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.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Alligators and Crocodiles

A photo of my Sunshine now hangs on a wall in his preschool classroom. Today, I went to see it. I wasn't sure what I'd find when I opened that door and stepped inside, but I did it anyway. And I learned something.

The last time I visited that room, I couldn't hold back the tears. I worried, at the time, that they'd never stop. That I'd never again be able to visit that place --a locale that played host to some of Logan's happiest final memories-- without donning a heavy coat of grief.

But today, I went inside. And it felt... okay. I remembered his first day there about a year ago. I heard his little voice playfully chirping his customary parting exchange with his teacher... see ya later, alligator; after 'while, crocodile. What I didn't feel was the heaviness --the grief-- I'd expected to feel. And I'm glad, because he was happy there. He would want me to be able to be there and feel that happiness again. It felt like progress. Like a step forward amid a lot of steps back.

See ya later, alligator.

After 'while, crocodile.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Speak in Love?

Tomorrow, Abby starts the third grade. I've experienced a succession of whoa, how'd THAT happen?! moments in recent days, so I think I'm ready for it. I'm not so ready for the big day that Logan's not going to have tomorrow. I'm not ready to not walk him to school and into the special kindergarten waiting area. I'm not ready to not meet his teacher and fret over whether or not she's the best possible person to entrust with the care of my precious cargo. I'm not ready to not watch him trot inside his classroom, look back with that big beautiful smile, and wave a hearty good-bye for the day. And I'm definitely not ready to not feel that sense of victory I longed to feel for a year and a half; the sense of victory that comes after beating a horrible disease and moving forward in life. But it's really neither here nor there; I can't change the reality by wishing it away, after all. So where does that leave me?

Right here. Dealing with daily life. The good of it. The bad of it. The ugly of it.

And of course, since there's an election approaching, there's plenty of the latter. In the face of so much ugliness from so many sources, I've felt pressed to speak the truth, but to do it in love. What does that mean? Well, for me, it means keeping my trap shut when I want to issue a verbal beatdown. It means speaking gently and logically to defend my points. It means not attacking, even if I feel attacked.

It's a hard thing to do. And I fail a lot. But it's the right way to live. It's what Logan did -- he spoke in love, no matter what the circumstance. If a 5-year old could do that, it behooves me to at least give it a try. So this election season, it's what I'm trying my hardest to do. Because that, my friends, is the essence of tolerance.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Prove It, Then.

A couple of days ago, I had a little conversation with God. For the pre-loss me, it was such a commonplace occurrence that I probably wouldn't have touched on it here. But I suppose it's no great secret that I haven't exactly been on speaking terms with the Big Guy for the past few months. Too many feelings of betrayal and anger and frustration and, well, pain. So the last thing I've wanted to do was talk to God, a.k.a. the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe who ignored my fervent prayers and didn't save my little boy from death.

But a few days ago, sitting alone in the dark in my family room after everyone else had gone to bed, He and I had a brief exchange. I'd been wondering a lot about the reality of God and of Heaven, so I just said

Okay, God. Prove it.

I guess that sounds pretty obnoxious and part of me cringed, fully expecting to be struck down for such a flagrant display of insolence, but the tank was low and I was being direct: if You're there, and if Logan still IS, then prove it.

Of course, there was no great clap of thunder. Lightning bolts didn't pierce the night sky with any brilliant flashes of pure white. No grand voice boomed down yes, of course I'm here, don't be ridiculous.. In fact, the room remained silent and still and familiar.

But even without the fanfare, I know He heard me.


Abby's new teacher called me this morning. She was attentive and caring and seems to be a great match for my daughter and our circumstances. She asked for the names of a few girls who Abby particularly enjoys spending time with, and I gave her two: Bridget and Isabelle. I also gave the name of a good friend down the street. She said she didn't know offhand if any of them were in the class because she'd just gotten the list, but when the rosters were posted late this afternoon, we were surprised to find not just one or two but all three of them in Abby's class. It seemed an unlikely scenario given that there are four different third grade classes, but it happened anyway.

