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, February 11, 2022

Ten Years Later

Logan died ten years ago today.

Ten years. A full decade. The irony is that it simultaneously feels like both yesterday and 100 years ago. It's funny how time works like that.

If you'd asked me 10 years ago how I'd be doing today, I have no idea what I would've said. Back then I'd just embarked on my long, painful, and oft-surprising journey with grief. Although I'd had traumatic experiences before, I was a fresh-faced 34. My faith was in a burgeoning, largely untested phase that mostly involved me telling God what I wanted and then asking Him to act on my will. And I knew little about the extreme ups and downs or about the way my own thoughts and worries and fears and anger that resulted from not getting what I so desperately wanted, what I begged for, could --and ultimately would-- rip and tear away at the very fabric of who I am, leaving me a tattered mess of a woman.

But the thing about being a tattered mess is that ripped fabric can be repaired. Holes can be patched, and missing panels can be replaced and sewn together in different places to make a brand new creation. It's hard to call anything that arises from the loss of a beloved child "good", but now, with the benefit of the clarity that the passage of ten years can bring, I can see the good.

I can see that my suffering has made me more compassionate. It's made me a devoted, dedicated friend who loves not just when it's convenient or easy or what my human flesh and heart and mind are inclined to do it, but when it's needed. It's made me long for deep connection and for reconciliation of broken relationships, since I'm convinced that we were created to love each other and to walk through this life together. It's made me more forgiving since I understand how it feels to hurt deeply and how that hurt will sometimes rub off on those who are closest to you, whether or not you want it to happen.

It's also made me dig in to the Word to understand how we're meant to live. And it's made me unafraid to talk about Jesus. It is, after all, quite easy to share my faith when I'm given a lead-in like "I don't know how you can keep living. How did you keep living with that grief?" My answer; the answer? Jesus. It always comes back to Jesus.

I still don't understand why Logan isn't here. I don't understand why he didn't get to stay with us when so many other parents (and certainly almost everyone I know) are given that gift. I don't understand why he's not here to turn 16 this coming July and I don't understand why he's not a white-knuckled teenage driver-to-be scaring me to death during behind-the-wheel practice sessions. I don't understand why he won't be there cheering like a lunatic when Abby graduates from high school in less than four months or sobbing when she heads off to college this fall. None of it makes sense. None of it is fair, and some days, my human heart cries out against the grievous injustice. I get angry and cry and punch my pillow as hard as I can and sulk in silent protest. But ultimately, I believe that God has a plan for all of us, and I believe that the plan is good, even if pieces of it break my heart and cause love to leak out. 

I believe that Redemption is real, and that Logan has already seen what glory --what resplendent perfection-- looks like. And for that truth, 44-year old me is grateful, even on the hardest of days. Even when it's been a full decade since I've seen my Sunshine's sweet face.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Seven Years

Seven years.

He's been out of my sight and my arms and my grip for seven years. Eighty-four months. Two-thousand, five-hundred and fifty-seven days.

But he's never been out of my heart or my mind or my memory. No, he's firmly, gently, irrevocably nestled in those special places, and though years ago I feared that the passage of time would dull our connection, it hasn't. It's true that some of the finer details have grown dim, but the essence of who he is -- that's still with me because I carry it around in the back pocket of my heart.

The connection has changed, of course, because although Logan will be frozen in time as that effervescent, car-loving, dancing little boy I adored when he was with me, I've changed. Because that --aside from the ever-present, ever-real, ever-existing love of God-- is life's biggest guarantee: regardless of whether we want to be different, we will change. Our experiences --good, bad, joyful, tragic-- will transform us over time. And although it's easy to allow the heartbreaking moments to define who we are and to let bitterness take root in our hearts, in my case, doing so would be a disservice to my Sunshine's memory, because "sadness" doesn't define him. No, Logan is joy and humor and silliness. And perseverance and patience and determination. And bravery and light, even in the midst of disaster.

And love. Definitely love.

And since he lived with such love, I must as well. I must live and love and forgive and press onward, even when life feels heavier than I'd like and it would be easier to just... stop.

So as I look back on the seven years that have passed since I held him into Life on that rainy Saturday, I'm keenly aware of that love and am thankful that it is and was --and will be again in a bigger, brighter, bolder way than I can even imagine-- whenever Someday arrives.

And until that day, I will live out his example by living this human life as fully as I can.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Inhale, Exhale

A friend who recently lost a child messaged me out of the blue yesterday. I'd been worried about her and was thankful that she reached out, but her question was like an arrow to my heart:

How do you learn to breathe again?

I cried while I typed a response. I cried because I was sad for her and because I know exactly where she is in the process and how she probably feels like she will never be happy again and can't imagine living with the pox of such a deep, dark, pervasive brand of pain and because there are no easy solutions and there is no fast forward button that lets you speed through the gut-wrenching parts. I remember screaming in the darkness and punching my pillow so hard that the stuffing came out and then doubling over in so much pain that I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to get up and face the world again. I remember what those first few months are like, after the shock wears off and reality becomes stark and cold and unforgiving and far too real.

And I also cried because I wish I didn't have sage words to share with her. I wish that I didn't understand and couldn't relate and could sit with my fingers hovering over the keyboard, unable to formulate sentences that might bring an ounce of comfort or hope.

But I do understand and I do know the pain. And though I don't want to be in this position, I'm blessed if I can use this experience --this knowledge I so desperately wish I didn't have-- to bring even a moment of peace or a sense of hope for the future to someone who's suffering. Because though my life is far from perfect, I'm still here. And I'm still trying. And anyone can do what I'm doing because I, like everyone else on the planet, am merely mortal.

So my friend --you know who you are and I'm giving you every bit of the privacy you deserve-- know that I'm praying for you and willing you as much strength and fortitude as I can. And as for breathing? Inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale. I know you can do it.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

On Love and Easter

I saw a meme on Facebook yesterday and couldn't stop thinking about it. The message was a simple one:

"How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great."

I'll be totally honest about something: it can be hard and frustrating and painful to love broken people. It's hard to care for someone who exudes negativity. It's challenging to deliberately pursue a person who pushes others away in the name of survival. It's painful to know that even when you do all you can to love a broken person, that person could still reject you.

And it breaks my heart and embarrasses me to write all of that because I've most definitely been the person who's excruciatingly hard to love. I've done the rejecting and the pushing away and the negativity. And I've wound up mostly alone, which, ironically, was the last thing I wanted. It's easy to wind up alone when you're broken, because sometimes it simply takes too much energy, too much heartache, too much everything to love someone who's hurting. I know that. I've been that difficult, difficult person.

But as the meme suggests --and as the message of Easter teaches-- love is always worth the risk.

So show up. Be present. Listen. Pray. And love, even when it's the last thing you want to do, and even when you think the recipient doesn't notice or care about what you're doing. (And if you're the one who's hurting, try really hard to let yourself be loved. I know that's far easier said than done.) What I remind myself when it feels like I'm spinning my wheels to no avail is that He sees all. And if He could die for ME, the least I can do is sacrifice a little of myself for someone else.

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.