Early Wednesday morning, David had his fifth chemotherapy session. Afterward, I loaded everyone in the car, picked him up, and we all headed up to Bass Lake. My friend Mattie's parents own a house up there and they invited us to come up for Easter break several months ago, before this all happened. We had a very restful time. Our big event each day was the walk up the road to the village store. The kids had a great time playing up there. Chandler was able to hit golf balls and shoot bee bee guns at the weather vane in the yard with Josiah, while Avrielle made up dances with Shainah, styled hair, and read books. David slept a lot and caught up on some work. I enjoyed cooking with Mattie, taking naps and reading magazines. I kept saying how glad I was to be there and it felt so good to get a way for a few days. It still is really hard thinking about my dad. When we were driving home, I thought about how I usually called him to tell him when we were back from our trips. Avrielle had a hard time playing piano tonight because she remembered that the last time she played for him on the phone a month ago, he told her that she could call him anytime and he would listen to her play. Little things like that have been sad for us, and I'm sure they will be for a long time. Tracey flew back to Colorado yesterday, and Carissa drove back to San Diego to finish the rest of her midterms. On Tuesday is Katja's birthday so we will all go out to dinner. Well, I guess I'm starting to babble. I just wanted to bring everybody up to date since I hadn't written in a few days.
Psalm 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
My dad passed away at 2:30 this afternoon. All of us were standing around his bed which is just the way he wanted it. I am thankful for God's perfect timing that allowed us all to be together. The funeral will be on Tuesday at 2:00 at Mt. Sinai. Thank you to everyone who is praying for us. We are grateful.
The last two days have flown by. On Thursday, the doctors decided that my dad's cancer is very aggressive, and that they are no longer able to treat it with medicine. His symptoms have continued to get worse. He is no longer able to eat or drink, and his neck and extremities are begining to swell again. I have heard that cancer is a gracious disease in that you have time to prepare and say goodbye to the ones you love, and I am thankful we have had that opportunity. On the flip side, he is definitely suffering and it is very difficult for everyone to watch. It is not a way that I would ever want to die. He came home yesterday afternoon to begin hospice care. I had an idea in my head that hospice was this romantic way to die without suffering in the peace and quiet of your own home, but I was very disillusioned, because it is nothing like I invisioned. Yesterday was totally chaotic and exausting trying to take care of my dad and at the same time figuring out the equipment, medications etc. I will spare you all the details, but there is so much to learn, and no grace period. It took six of us working together just to function. It is so wierd when I scroll down in the blog and look at the pictures at Chandler's birthday and Disneyland and think that that was only a little over a month ago. Please pray for all of us.
Yesterday, while I was having lunch with some friends my phone began to ring. My husband, my sister and Katja all called to say that my dad was getting worse instead of better. He was only able to whisper a little bit and not really able to cough anymore. The doctors are still unsure if this is all a side effect of the radiation, or if the tumor is growing and compressing the airway. Either way he to too weak to do an x-ray, and the treatment would be the same. I went to the hospital and sat with Katja and him. Carissa drove up early for her Easter break and arrived late last night. Tracey is flying in this afternoon. He asked me to pray with him so I sat on his bed, and we held hands and prayed. As I was leaving for the night, he whispered, "I Love You," and even those are only three little words, they said everything.
I finally fooled Chandler. Tonight at dinner I decided to try something new. I made stirfry vegetables with tofu. I have never cooked with tofu before. Chandler has not been too happy with the menu at the Smith household since we have been eating more healthy foods, but tonight he gobbled up his dinner. He asked me if he could have some more of the "chicken stuff" because it was the best "chicken" he's ever tasted. He even said he would eat more of his veggies if he could please have seconds of "chicken". I said, "Sure Chandler, go ahead, you can have as much "chicken" as you want!" Enjoy!
Here are some pictures of the kids from the school musicals that they were in. Chandler was a French pea in Josh and the Big Wall, and Avrielle was a herald in Rescue in the Night. Thank-you to everyone who e-mailed me the pictures! We had a lot of fun putting this play together, and it came out really well. It was so amazing to see all the parents in the school come together and work as a community to pull this off. The kids had a great experience being in a musical and it was truly worth all the effort.
I really wanted to post an update last night(mainly to save you from looking at Chandler in his underwear one more time), but I was so tired. We had our school musical on Saturday night which went really well. I will post pictures later, and then afterwards we went out to dinner to celebrate my mom's birthday which is today. Happy Birthday Mom! On Sunday, I went to visit my dad and give Katja a chance to go to the market. It is so sad to see my dad suffering this way. I love to go there, don't get me wrong, and I totally want to go, it is just hard. He is going to the doctor today and I'm sure he will need another transfusion. He is so weak. He can barely stand without fainting, and his nose was bleeding again off and on. The doctors are going to stop the radiation and chemo for a while to give him a chance to get his strength back. I think that is the hardest part for him, because just last month he was totally fine. Later that night, I went to my nanny's house and bought her some things from Trader Joes. It is hard for my nanny too, because she is not getting as much attention and help as she is used to from Katja and me. If I would have written last night, I would have sounded so downcast, and I was. David made me come to bed and get some sleep. As I was resting, the Lord brought these verses to my mind to encourage me. Matt 11:28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." 1 Peter 5:7 "casting all your anxiety on him because He cares for you." I felt so much better knowing that the God who made the world, and is sustaining it right now cares for me. Not because I am worthy or deserving, but because He is good and it is his nature, and He has all the power to do it, and He never grows weary or tired. I feel so much better this morning. When I am weak then I am strong. Here is an amazing prayer from "The Valley of Vision." They always pray better than I do, and I love reading what they say. It is called "Resting On God."
