The Art of Conversation

Talking.

When we do it for the first time, everyone rejoices!

Your Mama probably remembers your first word, right?

Well, I remember his first word after the first surgery.

“Honey”

That’s ME!!

He can talk.

And then I realized that that was all he could say…

Talking comes so easy to all of us.

We do it everyday.

“Hello”

“How have you been?”

“How are your children?”

“How is your family?’

But, are we really listening to all of the answers?

My plea to you today is to LISTEN.

Listen to the glorious sounds of your loved ones voices.

Just listen.

To your children.

To strangers that you pass on the street.

Relish the art of conversation.

Relish the sound of your own voice.

Hear it.

Better yet, use it.

Challenge yourself to talk and listen.

Remember that first word and how everybody got excited about it?

Say it.

Because you never know when your words will be taken from you.

You never know if you will have to relearn the art of conversation.

It’s beautiful.

So, today, my friends, take a moment and talk.

Listen to the sound of your own voice and rejoice in the fact that it comes so easy to you.

Because one day it might not and you and I both don’t know when that day will be.

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A Discovered Treasure

Today is a day like any other. Chris started out pretty good and then got worse. He may rebound and we have a good evening, but you never know. Our life is a roller coaster. Of good, bad, scary, ugly and nice.

I wanted to share something that Chris found today. He was looking through the “Notes” section of his phone and found a letter he wrote to any and all of us two days before his surgery. It took me a while before I got up the nerve to read it, much less write about it. It is personal and, well, just like him. If you’ve known him for a while, it will touch your heart. If you don’t know him at all, it will touch your heart…

“Now, this is a story all about how, my life got flipped-turned upside down”….
To whom this should concern, 
Something just felt off… 
I went to my doctor because I keep having these episodes where I forget the English language, I can’t speak, then when the English comes back, I still can’t speak, it’s baby talk. These episodes only last a minute or four and have now been going on for 16 months. I finally told my doctor about the “episodes” along with migraines I’m now getting, as well as my reading comprehension is going down hill. Words and letters seem to be backwards sometimes and it takes a while to understand what I’m reading and writing. He gave me a referral to a neurologist to get checked out. So, at the end of January 2016, I had a MRI and they found a tumor the size of a tennis ball. After the MRI my doctor called me into his office to tell me the news. I mean, what do you say to that? My fiancé and I were shocked! My neurologist told his assistant to send over everything they had to Duke and Dr. Allan Freidman and expedite the process. I applied for a life insurance policy the second we got home from the neurologist(You’d think a 35 year old would have one by now). That day I received a call confirming an appointment at Duke University the following Tuesday. That meant I wasn’t going to able to be seen for a week (Years in brain tumor days). But when I finally got to Duke and met the surgeon, the anxiety started to go down. Dr. Freidman is a funny individual. He walked in and introduced himself, and said “Let me take a look at you. Open your mouth, how many fingers am I holding up, spell the word “world”, now spell it backwards, now tell me how many nickels in a $1.25? Well, Chris there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re perfectly fine! Except the tumor in your head. We can do one of two things. One, we can monitor the tumor and see what happens but with the looks of this tumor it’s going to grow 5mm or more per year, causing more damage and the symptoms will get worse and eventually kill you over time. Or two, I can take it out by performing a craniotomy. Mind you, I can’t tell you that your symptoms will get better. They may get worse. There’s also a chance that you may develop more problems after surgery but I can tell you this, that if I take it out now you’ll live a lot longer than leaving it in. So, when do you want me to take it out?” I kind of chuckled and asked, “What was the point of telling me option one?” He just stared at me and I looked at my fiancé and we said as soon as possible. He said, “Great! I’ll put something on the books! Do you have any questions?” I asked, “What happens during a craniotomy, how long does it take, how long will I be in the hospital, is it safe and what’s the recovery time?” Dr. Freidman proceeded to tell us recovery is anywhere from 8-12 weeks, be in the hospital for 2-7 days, and surgery will be 3-9 hours. Everyone’s situation is different. He gave a synopses of the surgery, said we’ll wake you up in the middle to make sure that your basic motor skills are working and then put you back together. “Hold on! Back the truck up!! WAKE ME UP?! WITH MY BRAIN EXPOSED?! Like Ray Liotta in Hannibal?!” SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! He said, “Yes, we need make sure your motor functions are still working. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine and your brain doesn’t have any feeling. Anything else?” So I ask, “So… Can I take a selfie when I’m awake… With my head opened up?!” The left arm of my fiancé came across my chest REAL quick! I looked at her and looked at him, and he said, “No.” Very sternly. He was not amused. Someone came in after the doctor left, gave us a folder about as thick as the bible and explained what to do and not do before and after surgery. So here it is 2 days away from surgery. I’ve kept busy by doing research on brain tumors/cancer, getting the house ready for when I come home(I’m nesting like I’m about to give birth), making Plan A and Plan B. I’ve kissed and made up with some friends and family. And after 13 years and 2 crazy/beautiful children, me and the woman got hitched! No regrets, and don’t sweat the small stuff are now our mottos. I’m scared for my wife and kids. Scared for my mom, dad and brother. Hell, I’m selfishly scared for myself. I’ve thought about making videos for my children in case I don’t wake up from surgery or if I lose the ability to ever speak again. My daughter changed my life 12 years ago went she entered this world and she’ll always be my baby and I want her to know that. I want my 7 year old son to know he’ll always be the baby. He’s my buddy. My sidekick. He’s the balance I needed in this house of crazy and estrogen. I want to tell them both to always be respectful, respect yourselves, respect others and their beliefs, use your manners, be kind and put others first, but put time away for yourselves. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be thankful, take care of, and enjoy everything you have in your life. Don’t worry about what people think of you. Be who you are. Unless you’re an asshole. Don’t be an asshole. Common sense. USE IT!!! I’ve prayed for everyone to be at peace with what ever happens (That’s right.. I prayed. Don’t judge me). I’ve told my family and a few friends what’s going on. They’re very supportive. There are friends that I haven’t told yet, but I think I should. I’m ready to get the surgery over with. We’ve hoped for best and planned for the worst. That’s the best we can do right now. I’m out of words and thoughts to keep going right now. I’ll blame it on the tumor. You have to take it with a grain of salt. Laughing about it makes it a little bit easier. Thank you for lending me your ear. Hopefully, I’ll talk to you on the other side. 
Sincerely and respectfully,
Chris
This. Just this. You all know how I feel about this man. You all know that he’s my end all and be all, but this left me speechless. He’s “selfishly scared” for himself?
The moment I thought I couldn’t love him anymore, I do. Exponentially more. When his door closes on this disease, most of my heart will close with it.
So, now you know. This is what a man thinks about two days before an awake crainectomy. A selfless man with a heart so full of love.
But, not just any man. My man. My love. My heart. My soul. And the man that used to be (and always will be in my soul) my forever and a day.

