How do you spend a holiday season when you are told it should be your last with one of your children? When you are immersed into the childhood cancer community everything changes, especially holidays. We still had our son with us to celebrate Christmas, but over that year we grew to know many families who were now spending their first Christmas without a child. Many families who children were in progression during the holiday season and knowing this would be the last with their child. And there we were with a boy with a shrinking tumor, besides having a tumor in his brain he was a healthy and very happy little dude!
We did the best we could to make it a very normal and memorable Christmas season! Did all the things, baked all the things, watched all the things! Despite the overcast of brain cancer and another move across the country, we still wanted to spend time teaching our kids the reason for the season and celebrate our mighty Savior’s birth! We did our advent devotional most nights including crafts and bible stories read by our precious Emmaleigh. Our children got to hear about some of the miracles Jesus performed while he walked this Earth. In 2018 we were able to witness a walking miracle in our own life with LJ.
We began December with the final mother-son trip to Cincinnati. It was another MRI trip but if the scan came back stable we would be back on schedule and would have 8 weeks between scans.
Torie and they boys met us at the Great Wolf Lodge! I was so grateful she would be with me when we received scan results. After doing it physically alone in October I knew I didn’t want to do that again. We had lots of fun and made a lot of good memories with our three boys!
Joshua got the phone call and called me to tell me that LJ’s scan came back…
STABLE AND SMALLER!!
An extremely heavy weight was lifted off of my shoulders and were were able to spend the rest of our time in Cincy celebrating!
Coming home with miraculous scan results to celebrate all things Christmas was such an indescribable feeling. It really put a whole new understanding to Christmas Spirit. We enjoyed our Elf of the Shelf and her new friend! We spent lazy, cozy mornings enjoying legos, coffee, and all the snow! We went caroling with our Wild Explorers Club group! The white Christmas thing is absolutely magical! We lived in a real life sparkly winter wonderland!
We went to Providence Hospital for the final time. The place where we experienced the worst day of our lives. The place we were stripped of any hope in a future with our son. They confirmed our gut feeling to move when they had to stick his port 2 times to draw bloodwork. We said smell ya later to that place!! We were sad to leave LJ’s wonderful physical therapist though! She was such light!
We made gingerbread houses and gingerbread men! We hosted a polar express movie afternoon with the neighborhood kids! And a grinch night with the Tully’s! We tried to squeeze every single drop we could out of Christmas!
Christmas presents were opened on Saturday and only Santa gifts and stockings were under the tree Christmas morning. We took the decor down by 4pm on Christmas Day and finished prepping for the movers. It had been a whirl wind week but our kids were such troopers and just went with the flow!
LJ’s favorite phrase last Christmas was “Merry Christmas Everybody” he would walk around saying it and hugging you every chance he would get. He learned to sing lots of Christmas songs, his favorite was “Go tell it on the Mountain.” Emmaleigh’s favorite song was “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” His favorite gift was a tie between his Ryan’s mystery egg and his pirate ship! Em’s loved her Laura Ingalls doll and dress up outfit, she was annoyed by her Tamagotchi, but enjoyed it once she figured it out!
Everything about this Christmas season was perfect, mostly because we were together, but truly because it clicked for all of us that this was all that mattered. Not the tree, the location, not the cookies, definitely not the gifts, not even the people, but the time spent teaching our children about who loves them more than they could ever imagine. The only one in control in our lives. The only person that will ever be a constant in the Earthly life, Jesus Christ and His love for each and every one of us.
The movers came the morning of December 26th, to start what would be a 3 day project to pack our home. I went out to get them coffee and had some time to think. I was able to make this post on Facebook and I still think it sums up how I felt about the move.
“So crazy we are about to leave this beautiful place. When LJ was diagnosed the Oncologist said “you are military. They will move you home so you have the most support when you lose your son in 9-12 months” those weren’t her exact words, kinda close though. But that’s what this mama’s heart heard. That was her treatment plan. And here we are moving. Moving to be closer to a medical team that cares and is willing to fight for our son. I’m excited for so many reasons to be moving to Ohio. I’m so so sad we are leaving Alaska though. We made some great friendships in the very short time we had here. Friends that saw me through the darkest weeks of my life. People I will never forget and will never be able to repay. This house has seen more tears from a family than I ever thought we could cry. It’s just a building and Alaska is just a place, our family is stronger and happier together and that’s why we need to move. “
Our final days in Alaska were beautifully busy! We had late nights with lots of friends, snow for days, crazy rain and ice, and 5.0 aftershocks. An awesome New Year’s Eve at the Prather’s where we celebrated the East Coast countdown which is 8pm Alaska time so we were winning as parents!
Our PCS would not be complete without Joshua waking up on New Year’s Day with food poisoning. The kids and I were flying to Ohio late on January 1st and he would be pulling the camper through Canada a few days after. He stayed in bed at the temporary housing our last day in Anchorage. The kids and I went sledding with our wonderful neighborhood friends and ate Red Robin to go at the Tully’s! Joshua found the energy to take us to the airport and we said see you soon to Daddy!
2018 was be far the hardest year of my life but truthfully it was one of the best. Our family spent so much time together making the most beautiful memories. We all grew closer to each other, but more importantly God. 2019 was terrifying but we held onto Joshua 1:9 prepared to take it on head first!
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9