O God Most High, Most Glorious, The thought of thine infinite serenity cheers me, For I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but thou art for ever at perfect peace. Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills. Thy power knows no bound, thy goodness no stint, Thou bringest order out of confusion, and my defeats are Thy victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. I come to thee as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely to Thee, every sin calling for Christ's precious blood; Revive deep spirituality in my heart; Let me live near to the great shepherd, hear his voice, know its tones, follow its calls. Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit. Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities, burning into me by experience the things I know; Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit. Lord, help me for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget Thee. Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; Grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to thee, that all else is trifiling. Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy. Abide in me, gracious God.
Well, I know this post was super long, but I wanted to share my heart, and I hope you enjoyed reading that prayer as much as I do.
I was going to title this "A Typical Home School Day", but as you can see this day was anything but typical. Chandler decided to get out his dress up clothes at recess, and needless to say we all had a good belly laugh. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A joyful heart is good medicine," and Chandler definitely brings joy to our hearts.
We are home from Chemo and David is resting and doing well. His white blood cells were high again, but he will still have to take five more shots starting next Monday. I guess this will be the normal thing from now on. He said one thing that was so wierd today was watching the medicine travel up his arm. One of the drugs is bright red, so when the liquid enters the vein, you can actually see it travel up his arm and spread all around. I would have liked to see it, but I got the boot again. Whenever it is crowded in the room, the nurses make everyone leave. I was able to meet my friend Shannon for coffee and lemon cake at Starbucks, which was a fun and unexpected treat in the middle of the day. When we got home, I heard that my dad had a nosebleed this morning so he had to go back to the hospital to make sure everything was OK. The doctor ended up keeping him there because he needed a blood transfusion. I think he will be able to go home again tonight though. I will probably try see my nanny and him on Thursday or Sunday to say Hi, drop off some groceries and give Katja a chance to get some errands done.
This weekend we were able to visit David's mom, Nana Karen, at her work. We haven't seen her for a long time, so it was fun to catch up, and the kids were so excited. They wanted to follow her around the entire time in the furniture department instead of shop with us. We were looking for a new suit for David since his old one is practically is falling off him now. Can you imagine that happening in front of the Chief of Police and the entire Police Commision? I'm glad he found some nice clothes, and they look really handsome on him. We were able to get a really good deal thanks to Nana Karen :), so we were thankful. We also went to Calabassas to see my dad. He is home from the hospital now, but it was hard for me to see him because I felt so bad that he is suffering so much with his cough. I know he is glad to be home though. When someone is in the hospital you expect them to look weak or feel sick, but it was much harder to see him at home in regular clothes feeling so ill because in the back of my mind I equate being home with feeling better. I hope he can get some relief soon, and gradually build up some of his strength. Tomorrow is David's fourth chemotherapy treatment. He finished all his shots with only one bad day. Hopefully, all his blood counts will be up and we can stay on schedule. I'll post an update when we get home. Thanks for praying for us.
David and Avrielle went on a daddy daughter date to Paint-a-dream today. They made a pretty Easter teapot for David's mom (Nana Karen) They had fun spending some one on one time together. Afterward, they enjoyed some lunch at the mall and they visited Avrielle's favorite store Build-a-Bear. What a fun afternoon! Chan is counting down the days until he gets a turn.
My dad is getting his 3rd chemo treatment today, and is then planning on going home tomorrow! Katja is spending all day getting trained on how to administer the various medications. Although he is home, he will still need someone with him around the clock for a while. He will still have 10 more radiation treatments on a daily basis and I'm not sure how many more chemo treatments. The swelling in his neck and arms has decreased which is a good sign that the tumor is not putting as much pressure on the Superior Vena Cava. Hopefully it will last. I plan on going there to visit on Saturday and bringing my friend Charissa's famous blended tortilla soup. It is really tasty, and I think it will be welcomed after having hospital food. David starting giving himself the injections again(six this time) and so far so he is still feeling pretty good. Yeah! He is hoping to spend some individual time with each of the kids this weekend doing something fun. Avrielle has already made her list of ideas so we will see what they pick.
Tomorrrow will be a year since Logan has gone to Heaven. I am leaving the house early in the morning so I wouldn't be able to post these pictures , but I want you to pray for her sweet family. Dan and Cindy have been such an example to us this year in trusting God through trials. We have learned so much from them. If you want to read about what God is doing in their lives, you can click on their name in my friends list. Logan's story is on Cindy's Caring Bridge website. These pictures were taken from a fieldtrip to the firestation when Logan and Chandler were in preschool together. Chandler still misses Logan and talkes about her all the time. She was one of the first girls that he really thought was fun to play with. When he was four he said he wanted to marry her and have 17 kids so they could drive a bus. Now, he talks about wanting to ask her what Heaven is like. I'm glad we will see her again!
