Where did we go? Darkness, Waiting, and Celebration

Where have we been?
Hello dear friends, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, when I don’t write for a while, our family is struggling.  We’ve had more sickness, but thankfully not from cancer.  When we got back from our last trip to LA, the kids welcomed us with coughs and runny noses.  They never turned into anything more than colds, but they are of course the particularly nasty kind that hangs on for weeks.  And I got sick too and was laid up for several days.  And oh yeah, Kevin managed to catch whatever the kids had, except it turned into full blown flu.
He stayed home from work one day, but pushed himself to make it in the rest of the days (because as you know, if he doesn’t work he doesn’t get paid at this point.)  Also, it’s just better for him emotionally to keep having a regular schedule and being productive whenever he can.  Have I mentioned how proud I am of that man?


Doctor’s appointment for Evie this time

RSH 1719
As far as me, I have been struggling with just keeping up.  Combined with the shorter days, I have been fighting to keep depression at bay.  I have so many moments through the day that are filled with joy, and I am just loving having my kids around and being so involved in their lives.  But I also have equally as many moments in my days that are literally and figuratively filled with darkness.  I think this is the first year that I have been able to pinpoint a lot of  it to the changing of the seasons.  When I look back through my life, I can see that almost every winter, I entered seasons of struggling with feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion.  I have no idea why it took me 33 years to figure out where so much of it is coming from, but I’m grateful regardless.  I’m working hard to figure out the things I need to do to help me find an even keel and to cling to joy instead of to drown in darkness.  The biggest and most important thing is to continue recognizing my need for a savior.  I am so grateful that God loves us so much that His mercies come anew EACH morning.  And I also cling to the reminder that JOY comes in the morning.  Because mornings are often the hardest.
RSH 4364
In other news, we have two out of three of our test results back, with one out of three answers to our questions about Kevin’s health… ugh!
1.  Kevin has a CLEAR BRAIN SCAN!!!!!  Can I tell you how amazing this is?  To put it in perspective, if it had not come back clear, he might have been gone by Christmas.  With melanoma, that is often how fast it goes once it is in the brain.  It doesn’t mean it’s a sure death sentence, but it would have been VERY tough news.
2.  Kevin had a clear abdomen x-ray.  This is good, we think, but it doesn’t really provide many answers.  I think the next step is that Dr. Lawson (Emory) and Dr. Ribas (UCLA) are going to order an endoscopy, although they have said that that might not find anything either since it only scopes the upper part of the GI tract.  As long as the presence or not of cancer in Kevin’s gut doesn’t affect his treatment, I’m not sure we are going to worry too much about it either way.  But it would explain a lot of symptoms.
3.  We do NOT yet have the results of his biopsy, which would tell us whether or not the Anti-PD1 treatment was having tumor infiltration (i.e. potentially working).  That’s really the one we are on pins and needles about, and it’s been frustrating that we STILL don’t have news.  Kevin has his next appointment tomorrow so we are hoping we will have something to report.
We are currently in LA (flew in this morning) and will spend Tuesday morning at UCLA.  Then we’ll be gathering with a few friends to celebrate Kevin’s 36th birthday.  Can I tell you how incredibly grateful I am that he will be 36 on the 15th?  He has truly beaten the odds already and we cherish each and every celebration we have these days.
RSH 4225
Jude partying hard with his “street gang”
We have been living moment to moment a lot these days, and I am thankful that we have HUGE margins because they usually get used up every day, but huge margins pretty much means you don’t ever have anything planned in advance, your days are just wide open.  This often means that things that need planning just don’t happen.  Things like parties.
Pretty much every celebration we have had this year has been planned the day before AND still just barely happened (i.e. someone got sick and I very nearly had to cancel).  Often I’ve planned to have friends over for dinner and we’ve had to cancel because we had to make a trip to the hospital for fluids instead or something else like that.
It’s been a hard year of letting go of something that I really value… time in fellowship with family, friends, and neighbors.  I love to host parties, and gather with friends and neighbors on a regular basis.  On Halloween, we almost didn’t make it to my sister’s house for their neighborhood block party and trick or treating because Kevin was sick all day.  And even then, Kevin just wasn’t able to make it with us.  It was a struggle for me, because we’d already cancelled so many things this season, pumpkin patch outings, festivals, etc.  
And that is just a teeny tiny snippet of the things that haven’t happened or times when plans have gotten shot to heck and we’ve had to just call the whole day a wash.  It’s easy to get down and start counting my sorrows instead of counting my blessings in seasons like these.
But truly, I don’t end up feeling any better complaining and being sad.
And counting my blessings is a form of celebration in its own right.  
We’ve actually had quite a lot more celebrations than I thought this past year.  Some of them have just looked a little bit different than I thought they would.  I have been going back through my photos for the year and have discovered scads of photos of celebration.
And I would like to share them with you.
So if you don’t mind, my next post will begin a series on celebrations.  And I make absolutely NO guarantees on the regularity of said series.  Hope you enjoy and find reasons to celebrate as well.
Evie skips
Learning to skip is definitely reason to celebrate 

6 thoughts on “Where did we go? Darkness, Waiting, and Celebration

  1. Rachel & Kevin, I love you both so very much. Rachel it pains me to see you hurting. But you hurt with all good reasons. If u feel depressed & need to talk please call me. I’am here for you always. I’am grateful as you are the Kevin’s brain scan is normal. I’am also grateful that he is still here with you & the kids. I believe still that Kevin can & will beat this. I know it’s hard to fight & times you just don’t know whwere to get the energy, but seek God as you are doing & he will find you both the strength to keep fighting.
    As you can see with Kevin is still here on this earth because God is also fighting for Kevin. God is an awesome God. He will be here for Christmas & next year. I know in my heart of hearts i can’t predict that but I refuse to think negative & try to put all my belief & faith into God. And though he is just my friend & a special friend at that i want to pray for Kevin’s healing. I think we all are. But remember God loves you both & wants the best for you & your kids. So please Rachel call me if you need to talk or call someone you truist. My motto is this Life ios what we choose to make it.
    And if i know you & Kevin you will choose to fight the fight & keep on fighting until you come out as winners. Please share this with Kevin. I want him to know i’am telling you both this because i care & lovew you both. Your both in my continued prayers & always always always here for you. God Bless You Both. Love ya


  2. It was so good to see you and your family Sunday. Did I even hug you? It was all such a whirl. Hope you had fun and that the kids didn’t get too jacked up on sugar before your flight. Love you.

  3. Hi Rachel:
    Your photos are delightful and speak volumes!
    Recently I had to go to a conference (psychology). Usually they are meaningless but at this last one I picked up this phrase and have thought of it frequently.
    It is: “pain is inevitable, misery is optional, choose behavior that will help me feel better”. I have to remind myself often that I have the God given right to choose. God has given us a “free will” and the power to choose. Amazing.

    Love ya and your family, Irene

    • Irene, those are SUCH words to live by! I constantly work on reminding myself that I can choose joy or I can choose to feel differently, but it is ALWAYS my choice.

  4. Dear Rachel, I love your photos,you are an artist.
    Happy birthday to Kevin, God bless him with many more years full a His Love.
    Rachel ,when you get down, open your heart to the Lord,let Him to embrace and protect you. You are going through a hard,exhausted times,but you are not alone the Lord is with you, He is Love.
    Rachel also think in all the people that love and pray constantly for you,Kevin and children. Blessings
    A big warm hug for you.

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