About Us

Our family of 6 (dad Adam, mom Sherry, big sister Abby and little brothers Isaac and Brady -- who was born on December 14, 2010) joined the ranks of pediatric cancer fighters when our 4-year old son Logan was diagnosed with a dangerous and highly malignant form of brain cancer in mid-August 2010. Logan's cancer journey began abruptly on Sunday, August 15, when his right eye suddenly turned inward during dinner. Twenty-four hours later, we were checking into Children's Hospital Oakland and finding out that life sometimes takes you places you'd never, ever imagine yourself going.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

On 40

I turn 40 in four days.

I've been trying to figure out how I feel about it for a while now, which is funny because I'm not really one who's ever cared much about age. My friends range in age from twentysomething to fiftysomething, and age means absolutely nothing within the context of those relationships. So the rational part of me says "it's just a number. It's really no different than any other birthday and besides, most of your friends are already 40-plus so get over it. Boo yah, 40. Woohoo."

But... 40. It's hard to fully wrap my brain around that number.

Don't misunderstand me: my thirties have been hard. Actually, hard isn't a powerful enough word. A more appropriate one would be "torturous." I began the decade on bed rest with Isaac after suffering a potentially disastrous subchorionic bleed. (So you don't have to look it up, that means that a small corner of the placenta tore, which resulted in gushing blood and, eventually, a very large blood clot that could have killed him. Fortunately, of course, that did not happen, but I spent months agonizing over the possibility that it could.) After he was finally born, we had a calm expanse of months before I got pregnant with Brady at 32, and then 20 weeks later, well, you know what happened then. My life, my outlook, my everything was forever changed when I found out Logan could very well die.

Then there were the endless trips to and from the hospital, the loneliness, the exhaustion that goes along with having three very young children at home by myself and the ongoing fear that God would not respond the way I desperately wanted Him to respond to the biggest prayer I'd ever prayed.

And then, when I was 34, horror became my reality as my innocent, sweet, long-suffering little boy drifted from my arms and into God's on that rain-soaked February morning. At first I was numb, but then the sadness, the anger, the fury besieged my heart in a way I didn't see coming. It broke me into more pieces that I could ever count and I couldn't fathom ever feeling like myself ever again. And I wasn't sure I wanted to.

Fortunately, very slowly and with no small of resistance from me (because, well, anger), God knit the pieces back together again. I think sometimes those pieces were re-fused in different places, because when I think of my heart, I don't see it as a smooth piece of fabric, rather as a patchwork quilt comprised of numerous kinds of material and many converging threads of varying color and strength. Although it's been re-constructed with care, it has weak spots, and if those spots are pulled or pushed too aggressively, I can feel the stitches tear away all over again.

So given that history, you'd think I'd be eager to leave my thirties far behind me in the rearview mirror. But I'm not. The thing is, Logan won't exist in my forties. He won't be there to help blow out the candles or to tease me about my advancing age. Of course, none of that is new: he's been gone for nearly six years and his absence is a painful daily reality. And my birthdays are among the most acutely painful of those days.

But in my mind, when 39 melts into 40 on Thursday afternoon, I'll be leaving him behind. And I don't know what to do with that. I know that I can't stop aging; I'll turn 40 and then, God willing, 41 and 42 and 43. Time will keep passing and the wrinkles will keep forming and I'll keep missing him.

And no matter how fervent my prayers become, he'll keep not being here and I'll keep having to cope with the reality that one of my biggest fans is absent.

But you know something? I bet he'd want me to celebrate anyway. He'd want me to dance and talk and eat cake and smile. So though I so wish that he could be part of my forties memory bank in a tangible way, I know that he cannot. And I pray that though he won't be here for number 40, he'll be dancing with me anyway, in whatever way he can, and that though I won't be able to touch him with my fingertips, I'll feel him within my heart.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

At lunch

I recognized her almost immediately: the peach fuzz hair, the paper mask, and the slightly too-puffy cheeks. She sat at a table across from a boy and a woman and next to a man and another boy. Her family. Her plate of food was virtually untouched; her mother urged her to take a bite with a gentle but vaguely pleading you have to eat something but she didn't. She just wanted to run her fingers through her brother's hair. I watched her. I watched her brothers. I couldn't see her father's face because his back was to me, but I watched her mother. I tried to search her eyes without letting her see me. I saw the tiredness and the sadness and the frustration and also the glimmer of hope. I tried to send a message straight from my mind to hers, but of course, it doesn't work that way.

Our food came. Everyone else dug in but I just looked down at mine, suddenly disintereted in the sandwich that had seemed so appealing before I saw her. More than once, I felt my eyes fill with tears and more than once, Adam asked if I was okay. I didn't really respond and I think he knew that I wasn't because he saw her, too. I was watching him the moment he saw the hair and the mask and the too-full plate and I saw his expression change. He and I, we're alike in that way. In the way that our expression changes when we see certain things.