This picture was actually taken last Friday. Dad was feeling well so we took him outside to sit in the sunshine for a while. It felt so good to be outside among the pretty flowers and trees. Earlier that morning, a mom from the kids school organized a prayer meeting for him and our family even though she has never met him. A ton of moms came and a dad too! It was so encouraging to hear everyone pray. It was also a good feeling to be doing exactly what God wants us to do; pray and trust in Him for His perfect will to be done. It meant a lot to my dad too when I told him that so many people that didn't even know him took time out of their morning to talk to God on behalf of him. Last night when I came, he had taken morphine and a tranquilizer so he was very tired, but he was able to talk to the kids for a short while. He told them how much he has enjoyed watching them grow up and how he loved playing hide and seek and chicken head with them. He told them how much he enjoyed their swim meets, soccer games, tee ball, piano recitals, and musicals. Most of all, he told them how proud he was that they were such sweet kids, that they had good manners, and he was happy that they loved God. It was a precious time.
I am happily married to my beloved and my friend, David, and I am a mom to my precious children, Avrielle and Chandler. I started this blog in January,2008 as a way to keep our friends and family updated when my husband was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Little did I know that my dad, a non smoker, would be diagnosed with lung cancer also only two weeks later. My dad passed away on March 22, 2008, only 2 1/2 months after his diagnosis. These last few months have been a trial, but God has been good and faithful, and kept us in His hands.
We added a guest book at the bottom of the blog page. Please sign it and add a picture if you would like. It is really easy, I promise! We would love to see who is out there reading. Love, The Smith Family
Chandler: "Mom, could I just marry my sister? That way I don't have to kiss anybody new."
Avrielle: As we are trying to find my car in the crowded parking lot, "There it is mom, I memorized your licence placemat."
Mom to Avrielle: "It's time to brush your teeth." Avrielle: "May I appeal, I need to defrost more from waking up."
Mom to Chandler: "If you're not thankful for your dinner, maybe I should take it away, and all you will have to eat is some bread." Chandler: "Sounds great!" Mom: " Ok, since that didn't work, How about if we take away all your toys too, so you will see how much you have to be thankful for..." Chandler: "I'll just play with my bread!"
Chandler as he is trying to throw a dirty kleenex into the trashcan. "He shoots, (it lands on top of Avrielle's head) He SCORES!!!
Wow Avrielle, that was a quick shower. Did you wash your hair? "I only put conditioner on it, because I washed it last night and I just needed to remind it that it had been washed already so it will obey me this morning."
Chandler: "Dad, could you please make sure you take the right sandwich to work tomorrow? I don't wan't you to leave the healthy one for me by mistake."
Chandler: Can you not put gel in my hair this morning? If I get it cut later, it will hurt because it will be like they are cutting through a wall of steel!
Chandler at Trader Joes: Why does nanny have to take so long reading every label in the freezer aisle? Can't it be the "try out" aisle instead???
Chandler telling a story at dinner: "Not yesterday, but the yesterday before..."
Mom to Chandler: Your closet is a mess. Yeah, I know, it's always an adventure because I get to find new undiscovered sightings. Mom: What kind of undiscovered sightings? Well, you know, like, I'll put something in there when I'm seven and then discover it again when I'm fourteen.
Mom to Chandler: What is the most important thing you learned from Papa? He taught me never to hit people with the golf ball when I'm chipping.
Mom to Avrielle: What is your favorite memory with Papa? He took me to the American Girl Store, and walked all around with me explaining the history of all the dolls until I found the one I wanted.
Chandler, What does it mean to store up treasures in heaven? Well, it's like God has cubbies for each person, and when you do something that pleases Him, He puts a trophy in your cubby."
Chandler after hearing the bedtime story of Corderoy. "Mom, some stories are so good, I feel like I want to cry inside when I hear them."
How do you like the pistachio Chandler? It's sort of medium low on the scale of goodness.
Chandler while looking at a pre -cancer picture of David, "Wow Dad, I don't remember that you used to have an afro!"
Chandler, you need to wipe the chocolate off your face! Do I have to mom? If I leave it on, I can taste it again later!
Avrielle while watching Taming of the Shrew in the park: "I love the play mom, but which one is William Shakespeare?"
Chandler: Mom, can you please buy some more string cheese? It really puts you to work! Mom: I thought you don't like doing hard work. I love hard work when it comes to my food!
Chandler to mom: "Do I have to open my Christmas presents? I want to warm up to the day first."
Avrielle watching Taming of the Shrew in Hart Park. "Mom, I like the play, but which one is William Shakespeare?"
"Avrielle, You have been really quiet since the debate has been on, do you have any questions about what is going on or what they are talking about?" She look over to us very seriously, and said,"Mom, I think I understand what they are saying, but I only have one question. How can they stand there and talk so long without having to pee?"