And this afternoon, I had the oddest encounter with a contractor. Our backyard is a complete disaster; we ignored it after Logan got sick, and it's a mess. We started the renovation project by contacting a few local tree services to give quotes for removing two trees and an old tree stump. The very first guy to come by was a tall, burly man, probably a few years younger than me. As I showed him the trees, I explained the root of the disrepair. He looked down at his clipboard and went silent for a moment before quietly responding I have a baby in Heaven, too. I said I was sorry to hear it, and he quickly added But that's where they are, with Jesus. And we'll see them again someday. You'll be there, too. And he looked right at me. This big, burly guy had tears in his eyes and looked me squarely in the face as he told me that our children were in Heaven. And that we would be, too. Then he looked back down at his clipboard, muttering something about wanting to give us a great deal because he felt like God was using him. And he rattled off an incredibly low quote. Part of me wanted to hire him right there on the spot; after all, he'd witnessed to me even before he knew that we believed in Jesus or Heaven or... anything. But we have others lined up to give quotes, so we'll let them do so. But what a story, right? I thought so.

Okay, so neither of those things really prove anything at all. But they're a start. I can feel the ice beginning to melt. And ironically, the more the ice melts, the more I can feel the sunshine --MY sunshine-- tickling my skin.

Monday, August 13, 2012

104 Weeks

Do you know where you were exactly 104 weeks ago?

I do. I was sitting in the PICU at CHO. I was 21 weeks pregnant with a baby I'd just learned was a little boy. And I'd also just learned, mere hours earlier, that my sunshine had a massive tumor growing in his brain.

I've felt like I've been in hell many times over the past two years. But 104 weeks ago marked the very first trip of them all.

It marked the beginning of what I prayed wouldn't be the end. But it was anyway. I know, I know: heaven.

But he's not here. Don't marginalize my feelings by bringing up heaven; it makes me feel like my feelings aren't valid or valuable or justified. But they are. I know they are. I know that if your child suffered and died that you'd feel the same way. I'm not you, no, but I know it. I know the sting of that kind of loss. I can promise you that despite what you may think, the promise of heaven doesn't make it all better. It's not me being negative; it's just the truth. The bitter, human truth.

I knew back on February 11 that six months out would bring with it a brutal set of anniversaries for us. Logan's birthday. Then a breath. The day that we knew something was wrong. And then a half-breath. Then our 10th anniversary. And another breath. And then the day that the pathology report came in and the feeble sticks we'd erected to keep the world from falling in on us snapped under the weight of the doctor's words.

I'm haunted by how the events of this week are mirroring what happened two years ago. Abby has a playdate with the daughter of the very friend who watched her and Isaac while we took Logan to the doctor the day that his eye turned in... 104 weeks ago today. She hasn't had a playdate with her since that day. Without thinking, I asked the same girl we'd asked to baby-sit for us on our anniversary two years ago to baby-sit for us later this week. It's almost like time is moving forward and certain events are repeating themselves, only this time, things will go as they should've gone the first time. A pleasant playdate for Abby. A nice dinner out for us, in place of what happened two years ago: the exhausted consumption of a pair of soggy sandwiches from a hospital cafeteria vending machine at 11 PM.

It feels almost like I'm drowning at times; each time a wave passes, another one is right there waiting to batter me and knock me off my feet once again.

But anyway.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

6 Months

Yesterday marked six months since Logan departed this life. On one hand, I can't believe it's only been six months. On the other, I can't believe it's already been that long. Some days, I feel like I'm starting to forget the finer points of who he was. I can't just close my eyes and hear the exact tone of his voice anymore; I have to think harder and concentrate to come close. And even then, it's not perfect. It's just... close.

I wish I were less angry than I am. I'd hoped that by six months, I'd be more at peace. I'd hoped that God would've shown me things to prove that He's out there and that Logan still is. But I haven't seen much, and it's disheartening. The essence of faith is, at its root, believing something to be true even without rock solid proof. I understand that. But now... now I need to know it's all true. Wishing, hoping, suspecting isn't enough. Not now. And I get tired of well-meaning Christians who have no idea what it's like to lose a child telling me that I should just believe. Yeah, whatever. It's an easy thing to do when you've never had something awful --truly awful and heartbreaking-- bite you after you'd poured your entire being into begging for a good outcome.

The big misfortune of yesterday was that it happened to be a Saturday. Logan died on a Saturday, which meant that the entire day, it felt like I was dodging memory bullets: seeing Adam on the driveway waiting for us after dance and the immediate sinking awareness that something horrible was happening; feeling my heart drop into my toes when I walked into the PICU room and saw his heartrate and oxygen sats; making the torturous decision to spare him a heart attack and just... let him go. You don't get over that kind of thing. Ever, I fear. It stays with you, and somehow "oh, just have faith" doesn't do much to make it better.