After a minute or two, I realized Abby was looking at me, her eyes wide with concern and confusion. She saw her, I think, but somehow it didn't register. I patted her hand and I told her I was fine, though I think she knew I was lying. I ate my food and picked at my fries. And I watched the girl and her family; how her brother sat patiently as she smiled and skimmed her fingers through his shock of light brown hair. How they all pressed her to eat and how she held up her placemat to show off her crayon-aided handiwork.

They got up to go and I felt a sense of panic. A sense of urgency. I stood up as they passed by and spoke to the mother.

I've been where you are. I pray everything will go perfectly for you from here on out. God bless you, I said.

She looked startled. One of your kids had cancer? she probed. Then her gaze shifted to focus on the table behind me, where most of my family sat, still eating and talking and being together. She was looking for a survivor.

I knew I had to tell her and my heart lurched in my chest. I hate being the one who scares people; the one who represents the worst case scenario coming to pass. Yes, I replied. Then, rather than looking away as I so often do, I caught her gaze again. But he didn't make it. But you... for you, I'm praying for a very different outcome.

She stopped and just looked at me. And hugged me. And thanked me. And said she was so very sorry for my loss.

And then she was gone. And I sat down to once again pick at my fries while the others finished their meals.

It never goes away. Peach fuzz hair and a mask and a puffy face still take my breath away and make my heart race and I suspect they always will. They represent trauma and my body just... reacts. The cracks in my heart split open and bleed all over again. But if I can make a connection, offer up a word of hope, be a voice who understands in the midst of so many who simply don't --can't--, I'll take on the task.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Anti-Graduations

Five years ago, Logan's little class graduated from preschool. Of course, he wasn't there with them because he'd died a few months earlier, but I went anyway. I remember sitting on a rickety bench outside the back door of the classroom, sobbing uncontrollably because he wasn't there and because I didn't have a little graduate to celebrate. I was so envious of the other proud parents and grandparents who, one by one, passed me by as they entered for the ceremony. One stopped to offer up a lingering hug. A few others sent pitying looks in my direction. Some seemed to pretend that I wasn't there at all, and truth be told, I felt like I didn't belong; like I was sullying their happy occasion with my presence. I never could muster the wherewithall to go inside, so eventually, as the little graduates collected their little diplomas, I slipped silenty away. It's not an easy day to remember and it's a memory that I tend to stuff when my heart summons it from the cobwebs of my mind.

But tonight I'm letting myself remember, because Friday will mark another milestone that's not happening: the completion of elementary school. It seems weird to think about him moving on to middle school since he never even got the chance to begin kindergarten. It breaks me to realize that though I will keenly feel his absence, almost none of his would've-been classmates will know a thing about him. They won't know how funny he was or how he danced or how he was obsessed with all-things automotive or how his big sister was his best friend in the world. I can say "well, it's their loss" but the reality is that it's my loss. It's our loss. No one else knows what they missed.

So I'll stay far away from that ceremony on Friday. I'll look away when I see the giggling girls in their dresses and the boys looking uncomfortable in their quasi-formal mom-made-me-wear-this-stuff finery. I won't cry where anyone can see me. That day will be hard. But like I got through the littlest graduation ceremony, I'll get through this one, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What it's like

"I can't even imagine."

"I don't think I'd be able to get up in the morning."

"I don't know how you do it."

"You're so much stronger than me."

I've heard a lot of things since Logan died, including the remarks listed above. I usually just smile and nod and shrug. What else am I supposed to do? They are, after all, perfectly acceptable responses to a difficult situation. But here's what I'd say if I felt free --truly, really, fully free-- to be honest.

No, you can't imagine. And you don't want to because it's horrific. And you know it's horrific. And since the human heart --and mind-- protect you from horror, you actually --physically-- cannot imagine it. And that's okay, because I don't want that for you.

Yes, you would, because you'd have to. Because you have other kids and a husband who need care. Because you can't quit life when something horrible happens to you. So yeah, you'd get up. And some days, you'd smile and genuinely feel happy. Other days, you'd smile and fake it even when you were falling apart inside. And after enough time passed, your friends wouldn't even be able to tell when you're really smiling and when you're merely eking, slogging through the day, your sights set on a good, cathartic cry by yourself at home. But yeah, you'd do it. Because it's what you'd have to do.

Me neither. But I'm pretty sure Jesus has a lot to do with it. I am not strong enough to withstand it on my own. I am not a superhero. It's okay if you think I am, but I promise you that I'm just a regular woman with regular temptations and loves and victories and failures.

Not really. It just looks like it because I keep getting up and I keep taking the other kids to school and smiling, even on the days when my heart is breaking all over again. If you were me, you'd do the same.

So yeah. I don't like oversimplification any more than the next perfectionist, but in a nutshell, that's what it's like.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Five Years in Heaven

Five years ago today, we had to say good-bye to Logan. I held his battered body in my arms and sang to him as he quietly slipped into eternity. It was, succinctly put, a brutally unfair conclusion to a brutally unfair journey. It was the stuff of nightmares and it broke my heart. It broke Adam's heart. It broke Abby's heart. It damaged us in ways that my then 34-year old, shell-shocked self couldn't even attempt to imagine and it shook my faith to a breaking point that I didn't realize existed.

