little boy who overcame each obstacle put before him... one answered prayer after another.
  • The love and support of family.
  • The love and support of friends.
  • The love and support of strangers.
  • The days we were able to be at home in between initial chemo treatments.
  • Having the life changing opportunity to put faith into action.
  • Believing for a miracle in a way that actually changed my life.
  • Seeing the miracle look up at me every single morning - and all day long.
  • Seeing God work in ways that even my own guilt and fear couldn't stop.
  • Paying severe attention.... Seeing God. Feeling God. Knowing God.... a craving.... more than I ever had before.

Even in spite of our son being diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia (cancer!?) at only 11 weeks of life, I can't say that 2008 was an awful year, because how can you say that about a miracle. But I can certainly say it was unforgettable. In many, many ways.

I don't know what 2009 has in store. I will honestly say that I hope there's a bit more time and opportunity to enjoy life (aka: have fun!) as a family. But, if we are to learn from history, then I walk into 2009 tomorrow with the knowledge that my Lord is exactly Who He says He is... my son is in His powerful hands... so is Adam.... and so am I.

And if you know Him, then so are you.

Luke 1:45 "Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 9:15 "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"

Thank You, Lord. You know the words in my heart... Thank You.

Happy New Year. And thank you... We cherish what you give and do for our family with your prayers and kindness. 2008 wouldn't have been the same without you.


Anonymous said...

You cause tears of thankfulness to flow from this reader's eyes. It has been a privilege to get to know your family during this past year through your online blog. Please know we will continue to pray for Ethan, Adam and you in this coming year.
You will likely never know the full impact you have had on the lives of all who have crossed your path in the past year(even, and perhaps especially those who have not physically met you). Your openness, honesty, and incredible gift for communication has allowed us to share your journey and be wise intessors in prayer for your daily needs. I have never met you, but consider you a beloved sister in Christ. It has been awesome to witness the Lord's faithfulness in giving you grace to bear all the trials of the past year, and his miraculous healing power in the continued improvement of Ethan's health.
"To God be the glory, great things he has done!"
From one of the "strangers" who now considers herself "friend".

Moz + Pam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moz + Pam said...

Happy, Happy New Year Kasey to you & all your loved ones! May God continue to richly bless you in 2009! Be assured of our daily prayers!

Barbara Cofrancesco said...

Dear Kasey,
I have been following your blog from the beginning but have not written until today. My husband used to work with Adam at The Hartford and ironically several of my family members attended a benefit for Ethan a few months back (we didn't know it until after it was held or we would have attended ). Anyway I just wanted to take a few moments to tell you how much I admire you, your strength, determination and overall attitude. I wish you, Adam and Ethan all of the best in 2009!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kasey,

We don't know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future. God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good.
Praying 2009 will be a happy and memorable year for you and your family, not for illness, but for joy and fun-filled moments.

The Charles Crew said...

Kasey, what a wonderful post! May the Lord continue to bless you, Adam and Ethan in 2009. You all will remain in my prayers!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Kasey, Adam, and Ethan!! Thank you for your blog today. Know that we continue to pray for you all daily, although I have not posted in a while. I LOVE all the Christmas pictures!! I look forward to seeing more soon. May God continue to bless you in 2009. Love, Megan :P.

Anonymous said...

You are so inspiring to me-God bless you and your family, especially little Ethan. Cancer is so hard and affects every single member of the family. I can only hope 2009 is better for you and that you remember ever moment for more happy reasons.

Following Him said...

Happy New Year Adam, Kasey, and Ethan! May this year be blessed and filled with wonderous things!