But despite all of that, I thought I was okay until bedtime. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I felt... angry. I don't like to give in to anger much. It's not worth the emotional energy cost. I yelled for a while, then cried for a while. And then I went into Brady's room because I needed to hold someone small. Someone who wouldn't remember or feel the despair that I sometimes feel. It hurts me that Brady won't remember Logan. But at the same time, it also means he'll never have to bear the burden of losing him. So I held him in the darkness and cried some more. It didn't make it better. But at least it didn't make me angry.

It's been a hard couple of weeks, yes. Not that that's something new or noteworthy, really, because every single week is hard and painful. It's been torture watching Logan's summer birthday buddies turn six. Pure torture. It's been torture listening to parents complain about birthday parties and the advancing ages of their children. Every time I hear a complaint, I have to stop myself from smacking the person and responding "I sure wish my kid was getting older this year". I bite my tongue, because I know no one really cares. No, that's not fair. Some people do care. It's more than I know that very few people *get it*. After all, if you *got it*, you'd stop complaining about stupid, trivial things around me. That's what I meant to say. But it's just my reality, after all, and people are entitled to bitch and moan about stuff regardless of whether it's truly bitch and moan-worthy stuff. We all have our problems, sure. But some of our problems are way bigger and way more painful than others'. But I'm biting my tongue. Yep. Not a word.

Anyway. I have macaroni and cheese to make and plants to water.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What's Left of Me

Yeah, it's a Nick Lachey song. But the boybander has nothing to do with this.

The words just resonate with me:

What's left of me.

I feel like I go about life these days with what's left of me and nothing more. I could try to make it better with the pretticisms that well-meaning folk try to toss my way, but it's still my bitter, cold reality. Maybe I'm an awful person for it, but the thought of Heaven doesn't make it better. Maybe if I were a better person it would. But it doesn't. I still lost my son nearly six months ago. I didn't get to see him turn 6 last week. I didn't get to kiss him at bedtime tonight or sing him You Are My Sunshine. Nothing makes that better.

I'm broken in a way that can't be fixed, at least not in this realm. I'm not who I once was. I'll never be that person again. She died along with Logan. Though she looked like me, talked like me, had my sarcastic sense of humor and my broken-at-least-twice-by-the-kids nose, she wasn't me. It's probably pretty creepy, but a moment ago, as I typed that last sentence, I considered writing a eulogy for that person. A lot of you didn't know her personally. Did you know that she never missed a spelling word --ever-- in elementary school? Or that she took dance for 14 years? Or that the only thing she ever truly aspired to be was a mom? Did you know that she had an affinity for peanut butter and chocolate ice cream? Or that she had really awful allergies? That she suffered with health anxiety for years, and just as she seemed to get it under control, she discovered that her son, who she loved as much as any other person on the planet, was critically ill with a horrible disease? Did you know?

She wasn't, by any means, perfect. But she was me. Some days, I miss her. I miss feeling like praying had a point. I miss feeling like God would take care of my family and not let awful, horrific things happen to people I love. I miss being able to be genuinely, fully happy for an entire 60-minute block of time. I miss glee and joy. I miss being able to connect with other people, because as much as other people may try, they just don't understand. And those who do... I can't handle being around them. Not now. The collective pain of loss is just too strong. I miss being more patient and understanding. I miss feeling like I can be honest about how I feel --about what's true-- without worrying that I'll offend someone. I miss a lot of things. I miss her. It's hard to be What's Left of Me.

Anyway. That sounds a lot more depressive than I'd intended. But it's true. All of it.

And I feel compelled to add something here, so bear with me. I can't give Logan a hug or tell him I love him. If there's someone you need to forgive or to whom you owe an apology, don't waste time. Don't get caught up in the crap of the past. Even if you think you're over it and it doesn't affect you, unforgiveness --either the kind that you hold in your heart or the kind that's held against you when apology is withheld-- is toxic. If that person is still alive --if you are blessed enough to be able to find closure-- do what you need to do to let it go. Today. I can almost hear the protests... But you don't understand how AWFUL this person was... Nope, maybe I don't. But I do know how awful it is to not be able to say what I'd like to say to someone who's gone.