A yay and a nay…

As we talk to the doctors, he waits in the silence of the unknown.

There is a moment that stops time completely.

What did the MRI say?

Silence

And then the words that I had hoped for….

“No growth”

Those two words are powerful. They have the ability to make me fly!

And I did!

I felt as if I was high above the Duke Brain Tumor clinic. High above the roof tops of all of Durham.

Much like I picture him.

He’s my Superhero.

The man that can do anything and everything, right?

But as I look at him right this moment…he’s alone.

What happens to our superhero after the big fight?

In movies you never see when Batman goes home and takes off the cape. Slips into his pajamas and goes to bed.

When he wakes up, stretches, pained from his fight and starts his day.

That’s what has happened to my superhero.

He sleeps in his chair.

Slumbers in loneliness.

The fight is over and it’s time to go home.

Only my superhero’s fight isn’t over.

He will fight until the end.

And, according to his doctors, the end isn’t near.

Great, right?!

Yes and no.

No because of the fact that everyone has left him.

Forgotten that his fight continues.

The excitement of his surgery and his post op infection is over.

And now he’s alone.

Why?

I don’t know.

I hurt for him.

I fold his cape and he slips into a painful sleep.

When he wakes he screams.

He hurts.

He hurts so bad that he wants to give up.

Wishes he’d never had his first surgery and had left the tumor in his brain to ravage his function.

He screams for it to stop.

But, does anyone hear him?

NO.

They’ve moved on.

Ones who told him that they loved and cared about him have gone away.

And he sits in this house and listens to a silent phone.

It amazes me how many people told him that they loved him and cared about him and would stay by his side.

I BELIEVED them.

He BELIEVED them.

And now he’s a man fighting alone.

He’s slipped into a dark place.

It must be the place that Batman goes to after the Joker dies.

Silent.

Unknown.

He gets the job done, but still feels as if somethings missing.

And there is.

I wish I could fill this void for my superhero, but I can’t.

All I can do is hope that they hear me.

I wish I lived in a world where my love was enough.

Where I, alone, could fill his heart.

But, as much as I want to, I can’t.

I am not enough.

But, you are.

And you left.

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Erin Condren: A Game Changer!

Do you ever feel completely disorganized?
That no matter how hard you try to plan ahead to keep up with your busy day-to-day life,  something always seems to be forgotten or missed? And how every new year, you go out and buy a new planner with the hopes that this year will be better because you have a different planner this time?
Yet, you find yourself not using it because it just doesn’t have everything you need it to have after all?
 And flipping through mundane black and white pages just bores you to tears, which makes you less inclined to keep it updated?
A little confession…….that was me. I NEVER used to be this neat and organized. My life was a disorganized mess!
Until the day I discovered a planner that would literally change my life from chaotic disorder to complete organization!
The little miracle that saved me from my stressful and disorganized life and transformed me into a more peaceful and completely organized “life planning” guru is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.
I didn’t think it was possible that one little planner could shift my cluttered, disarrayed life into an orderly, systematic and organized one. I didn’t believe it…because I had tried so many times before to no avail.
This is not your average planner.  Sure, it has a calendar like every other planner, but it’s so much more than that.
I actually look forward to using my planner and I can tell you that has never happened before.
Being organized for the first time in my life has created a calm I never knew existed because I don’t stress anymore about missing or forgetting anything.
The EC LifePlanner layout has everything I need to plan accordingly, but beyond that, it’s also visually pleasing and actually brings a smile to my face when I use it.
Who knew that scheduling, planning and coordinating daily life could actually be fun?
Not me!
Have you ever found something that made you so happy that you just couldn’t keep it to yourself?

Well, my friends, it may seem small to some of you, but I can find a little ray of sunshine every day in my Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Yes.

A planner.

Doesn’t that seem silly?

Maybe…to some…

I believe we should cherish the little things in life. And my Erin Condren LifePlanner may seem like a “little thing” to some, but to me it is so much more!