But we are survivors.

We're still breathing. We're still walking. Some days, it feels like we're all strangers living in the same home, speaking different languages and yanking one another to and fro in our attempts to cope with this change that no one wanted, but we're still together. We're still trying to love one another as best we can, and we're still trying to figure out how to blend heartache and happiness in a way that honors Logan and still allows us to feel the warmth of the sun's rays on our faces. It's hard. It's painful. There are ups and downs and highs and lows that I can't even come close to describing. But we try. And we're getting there.

Ironically, I think that in many ways, I'm a better person for all of the struggles. I've learned that it's okay to cry in front of my friends and that the ones who matter won't judge me or walk away. I've also learned that those who choose to leave aren't bad people; they're just struggling with their own insecurities. I've learned that a broken heart can't render me useless; only bitterness can do that. I've learned that I can yell at God until I can't breathe and He still won't turn His back on me. I've learned that though we don't always get what we pray for, God will provide what we need to not just survive, but to thrive. I've learned that He loves me so much that he sends people to me to stand in the gap when I don't have the strength, energy, or desire to do it for myself. I've learned that I can see Him moving all around me if I don't forget to look, and that although human life is hard, we're given relationships that help us to grow and mature. I've learned that it's okay to be vulnerable and that my fragility isn't a weakness but a strength that I can use to help others. And I've learned that I'm never going to learn it all, and that's okay.

I miss him every single day and I mourn the future he didn't get to have, but I'm so thankful that he was here.

I love you, Logan.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Always my baby you'll be

June 26, 2016. Brady is 5 years, 6 months, and 12 days old, which means that he has officially lived longer than his biggest brother, whose earthly hours numbered 5 years, 6 months, and 11 days. In a way, from here on out, Logan will be my forever baby.

I've had my eye on this date for quite some time. Although we never discussed it, I know Adam had it in mind too; how could he not? How could you not be aware of the date that your youngest child is suddenly older than one of your older children?

And as it turns out, so did Abby. She brought it up to me yesterday as we meandered around the fair. "Mom... do you know... do you know what tomorrow is? What it means?" I just looked at her and nodded and she nodded back and kicked at the dirt with the toe of her sneaker. We didn't say much, but she knew, and she knew that I knew. And we were together in that moment of comfortably awkward silence, remembering who he was and still is and wishing with everything in us that he could still be here.

We're still getting by, as my dad used to say when I was a kid. I try to do more than go through the motions and for the most part, I think we're faring okay. It's hard to come to the realization that you're no longer the person you were and that there's a big part of you that will be jaded and broken and injured until all is made right in Heaven. But I'm still working to find joy in hidden places and to be a better person. And for now, at this point in my life, that has to be good enough.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Friends

I know it's been ages, but I'm still here. Still breathing. Still driving the mom-taxi and writing and missing my boy. And though life may continue to change and evolve, that third item will remain constant.

Abby started middle school in the fall. It's stunning to realize that she's on the verge of becoming a teenager. I worry about her; I listen carefully when she talks about new kids at school and then stealthily stalk their parents' Facebook pages to be sure they're nice girls. I'd be embarrassed to admit that, but I'm sure I'm not the only one. Middle school is hard, after all.

We had a conversation the other day, she and I. I asked if she'd told any of her new friends about Logan and she shrugged.

I'm not sure. I don't really remember.

I paused. Then I asked if she talked about family, and if she mentioned having two brothers or three.

Three, she said. Always three.

Then I paused and revisited my original question. Did they know? Had she told them that he'd passed away?

She shifted uncomfortably. I don't know. I don't remember.

I paused again, trying to choose my words with care. I wasn't entirely sure what she'd say, but I had an inkling and I cringed internally when I asked: Why didn't she want them to know when he was such an important person?

She sighed. Because I don't want them to just be my friend because they feel sorry for me.

It broke my heart to hear her say it. I figured that would be the explanation, but it still stung to her the words as they escaped her lips. She deserves better than that. So much better. She deserves to be able to speak freely about her best friend, just like her friends can speak freely about the special people in their lives. But at 11, she knows she can't. She sees where that kind of honesty can lead, and she doesn't want to venture down that road.

It's one of the heartbreaking lessons with which I've had to wrestle during Logan's saga and its aftermath: people are fickle and weird and unpredictable. Some long-time friends abandoned me when I needed them. Others came alongside me and held me up when I could no longer stand on my own. Some have gone on to become great friends and confidantes. Others have completely vanished from my life; it was as if the ambulance pulled away and they were gone, in search of another to chase.

I'm sorry. I know this is harsh and some won't like my words, but if you take anything away from this entry take this: be careful with others' hearts. If you're not ready to be a genuine friend, keep your distance. If you are, then dive on in, but realize that the ocean floor is lined with jagged rocks and that the waves can be fierce and overwhelming. But if you navigate the storms, you'll wind up seeing some pretty amazing things in the end.