October was one of those months where I would think, “Life can’t get any crazier than this” and then it would. My job as a middle school freelance educator came to an end at the beginning of the month and our family was ready to get back into a normal groove. Life had other plans though. Two big things happened in October: my mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and my grandfather died. Those two things were pretty big upsets to regular life all by themselves, but we also threw in a weekend getaway, talking in church, the tail end of Noel’s treatment for his broken arm, helping with meals at parent teacher conference, and preparing our house for family to move in with us just to make sure we didn’t have too much free time on our hands.
Noel’s mom’s diagnosis was a shock, partially because she’s a non-smoker and partially because none of us realized how sick she was. There were lots of tears and phone conversations as the family made plans for how to help her. Noel made plans to go to Alaska to help for awhile during her radiation therapy and then to travel with her to the lower 48 where she would live with us to receive additional treatment and support. My grandfather passed away in the midst of making all those preparations. We added in plans to travel to Utah and had to make changes to Noel’s flights so he could make it to the services. (As it turns out, telling an airline you need to change your ticket to visit your mother with stage four lung cancer to go to your wife’s grandpa’s funeral is a pretty good story and they kindly waived the change fee.) My grandfather was a truly great man so there were many good things to reminisce about. Although we will miss him, it is an honor to not only know, but be a descendant of such a great man. His services were lovely and the second they were over Noel, Alaska bound, headed to the airport. I stuck around a few more days to spend time with family and then drove the kids back home the day before Halloween.
A few days after Halloween, Noel and his mom made the trip to Colorado. Her oxygen levels plummeted on the flight despite having access to oxygen and when the plane landed at DIA they rushed her to the ER. She stayed at the hospital for a few days until they got her pain and breathing under control. (That first day they drained 1.6 liters of fluid off her lungs!) Since then, she and my father-in-law have moved in with us. Her oncologist has a lot of accolades and has been very positive. She just started a drug that has been successful at shrinking cancer in 80% of patients and extending their lives. We are optimistic.
Life has been absolutely bananas, but it has also been so very good. We’ve seen so many miracles big and small and had so many friends offer love and support – they’ve watched the kids, helped me clean the house, and listened to us. We’ve refocused on what’s important and grown closer to our families. It’s been a hard time in some ways, but it’s also been a beautiful time. (Except for the election, but I’m not going to talk about that.)
This is not one of my most eloquent posts, but I just wanted to get some pictures up and let you all know we’re alive.