When I sent an email to the Erin Condren social media squad, I never thought I’d hear back. I sent it with the hope that they would read my blog and hear my story. That that story might pique their interest and I’d be able to use it to help another person dealing with some of the same things I am.  Or maybe it could simply help introduce someone not familiar with Erin Condren to a new and innovative planner that they could use in their everyday lives.

So, I reached out. I sent the email, and lo and behold, I got a response from a woman named Samantha!!

Holy Hades!

I couldn’t wrap my brains around the fact that my little blog could catch the attention of someone at such a large company.

But, it did.

“Samantha”  told me to make my choices for a new planner and she would send me a “Happy Package” full of EC goodies.

Rose Gold and MidCentury circles and Vertical vs. Horizontal, Oh My!

I was giddy with excitement and this is what I was talking about before. This planner can bring such a smile to my face!

So, I waited.

And I waited.

Just two days felt like an eternity, but it showed up and that orange box made me Squeee!!

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I called Doodle One in and we went to “Unboxing” this new found glory in a perfectly packaged box.

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There was a note.

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They always include little freebies on the top of their packages, but this was personal. A handwritten note. It was from Sam. We were on nickname terms and I laughed out loud at the concept.

So, I opened it and she had sent two boxes of their amazing colored pencils for my kids.

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What?

Yes, y’all. She sent two boxes of the most perfectly designed colored pencils for my Doodle’s!

Plus, some stickers!

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I was, again, just in awe of her ability to touch my heart.

Sam sent me what they call the “Wellness Package”.

It included their AMAZING wet erase markers (I had no idea there was even such a thing, but they write like a dream and only wipe off easily with a wet paper towel)

A “Wellness Journal” to keep up with general body wellness. It’s not just specified to weight loss. It chronicles hydration and an overall body conscious way of living.

Their “Designer Sticker Book” that is so pretty I don’t think I can even use the stickers! They are gold, platinum and rose gold foiled with such perfection that they look like works of art.

A set of their “Do It All Dots” that go in your planner to stylize even the most mundane of daily duties.

Two, Count Um, TWO dashboards!

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One that you can use weekly to organize meal planning to make that task a breeze and one that included the cutest sticky notes you can imagine. All highlighted with their signature water color background. They are so useful, I’ll probably run out and have to buy my own. (Which I’ll do in a heartbeat!!)

And finally, a cover to use until  the personalized one that I picked out could be made. Because the platinum foiling process takes so long to prepare, Sam just couldn’t wait to send it to me!!

And y’all, this cover was beautiful. Perfectly foiled and laminated in a very sturdy, yet still visually pleasing format.

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Then it happened.

I came to the bottom of my package and angels sung and birds chirped and whales gave a mating call…

My Planner.

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I felt like holding it up like Simba and singing “The Circle of Liiiffee”…

From cover to cover I stared. My daughter thinking I was crazy the whole time.

I couldn’t open it up.

I wanted to savor the moment and smell the fresh paper smell and feel the infinite possibilities that perfect planning can do to your life.

But, I finally did.

The front cover has a whiteboard that works with any dry erase markers or the phenomenal wet erase markers.

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The first page is vellum. I didn’t know what vellum was, but now I know I want it in my life. It is gorgeous. Marked with a colorful pattern of their “MidCentury Circles”.

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And then I dove in. Head first with eyes wide open. It has a two-page layout of 2016 and 2017 and then it has a two-page layout of boxes, color coordinated for each month. I think I’m going to use this as a “Goals” page to set monthly goals for myself.

Then the planner itself starts and the watercolor theme immediately stands out. It is strong, yet feminine. A perfect choice for a new style.

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The months are still color coded this year, but with an elegant watercolors. Less polka dots and boxes. She truly captured the essence of every different personality. For, with the soft colors, one could add pizzazz with stickers or just let the simple beauty of the planner speak for itself. I, myself, am a little in the middle. I love stickers, but I am understated in my design choices. But, EC knew that and designed her LifePlanner for each personality accordingly.