Being the “Cape Holder”

Well, it’s been a while, my dear friends.

And there’s a reason.

Last month, at Chris’ appointment with his neuro-oncologist, we got some pretty scary, but unsure news.

They thought his tumor had returned with a vengeance.

They thought we were running out of time.

That’s why you haven’t heard from me. I’ve been holed up and scared witless for this day.

Today was the appointment for a repeat MRI and meeting with the oncologists to discuss “options” and “time”.

TIME

That thing that you never have enough of? That thing that you lose track of?

But, for me, it’s the one thing that I so desperately wanted.

Just to hear that we have more time.

So, today begins like any other day. The sun comes up and the birds sing and I open my eyes to the thought of losing him.

He goes for his MRI and comes back home to get me.

I’m almost ready and we get in the car. I’m chatty. Nervously chatty.

As I’m driving, I look at my watch. “OH NO…WE ARE LATE!”, I said. “No we’re not. I told you that the appointment was at 1 so we’d get there by 1:30. My appointment is actually then.” I had even written this date down on a pretty sticker in my EC planner. Highlighted and all. One O’clock!

And that is how much this man knows me…

So, we arrive. His mother is there and I’m glad to have some one to lean on.

We go up the familiar elevators and go check in with the nice ladies at the front desk. They are always so sweet to us. Maybe, they think Chris is cute.

And then it’s time to go back.

I wanted to faint and scream and laugh and run and skip and fall.

I didn’t know who I was or where I was going, but all of the sudden I knew what I was doing.

I was holding the cape.

You see, Chris is my superhero. My own personal Superman and my children’s own Superdad.

So, in that moment, when everything in me wanted to run, I stood behind him and held his cape.

He didn’t notice, but in my own way, I was letting him lead the way like the strong and amazing soul he is.

And he led us.

And we sat.

And finally the doctor appeared.

With a smile on her face.

“Your MRI looks great!” she exclaimed. “Much better!”

Chris’ mom and I look at each other in relief.

I look at Chris and see tears.

The doctor then goes about telling us that the mass that was there last time has shrunk significantly.

Y’all, significantly.

She pulls up the MRI pictures and there it was.

Or wasn’t.

It looked smaller, even to a lay person like me. You could see a HUGE difference.

The weight I’d been carrying for a month suddenly lifted and I knew I had it.

TIME.

The doctor says “This is the best MRI we’ve seen all week! I’m proud of you!”

And I was, too. Proud of that man, sitting in that chair, struggling to talk , but still smiling that gorgeous smile and being the part of my soul that God misplaced when I was born.

So, comes time to leave. And I let him lead the way. Me trailing behind, holding his cape. We aren’t out of the woods, nor will we ever really be. But, I just got a few more years with my Superman…