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The months are followed by note pages: Lined, Graph and Blank. Again, with the customizing, EC. Oh, how you know thee!!

Then follows the folder pocket that serves the purpose of just that. A two-sided folder to be a catch all for all of your receipts, bills and so forth. It’s sturdy, yet not industrialized looking.

And yay! A zippered pouch at the end that you can move to wherever you’d like in your planner. Filled with goodies like the coil clip to snap it into place, a sticker book sample and compliment cards that I’ve already used for Chris’ sweet nurse that helped us so wonderfully.

So, do you want one?

I bet you do and I have a code to help you get $10 off.

So, take the plunge.

The design is always top notch and the personal touches they add just add a little something that can’t be explained.

This year is the year that I caught the planning bug. I got caught off guard. I joined a community of planners that is both exclusive and all inclusive. All members are full of love and compassion.

We all know that we are all fighting our own battles. But, we rally and hold hands and just love one another in a way that feels so fulfilling.

I have a lot going on in my life right now. From kids to homeschool to a husband fighting cancer. This planner gives me the light I need to get me through my most gloomy of days. I can pace the halls of the darkest hospitals and my light won’t be extinguished.

Yes, a planner can do that. Yes, a planner does that.

And that planner is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Get your own personal ray of sunshine.

Allow yourself to be enlightened and changed for the better.

See how something that some may call a “little thing” can make such an enormous and positive impact on your life.

With Love,

Al

P.S Here’s your $10 off code!!

https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/allisonpadgett0625

P.P.S Take a look around and find what tickles your fancy!!

http://www.erincondren.com

XOXO…

**Some editing and some writing credit goes to Suzanne B. Horton who makes my sun shine and my moon glow**

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.

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…

Embrace the NOISE…

Snoring.

Slurping.

Humming.

Drumming.

Mumbling.

Repeated questions.

Footsteps up and down the hall.

Over and over.

Constantly.

Screams and cackling.

Dogs barking.

Cats meowing.

Loud music.

The TV volume at exponential levels during SportsCenter.

Doors slamming.

The refrigerator opening and closing a thousand times.

Cabinet doors unhinged.

Toilet seats dropped.

We all have a list of these things. These things that bother us. These things that get under our skin. These things that drive us to yell and holler and act crazy because that’s what we feel like we are.

Crazy.

Driven to that point by the constant noise.

The constant noise of life.

Of a family.

I have asked myself this week a very profound question and it’s taken me a while to actually answer it.

What would I do if the noise stopped?

What would I do if quiet fell over my home?

I laughed at first and thought, “Oh, how I’d love to have a quiet house! With no fighting or slamming doors or running up and down that long ass hallway! Bring on the quiet and bring it on NOW!”

Then, reality hit me smack dab in the face and I realized something that I should’ve known all along.

I love the noise.

I love the sound of little feet running up and down my hall. I love the sound of the raucous play and laughter that it brings.

And I love the sound of his snoring.

Without it, there’s no him. There’s only me.

Alone.

Quiet.

Please, understand that I’d like to not miss 15 minutes out of every hour of sleep, but this comes with a price. A price I’m willing to pay.

You see, I don’t know how long I’ll get to hear the sweet sounds of those snores. It could be a year. It could be ten years.

We all know that our children will grow up and the pitter patter of little feet will go away. The slamming front door will stop and the fridge will stay shut.

These are things that we, as parents, know will happen.

It doesn’t make it any less hard, but it happens at a slow pace and is something we can prepare for.

We all know we’ll have that treasured “Empty Nest”.

See? There’s even a name for it.

But there’s no name for “Empty Bed” syndrome, unless I just coined it.

We don’t talk about how wonderful it will be to spread out and hog all the covers.

We don’t talk about it because no one wants it.

I might for a night or two.

Even a week. But somewhere deep in my soul, I need to hear the snoring. I need to huff and puff over the stolen covers.

I need this to breathe.

Because I know what it means when the snoring stops.

It means that half of my soul has been taken and all that is left is silence.

So, for now, I’ll embrace the noise.

I will live for the guttural sounds of sleep.

I will live for those feet dancing down the hallway and his yelling for them to stop.

I will live.

At least for as long as he does.

A Week of Yes and No’s

Padgett Magic Team

I can’t arrange the thoughts in my mind.

They’re all too loud. (Thanks, Jodie)

The past week has been a blur of too much and not enough.

We’ve had the 3K walk for the Brain Tumor Center at Duke last week. Followed by a week full of paperwork, rejections and a doctor’s appointment.

Then, we ended the week with a 5K that some of our dear friends ran in Chris’ honor.

Needless to say, the week was full of up’s and down’s.

The 3K walk at Duke was wonderful. A magical group of people that actually know the pain that I feel on a day to day basis. A gathering of souls that are beaten down by the word, “Brain Tumor”, but still manage to rise above the hurt and anger and fulfill their own or their loved one’s legacy. The main highlight being the group of survivors standing on a stage and beaming with pride out upon a crowd of people who wrapped their souls around their hearts and lifted them up. Probably higher than they ever imagined.

There was a lowlight, though.

A sobering reminder of my future.

A raw and unexpected feeling suddenly washed over me at one point.

The “In Memorium” shirts.

The team shirts with pictures on them. Printed with dates of birth and dates of death.

Smiling photos of people who fought the same fight my husband is fighting.

Smiling photos that reminded me of reality.

I was so happy to go to this event. So happy to take part in a walk with my family, with Chris by my side, holding my hand. So damn happy that, for a moment, I actually forgot the truth.

Chris’ brain cancer isn’t curable.

One day I will be wearing one of those shirts. One day my smile will be forced and my hand will be empty.

One day will come.

And that was the undeniable reality that I overlooked in my happiness. And I believe Chris felt that reality, too. His eyes were wide. His sentences shorter than normal. Obviously, clipped by fear. All I could do was rub his back as we walked and whisper, “I’m right here, love.” Only then would he smile. Only then did I see a glimpse of my fighter.

We left quickly. He was complaining of headache. And while I don’t believe he was lying, I do believe the headache was brought on by something more than four brain surgeries. I believe it was brought on by heartache. He’s only human and had a natural human reaction to what most would call a reality check.

So, we came home. Somber and restless. Needing to be busy and needing to rest.

My week was full of paperwork and tireless hours of research and phone calls. You see, I want to dot every I and cross every T. I can’t miss a thing. Be it a prior authorization for a new medication to phone calls to various and sundry doctors, doctor’s offices, government agencies, pharmacies, aphasia groups, home care nurses, speech pathologists, social workers and the occasional friend. Without constant diligence, my world will crumble beneath the weight of uncertainty. It’s all about keeping organized in a disorganized world.

And I do that. Stay as “on top” of everything as possible because the one phone call missed or the one email that doesn’t get sent could be the downfall of this teetering thing I call life.

I took Chris to the doctor on Friday and boy was he happy to get his stitches out! He wanted to cut his hair so bad he could barely stand it!

But, they didn’t take them out.

They weren’t ready to come out.

Another blow to his self esteem. Another no, when all he wants to hear is yes.

Damnit! Somebody tell this man yes! Give him control of at least one thing.

But, no.

No is all we have heard so far. And little by little, they are taking control of a man that once prided himself in his appearance and intellect. They’ve taken thirty five percent of his skull. He won’t say it, but I know he shudders when he looks at himself. I know he curses at the mirror. He gets frustrated when words don’t come. He knows they may never come. And he knows he’s lost control. Watching someone that fills your heart with overcapacitating love lose control is a hell I wish on no one. A hell I live every minute of every single day.

But, then there was Saturday.

How to explain the way Saturday made me feel? This is one of those times when words can’t possibly be enough. There’s no way I can explain how love and pride feel.

On Saturday, a group of our friends ran a 5K race in honor of Chris and his fight. There were tee shirts made and worn with his favorite catchphrase “Padgett Magic” on them. Team Padgett Magic was full of love and hope. I was filled with a sense of gratefulness that is undefinable. Watching each and every one of them cross the finish line, knowing that it was their love of Chris that propelled them to it, was beautiful.

You know what was more beautiful?

Chris’ face when he saw each person. I live for that face. His smile was big. His eyes sparkled and I’m sure I saw his chin quiver when he hugged one of them. He was happy, y’all. And it was the love of others that made him happy. I am thankful. I am grateful. And, for once, I was speechless. How do you say thank you to someone who spent their precious time getting special tee shirts made? How do you say thank you to the people that bought them and wore them with pride? You can’t. But, I hugged each and every one of them after they finished and exclaimed, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

They will never know how they touched my heart. They will never know the depth of my gratitude. I can only hope they know that my hug was genuine. And despite everything, they made me forget, if for only a moment, the reality of my life.

So, now we look forward to another week. Another week of diligent work and mindful living. Another week of our fight.

And that’s all I can ask for.

Another week.

Reevaluate your NORMAL

What is normal?

What do you consider normal?

Are you normal? Are your friends and family normal?

What qualifies, y’all?

If I’ve learned anything in the last few weeks, it’s been that normal is a frame of mind. If you put yourself in the “box” of normal, you’re not living life the way it’s supposed to be lived. You’re confining yourself.

Normal is a definition. Are you a definition? Can you be defined? I think you can’t. I believe you are more than one word.

I am.

And with that said, we aren’t normal.

And come to think about it, I’m not sure we ever have been.

Chris has had a very hard four weeks. We, as a family, have had a very hard four weeks. I don’t think when we started this cancer journey that we could’ve ever been prepared for what was in store. I think we thought that Chris would have surgery, have a few weeks of healing and we’d go back our “normal” life in as much time.

We couldn’t have been more wrong, could we?

Chris has gone from having no words to now having some. He can almost speak in full (albeit short) sentences. His pain is managed well and his meds have titrated down to a tolerable amount. I’m not having to wake him up every two hours during the night to give him anything, although sometimes I still set my alarm just to check on him. It’s like having a newborn. If he sleeps too long, I worry. If he doesn’t sleep long enough, I worry.

Basically, I worry.

Day and night. He’s had so many things go wrong since his surgery that I feel as if it’s my duty to protect him from any and everything. And I do. I do it because I want him to be healthy. But, I also do it because I want him to be happy again. I want to see his smile and know that I put it there. I want to feel his embrace and know that there is strength in those arms. I am giving him my strength right now. Willingly and without a second thought. I give him everything that I am in hopes that he will return to me with that gorgeous smile and a heart full of hope and love.

He’s my foundation and he is everything to us.

But, is he normal?

The doctors have said so many times that his post op infection wasn’t normal. Well, it seems pretty normal to me.

They have said that his speech delay isn’t normal. Again, it seems pretty normal to me.

What I’m getting at is that normal isn’t normal. It’s just a word that people use to remain comfortable. Staying within the “norm” means that everything isn’t changing and you’re stagnant. Should you be content with stagnant?

I would never wish what I’ve been going through on any other soul. I’d never wish what Chris is and will go through on another person, but I would wish that you would look at your life in a new way.

Don’t be content with normal. Pain brings about change and if you’re changing, you’re moving towards a higher sense of being.

The strength that I’ve had to muster in the past few weeks has been exhausting. But, it has honestly come from somewhere, deep within me, that I didn’t know existed. If anyone had asked me even six months ago, if I could do what I do, day in and day out now, I’d have said absolutely not. I didn’t think I had it in me. I didn’t think that once my foundation was ripped out from under me that I could build my own. Quickly and without a second thought. I would have laughed in their face and said that I’m not good enough.

But, I am.

I’m not who I was. I’m not normal anymore.